As mentioned above, for bullying to take place a bully and a victim must be present. A bully is a person who uses his/her powers or status to injure another person either verbally, physically or emotionally whereas a victim is a person being bullied. In some cases bystanders are also present and they are referred to those who witness the bullying activity but they have nothing to do about it because of threats.
Bullies in middle school have common characteristics according to various studies. Bullies injure others in different ways without thinking twice and according to Hase (2015), bullies displays the following common characteristics; they are impulsive, that is , they does things without considering the outcomes, they have a positive attitude towards violence, they feel they are the ones to dominate, they are aggressive and they also lack empathy. The perception of bullies by other students and how they judge them in middle school is also studied. Espelage and Asidao stated that, in terms of popularity among other students bullies are below average. Another researcher, Kessel (2015) indicated that, bullies can identify themselves with other bullies because they belong to the same group and even compete among themselves. Every bully would wish to be more popular than the other and they do so by being more aggressive.
The popularity of a bully can also be determined by the type of bully a student is. In this case, there are clever and non-clever bullies and they possess different characteristics. Clever bullies are the most popular bullies and they are always confident, smart, social and other peers like them. Unlike non-clever bullies who are not highly ranked by their peers because they possess weird characteristics like being insecure, ant-social and angry (Hein 2015).
According to Rose (2015), students who bully others in middle school are prone to other indiscipline issues, because they also go against the laws and regulations governing the school and this makes them to face disciplinary actions from time to time. They also disrespect teachers and this makes them to be suspected whenever a mistake arises. On the other hand, a study carried out by Selkie (2016) showed that, non-bullies were rarely found in disciplinary issues and therefore rarely punished.
Bullying in middle schools is caused by various family factors. Students will act aggressively at school depending on how they are treated at home. Therefore, if parents inflict physical punishment to their children at home, those teens will find it hard to develop a positive relationship with fellow students and even teachers. This is because, the only time they feel to possess power and authority is when they are in school and therefore go ahead exercising authority and power in the name of compensating (Cenat 2015).
Besides poor parenting styles, Fleming (2015) stated that drug abuse by parents also contributes to students becoming bullies at school. Parents who abuse drugs have no time with their children and do not even monitor what their children do both at home and in school.
However, parents who do not abuse drugs have a very close relationship with their children. In this way, they openly discuss issues affecting their children as they closely monitor all movements made by children. They also make follow-ups in school to ensure that their children are doing well in terms of discipline and academics. Educators and guardians don't see effectively on the grounds that by and large tormenting is done in a roundabout way. The way of life of harassing is extremely normal among the center school understudies and thusly, counteractive action techniques ought to be set up so this issue can be all around tended to. Avoidance techniques that can help instructors successfully address this culture in center schools will likewise be examined. This paper will address tormenting as an issue among understudies in the center school. It will additionally investigate the state of mind that understudies have towards harassing, reasons for tormenting, types, impacts and even the qualities of understudies who menace others.
However, whether or not bullies have a mental health problem is conflicting among researchers as some say bullies have mental health problems while others say bullies are normal mentally. Harris says that bullies have no mental problems while Hymel (2009) states that bullies have mental problems because some of their behaviors like aggressiveness is as a result of depression which is a common condition experienced by those with mental health problems.
Just like bullies, victims of bullies also display common characteristics. They possess physical characteristics that makes make to be targeted. Most of them puts on glasses, are poor and also fat (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011). Victims of bulling can be classified either as passive or provocative. Passive victims internalize their emotions and this makes them to suffer from depression and anxiety. After being bullied, they behave in a manner that attracts more bullying, this is according to Varjas (2009). This ends up creating a cycle of bulling. On the other hand, provocative victims tends to fight back after being bullied. They go ahead doing things that caused them to be bullied like arguing with peers, stealing and behaving in a manner that annoys the peers. Unlike passive victims, provocative victims externalize their emotions and act aggressively. Just like for the passive victims, provocative victims also attract more bullying from the way they react and this create a cycle of bulling again.
Parenting styles contributes greatly to the proneness of one becoming a victim of bullying. Parents with authority over their children will make their children either to be submissive or aggressive so as to cope with the authoritarian nature of their parents. Also, children with authoritarian parents do not have a close relationship with their parents such that it even becomes hard for them to share what they experiences at school. Aggressiveness or submissiveness to others at school makes such students prone to bullying. However, Elliot (2009) discovered that children that have close and good relationship with their parents always feel free and open to report bullying issues.
Some parents are overprotective to their children and this denies them an opportunity to do things on their own such as making decisions. This students depend on their parents for everything and while at school they are unable to handle issues such as bullying at their own by defending themselves.
Bullying has several negative effects and the victims may end up developing problems like mental health problem, substance abuse, delinquency and they may also become regular absentees. Absenteeism greatly affects their academic performance because they misses a lot while away from school. Victims may also start thinking of suicide. Smith, et, al., 2008 states that victims cope differently to bullying depending on their personal characteristics and environmental factors like supportive social systems. Those who receive adequate social support, are less likely to encounter the previously named problems compared to those who are nor supported socially. Sometimes, the problems that victims of bullying go through are long-lasting and this can in one developing depression and anxiety in his/her adulthood.
Bully-victims are bullies who are bullied by others. Bullies who are bullied bully others because they were at one time bullied therefore by bullying others they feel they are getting back the powers they lost. Compared to pure victims and pure bullies, bully-victims seem to possess more psychological problems, they are more depressed, lonely, impulsive, high strung and anxious. Also, bully-victims are more likely to suffer from more injuries including self-injuries. Most middle school teachers find it difficult to deal with bully-victims because they plays two roles and therefore teachers cannot easily understand them, (Hein 2015). Being a victim, at the same time a bully gives one more problems that need to be handled for one to change fully.
To reduce bullying in middle schools, I recommend the following;
Middle school administration should regularly organize for open, honest and non-shaming discussions, that will engage everyone not just bullies and victims. During this discussion sessions, students should be allowed to discuss their differences and even practice conflict resolution by themselves.
It should also be made clear by the administration that, bullying is completely wrong and anyone who will be found bullying other action to be taken against them.
Middle schools to employ social workers who deal with bullying issues professionally by counselling bullies and victims. This will make students understand that, what they doing is wrong unlike when teachers handle bullying issues, some teachers react violently by punishing bullies. This may not help much as some students will get used to punishments and instead of stopping they will do it more.
Parents are great contributors to bullying in middle schools and bullying can be prevented if they recheck on their relationships with their children. Parents should enhance healthy parent-child relationship. By doing so, children will be closely attached to their parents and this play a great role in protecting their children from bullying. Creating a supportive and lovely environment is also important. Healthy guidance should also be provided and this will help in the identification of children’s needs so that they can be valued and taken care of. By doing this, a bullying free environment is created.
Schools can also use arts to create context. These arts includes literature, drama and visual arts. Through this arts, educators can help students in middle schools to understand the negative impacts of bullying.
Students in middle schools who are prone to bullying should be encouraged to be confident in everything they do as this will help in deterring bullies. Walking and working in groups should also be enhanced because this make bullies develop fear as because they finds it easy to attack individuals.
Teachers in middle schools to identify `gateway` behaviors although sometimes it’s difficult to detect. Bullying behaviors can be developed into such behaviors and if noticed earlier they can be prevented. Some of the key behaviors to be detected include, name calling, spying, prolonged staring, cruel laughing, causing physical harm, eye rolling among others. Additionally, teachers should be on the watch out since it’s claimed that most students in middle schools are bullied without the knowledge of teachers’ maybe because they are not very close to their students.
The provision of supportive materials to teachers such as information about the types of bullying and the strategies to be put in place will help teachers reinforce this concepts throughout the year as this will keep students on toes.
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Eliot, M. (2009). Bullying in middle school as a function of insecure attachment and aggressive attitudes. School Psychology International, 30(2), 201-214.
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