Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bullying

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PART ONE……… Literature Review.


Were you ever bullied? Or were you the bully? During a person’s school life they will in some way be affected by bullying, either by being bullied or being the bully. Thankfully for most children this is not a long term obstacle, but there are over two-thirds of these children who regularly and for long periods, have to deal with a bully. Many of these children will suffer long term effects. Bullying takes many forms and differs between genders, age groups and environmental factors. Schools are recognising the need for strategies for prevention and coping skills, to stamp out school violence, which are now being introduced to the school curriculum.


A bully is defined as a person who is habitually cruel and overbearing to others who are smaller and weaker than they are. A bully will choose their victim carefully, they look for those who are shy, small, new, different or disabled simply because these children lack the confidence to confront the bully alone. The bully loves this and uses it to their advantage, they gain a sense of power over their victim by using such threats as the well know ‘code of silence’; which the victim feels the need to uphold as breaking it would be a form of social suicide. Bullies use a range of tactics to intimidate their victims. It can be indirect � which is incidences such as teasing, verbal threats, manipulation, rumours, racial taunts and exclusion. Direct bullying refers to acts of physical violence such as hitting, punching, spitting and sexual harassment. After major research on bullying, its found that “Bullies seem to gain a form of social satisfaction, peer status and personal power from aggressive behavior” (Healey, 001.p.14)


Bullying between males and females differs greatly. Girls are often passive aggressive, using verbal insults on rude gestures aimed at their victim, remarks on appearance, ethnicity and weight are popular. Boys on the other hand are more physically aggressive and use hitting, punching and general aggression to intimidate their victim.


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These behaviors impact on the victim, manifesting themselves in different ways dependant on the child’s personality. Some children can cope quite well and shrug off the taunts by doing something they enjoy, ignoring and avoiding the bully altogether, yet others suffer severe and long term effects that carry into adulthood, such as depression and low self-esteem, even suicidal thoughts.


Bullying has now become a prominent issue in schools, being that most cases of bullying occur in school grounds, that schools are forced to look into policies to discourage, prevent and manage aggression and violence against others. To successfully achieve this goal, schools must be prepared to discuss and involve the entire school community into the making of the policy. The inclusion of parents is important so the parent knows what behavior wont be tolerated, and inclusion of students will make the policy more accepted as they feel it is their own set of rules to follow. The input from teachers in a enthusiastic manner is essential to the process as the teachers are the ones putting policy into practice.


“A report on schools which had obtained success with policies showed that they tended to be the ones which the programs were thoroughly and rigorously implemented, yet the details of each program weren’t as important as the commitment of the staff.”(Rigby)


Teachers have to now accept that they will become referees, councilors, confidants and role models of good behavior. “Teachers are bound by the ‘Duty of Care’ which is a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect a student from a foreseeable injury.” (Education Queensland) Schools are now teaching their students coping skills and strategies to help them deal with bullying more effectively. Through classroom discussions, role playing and the creation of class rules, to teaching the student strategies of avoidance and keeping themselves safe, also to find someone they trust to talk to.


A bully is a person who needs to have power over another to make themselves feel better, bullying is reliant on the victim keeping quiet and being intimidated. With the majority of Australian schools taking onboard the responsibility of preventing violence against other students this overtime will lead to a better understanding and accepting of others of all shapes, race and religions, leading to a better community in the future.


PART TWO…… The Interview.





This part of the essay is based on the interview conducted during my professional experience, the teacher will be referred to as Jane and her interview looks at her views on bullying in schools and her tactics for dealing with behavior issues, also it looks at the schools material setting, Jane’s teaching background and her career, Jane also gives her opinion on schools implementing anti-bullying policies.


Jane is a grade one teacher in a local Townsville school; it is a co-educational school with approximately 00 students. Jane’s classroom is a shared learning space, she faces her classes desks to the front board and uses a ‘big’ chair and easel to interact with the children for certain learning activities. Jane has decorated her room with the children’s artwork, number, alphabet and thrass charts, she has also maintained a clutter free environment for the comfort of the students. Jane has been a teacher for seven years, two of these at the current school and the others at other North Queensland schools, she actively seeks out other roles to play in the school community, such as being part of the Early Childhood Committee and the Performing Arts Committee. As a teacher of young people Jane wholeheartedly endorses the implementation of preventative strategies form an early age, so the knowledge is there to create the understanding for tolerance in later years. Jane also concurs with Rigby’s statement on schools needing the teachers full commitment for a successful program against bullying. Jane often refers to the school ‘code of behavior’ which has the general guidelines of Care, Courtesy, Consideration, Cooperation, Respect and Honesty. She feels that by re-enforcing these steps with her grade ones they will take this on with them through their school life. Jane also referred to the fact that bullies are mainly a product of their environment as a whole and that parents are not entirely to blame. Jane did however agree with a quote from a book she reads on dealing with bullies that “When an adult act in aggressive way, their children will follow, when they reward aggression their children will display this behavior.” (McNamara.17,p.1)


Jane did however refer that an adult is mentioned not a parent.


Jane does like to use in her class the ‘choice theory’ which gives a child the opportunity to decide how they will behave and then take the responsibility for that behavior, this also shows a child that you respect their opinions and they can take ownership of their attitude.


Other tactics for behavior management are behavior cards; issued when general misconduct with in a class or playground, these are taken to the office and dealt with there. Also there are Thankyou card that encourage good behavior with incentives such as a $ voucher from the tuck shop.


In conclusion Jane agrees that bullying in schools should not be tolerated and that preventative steps are needed at a young age to ensure that the students establish a clear understanding of the effects bullying has on themselves and others. Jane also sees a uniform approach by the specific school is vital for a successful program.


PART THREE… Comparative Analysis.


This section of the essay will explore some of the similarities in research on bullying and violence in schools. How much of the literature draws the same conclusions and how much more of the environmental factors need to be researched. Along the way we look at what Jane does and doesn’t agree with.


“Bullies are made, not born.” (McNamara.17,p.) is a statement made in McNamara’s book, he appears to point the finger to parents being wholly responsible for the behaviors of their children. He states that aggression is a learned behavior and parents need to break the generational link to sculpt better children, but he neglects to mention the other influences on children such as media, peers, and the community. On the other hand Ken Rigby takes a more liberal approach and avoids laying the blame squarely on the parents, he mentions the other factors and their effects. Jane also agrees that parents aren’t the sole influence, as a teacher she sees first hand the peer group pressure and social obligations placed on children today.


The main researchers all seem to concur with each other on the cases of how schools should deal with bullying. All suggest that open forums and an enthusiastic approach by all is required for success.


“Violence in schools is present in any situation where a member of the school community…is intimidated, abused…in a school…” (Sticks and Stones,14.p.1)


Everyone has the right to feel safe in school, research compiled has a consistent view for guidelines on policy making for schools, that it needs to be a community effort and remain diplomatic. To encourage the teachers to accept and promote the policy with class discussions, even role plays. Having said this Jane also sees the point made in the literature but also the need to take a more in depth look at all the facts not just a few.


Researchers all seem to lack a clear understanding of the degree of violence taking place and where this violence originates from. The need for more studies and follow-up are needed. Here again, Jane agrees that not having the full accounts can lead to misconceptions and wrong conclusions. Jane sees many of these outside influences and their effects, and can see where the research is lacking. Victims have been offered a generic set of steps to cope and move on, yet their reaction aren’t all the same. “Children react to being bullied in different ways…attributed to the frequency and intensity.” (Healey,001.p.16) Jane feels that this isn’t emphasized enough in literature, just because a child shows no signs, doesn’t mean he’s not hurting.


In conclusion the literature on bullying is mostly the same information and suggestions for parents, teachers and students, but with minor difference during the interpretation process of the data. It seems most of the research has good beginnings, but there is a lot more work to be done to make any real change in anti-social behavior with in schools.





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