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a form of abuse. It
involves repeated acts over time attempting to create or enforce
one person's (or group's) power over another person (or group) ,
thus an "imbalance of power".
The "imbalance of power" may be social power and/or physical
power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a
target. Bullying types of behavior are often rooted in a
would-be bully's inability to empathize with those whom he or
she would target.
Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal and physical.
typically involves subtle methods of coercion such
manipulation. Bullying can be defined in many different
ways. Although the UK currently
has no legal definition of bullying,
states have laws against it.
Bullying ranges from simple one on one bullying to more complex
bullying in which the bully may have one or more 'lieutenants'
who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his
bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is
also referred to as peer abuse.
Robert W. Fuller has
analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.
Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact
with each other. This includes
school, church, family,
the workplace, home and neighborhoods.
It is even a common push
factor in migration.
Bullying can exist between social
classes and even
between countries (see Jingoism).
In fact on an international scale, perceived or real imbalances
of power between nations, in both economic systems and in treaty
systems, are often cited as some of the primary causes of both
World War I and World War II. Put
simply, historically and from this perspective, certain
international 'bullying' between nations is seen as having
resulted in at least two very major and costly international
Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to
intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally.
Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain
way to gain power over another person.
Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a
"exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the
part of one or more other persons." He defines negative action
as "when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort
upon another person, through physical contact, through words
or in other ways".
Bullying behavior may include name calling, verbal or
written abuse, exclusion from activities, exclusion from social
abuse, or coercion.
Bullies may behave this way to be perceived as popular or tough
or to get attention. They may bully out of jealousy or
be acting out because they themselves are bullied.
USA National Center for Education Statistics suggests that
bullying can be classified into two categories: Direct bullying,
and indirect bullying which is also known as social aggression.
Ross states that direct bullying involves a great deal of
physical aggression such
as shoving and poking, throwing things, slapping, choking,
punching and kicking, beating, stabbing, pulling hair,
scratching, biting, scraping and pinching.
He also suggests that social aggression or indirect bullying is
characterized by threatening the victim into social
isolation. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety
of techniques, including spreading gossip,
refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who
wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the
victim's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers
(including the victim's race, religion, disability, etc). Ross
outlines other forms of indirect bullying which are more subtle
and more likely to be verbal, such as name calling, the silent
treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation,
gossip/false gossip, lies, rumors/false
giggling, laughing at the victim, saying certain words that
trigger a reaction from a past event, and mocking. The
children's charity Act
Against Bullying was set up in 2003 to help children who
were victims of this type of bullying by researching and
publishing coping skills.
Effects of bullying on those who are
The effects of bullying can be serious and even fatal. Mona
O’Moore of the Anti-Bullying Centre at Trinity College in
Dublin, has written, "There is a growing body of research which
indicates that individuals, whether child or adult, who are
persistently subjected to abusive behavior are at risk of stress
related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide."
Those who have been the targets of bullying can suffer from long
term emotional and behavioral problems. Bullying can cause loneliness, depression, anxiety,
lead to low self-esteem and
increased susceptibility to illness.
The National Conference of State Legislatures said:
"In 2002, a report released by the U.S. Secret Service
concluded that bullying played a significant role in many
school shootings and that efforts should be made to eliminate
There is a strong link between bullying and suicide. Bullying
leads to several suicides every year. It is estimated that
between 15 and 25 children commit suicide every year in the UK
alone, because they are being bullied.
Characteristics of bullies and bully
Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that
combined with a strong need to control or dominate.
It has also been suggested that a prejudicial view of
subordinates can be particular a risk factor.
Further studies have shown that envy and resentment may
motives for bullying. Research on the self-esteem of
bullies has produced equivocal results.
While some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic,
others can use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or
to boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser
him/herself feels empowered.
Researchers have identified other risk factors such as depression
as well as quickness to anger and
use of force, addiction to aggressive
behaviors, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern
with preserving self
image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.
A combination of these factors may also be cause of this
It is often suggested that bullying behavior has its origin in
childhood. As a person who is inclined to act as a bully
matures, his or her related behavior patterns will often also
mature. Schoolyard pranks and 'rough-housing' may mature into
more subtle, yet equally effective adult level activities such
as administrative end-runs, well planned and orchestrated
attempts at character
assassination, or other less obvious, yet equally forceful
forms of coercion.
"If aggressive behavior is not challenged in childhood,
there is a danger that it may become habitual. Indeed, there
is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during
childhood puts children at risk of criminal behavior and domestic
Bullies may bully because they themselves have been the victim
of bullying. There is also evidence that bullies have a much
higher likelihood to be incarcerated in
Characteristics of typical bystanders
Often bullying takes place in the presence of a large group of
relatively uninvolved bystanders. In many cases, it is the
bully's ability to create the illusion that he or she has the
support of the majority present, that instills the fear of
'speaking out' in protestation of the bullying activities being
observed by the group. Unless the 'bully mentality' is
effectively challenged in any given group in its earlier stages,
often the 'bully mentality' becomes an accepted norm within the
group. In such groups where the 'bully mentality' has been
allowed to become a dominant factor in the group environment, a
steady stream of injustices and abuses often becomes a regular
and predictable group experience. Such a toxic environment often
remains as the status-quo of the group for an extended period of
time, until somehow the bullying-cycle should eventually come to
an end. Bystanders to bullying activities are often unable to
recognize the true cost that silence regarding the bullying
activities has to both the individual and to the group. A
certain inability to fully empathize is also usually present in
the typical bystander, but to a lesser degree than in the bully.
The reversal of a 'bully mentality' within a group is usually an
effort which requires much time, energy, careful planning,
coordination with others, and usually the undertaking of a
It is the general unwillingness of bystanders to expend these
types of energies and to undertake these types of risks that
bullies often rely upon in order to maintain their monopolies of
power. Until or unless at least one individual who has at least
some abilities to work with others, opts to expend whatever
energies may be needed to reverse the 'bully mentality' of the
group, the 'bully mentality' is often perpetuated within a group
for months, years or even decades.
Characteristics of likely targets of
While on the surface, chronic bullying may appear to be simply
the actions of an 'aggressor' (or aggressors) perpetrated upon
an unwilling 'targeted individual' (or individuals), on a
certain deeper level, for it to succeed, the bullying-cycle must
also be viewed as necessarily including a certain chronic
inadequate response on the part of the target (or targets). That
is, a response that is seen by both the bully and the target as
insufficient to prevent the chronic bullying-cycle from
repeating itself between the given individuals. Those
individuals or groups who are capable of reacting to initial
bullying attempts in ways that tend to sufficiently discourage
potential bullies from repeated attempts, are naturally
relatively exempt from this destructive cycle. Those individuals
or groups who most readily react to stressful situations by
perceiving themselves as 'victims'
tend to make the most suitable candidates for becoming the
'targets' of chronic bullying.
Typically the bullying-cycle must include both an act of
aggression on the part of a potential bully, and a response by a
potential target that is perceived by both as a certain sign of
submission. The cycle is only set in motion when both of these
two essential elements are present. Once both of these two
elements manifest themselves, the bullying cycle often proceeds
to feed on itself over time, and may last for months, years, or
even decades. The cycle is most easily broken at its initial
onset, however it can also be broken at any later point in its
progression by simply removing either one of its two essential
ingredients. While group involvement may seem to complicate
bullying activities, the act remains an implied agreement in
principal between the chief bully and the target that the one
has 'submitted' to the other. In the act of bullying the bully
attempts to make a public statement to the effect of: 'See me
and fear me, I am so powerful that I have the ability to inflict
pain upon the intended target at the time and manner of my
choice without having to pay any consequences.' Should an
intended target exhibit a 'defeated attitude' in response to
chronic bullying, then the bullying is likely to continue.
Should the intended target respond with a clear attitude of
self-confidence that somehow demonstrates that the bully's
attempt to dominate is futile, then the bullying attempt will
almost certainly quickly diminish or end all-together.
History of bullying
High-level forms of violence such as assault and murder usually
receive most media attention, but lower-level forms of violence
such as bullying has only in recent years started to be
addressed by researchers, parents and guardians and authority
It is only in recent years that bullying has been recognized and
recorded as a separate and distinct offence, but there have been
well documented cases that were recorded in a different context.
The Fifth Volume of the Newgate Calendar
contains at least one example where Eton Scholars George
Alexander Wood and Alexander Wellesley Leith were charged, at
Aylesbury Assizes, with killing and slaying the Hon. F. Ashley
Cooper on February 28, 1825 in an incident that would now,
surely be described as "lethal hazing."
The Newgate calendar contains several other examples that, while
not as distinct, could be considered indicative of situations of
Types of bullying
School bullying -
In schools, bullying occurs in all areas of school. It can occur
in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it
more often occurs in PE, recess, hallways,
bathrooms, on school
buses and waiting for buses, classes that require group work
and/or after school activities. Bullying in school sometimes
consists of a group of students taking advantage of or isolating
one student in particular and gaining the loyalty of bystanders
who want to avoid becoming the next victim. These bullies taunt
and tease their target before physically bullying the target.
Targets of bullying in school are often pupils who are
considered strange or different by their peers to begin with,
making the situation harder for them to deal with.
One student or a group can bully another student or a group of
students. Bystanders may participate or watch, sometimes out of
fear of becoming the next victim. However, there is some
research suggesting that a significant proportion of "normal"
school children may not evaluate school-based violence
(student-on-student victimization) as negatively or as being
unacceptable as much as adults generally do, and may even derive
enjoyment from it, and they may thus not see a reason to prevent
it if it brings them joy on some level.
Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers and the school
system itself: There is an inherent power differential in the
system that can easily predispose to subtle or covert abuse (relational
aggression or passive
or exclusion — even while maintaining overt commitments to
Anti-bullying programs are designed to teach students
cooperation, as well as training peer moderators in intervention and dispute
as a form of peer
American victims and their families have legal
recourse, such as suing a school or teacher for failure to
adequately supervise, racial or gender discrimination,
or other civil
Special education students who are victimized may sue a school
or school board under the ADA
504. In addition, the victims of some school shootings have
sued both the shooters' families and the schools.
Hazing is an often ritualistic test which may constitute
harassment, abuse, or humiliation with requirements to perform
meaningless tasks; sometimes as a way of initiation into a
social group. The term can refer to either physical (sometimes
violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices. It is a
subjective matter where to draw to line between 'normal' hazing
(somewhat abusive) and a mere rite
of passage (essentially
bonding; proponents may argue they can coincide), and there is a
gray area where exactly the other side passes over into sheer
degrading, even harmful abuse that should not even be tolerated
if accepted voluntarily (serious but avoidable accidents do
still happen; even deliberate abuse with similar grave medical
consequences occurs, in some traditions even rather often).
Furthermore, as it must be a ritual initiation,
a different social context may mean a same treatment is
technically hazing for some, not for others, e.g. a line-crossing
passing the equator at sea is hazing for the sailor while the
extended (generally voluntary, more playful) application to
passengers is not.
Hazing has been reported in a variety of social contexts,
- Sports teams
- Academic fraternities and sororities (see fraternities
and sororities) These practices are not limited to
American schools. Swedish students undergo a similar bonding
period, known as nollningen, in which all members of the
entering class participate.
- College and universities in
- Associated groups, like fan
clubs, school bands
- Secret societies and even
clubs, or rather their local sections (such as some modern
not traditional masonic lodges)
- Similarly various other
competitive sports teams or clubs, even 'soft' and
non-competitive ones (such as arts)
- The armed forces — e.g., in
the U.S., hard hazing practices from World
War I boot
introduced into colleges. In Poland army
hazing is called Polish fala "wave"
adopted pre-World War I from non-Polish armies. In the Russian
Army) hazing is called "Dedovshchina".
- Police forces (often with a paramilitary tradition)
- Rescue services, such as
lifeguards (also drilled for operations in military style)
- In workplaces
- Inmate hazing is also
common at confinement facilities around the world, including
frequent reports of beatings and sexual assaults by fellow
Hazing is considered a felony in
several US states, and anti-hazing legislation has been proposed
in other states.
Workplace bullying -
According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute
workplace bullying is "repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal
abuse, or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating,
or sabotage that
interferes with work or some combination of the three."
Statistics show that bullying is 3 times as prevalent as illegal discrimination and
at least 1,600 times as prevalent as workplace violence.
Statistics also show that while only one employee in every
10,000 becomes a victim of workplace violence, one in six
experiences bullying at work. Bullying is a little more common
not verbal abuse which occurs more than bullying.
Unlike the more physical form of school
bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the
established rules and policies of the organization and society.
Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be
against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the
targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious.
Particularly when perpetrated by a group, workplace bullying is
sometimes known as mobbing.
It can also be known as "career assassination" in political
According to Canadian educator Bill Belsey, it:
...involves the use of information and communication
as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant
messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, blogs, online
games and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to
support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an
individual or group, that is intended to harm others.
—Cyberbullying: An Emerging Threat to the Always On
Bullies will even create blogs to intimidate victims worldwide.
bullying and terrorism -
defined as, 'The extreme belief that your own country is always
best, which is often shown in enthusiastic support for a war
against another country. This form of ultra-nationalistic
rhetoric is sometimes a precursor to warfare. It is often a part
of a campaign by one country to impose its will upon another
country by various means of extraordinary coercion, with threats
of force, or ultimately by force itself if all other means may
be seen as unsuccessful. Some examples of diplomatic coercions
might be to threaten to with-hold aid and grants to a smaller
country or to threaten with exclusion from a trading
organization, or other similar economic threats.
methods used by various totalitarian regimes to secure and
maintain their power have sometimes been described as merely
highly organized and widespread forms of bullying. International
terrorism has been described by some as a form of political
bullying, and by others as a response to the international
bullying attempts of existing nation-states.