Bullying in Schools
Chapter 1: Introduction
Education today is considered to be a basic necessity to all children. The local, state, and federal governments, together with the school systems, are charged with the main responsibility of ensuring education is accessible to all children. Educational practitioners, including school administrators, headmasters and teachers, are required to establish a safe and more comfortable atmosphere for the students. In addition, educational policies related to the teachers’ capacity and curriculum development in accomplishing learning and teaching processes also demand that teachers establish good behavior and character among the students in schools. All together, the responsibility of the parents in controlling the behavior of the students while at home is very important. However, according to the research, there is a significant population of the children that do not obtain full education; those that avoid school, attend but do not take part in learning, those that cannot learn as a result of various factors that drift their attention from normal class lessons, and those whose concentration and sense of security are hampered by other students (Aronson, 2000; Bonilla, 2000; Coggeshall & Kingery, 2001). Students today are encountering various impediments to their education, and as Salmon et al. (1998) state, bullying is one of the significant challenges that schools must address. A study conducted by Bosworth et al. (1999) reported that about 33% of the middle school students highlighted that they felt unsafe in school due to bullying and could not report about it. The same study established that students did not report about such behaviors to the relevant authorities for various reasons, for instance, students felt that their school administrators and teachers would do nothing about it.
The implications of bullying in schools run deep into our societies, considering the fact that its effects go beyond incidents encountered at an individual level. This is depicted by the increasing interest on the part of the government to support studies and surveys regarding bullying in schools, in an attempt to acquire more information for addressing this obstacle (Coggeshall & Kingery, 2001). However, it is important to note that bullying is considered as a practice, which is especially rampant among the youth, reeking destruction on the educational establishment. Educational practitioners have become more interested in bullies as they create a sense of fear within other students, and the entire school environment that is unfavorable to the sense of safety and comfort required for effective and good learning to take place. Howell (1997) states, that bullying in schools can also result in school-related victimizations. In addition, the recent global studies indicate that bullying is a symptom of a wider context of violence. However, it is significant to mention that success in any learning atmosphere is not guaranteed by the nonexistence of bullying, but successful learning settings can be improved when such disruptions are eradicated (Bosworth et al., 1999). It is the main reason as to why bullying within the education system should be understood and tackled. Indeed, schools should be viewed as safe settings where all students are offered equal learning opportunities. It has been reported that between 80% and 90% of the preadolescents and the adolescents have to cope with constant physical and psychological harassment, depicted as bullying, at some points during the educational process (Oliver et al., 1994). According to Bosworth et al. (1994), behavioral problems such as bullying among the adolescents are viewed as a part of a syndrome. This constant culture of bullying has to be eradicated to ensure effective learning and safety of the students. To address this issue, this research seeks to investigate bullying in schools, looking at the students’ perceptions after the experience, whether they were the bully, the bullied, or a witness.
Purpose of the Study
Bullying is becoming a global problem and can take place in any school. A survey conducted by the United States Department of Justice (2003) regarding the indicators of school crime and safety reported that both females and males between the ages of 12 and 18 were at a higher risk of being bullied than any other age group, with the proportion of females being 7%, while that of males being 9%. However, it is worth noting that a previous survey that had been conducted in 1999 indicated no difference between the females and males as rates for both were 5%. A study conducted by Druck and Kaplowitz (2005) documented that 60% of students aged between 12 and 17 had observed a student bullying another one every day. Bullying may affect school attendance as students consider school as an unsafe place, thus negatively affecting their ability to learn. Furthermore, bullying is toxic to an atmosphere favorable for effective learning. Regardless of whether it is psychological or physical harassment, or a consequence of the harassment envisaged in poor attendance as a result of fear for safety, bullying is a problem that needs to be addressed. According to Maslow’s theory of needs, it is fundamental that the basic needs are satisfied first before the higher needs, like critical thinking and learning are attained. Therefore, it is important to ensure the safety and security of the students at school. Limited formal research regarding bullying in schools has been documented globally, which makes it difficult to identify the real cause of bullying and appropriate measures that could be implemented to address it. This study, therefore, seeks to examine perceptions and definitions of bullying from the students’ point of view, as experienced in school and to explore their understandings of how they manage to cope with experience, whether they were in the role of a victim, witness, or bully.
Theoretical Framework: Anomie
The concept of bullying has to be placed within a theoretical framework in order to generate a deeper understanding and to provide the opportunity for a more elaborate conceptualization of the concept, its likely origin, and lines of inquiry. Whereas social learning theories, functionalism, and biological theories offer theoretical frameworks that can offer some explanations regarding bullying. Durkheim’s anomie offers an explanation that shifts focus from a single person to the society. Durkheim (1979) considers that the society impacts significantly the actions of an individual, as induced by the norms, traditions, and rules found within it. The following statement provides the basis of Durkheim’s work. In one of his writings, Suicide, Durkheim, (1979) defines anomic suicide as one that is generated from human’s activity without the regulations and the enduring suffering that happens due to the lack of regulations. In this case, regulation is viewed as positive force that is moral since the society deems it as being desirable. Durkheim’s theory also considers the society as the sole authority that human beings will respect, and it is the single moral power greater than an individual, which he accepts (Durkheim, 1979). Consequently, the lack of regulations within the society implies that the society has no capacity to control individuals. From the anomic perspective; this implies that the society no longer offers the restrictions that bar people from committing suicide. Shoemaker (2000) describes anomie as the inconsistencies between the conditions within the society and the individual opportunities for productivity, fulfillment, and growth. Marshall (1994) looks at this as an absence, confusion, conflict, or breakdown in the societal norms. Anomie can offer an understanding regarding why students engage in bullying. This gives an explanation as to why there are increases in the probability of antisocial behavior among the students (Arllen et al., 1994).A number of arguments have been brought forward claiming that there exists no anomie in schools due to the standardized tests trend, accountability, and zero tolerance policies. However, it should be noted that such changes could have been generated from anomie. Furthermore, it is worth noting that despite the fact that there has been a move towards accountability within the education systems, anomie may still be evident.
Shoemaker (2000) highlights that one of the hypotheses concerning anomie is that the institutions and structure of society are supposed to exist in disorganization or disarray. Despite the fact that this disorganization or disarray may not be happening currently in the highly regulated and accountable school systems, it may be happening within the society. An example of anomie within the school could be lack of clarity regarding rules, consequences, and expectations, which, according to Morrison and Skiba (2001), increase antisocial behavior. In addition, it has also been reported that minimizing the students’ feelings of isolation and enhancing feelings of association to the school reduce the acceptance of and possibility for violence (Coghlan, 2000). Therefore, when there is a connection to the society or a larger institution, there is normlessness or less anomie, which means that regulations are established to direct the actions of the individuals within the society. Attaining an understanding regarding when and where there is anomie and how this is perceived by the students may help in determining when and where bullying takes place in schools.
Significance of the Study
The incidents of bullying in schools as reported by the media have become a major issue of concern to the educational practitioners. This concern has raised interest among researchers to carry out related studies in recent years, in an aim to address this ever increasing issue. As documented by various studies conducted in different countries, bullying in schools has become common problem in almost all schools around the world.
The significant goal of this research is to enlighten teachers and give some advice on how to help the bullying issue in schools. It is expected that teachers who have a greater understanding of bullying in schools have the capacity to minimize these incidents and help create safer learning atmospheres for their students. Moreover, offering students with a safe learning environment may improve academic attainment and increase attendance. The expansion of an understanding regarding bullying in school, along with its consequences on the students, may be partly attained by exploring the perceptions of the students regarding bullying, together with their views concerning the roles of the administrators and teachers in these events.
Developing the understanding of the perceptions of students regarding bullying may generate insights that will sustain efforts put by the schools that are aimed at minimizing bullying. These insights and perceptions acquired from the students could facilitate the creation of learning atmospheres that enclose the students in a sense of comfort and security as well as offer them a substitute to the norm-less society that has currently been established to which some students may fall prey. By developing the understanding of the views of the students and how they define bullying, school administrators and teachers could gain a deeper comprehension of the intricate dynamics entangled in the concept of bullying. This understanding will also help school administrators and teachers in tackling with the numerous forms of bullying that occur in school. The manner in which students define bullying may totally differ from the way students define it, thus an enlightened, refreshed, and revised understanding on the side of the teachers may help in tackling this problem that has been a main concern of the parents, educators, and media. Studies report that some people view bullying as a rite of passage, whereas the others consider it as some sort of torment. Therefore, it is important that the differing perspectives are understood if significant change as far as bullying is to take place. To effectively tackle and address this issue, it is very important that the issue be understood and defined similarly by all parties. Examining the perceptions of the students will create an opportunity for the voices of the students, who are the main victims in this case, to be heard. In his publication, Odd Girl Out, Simmons (2002) highlights the value of adopting a listening guide rather than an interview guide, while interviewing girls regarding their bullying experiences as a listening guide enables the researcher to understand the situation from the perspective if the girls who are being interviewed. Simmons used this approach to allow the voices of the girls to be heard, in an aim to generate more insight into their feelings, desires, and experiences, and enable them recover knowledge concerning them. Haselswerdt and Lenhardt (2003) in their study suggested that if time is taken to listen to and try to understand what students say and let them feel respected and valued that their views will be considered in running the school, they are more probable to have the feeling of being connected to a community that is caring. It is, therefore, important to listen to the perspectives of the students regarding bullying in order to acquire a deeper understanding of bullying from the view of those whose lives are daily impacted.
The main aim of this study is to examine the perceptions of the college students regarding bullying in school and explore the understanding of the students about how they have managed to deal with the experience. In order to achieve this objective, the following hypotheses were used.
Hypothesis 1: it is hypothesized that individuals with higher body weight, shorter height, less trendy clothes, and a special education disability are more likely to be bullied in comparison to individuals who do not possess these characteristics.
Hypothesis 2: It is also hypothesized that teachers who are vigilant about preventing bullying have fewer incidents of bullying in their schools in comparison to teachers who are passive about this epidemic.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
This chapter reviews the documented literature regarding school bullying. However, most of the scholarly literature related to bullying does not consider bullying as a solitary topic, but it is commonly attached with violence. Despite the fact that these subjects are always considered to be broad in scope and can be examined separately, they will have to be addressed simultaneously in some cases. Therefore, when violence and bullying are addressed mutually in this chapter, it is due to the fact that scholarly articles have outlined the two aspects as being closely related. Howell (1997) states that there exists a connection between violence and bullying in schools. This is so considering the cases of the reported school shootings, whereby the main perpetrators have been acknowledged as being sufferers of bullying (Aronson, 2000). There is a common hypothesis within the literature claiming that the experiences of being victims of bullying at times result in the acts of violence as a form of reprisal (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2005).
To begin with, a discussion of the meaning of bullying is provided in order to highlight the key descriptors of the study. A review of literature examining the possible theoretical explanations regarding school bullying will also be discussed. After the theoretical explanations provided, the review will examine three main components regarding bullying, which include the prevalence of bullying in schools, incidents of bullying in schools, and measures that could be adopted to help prevent school bullying.
Definition of Bullying
Bullying is understood by many to be a form of behavior that could be easily acknowledged when people experience it. It is necessary to note that bullying can be experienced by any individual, regardless of the age, and can take place at any place, for instance, workplace, school, or even at home. So far, defining bullying has been a challenge as it is associated with both a wide range of behavior that constitutes bullying, as well as the characteristics of bullying behavior (Montgomery, 1994). Conversely, most of the definitions commonly applied were adopted by Olweus (1991) and Erling (1989). According to Erling (1989), bullying is defined as long standing violence, psychological or physical, carried out by a group of the individuals directed against an individual who has no ability defend himself/herself. Based on the same thoughts, Olweus (1991) considers bullying as repeated, negative acts over time, such as kicking, locking inside a room, hitting, threatening, teasing, and saying unpleasant as well as nasty things.
According to Rigby (2005), bullying is viewed as a systematic exploitation of power within interpersonal associations. This implies that bullying is when an individual is harassed by time or an individual that has more power in terms of either social standing or physical strength. The misuse of power is not limited to certain authority or managerial positions, but most people have the capacity to use power to rule over somebody. This, therefore, means that there exist imbalances in psychological and physical strength between a victim and a bully (Olweus & Solberg, 1998). Concerning the detection of bullying, a study conducted by Olweus and Solberg (1998) highlights some common characteristics that could be used to identify bullying behavior. The same study states that bullying is often recognized when an individual or a group of people continually speak or do unpleasant and painful things to a person who cannot defend himself / herself. When talking of the terms unpleasant and painful, Olweus and Solberg (1998) refer them as indirect and direct bullying. They claim that the unpleasantness and pain may occur as a result of direct bullying, such as kicking, sneering and offensive threat or comments, hitting, and insults, whereas indirect bullying, though painful just as direct bullying, is the experience of being publicly excluded or isolated from the others (Olweus & Solberg, 1998). From this definition, there is a reasonable presupposition that there is a psychological element in almost all forms of bullying (Rigby, 2005).
Bullying in Schools
The increasing cases of bullying in schools today has captured worldwide attention among school authorities, the media, parents, and the researchers who are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the students (Moon et al., 2008). School bullying is a universal problem that poses negative consequences for the entire school atmosphere, and for the students’ right to learn in a safe setting without having to fear. This widespread problem is the most less-reported safety predicament within schools. Until lately, most of the research studies regarding bullying were basically concerned with bullying in schools; though, other perspectives of bullying have also been researched widely. This is because bullying becomes a daily and common occurrence among students during school age. According to Sampson (2002), bullying most often occurs during elementary school and reduces during middle school, but increases in high school. Various studies have been conducted concerning the phenomenon of school bullying. The first research regarding this issue was carried out by Olweus (1993), a Scandinavian researcher, who performed a systematic study in Swedish and Norwegian schools and established that a significant population of the students experienced bullying in school. The same study found out that about 7% of the students in the sample took part in bullying, and between 15% and 5% of the students drawn from different grades reported being victims of bullying. This also implies that about one out of every seven students is engaged in bullying activities with the level or regularity, either as a victim or a bully (Olweus, 1993). Studies related to school bullying have also been carried out in various nations such as Canada, South Korea, Austria, Japan, United States, Italy, England, and China, and have reported comparable or even higher percentage regarding the samples of students engaged in bulling activities (Olweus& Solberg, 1998; Moon et al., 2008). Basing on such studies, it can be seen that school bullying has become a worldwide phenomenon. Despite the fact that most of the formal research regarding school bullying has been highly discussed in the countries where the research has been conducted, it is important to note that the problems associated with school bullying have been reported and discussed anywhere there exists a formal schooling setting. Most of the findings regarding this phenomenon indicate that bullying consists of direct behaviors including, threatening, stealing, taunting, hitting, and taunting that are instigated by other students against the victim. To add on to the direct attacks, bullying can also be experienced indirectly, for instance, making a student to be isolated socially through deliberate exclusion (Olweus & Solberg, 1998). However, despite the fact that bullying can be either direct or indirect forms, it is worth noting that the main component of bullying is that the psychological or physical coercion happens over and over again to generate a continuous pattern of abuse and harassment (Rigby, 2005). To allow bullying to go on in schools without employing any intervention will most likely generate serious risks to students and enhance this phenomenon, which is considered to have adverse impacts on academic performance and life of the students.
Theoretical Perspectives Regarding School Bullying
Some studies have been conducted to establish theories examining the most likely causes that lead to bullying behavior. However, it is important to note that theories are often developed to help generate explanations regarding the world we live in. Therefore, if bullying is considered to be a barrier to effective learning, explanations are required to help generate a deeper understanding regarding this phenomenon. Almost all of the theories that have directly addressed the issue of school bullying link violence and bullying together; therefore, the two topics have been examined together in this study. However, it is worth highlighting that the existing literature regarding school bullying and violence offers very limited theoretical explanations regarding these phenomena. This is why more focus has been directed towards theories of delinquency. School violence and school bullying are all treated as delinquent acts; hence, it is reasonable that delinquency theories are applied in exploring the two topics from a theoretical perspective. Apparently, taking into account the fact that theories have to be drawn from the field of juvenile delinquency since more and more focus is being directed towards school violence and bullying, it is necessary to mention that there is a need to come up with theories, to help explore these phenomena, along with their intricacies in the future. A number of theories will be explored in this study: biological theories, functionalism, social disorganization theory, social learning theory, and anomie.
In his discussion regarding conduct disorders, Kauffman (2001) highlights that genetic, as well as other biological factors contribute to the most serious incidents of conduct disorder. However, the recognition of a biological ground in milder cases appears to be less clear, and the context also contributes to the problem (Kauffman, 2001). The two most commonly sought after biological theories include inheritance theory and somatotype theory. Empirical findings suggest that somatotypes or body types can be linked to an individual’s behavior and character (Shoemaker, 2000). The main presupposition is that the general body shape is correlated with the behaviors and character that are associated to delinquency (Shoemaker, 2000). Compared to the inheritance theory, this explanation is considered more specific, as inheritance theory argues that delinquency is a behavior that is inherited, and presupposes that an individual’s behavior is contingent on the factors present at birth, which are biologically transmitted from the parents. To clarify this assumption, Shoemaker (2000) looked at the research that shows some correlation between genetics and both antisocial behavior and criminal activity. This researcher stresses that biological theorists have not yet established an explicit biological explanation regarding the factors that are inherited to create delinquency or crime. However, despite the fact that it can be possible to give explanations of some specific behaviors basing on the biological perspective, it is worth highlighting that it is not easy to do so on bullying, considering the fact that the bullies are only involved in this activity, which may not be described as delinquent behavior. Basically, biological theories highlight a genetic factor to delinquency, but due to the fact that bullying can be a restricted incident, and can be effected by various types of people, hence this justification falls flat.
The theory of functionalism is a rational choice for investigating school bullying, as it tries to give explanations regarding the perceptions of students on bullying in schools. Looking at his explanation of functionalism, Merton (1968) documents that social activities people are involved in, along with the cultural items possessed have a function or reason for the social society. Merton notes that the items or activities accomplish a sociological function and are indispensable. It is possible to argue that school bullying and violence accomplish psychological functions, for instance, support in the growth of coping skills on the victims’ part, and skills to influence the bullies. It is worth noting that these cannot be considered to be sociological functions, the core of functionalism theory. This implies that the approaches, through which the development of coping skills on the part of the victims and influencing skills of the bullies are attained, are not functional for the cultural or social system. Bullying and violence within schools are a burden to the societies’ financial resources and impact on the establishment of the kind of unity necessary for creating a sense of community. It is significant to highlight that school bullying and violence are dispensable. Despite the fact that they offer a means through which some people are able to acquire status over the others in the society, it is often attained through intimidation. The power attained through intimidation is narrow in duration and scope; thus, activities that help people attain this power, for instance, bullying, are dispensable. There are other effective approaches that can be employed to attain power in the society. The theory of functionalism explains why incidents take place in the society, such that the given incidents contain specific purposes that are considered valuable in the society. Therefore, as school violence and bullying generate no good social value, it can be deduced that functionalism is not very practical as an explanation; though, it can be applied as a functional gauge of uncertainty and disorganization.
Social Disorganization Theory
The main postulation of the social disorganization theory is that a collapse in the institutional controls based at the community level of the society results in delinquency (Shoemaker, 2000). People living in a society that is in a status of disorganization and find themselves in confusion, are not disoriented personally, but are behaving in response to the disorganization within their surrounding (Shoemaker, 2000). Whereas such people may exist in harmony with their surrounding under ordinary conditions, a drastic alteration of the systems will throw them into a state of disorganization as they lack the knowledge on how to interpret the societies’ new shape.
Social Learning Theory
This theory is grounded on the main presupposition that three major factors control an individual’s behavior: the cognitive/affective traits, the behavior, and the environment (Kauffman, 2001). An individual’s ability whether or not to portray aggressive behavior is determined by the reciprocal effects of the three main factors that have been highlighted, along with the social history of the individual (Kauffman, 2001). This theory claims that aggressive behavior is acquired through the direct effects of both aggressive and non-aggressive actions and through examination of aggression, together with its impacts (Kauffman, 2001). Social learning theory highlights that people discover particular aggressive behaviors by observing other people who form the behavior. For instance, when young people observe high rank individuals indulge in aggressive activities, especially when there are evident returns for such activities, they are most likely to take part in similar activities. There is also a high likelihood for young people to take part in aggressive behavior when they do not observe their models getting negative results, as a return for indulging in activities related to such behaviors. Although, social learning theory contains significant implications to understanding aggression, it, however, fails to adequately deal with some of the intricate issues regarding school bullying and violence. First, when young people notice that a peer is not reprimanded for indulging in the activities related to bullying, basing on the social learning theory, it is expected that many young people will bully the others who are considered weaker than themselves. This means that if a witness observes a student bullying another student, and no punishment is given to the bully, there is a high likelihood that the witness will turn into bullying, as well. Apparently, some students bully while the others do not, but the disparity may be partly explained by the fact aspect that some students observe more bullying modeled with no negative consequences compared to the others. Second, it is important to note that social learning depends on the belief that actions of other individuals must act as a replica of aggressive behaviors. This means that modeling aggressive behavior has to be present for such behaviors to happen. Though an individual is required to learn from the others how to bully and become aggressive, it is likely that a range of other conditions can greatly contribute to a person’s possibility to bully other individuals. For example, young people may observe aggression being replicated by their parents and, thus, consider it as a way of dealing with specific issues with other people. Banks (1997) asserts that bullies are mostly associated with family backgrounds where physical punishment is applied and where they have learned to strike back as a way of dealing with problems. Moreover, no existing research supports the idea that the replication of aggression by other people and young people acting out of aggression are constantly related. For example, many suggestions have been brought forward highlighting that exposure to violent games and television violence may be associated with violence in young people (Funk et al., 2004). Although watching such kind of content can be considered as a form of modeling, it is apparent that most of the young people watch aggression in games and on television, though these people do not turn in violence (Blumberg et al., 2008).
In addition, empirical studies support the idea that the victims of bullying and violence can also be the aggressors, an idea that is supported by the social learning theory’s modeling component (Simmons, 2002; Druck & Kaplowitz, 2005). However, the victims of bullying are able not only to observe the returns reaped by the bullies, but also go through the pain of being in the position of the victim. The experience of being a victim is expected to offer victims the understanding of how it feels being a victim, which might generate a desire of not wanting to extend the same experience to the others, and thus deter the potential perpetrator. As a final point, it is worth highlighting that social learning theory gives no account of the bullying activities that are considered more common, for instance, teasing or pushing. It does not also generate as much focus on societal influences like it does on the individual influences. Therefore, to deal with bullying, more focus should be paid to the individual, as well as the environment.
According to Shoemaker (2000), anomie often refers to the larger societal conditions. It highlights the inconsistencies between individual opportunities and societal conditions for growth, productivity, and fulfillment within the society (Shoemaker, 2000). For instance, anomie could be considered to exist when people get themselves at a disadvantage in relation to legitimate and acceptable economic activities, thus, opt to retaliate by indulging in criminal, delinquent, or unlawful activities. A good illustration of this could be when a student demands the same type of expensive clothes like those that are worn by peers, and since the parents are not able to purchase such types of clothes, the student opts to steal as the only way to get hold of them.
Durkheim (1979) outlines three main types of suicide. Anomic suicide is one of these three types among them. As Durkheim states that anomic suicide happens due to lack of regulations within the society and, thus, the sufferings of people due the lack of regulation. Both economic upturn and catastrophes result in the increased suicidal rates (Durkheim, 1979). Rationally, economic catastrophes place people in a state in which they cannot satisfy their essential wants and desires; hence, suicide may be considered as the only way out. On the contrary, economic upturns offer resources to people that can also result in lack of regulations. According to Durkheim (1979), people with less disposable income do not necessarily have to control their spending as poverty requires certain regulations. However, during good financial periods, people are not often regulated, and the influence posed by the society is lacking due to individual passions, thus, leaving people with not regulating power.
The correlation between bullying, violence, and the lack of regulation is noted in schools when there is no clarity about the rules which resulting in the increased rates of school violence (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). In addition, studies indicate that, in most cases, antisocial students attend schools in crowded and deteriorated school structures (Kauffman, 2001), and may act in response to the disorganization within the environment. Durkheim’s theory of anomie as an explanation of school bullying, violence, and delinquency makes one to look ahead of the student and to the entire system, such as school or society. Students may consider their school as disorganized suggesting that there is a higher likelihood for them to take part in the delinquent behavior like bullying. This basically happens when the school rules are enforced erratically or lack clarity, when students having antisocial behavior are taken to overcrowded and dilapidated schools, when students are not given papers and tests that are timely graded, and when the requirements for the course are not clear, while the expectations of the teachers are questionable, unclear, and inconsistent. It is important to highlight that disorganization within the society can also bring about deviant or delinquent behavior. Unstable political systems, natural disasters, and economic activity not within the norm can generate a sense of disorganization, giving rise to a state of normlessness, anomie. This is outlined in one Durkheim’s writings, Suicide: A Study in Sociology, where he states that when a society is troubled by beneficent but unexpected transitions, or by some painful predicament, that society is momentarily unable of applying the moral influence, which, in turn, gives rise to the sudden increase in the suicides curve (Durkheim, 1979, p. 252). Although Durkheim talked of suicide while discussing anomie, it is important to note that the deviant behavior, where suicide falls, also includes bullying.
To summarize, a number of theories generate insight on the topic of violence and school bullying. The theory of functionalism fails to provide an explanation regarding school bullying and violence since none of these phenomena contain function or value for the society that cannot be attained using alternative approaches. Biological theories may generate explanations regarding extreme criminal activity incidents, but do not help in explaining the specific form of bullying that most of the students are today engaged in while in school. Furthermore, the studies that are grounded on the biological theories only apply public records in identifying criminal activity, and bullying cannot be easily measured, recognized, or reported, it becomes challenging to identify support in the theory’s research as it is mainly concerned with offences that more serious to deserve public documentation. On the other hand, social learning theory tries to provide an adequate explanation regarding school bullying and violence, only that it fails by not providing more credibility to the setting in which the delinquent behavior is carried out. Social disorganization theory and anomie offer sound theory when it comes to explaining school bullying and violence. When the society fails to provide acceptable means of attaining a socially approved target and has no regulation through resources and rules, it is expected that people will act in response through offensive approaches, such as bullying and violence.
To fully expose the harsh reality of school bullying and violence, it is necessary to realize the degree to which these phenomena gain access to the society, most importantly to the schools. According to Shafii and Shafii (2001), in all types of communities, a great bulk of violence concerning students take place outside the school environment and mostly occur during those times when they are out of school. Bonilla (2000) stated that there has not been a remarkable, general rise in cases of school-based violence in the recent years. There has been a general decline regarding cases of violent crimes among the youths (Shafii & Shafii, 2001). According to the United States Department of Justice’s statistics, it is documented that, during the period between 1995 and 2001, the percentage of students reporting as victims of bullying and violence in school drop from 10% to 6% (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). However, despite the fact that several surveys have reported a decrease in cases of school violence, and that most of the violence among the students takes place outside the school environment, it is important to note that it is the school environment which should be focused on, since it is the place where such behavior is learnt and can be effectively addressed as well. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that school bullying and violence present significant risks on the educational opportunities.
Nanjiani (2000) stated that the incidents of hate crimes have been fully accounted for in schools, and the cases of multiple victim murder have constantly risen over the school years. According to the Digest of Education Statistics (2003), there was a great amount of students in high school that reported being unsafe to go to school at a specified period. For instance, in 1997, about 4% of the high school students reported not feeling safe to attend school. This percentage rose to 5.2% in 1999, and even further increased to 6.6% in 2001. The number of students injured or threatened with a weapon as noted in 1997 was 7.4%, a figure that rose to 8.9% in 2001. Furthermore, it is noted that violent crimes, such as robbery, rape, and assault are experienced by young people of the school going ages, twice the rate experienced by the overall population (Valois & McKewon, 1998). Besides, the same study established that violent crimes take place both on and off the school grounds. In his book, Nobody Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion After Columbine, Aronson, (2000) asserted that, despite the fact that a general decline in the cases of murder committed at schools has been noted, cases of multiple victim murders around and in schools have increased. Whereas the reality of the present state of affairs may not be as depressing as it could be, it is worth stressing that whether or not the cases of violence in schools, this is something that has to be addressed appropriately if the quality of education offered to students is to be improved. Furthermore, despite the existence of literature indicating no significant increase in the cases of school violence, (Bonilla, 2000; Shafii & Shafii, 2001), many would still disagree and believe that incidents of bullying and violence in schools are increasing significantly (Valois &McKewon, 1998; Nanjiani, 2000; Bradshaw et al., 2007; Holt & Espelage, 2007). Regardless of the magnitude of bullying, victimization, and violence, it is absurd to pay no attention to any form of violence taking place within the learning institutions.
Studies indicate that a significant number of students, especially in high school, take part in aggressive and violent behavior, yet a comparison of the real behavior among students indicate that students are likely to be disciplined for more routine behavior problems (Valois et al., 2001; Perren & Hornung, 2005). According to Morrison and Skiba (2001), the head teachers at the secondary school levels, as well as those of the elementary levels most often deal with less violent, or non-violent behaviors, like physical conflicts among students, absenteeism, and tardiness, as opposed to the more critical and greater incidents as perceived by many, hence generate debate regarding safety in schools. The rare contraventions within the school systems entail: physical exploitation of the teachers (2%), possession of weapons (2%), gangs (5%), and drug abuse (9%) (Morrison & Skiba, 2001). Furthermore, students tend to get more suspensions for aggressions and physical fights and less for the more critical offences, for instance, vandalism, drugs, and battering on the teachers. Therefore, whereas the offences that are addressed daily comprise the less serious forms, the more violent ones are actually look like the street crimes capturing the media attention, as well as concerned communities. For instance, tardiness and absenteeism look like the white collar crimes as they attract less attention of the media, but pose negative effects on education, whereas the crimes that look like the street crimes are the main target of the media. However, as Oliver et al. (1994) highlight, between 80% to 90% of the preadolescents and adolescents will go through one or several bullying during their life. According to the study conducted by Salmon et al. (1998), bullying is a significant problem among the young people. The same study also stated that 10% of the students reported being bullied in the United Kingdom, while 4% claimed to have been bullied no less than once in a week (Salmon et al., 1998). Apart from the more traditional types of bullying, Raskauskas and Stoltz (2007) report that the relational form of bullying has also gained popularity as many students try to impact the social standing of the other students, usually negatively, through manipulation or humiliation of relationships. The direct and indirect forms of bullying consist of electronic bullying, whereby some students apply the electronic devices to threaten, intimidate, insult, and/or taunt the others. Therefore, despite the fact that the more violent crimes draw the attention of the public protests and the media, it is worth highlighting that there exists a serious epidemic of bullying and violence within schools.
There is also a connotation of bullying and violence that may not necessitate coverage by the media, but deserves the attention from the educators who are interested in establishing an appropriate learning atmosphere for the students. However, these studies downplay or ignore the many forms of violence that take place on a daily basis within the schools. In any case, it is important to take a new direction and deal with all forms and levels of violence in school, and consider eliminating not just the deadly and harsh forms of violence, but all forms of violence that happen in schools. Therefore, in order to deal with the burden of school bullying and violence imposed on schools, communities, parents, and specifically on the students, it is very important that a research is conducted to explain the trend of the following things in schools.
School bullying and violence, and the rates, is a major issue of concern for students, parents, communities, as well as educators. As the cry over violence in school heightens, a number of possible explanations are provided to account for the episodes of violence that have happened over the recent past. Some of the suggested possible causes include domestic violence, poor cognitive and emotional development, family breakups, school crowding, violent programs on television, teachers’ isolation, child abuse, drug use, large schools, history of previous violence, poverty, and unfair rules (Edwards, 2001). Whereas all of these factors have to be analyzed one at a time, focus will be directed towards the general categories that will cover most of these possibilities. One of the main factors in any kind of violence is school as highlighted by Aronson (2000), in his publication, Nobody, Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion After Columbine. The other factors include depression, life satisfaction and anxiety, presence of conduct disorder, previous exposure to violence, weapon carrying, role of parents, as well as location and undefined spaces.
According to Aronson (2000), a major core cause of the latest school violence, such as shootings, is the school environment that implicitly condones or ignores the verbal abuse, rejection, and taunting to which a significant amount of the students go through. Arllen et al. (1994) stated that to help understand the relationship between violence and aggression and students, it is important to understand the eco-system of the students. Studies also highlight that one of the main predictors of violence acts is the exposure to victimization and violence (Valois et al., 2001). Apparently, bullies as well as victims are found within any school, thus it is certain that victimization is witnessed in schools.
From an interview with students from Columbine, it became evident that the students involved in terrorizing the school had been subjected to one form of bullying or the other.It supports the claim that exposure to victimization may be a significant predictor of school violence (Aronson, 2000). This demonstrates how violence in school can rise, which can be the same as bullying. It is necessary to note that bullying can result in school violence, the reason why the two terms are entwined in this chapter. Bullying of students on grounds of the perceived differences, whether based on rumors or factual information, is the source of anxieties among many students about school. According to Edwards (2001), some of the organizational elements within the school systems may lead to violent behavior, for instance, when the school’s management pays no attention to misbehavior, when students feel isolated, and when schools are unfriendly. As a result, the isolated students act as designated victims (Greene, 1994). The scholar also stated that creative young people are tortured the world over, at all levels of learning, from elementary to college(Greene, 1994). A study conducted by McFarland and Dupuis (2001) reported that, despite the fact that teachers frequently discipline students when they make racist comments, they rarely face students who make homophobia comments. However, it is the ignoring or tolerating such types of behaviors, or any other form of behavior that puts down an individual that should be completely dealt with in schools that intended to be safe atmospheres where all students are respected for who they are (Shafii & Shafii, 2001).
The studies have also reported that the manner in which schools address discipline matters contains significant impacts on the types and quantity of problems at a particular school. Factors such as failure to take account of the personal difference, punitive disciplinary practices, thelack of clearly defined school rules, prospects and outcomes, and high incidents of academic failure contribute to disruptive behaviors that occur in schools (Morison &Skiba, 2001). Just like adults, the young people require laws that are clearly defined and need to know about the consequences of going against those rules. The lack of regulations or rules provides room for anomie. In addition, schools have to respect personal differences as they pertain to every aspect of an individual’s education. However, isolation can be minimized within strong, all-encompassing communities where personal differences are embraced and respected (Nanjiani, 2000). A significant focus has been directed towards sexual preference, gender, and race; little interest has been given to other factors that may lead to isolation of individuals, who are the main victims of bullying. Such factors may entail family’s status, cleanliness, weight, unique qualities in terms of appearance, location of home, as well as other aspects concerning the physical appearance or character a bully can use to attack an individual. More research could be carried out for various attributes that could result in victimization and bullying. However, despite the fact that an individual’s characteristics can contribute to incidents of bullying, it is important to note that others’ characteristics, as well as the environment, are very critical as far as bullying is concerned.
In addition to isolation and other factors that generate violence in schools, studies have indicated that 25% of the teachers reported 67% of all the referrals for disciplinary measures (Morrison & Skiba, 2001). Moreover, the same study established that schools having higher suspension rates were found to have a lesser focus on the school climate and reported higher student–teacher ratios with the low quality of education (Morrison & Skiba, 2001). However, it is important to note that antisocial behavior is more likely to take place when teachers are not concerned about the school work that students hand in, when teachers are less concerned with instruction, when the expectations of the school administrators and teachers are inconsistent, when teachers are not motivated, and/or when low priority is given to academics (Arllen et al., 1994). These findings are proved by other studies. For instance, a study carried out by Shann (1999) and LeBalnc et al. (2008) reported that schools having higher achievement rates also had lower incidents of antisocial behavior and higher prosocial behavior rates. These studies also found out that antisocial behavior can be manifested through aggressive and violent behavior.
Depression, Life Satisfaction, and Anxiety
Another potential cause of school violence is the feeling of depression, low levels of life satisfaction, and anxiety, not just of the person being bullied, but also on the part of the bully. Salmon et al. (1998) found out that victims of bullying were more anxious, and bullies were less or equally anxious compared to their peers. The same study reported that victims of bullying were physically smaller and younger compared to the bullies. Furthermore, this study reported that the boys with high lying scores and anxiety were less likely to be victims of bullying, and on the other hand, the boys with low lying scores and anxiety and high scores of depression were more likely to be bullied (Salmon et al., 1998). The smaller and younger people are more prone to bullying as the older people are more aware of the tactics and resources used with the purpose of dealing with the bullies. This could also be due to the fact that the bullies might not have managed to attain high level education, whether due to quitting school or getting expulsions from school. The fact that the victims of bullying often tend to be more anxious indicates that anxiety may be a sign of bullying; though, it could also be an issue contributing to bullying. Moreover, the feeling of anxiety may draw the attention of those who wish to control the others through bullying as they often target the vulnerable and defenseless victims. However, after the bullying, the bully puts the victim in a state of anxiety.
Apart from depression and anxiety, satisfaction in life plays a significant role in determining who the victim or bully is, as far as bullying is concerned. Whereas most of the students, especially from the high school levels, report being dissatisfied with their lives, it is important to highlight that there are significant correlations between aggressive and violent behaviors and self-reported life satisfaction (Valois et al., 2001). People experiencing low levels of satisfaction in life are more likely to take part in aggressive and violent behaviors, for instance, fighting, carrying weapons, and other activities denoting certain amounts of aggressiveness and violence. There is also a significant relationship between feeling unsafe at school or while going to school and low levels of life satisfaction (Valois et al., 2001). It could be disputed that it is hard to tell whether the young people reporting to experience low levels of satisfaction in life have experienced this feeling due to the fact they feel unsafe while at school. They may become victims of bullying as their external appearance indicates their state of having a lower level of satisfaction in life. However, despite the fact that these studies provide a lot in terms of quantitative data, little is provided to indicate why this takes place. It is difficult to define what comes first, being bullied or low levels of life satisfaction. Examining the perceptions of the students would help make this issue clear, and perhaps help educators determine potential victims and avoid future cases.
To better understand the variables that could impact violent behaviors among the young people, Valois and McKewon (1998) applied the Youth Risk Behavior Survey that had been conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. The survey intended to determine various categories of behaviors that are related to health, for instance, intentional and unintentional injuries, sexual behavior, physical inactivity, tobacco use, dietary behaviors, and alcohol and other drugs use. However, the survey did not examine the perceptions of the students, which could have helped to generate examples of definitions, experiences, and perceptions of events, such as violent acts and bullying. It is worth noting that such methods of study provide insight into the intricacies of violent behavior. These intricacies can become ingrained; just as some destructive and threatening behaviors do for the children who then start to portray such behaviors at an adolescent age, providing challenges to both teachers and parents (Arllen et al., 1994). However, despite the fact, that the isolated patterns of aggression can and do happen, the patterns of chronic aggression have a positive correlation with conduct disorders (Arlllen et al., 1994). Aggressive behavior among the adolescents can be portrayed through stubbornness, persistent noncompliance, and rude reactions towards limit setting, undeveloped expression of feelings, and extreme tantrums, which are considered as an indication or result of a conduct disorder (Arllen et al., 1994).
Conduct disorders are said to affect between 6% and 16% of boys and between 2% and 9% of the girls of the school going age (Kauffman, 2001). Whereas many adolescents may show signs of conduct disorder like cheating, disobeying parents, cruelty towards people and animals, fighting with siblings and peers, temper tantrums, lying, and property destruction, most of the young people do not exhibit these various circumstances, nor do they provoke the feelings of their teachers and parents as young people with conduct disorders often do (Kauffman, 2001). Basically, what this means is that all young people misbehave, only that a few of them indulge in severe levels of misbehavior as the way those considered to have conduct disorders do.
Students having disabilities, like conduct disorder, are more likely to be found in school discipline matters, and later engage in actions that are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. This, therefore, implies that the youths that are highly represented within the juvenile justice system have higher incidences of diagnosed and undiagnosed emotional and learning problems compared to the entire population (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). However, while the fated outcomes of young people with conduct disorders is well articulated, little is revealed regarding their involvement in bullying and acts of violence in schools. Problematic behaviors found in young people with conduct disorders are more frequent, more persistent, stronger, and often fail to decline over time (Arllenet al., 1994). Young people with conduct disorders are often unable to regulate their behavior, which even becomes more challenging during the stressful situations. Therefore, the more severe behaviors and inability to regulate behavior, mixed with the stressful and difficult situations, young people are involved in, leave little room for such people who have a conduct disorder to break away from the force of a confrontation (Arllen et al., 1994). It is also important to note that conduct disorder may exist along with other disorders, for instance, depression (Kauffman, 2001). Furthermore, depression, anxiety and how adolescents feel regarding their lives also play a significant role when it comes to the level of violence they take part in.
Role of Parents and Exposure
One significant factor that can be linked to other factors in explaining incidences of violence and bullying in schools is the role of parents. Apparently, there has been a constant controversy regarding the application of physical punishment as a way of disciplining children, and whereas many often seem to support the practice they applied during their years of development, aggressive techniques of rearing children play a significant role in the growth of antisocial behavior among the young people (Fay, 1997; Morrison &Skiba, 2001). Furthermore, there are various risk factors relating to youth violence and delinquency in which parents take a major role, for instance, multiple family transitions, jail arrest of parents, or if the adolescent has been through child protection (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). Other factors include: parental indifference, tolerance towards aggression, indulgent attitudes towards child rearing, and lack of clearly defined behavior boundaries. According to Arllen et al. (1994), conduct disorders are not only stable within families and individuals, but across generations. These factors are anomic since there is a lack of regulation and despite the fact that they generate harmful effects on young people and even enhance their involvement in acts of violence, there exists a more direct influence.
Valois et al. (2001) report that exposure to victimization and violence is one of the strongest indicators of violence among the young people. The application of force in disciplining the children will give them an implication that physical violence may be required when something has to be changed to serve their desires in a better way. According to Edwards (2001), a history of previous violence, for instance, the experience of being a victim of physical abuse or assault is the strongest development predictor of violent behaviors among the adolescents. Behavioral studies have also indicated the learning of aggression by imitating and observing such behaviors as modeled by peers (Arllen et al., 1994). Empirical evidence also indicates that aggressive behavior is social and is preserved in such a manner that a child’ ecosystem has to be studied in order to be able to understand their aggressive tendencies (Arllen etal., 1994). Despite the fact that exposure to aggressive acts is an essential factor, it is important to examine the influences witnessing violence and bullying pose on the young people. This is why this research is significant as it will examine the perceptions of the students regarding any witness of bullying.
Drug Use and Carrying of Weapons
The use of drugs among the students represents an infringement of the school regulations, and can also act as a contributing factor towards violence in schools. A study conducted by McKeganey and Norrie (2000) stressed on a correlation between the violence and illegal drug use. This study also found out that illegal drug users were more probable to carry a weapon. The statics indicated that 64% of the male population and 23% among the women carried weapons. Durant et al. (1995) noted that across all groups, both racial and ethnic, as well as social strata, the youths are carrying weapons to resolve various conflicts. However, it is important to note that the carrying of weapons is often related to threats of harm with the weapon while at school (McKeganey & Norrie, 2000). In addition, depending on the available empirical facts, weapon carrying is associated with aggressive and violent behavior and applied for planned criminal activity, but not for self-protection (Valois et al., 2001). Besides, the regularity with which a weapon was carried is significantly correlated with the rate of taking part in physical fights (Durant et al., 1995). However, while most studies indicate a correlation between violent encounters and weapon carrying, the facts registered by the United States Department of Justice indicate that those who do possess legal weapons without engaging in drug abuse of delinquent behaviors compare to those who do not possess, and that these two groups are to a large extent less likely to compared to those possessing illegal weapons. This difference was attributed to the process of socialization and the manner in which this takes place, since the legal owners were mostly socialized by the family, whereas the illegal owners were socialized in the streets (Durant et al., 1995). Those with legal weapons have acquired regulations and standards in their families, thus less likely to get involved in violent behavior. Therefore, while there is anomie among those owning illegal firearms, it is not found among those possessing legal firearms.
Acts of violence may happen in different locations. Intending to investigate why violence happened in a housing project, Astor at al. (2001) found out that this was due to the fact that there were no informal spaces to allow interpersonal interactions. Little interaction leads to no or little responsibility felt for the location, hence the lack of rules or norms (Astor et al., 2001) which relates to the theory of anomie. In their research, Astor et al. (2001) examined the apartment communities indicating evidence for the affirmation of territoriality, which is considered as exerting and achieving control over a given segment of space. This is a potential theoretical concept that could be applied in explaining why school violence happens in certain locations at specific periods (Astor et al., 2001). Territoriality is not only connected with the school settings and apartment complexes, but may include such spaces as playgrounds, cafeterias, and auditoriums. Most often teachers feel they have no responsibility over such spaces, and since nobody seems to be responsible over such places, more opportunity is often created for students to engage in dubious behavior (Astor et al., 2001).
According to Astor et al. (2001), in the apartment complexes, higher incidents of crime were reported in elevators, lobbies, hallways, and stairwells, which are considered undefined spaces. In the same way, students have highlighted that fights and other violations in school happen in undefined spaces, as well. This study also found out that when an individual is given responsibility over such spaces, there is likelihood that such problems will be reported and addressed. It was, thus, established that if violence is to be addressed in schools, then undefined places have to be identified and reclaimed.
A number of possible explanations for bullying and violence have been brought forwards to account for such incidents. Having gone through violent acts from parents or witnessing incidents of physical violence can cultivate such a behavior among young people. The specific location where violent acts are carried out, together with weapon carrying and drug use, were also analyzed as potential causes of violence, as it was a part of school culture. Apparently, there are a number of explanations for school violence, and getting a good understanding of the likely causes gives communities, schools, teachers, administrators, students, and parents the chance to make use of this information in the design and executions of activities, curriculum, in-service, and programs to help minimize prevalence of bullying and violence in schools.
The studies have noted that prevention must be kept at the forefront of the discussions regarding school bullying and violence, and the circumstances that bring about fighting have to be prevented (Sosin et al., 1995). However, effective prevention can be attained by directing interventions through both genders and all ethnic as well as racial groups. In addition, the importance of addressing violence is even more significant when the impact violence imposes on the youths, country’s health care resources, and deaths of young people are examined (Valois &McKewon, 1998). However, it is important to note that, despite the fact that freedom from bullying cannot ensure learning, or allow effective learning to happen, students should be free from intimidation and bullying (Bosworth et al., 1999). Programs and strategies have been suggested to help minimize the rates of school violence, for instance, addressing gang activity and drug use, enhancing parent involvement, executing school-wide management of behavior, planning for school safety, identifying possible violent offenders, providing employment opportunities, installing security devices, and offering social skills and services training (Edwards, 2001; Morrison &Skiba, 2001). These factors are expounded in the following section.
Suspension and Expulsion
Suspension is one of the most utilized and best known methods of dealing with indiscipline cases in schools worldwide. Suspension has been applied to deal with various offenses, though it has been used as a punishment and deterrent for cases relating to fights in schools compared to other matters relating to violation. A study conducted by Morrison and Skiba, (2001) reported that suspension is more utilized in the urban areas compared to suburban and rural ones. The same study established that those from poor backgrounds and the minorities were highly represented in the incidents where suspension was applied as a form of school punishment. However, it was also found out that students were less likely to get suspensions for the more serious offences like assaults on teachers, drug abuse, and carrying weapons (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). The findings of the study indicated that 40% of those being suspended were often second-time offenders, generating doubts regarding its effectiveness as a disincentive. However, as Morrison and Skiba (2001) highlighted little has been done to examine the positive impacts of suspension.
Zero Tolerance Policies
These refer to the outcomes that are preset for the infringement of the specific school regulations. These policies are often set aside for such offences as fights, weapon carrying, alcohol, tobacco, as well as acts of violence. For instance, States that obtained federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary Act were authorized by the Safe and Gun-free Schools Act of 1994 to execute school regulations that would have students expelled for at least a year due to carrying firearms while at school (Shafii & Shafii, 2001). Whereas the school administrators are required to assess such incidents on a case-by-case approach, it is often ignored and instead, applies a more heavy-handed strategy. However, despite the fact that ensuring students to understand that carrying weapons to school is an offensive act; the negative side about this is that some students in need of special education could be barred from accessing such services as they breached the zero tolerance policies provisions (Shafii & Shafii, 2001). According to Morrison and Skiba (2001),zero tolerance policies have resulted in the expulsion of good students. Furthermore, the rationality behind this strategy appears to be sound, though the main challenge regards at what level it should be implemented. Dunbar and Villarruel (2004) gave the examples of incidents where students from elementary school levels had been suspended for carrying objects considered to be weapons to school. Glynn et al. (2002) highlighted an incident where a student had to be suspended for having his hair dyed blue, under the zero tolerance policies. It is usually challenging to understand the basis for such policies when students are put to severe punishment for what appears to be minor violations. Despite the fact that the consequences and implications of these policies have been widely discussed, limited research has looked at the impacts these policies have on students (Sughrue, 2003).
Bonilla (2000) noted that devices such as blast-proof covers for windows and doors, spiked fences, and motorized gates were being purchased more than ever. Basing on the National Institute of Justice’s report, the only technological adaptations mostly applied by schools until recently include video cameras, x-ray inspection gadgets, duress alarms, and metal detectors. The most commonly applied security device today is the video surveillance cameras. Surveillance works as spaces previously considered undefined could be monitored, and as theories highlight, this could help in minimizing rates of violence and crimes (Astor et al., 2001). While security devices could be considered as part of the solution to school violence, lacking is research that draws out the feelings and thoughts of the students who are subjected under surveillance. The insight of the students regarding the effects of these devices on the school environment might be significant in establishing approaches to minimize school bullying and violence.
Another possible solution to school bullying and violence could be a prediction concerning those students who are likely to get involved in acts of violence. According to Edwards (2001), the initial step in prevention of violence is to identify factors putting students at risk and promoting anger, but the schools want to use predictions that are grounded on the records of students and their behavior. Morrison and Skiba (2001) concluded that it was very difficult to predict the type of students vulnerable to violent behavior, taking into account disciplinary data as this is influenced by numerous factors, for instance, students’ behavior, administrative dispositions, national, state and local politics, and teachers’ reactions. Moreover, other factors like school policies and teachers’ skills as well as temperament while addressing different behaviors of the students play a significant role in determining who is referred for further disciplinary measures (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). Apart from the students’ behavior records, personal and demographic characteristics could also be used in predicting violence.
Characteristics, except behavior, seem to be related to outcome and process of discipline in school (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). However, the eruption of high visibility cases of violence in schools over the recent past has generated a deep concern for the emotional and behavioral precursors that could help predict students of getting involved in such acts (Morrison &Skiba, 2001). The scholars noted that the studies the schools’ history of discipline problems can be applied as an early warning of the violence matters. However, these records often tend to be ruined by policies; teachers state that these records might not provide an accurate reflection of the histories of the students. Another strong predictor of a potential violent activity is weapon carrying (Durant et al., 1995). The findings of their study revealed an increased rate of mortality and mutilation among the young minority using firearms and other types of weapons. Efforts are made to try predicting the likelihood of students engaging in violent acts. Apparently, most of these predictions are grounded on data obtained by the agencies concerned about this subject, but the views of the students might suggest insight regarding prediction.
The way in which the curricula are designed can contain a number of impacts that can spur bullying and violence in schools. Dissension and contention are possible consequences of having the irrelevant curricula. It has been noted that when students are allowed to actively direct their own process of learning, less discontent, more effective learning and greater relevance can be attained. According to Edwards (2001), students do not just take whatever it is that they are taught by their teachers, but connect the new information to the experiences and knowledge already stored inside their memory. Apart from having a curriculum that enables students to connect the content to their past knowledge and experiences, it has also been noted that students learn effectively through cooperative learning. Aronson (2000) highlights that classroom relationships are also enhanced through cooperative learning. In addition, there has been greater emphasis to have students learn skills to deal with violence. If students acquire the confidence to help them deal with the social situations, such skills and knowledge might help prevent them from adopting bullying behavior (Bosworth et al., 1999). As Coghlan (2000) stresses the English classroom offers an appropriate place where anti-violence teaching can be integrated into the school curriculum. This is because the English classroom provides an opportunity to address and teach strategies that could help minimize violence, for instance, conflict resolution approaches, acknowledging controversy, inculcating respect for other cultures, and helping promote respect and empathy. Through role playing, using peace contracts to exercise negotiations and discussing short stories, students can find out about dealing with conflicts.
Coghlan (2000) suggests that students are able to get exposed to various races and cultures in the English classroom; hence, prevention of violence is reinforced since the empathy and tolerance are promoted by the teachers. Moreover, communication can help reduce violence, because this gives groundwork for peace and problem solving. Students are able to articulate their desires, thoughts, and feelings, which can help them develop ways of dealing with opposing views (Coghlan, 2000). According to Gill (2000), short stories, peace contracts, and writing may be included into the English curriculum, as well as other programs that can be used to minimize violence. For instance, biblio-therapy refers to the use of books to tackle emotional and behavioral issues. A teacher, for example, may give out a book addressing a topic students are dealing with, like bullying, divorce, or death (Pardeck, 1994). The significance of therapeutic and educational benefits from literature is noted, and those relying on bibliotherapy expect to focus on these benefits (Oliver et al., 1994; Jonsberg, 2000).
It comprises of such elements as a school, teachers, administrators, students, community, curriculum, buildings, and resources. School culture plays a significant role in the bullying and violence that take place in schools. Morrison and Skiba (2001) consider that schools have been drawn in the contribution of unsociable behavior through several practices like lack of clear rules, consequences, expectations, high incidence of academic failure, and punitive disciplinary actions. Several factors influence school culture, and as Morrison and Skiba (2001) note, students violating the school rules require some form of extra personal, social, and academic support.
The first component of the school’s culture that should be looked at is the fit between the student and the school. Shafii and Shafii (2001) state that the relationships among teachers and their students were very significant. Caring and tough teachers were more effectual, and a decline in the rates of school violence was noted when the administrators and teachers worked together. To add on that, students also need to have a connection with the school (Coghlan, 2000). Aronson (2000) suggests that the resources and energy that could help in minimizing violence deal with zero-tolerance policies, fighting and drugs, and weapons that have to be redirected to help tackle insulting, tainting, and bullying behaviors. In accordance with the studies conducted by Sosin et al.(1995) and Bosworth et al.(1999), the clustering of the problems require a multifaceted comprehensive approach to help prevent violence and bullying The facets that have to be addressed include anger management personnel and architecture to help students (Bonilla, 2000). Despite the fact that the community could be integrated into the multifaceted comprehensive realm, some studies suggest that the community could be applied as an agent while addressing school violence (Nanjiani, 2000). A stronger community lessens the sense of isolation and can offer moral support and portray the reality of caring relationships, which may help minimize the incidence of school violence (Edwards, 2001). Additionally, a stronger community adds informal social control together with neighbors with the urge to confront the young people for a common good (Shafii & Shafii, 2001). Moreover, the community-based programs are aimed at preventing violence, and conflict resolution could help minimize violence and bullying in schools (Durant et al., 1995). However, it is worth noting that effectiveness in minimizing rates of school violence often tend to be evaluated quantitatively basing on the decline in the incidents reported, but there is a lack of an informed opinion regarding the effected change. The perceptions and opinions of the students regarding the success and/or outcome of these programs have not been documented.
Need for More Research
Despite the fact that research on school bullying and violence covers various fields, more research is required to help tackle some of the most significant questions. To start with, the present self-survey research appears to be more quantitative, looking for basic information. A lot of helpful information can be obtained from the insights and experiences of the students, instead of just the basic facts. Second, the available research does not seek to consider the students’ definition and perceptions of school violence and bullying. The perceptions of the bullies could help illustrate how the victims are identified, whereas the victims could explain why they were targeted. Students’ perceptions could also help in evaluating how administrators and teachers address school bullying and violence. Third, most of the current studies concentrate on the psychological explanations and neglect the likely social factors. The society comprises numerous facets that influence everyday lives, and neglecting such factors may lessen the chances of eradicating the problems of school bullying and violence. A number of avenues could be explored in an aim to help students attain quality education. However, it is a priority to analyze their input to alter with the long existing culture that is grounded on many influences.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
In any form of research, there are two broad reasoning approaches, which include the inductive and deductive research approaches. According to Fisher (2007), a deductive research approach makes use of a top-down approach, wherein conclusions are derived from available facts. Fundamentally, the deductive research entails analysis of the existing theory, formulating the hypothesis, observation then conforming or refuting the hypothesis. In contrast, an inductive research approach makes use of a bottom up-approach and is usually linked to the qualitative research method. Laurel (2003) infers that the inductive research approach plays an integral role in theory formulation and draws upon research questions or tentative hypotheses to achieve the research objectives. In the light of this, this study will make use of the deductive research approach with a combination of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, since the research begins with hypotheses and examines the findings in order to refute or support the established hypotheses.
The most important goal of the study is to examine school bullying from the students` perspective. This is because the bullied, as well as the bullies, are believed to have considerations that should be listened to if this problem is to be addressed. This study will apply quantitative research that will seek to collect and analyze data, using the quantitative research techniques. This chapter deals with the research method, the respondents and instruments, as well as the statistical treatment of the collected data.
According to Fisher (2007), the research design is a general plan that outlines the steps needed to answer the research questions and achieve the study objectives. Ruane (2005) asserts that the research design entails structuring the investigation to specify the variables and determine their interrelationships; therefore, the research design provides an outline that functions as a guide for the researcher when gathering data for the study. In this regard, Fisher (2007) asserts that the research design can be either quantitative or qualitative depending on the research context and the structure of the research questions. On the other hand, quantitative research designs involve gathering and analyzing quantifiable data using statistical methods to infer conclusions from the findings.
Quantitative methodology is adopted for this study considering the fact that, as Rossman and Rallis (1998) asserted, there are little facts that make up universal knowledge, to a certain extent, there are various perspectives regarding the world. Therefore, by analyzing the opinions, theories, and considerations of the individuals who have experienced incidents of bullying, various perspectives are obtained that can advance the understanding of bullying. As noted by Merriam (1998), quantitative research provides the greatest assurance of generating substantial contributions to the practice and knowledge-base of education as it is focused on applying the mathematical models, hypothesis, and theories regarding the phenomena. Therefore, this research study is concerned with the opinions and perspectives of the students regarding a firsthand experience of bullying, whether they were in the role of the victim, bully, or witness, and aims at obtaining a clear understanding of their definition of bullying.
Quantitative designs entail gathering and analyzing statistical variables and quantifiable data to draw conclusions (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003). It is evident that this study will require the collection of qualitative and quantitative data to assess the extent of bullying from the students` perception. Besides qualitative design, the study will utilize quantitative methods with the purpose of collection empirical evidence about the perception of bullying among students. Questionnaires will be imperative in gathering quantitative data that would be helpful in making statistical inferences such as the prevalence of bullying in either private or public schools, and the prevalence of bullying among male and female students. The study will administer questionnaires to help identify possible participants. It is apparent that study context is explorative, implying that quantitative design is imperative when addressing the research questions. Quantitative design will utilize the deductive approach. This is because hypotheses mark the beginning of the study and end with measurement of empirical data, analysis and evaluation of data. Deductive approach will be deployed because the research will begin with the outlining of the theoretical concepts, and then empirical evidence will be utilized to answer the research questions. Primarily, the scheme for the study involved analysis of the existing theory and formulation of a number of hypotheses and objectives (Fisher, 2007). The hypotheses used for this quantitative study are the following:
Hypothesis 1: Individuals who have been bullied will have higher body weight, shorter height, less trendy clothes, and a special education disability in comparison to individuals who have not been bullied.
Hypothesis 2: It is hypothesized that teachers who are vigilant about preventing bullying have fewer incidents of bullying in their schools in comparison to teachers who are passive about this epidemic.
Strategy of Enquiry
Biographical research is applied as the strategy of enquiry. This is the study of the individual’s experiences disclosed to the researcher or identified in archival materials or documents (Creswell, 1998). To examine the students` perceptions regarding their bullying experiences, the study explores the relative significance students express about such issues. An important aspect to note is that the majority of the victims of bullying are still disturbed by their previous experiences and recalling such experiences generates insight that could be applied in addressing this issue in schools (Simmons, 2002).
Sampling Methods Quantitative Research
A number of sampling procedures are applied to the quantitative research. Patton (2002) highlights that sometimes it is beneficial to choose sampling methods as it provides room for the identification of samples with diverse experiences. Sampling techniques offer a number of methods that allow the researcher to lessen the amount of data needed to amass by taking into consideration data obtained only from a subgroup instead of gathering data from all probable cases. Therefore, the research draws upon a sample size of 100 respondents, obtained using a convenience sampling. The study will make use of a convenience sampling. Convenience sampling is usually deployed in exploratory research, wherein the choice of sample selection is based on convenience. As the name suggests, participants will be selected based on the ease through which they can be reached. Therefore, participants will be randomly selected first, and then the sampling will be narrowed down to include respondents that can be reached easily.
Ruane (2005) defines a questionnaire as a “self-contained and self-administered instrument for asking questions.” This research will utilize printed questionnaires issued to the selected respondents. The justifications for the use of questionnaires will include the collection of enormous amounts of data within limited timeframes and sizeable sample sizes, standardization of data that is understood easily, and will provide adequate control for the research process. In addition, electronic questionnaires were cheap and facilitated follow-up after issuance to respondents (Neuman & Kreuger, 2006). The fundamental goal of utilizing questionnaires is to encourage respondents to take part in the study, which will be achieved by the use of attention grabbing questions and visual aid representation to guarantee the precision of the questions. The questionnaire will comprise of open-ended questions and structured questions. Ritchie & Lewis (2003) assert that structured questions can be written using multiple choice questions, dichotomous questions and scales. Dichotomous questions will be used when collecting fundamental data from respondents such as their personal experiences with regard to bullying. Open-ended questions will be incorporated to provide respondents with the opportunity to express their views comprehensively (Rubin & Babbie, 2008).
The questionnaires contain a series of questions that request information which will determine if the candidates are eligible to continue to the interview stage. This questionnaire will contain questions that request demographic information and yes/no inquiries on bullying experiences.
Participants’ responses will generate insight regarding who satisfies the criteria of having adequate experience regarding bullying, either indirectly or directly. Participants will be briefed on how to identify themselves as victims, witnesses, bullies, or as a combination, and this information will also be used in the study.
An initial pilot study will be done in order to ensure the quality and accuracy of the questionnaires and interview questions. It will be also used to test the reliability and validity of the primary research through discussions with friends. The initial pilot study will be aimed at detection and rectification of the difficulties concerning the questionnaires such as cases of ambiguity in the questions and lack of clarity. The main purpose of conducting the pilot study will be to review the interview questions, the questionnaires and prompts, and assess their usefulness. The participant will be a university student selected from the recreational sports team. The study will use one participant during the pilot study due to the fact that the findings will portray enough information regarding the cases of bullying to affirm the use of interviews and questionnaire. The participant will recollect most of the bullying incidents he witnessed taking place at a medium-sized male private school located within the urban community.
The study will interview college students between the ages of 21 and 23. Students will be actively enlisted, comprising of both male and females from different racial and ethnic groups who went to private and public high schools in Western Massachusetts. The participants will manage to give an account of their experiences, together with the feelings generated by such experiences, and the effect such experiences have brought to their general view of school life. This population will be also used because they were not in the lower grades where cases of bullying were rampant. During the interviews sessions, the participants will not be allowed to discuss the teachers as their actions or inactions may be questionable. Also they will not be allowed to discuss those who bullied them; however, there have been several concerns regarding the legitimacy of self-reports, along with the fear that participants are currently living under conditions of violence, and bullying might provide false information because of fear of having their opinions and views used against the others or themselves (Coggeshall & Kingery, 2001). The anonymous self-report data is beneficial as it helps in revealing violence hot spots, common forms of violence, and the level to which the students are familiar with the school rules; however, the use of college students will provide the assurance that concerns regarding the revelation of information will unlikely affect the collected data.
Participants will be chosen from various college classes, considering the age of the students. Moreover, the concept of the research topic will be shared with some of the students, and with the instructors’ permission, brief questionnaires will be distributed; these questionnaires require students to provide their views regarding bullying, based on their previous experiences, whether in role of the victim, bully, or witness.
A total of 100 questionnaires will be completed, requiring students to state whether or not they experienced or witnessed bullying in school, as a bully or a victim. They will be asked if they wanted to take part in the study and share their experiences. The representative sample for the study will be then drawn from 100 students who fill out the questionnaires. The questionnaire data will, therefore, be analyzed in order to help identify those willing to participate in the interviews. Based on the questionnaire data, more students will be found to feature in more than just one role. Furthermore, from the tally of the questionnaires, the students meeting the criterion of taking the role of either the victim, bully, or witness and ready to take part in the interview will be picked up for the interview.
A research journal will be maintained all through the process of data collection and analysis. A journal entry will be made after each interview, enlisting notes regarding the participants` perceptions, and the way in which they spoke and behaved while being interviewed. These notes will help in recalling the meanings and concepts provided during the interview process, and the list of comments and distractions may be significant to the findings; however, considering the fact that this will be a subjective data source, all personal impressions will be recorded since it will be important for the process of analysis. This will allow the recording of notes concerning what should be protected against regarding subjectivity while conducting the analysis. It is obvious that there will be negative subjective responses about the bullies, thus recording of such views and feelings ensure the incorporation of the perceptions of the researcher into the study. Emerging themes and patterns during the interview process will be recorded in the journal, which will be evaluated during the process of analysis.
Any social research must take into consideration various ethical and legal concerns associated with conducting a social research. First, the interview questions will be devoid of sensitive questions. Most people fear for their views to be known and they seek confidentiality. The following is an outline of the ethical issues that this research will take into consideration (Neuman & Kreuger, 2006).
The principle of voluntary participation: it requires that no correspondent will be forced into participating. In order to achieve these, the questionnaires will be issued only to participants who wanted to take part in the research study.
Preservation of anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents: all social research studies should aim at guaranteeing the anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents. No information gathered will be revealed to anyone under any circumstance. In addition, the questionnaires will not be asking the respondents their names and associated personal information. Considering the fact that it is a sensitive topic, interviews will be carried out in a private office, ensuring participants are comfortable and with minimal distractions. An agreeable date will be established together with participants via phone. Participants will be allowed to give their e-mail addresses on the questionnaires. However, those who cannot be reached via the phone, e-mails messages will be sent asking potential participants to call or reply through the address provided. Participants will be given fictitious names, and their names provided in the transcripts will be deleted or changed. In addition, this information will be stored in a secure place.
The social research should guarantee no harm to participants and researchers before, during and after the research study. It is an ethical requirement of a social research study that the researcher should not put the respondent in a harmful situation through his/her participation in the project. All respondents will receive equal treatment without prejudice and will be informed the reasons for the research prior to their participation.
According to Richie & Lewis (2003), data analysis entails an examination, conversion and modeling of gathered data with the main purpose of highlighting helpful information to infer conclusions and support the process of making decisions. With regard to this research context, the role of data analysis will draw conclusions and answer the research questions. The study will utilize both descriptive statistics to draw conclusions from the gathered data. Descriptive statistics will be helpful in summarizing and describing data by statistical variables like mode, mean, percentage, and proportions in order to evaluate the patterns and trends arising from the collected data (Neuman & Kreuger, 2006). The significant limitation associated with descriptive statistics is that it cannot be used in inferring conclusions; rather, they are used for describing data. Cross tabulations and chi-square will be used to compare the data describing individuals who have been bullied and those who have not been bullied for hypothesis 1. A similar approach (cross tabulations and chi-square) will be adopted for hypothesis 2. The technique deployed will be used in order to analyze data and it will entail both univariate and bivariate data analysis. Univariate data analysis involves assessing the distribution of one statistical variable at a time, whereas bivariate analysis entails the use of contingency tables for comparative analysis (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003).
Chapter 4: Research Findings and Interpretation
This chapter presents the responses obtained from the respondents who took part in this study. Data analysis and presentation are presented in this chapter. In addition, data from the responses were analyzed and presented using graphs and tables in the order of the research questions; the findings were generalized in order to represent the entire population. The interpretation of the findings will draw upon the theoretical framework (anomie) discussed in Chapter 1, and with regard to the research hypotheses. The study issued 41 questionnaires to respondents and reported a 100 percent response rate, wherein 41 respondents agreed to take part in the interview. For clarity, this chapter presented quantitative and qualitative data separately, with a consideration of the following research hypotheses.
Hypothesis 1: it is hypothesized that individuals with higher body weight, shorter height, less trendy clothes, and a special education disability are more likely to be bullied in comparison to individuals who do not possess these characteristics.
Hypothesis 2: It is also hypothesized that teachers who are vigilant about preventing bullying have fewer incidents of bullying in their schools in comparison to teachers who are passive about this epidemic.
Quantitative Data Analysis
Quantitative data analysis had the primary objective of examining the relationship between the prevalence of bullying and a number of variables such as body weight, trendy clothes, height and special education disability among college students, as outlined in hypothesis 1. As aforementioned, questionnaires were used in gathering quantitative data; therefore, quantitative data analysis will only emphasize on the primary data gathered by the researcher using questionnaires.
Hypothesis 1: It is hypothesized that individuals who have been bullied will have higher body weight, shorter height, less trendy clothes, and a special education disability in comparison to individuals who have not been bullied.
In order to refute or affirm this hypothesis, inferential statistics made use of statistical variables such as independent t-test; the independent variables were individuals who have been bullied and individuals who have not been bullied, whereas the dependent variables included body weight, height, trendy clothes, and a special education disability. Cross tabulations will be used to compare the data describing individuals who have been bullied and those who have not been bullied for this hypothesis. Data gathered from questionnaires were fed into data analysis software, SPSS version 20, which was used to perform the cross tabs and independent t-tests for the variables.
The relationship between body weight and bullying
Cross Tabulation (Output from SPSS)
From the cross tabs, among those who had not been bullied, a larger proportion was student with heavy weights. Similarly, among those who had been bullied, a larger proportion was students with light weights. In other words, students with heavy body weight are less likely to be bullied whereas students with light body weight are more likely to be bullied. This implies that students with higher body weight are less likely to be bullied compared to students with relatively less body weight. The chi-square tests affirm that this relationship is not a random occurrence because the significance value is relatively low (0.06), which implies that the variables are related. The results observed are statistically significant at .06 or 6% level, which means that these variables have a low probability of being independent (unrelated), which affirms the observed relationship.
Relationship between height and bullying
Cross tabulations (output from SPSS)
From the cross tabs, it is evident that that taller students are less likely to be bullied compared to shorter students. The chi-square tests affirm that this relationship is not a random occurrence because the significance value is relatively low (0.023), which implies that the variables are related. The results observed are statistically significant at .023 or 2.3% level, which means that these variables have a low probability of being independent (unrelated), which affirms the observed relationship. Therefore, higher body weight reduces the likelihood of being bullied.
Relationship between Bullying and Trendy Clothes
Cross Tabulations (Output from SPSS)
From the cross tabulations, it is evident that among the students who have never been bullied, a more number had trendy clothes. Similarly, among those who had been bullied, a larger proportion did not wear trendy clothes; this implies that students with trendy clothes are less likely to be bullied. However, the chi-square tests affirm that these relationship is a random occurrence; this is because the significance value is relatively high (0.647 or 64.7%), which implies that the variables are not related. The results observed are statistically significant at 0.647 or 64.7 % level (which is higher than 0.05 or 5%), which means that these variables have a high probability of being independent (unrelated), which refutes the observed relationship as just a random occurrence; therefore, there is no relationship between trendy clothes and the chances of being bullied.
Relationship between Bullying and Special Education Placement
Cross Tabulations (output from SPSS)
From the cross tabulations, it is evident that students who were in special education placement are highly likely to be bullied compared to the students who were not in any special education placement. This implies that special education placement increases the chances of being bullied. However, the chi-square tests report that this relationship is a random occurrence since the significance value is relatively high (0.762 or 76.2%), which implies that the variables are unrelated (independent). The results observed are statistically significant at .762 or 76.2%, which means that these variables have a high probability of being independent (unrelated), which refutes the observed relationship.
Hypothesis 2: It is also hypothesized that teachers who are vigilant about preventing bullying have fewer incidents of bullying in their schools in comparison to teachers who are passive about this epidemic.
In order to refute or affirm this hypothesis, descriptive statistics made use of cross tabulations, wherein the independent variables were individuals who had been bullied and individuals who had not been bullied, whereas the dependent variables consisted of the number of times the students had been bullied. Cross tabulations will be used to compare the data describing individuals who have been bullied and those who have not been bullied for this hypothesis.
Relationship between teacher vigilance and prevalence of bullying
From the cross tabs, a general trend is that bullying is more prevalent (77.8%) in cases where teachers are not vigilant than in cases where teachers are vigilant, where the prevalence rate is 21.7%; therefore, it follows that teacher vigilance towards bullying reduces its prevalence in schools. The chi-square tests affirm that this relationship is not a random occurrence, since the significance value is relatively low (0.000), which implies that the variables are related. The results observed are statistically significant at .00 or 0.00 % level, which means that these variables have a low probability of being independent (unrelated), which affirms the observed relationship.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
Bullying is a serious issue of concern in learning institutions and has the capability of affecting the learning outcomes, and negatively affecting the learning environment. In this regard, learning institutions have to realize those factors that contribute to bullying in order to develop effective mechanisms to tackle bullying among students. This chapter draws conclusions and makes recommendations from the findings of this study, especially with regard to the relationship between bullying and a number of factors such as trendy clothes, height, weight, placement in special education and teacher vigilance. The study used the following research hypotheses to address the topic under study:
Hypothesis 1: it is hypothesized that individuals with higher body weight, shorter height, less trendy clothes, and a special education disability are more likely to be bullied in comparison to individuals who do not possess these characteristics.
Hypothesis 2: It is also hypothesized that teachers who are vigilant about preventing bullying have fewer incidents of bullying in their schools in comparison to teachers who are passive about this epidemic.
Evidence from the study pointed out a number of trends regarding the relationship between bullying and a number of factors such as weight, height, trendy clothes and placement in special education. Specifically, the findings pointed out that students with higher body weight are less likely to be bullied compared to students with relatively less body weight; and taller students are less likely to be bullied compared to shorter students; there is no relationship between bullying and wearing trendy clothes; bullying and placement in special education. From these findings, it is evident that H1 is not true in its entirety except for the relationship between bullying and height.
Evidence from this study has pointed out that teacher vigilance reduces the prevalence of bullying; therefore, H2 is true and valid.
Limitations of the Study
This research looked into the perceptions of 41 students. However, despite the fact that this number generated an in-depth data source, it does not allow generalization to the entire population. Their views and considerations cannot represent the diversity existing within most schools. In addition, there is also limited capacity of information an individual can recollect. The study required participants to recall their previous experiences with bullying, and it is, therefore, difficult to tell what might have been disregarded due to the restricted amount of information that could be recollected over time and the precision of memories. Furthermore, the participants may have concealed some information in order to protect themselves. Some could have been bullied more, or taken the role of the bully, but could not relay this to the researcher.
Recommendations for Future Research
Apparently, students engage in bullying at elementary, middle, and high school for various reasons. To generate a better understanding of this phenomenon, it is important to establish when and how it starts. It is also apparent that clothing was mentioned as one of the reasons for bullying, particularly in middle school and not in the elementary grades. It is, therefore, important to find out the specific stage when students begin to recognize the role of clothing. Future research should be carried out to examine the effectiveness of professional development of the teachers regarding bullying. This would help provide direction regarding which forms of the professional development create the greatest opportunity for reducing and identifying incidents of bullying. It is also important to understand how teachers put into practice whatever they gain from professional development, so as to explain its effectiveness and the ability of the teachers to understand whether they have learned. More researches should also be done to assess the effectiveness of the programs dealing with bullying or those that are aimed at establishing environments where bullying does not occur, for instance, Character Counts. This will enable schools to address bullying more effectively.
It is also important to conduct further research in order to understand who gets bullied explicitly. It is very important to identify the potential victims and doers of such incidents are to be addressed in schools. Some factors suggested by the participants are worth being conducted in an in-depth analysis. Data obtained from this study also indicates that other students stand up for the ones who get bullied; thus, it would be significant to obtain such characteristics.
Alvine, L. (1994). Understanding adolescent homophobia: An interview with Bette Greene. The ALAN Review, 21(2), 5-9.
Arllen, N. L., Gable, R. A., & Hendrickson, J. M. (1994).Toward an understanding of the origins of aggression. Preventing School Failure, 38(3), 18-23.
Aronson, E. (2000). Nobody left to hate: Teaching compassion after Columbine. New York: Worth Publishers.
Astor, R. A., Meyer, H. A., &Pitner, R. O. (2001).Elementary and middle school students’ perceptions of violence-prone school subcontexts.The ElementarySchool Journal, 101(5), 511-528.
Banks, R. (1997). Bullying in schools.Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Washington, DC (EDD00036). ED 407 154.
Blumberg, F.C., Bierwirth, K.P., & Schwartz, A. J. (2008). Does cartoon violence beget aggressive behavior in real life? Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, 101-104.
Bonilla, D. M. (Ed.).(2000). School violence. New York: H. W. Wilson.
Bosworth, K., Espelage, D. L., & Simon, T. R. (1999). Factors associated with bullying behavior in middle school students. Journal of Early Adolescence, 19(3), 341- 362.
Bradshaw, C. P., Sawyer, A. L., &O’Brennan, L. M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, (36)3, 361-383.
Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics. (2003). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2003 [On-line], Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2004004
Charlottesville, VA: National Public Radio.
Coggeshall, M. B., & Kingery, P. (2001). Cross-survey analysis of school violence and disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 38(2), 107-116.
Coghlan, R. (2000). The teaching of anti-violence strategies within the English curriculum.English Journal, 89(5), 81-89.
Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Crime and safety: 2003 [On-line]. Available from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/2004004.pdf
Druck, K., & Kaplowitz, M. (2005). Setting up a no-bully zone. Virginia Journal of Education, 98(4), 6-10.
Dunbar, C., & Villarruel, F. A. (2004). What a difference the community makes: Zero tolerance policy interpretation and implementation. Equity & Excellence in Education, 37(4), 351-359.
Durant, R. H., Getts, A. G., Cadenhead, C., & Woods, E. R. (1995).The association between weapon carrying and the use of violence among adolescents living in and around public housing. Journal of Adolescent Health, 17,376-380.
Durkheim, E. (1979). Suicide: A study in sociology. New York: The Free Press.
Edwards, C. H. (2001). Student violence and the moral dimensions of education. Psychology in the Schools, 38(3), 249-257.
Erling, R. (1989). Bullying: The Scandinavian Research Tradition. In Bullying in Schools, edited by Delwyn Tattum and David Lane. Stoke-on- Trent: Trentham.
Fay, Jim (Speaker). (1997). Avoiding power struggles with kids. [Compact Disk Recording Package No.K05-94-200]. Golden, CO: Love and Logic Institute.
Fisher, C. (2007). Researching and writing a dissertation. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.
Frisén, A., Jonsson, A., & Persson, C. (2007). Adolescents’ perception of bullying: Who is the victim? Who is the bully? What can be done to stop bullying? Adolescence, 42 (168), 749-761.
Funk, J., Baldacci, H.B., Pasold, T., & Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the Internet: Is there desensitization? Journal of Adolescence, 27(1), 23-39.
Gill, D. (2000). Giving peace a chance: Ghandi and King in the English classroom.English Journal, 89(5), 74-77.
Glynn, K., & Czarnecki, J. (Producers), & Moore, M. (Writer, Director). (2002). Bowling for Columbine [Film]. (UnitedStates Available from MGM Home Entertainment).
Greene, B. (1994). America’s designated victims: Our creative young. The ALAN Review,
Haselswerdt, Michael V, & Lenhardt, Ann Marie C. (2003).Reframing school violence listening to voices of students. The Educational Forum, 67(4), 326-336.
Holt, M. K., & Espelage, D. L. (2007).Perceived social support among bullies, victims, and bully-victims. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 984-994.
Howell, James C. (1997). Juvenile justice and youth violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Jonsberg, S. D. (2000). A place for every student.English Journal, 89(5), 27-31.
Kauffman, James M. (2001). Characteristics of emotional and behavioral disorders of children and youth (7th ed.). New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Laurel, B. (2003). Design research: methods and perspectives. New York: MIT Press.
LeBlanc, L., Swisher, R., Vitaro, F., Tremblay, R.E. (2008). High school social climate and antisocial behavior: A 10 year longitudinal and multilevel study. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 18(3), 395-419.
Marshall, G. (1994). The concise Oxford dictionary of sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McFarland, W. P., & Dupuis, M. (2001). The legal duty to protect gay and lesbian students from violence in the school. ASCA Professional School Counseling, 4(3), 171-179.
McKeganey, N., & Norrie, J. (2000). Association between illegal drugs and weapon carrying in young people in Scotland: Schools’ survey. British Medical Journal,320, 982-984.
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Merton, R. K. (1968). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.
Montgomery, R. P.G. (1994). Coping strategies of children who are victimized by bullying. A dissertation. University of Houston, USA: UMI.
Moon, B., Hwang, H.W., and McLuskey, J.D. (2008). Causes of school bullying. Crime and delinquency, 20 (10).
Morrison, G. M., & Skiba, R. (2001). Predicting violence from school misbehavior: Promises and perils. Psychology in the Schools, 38(2), 173-184.
Nanjiani, N. A. (2000). School violence and technology. T. H. E. Journal, 27(10), 76-80.
Nardi, P. (2003). Doing Survey Research- A Guide to Quantitative Methods. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Neuman, W. (1997). Social Research methods: Qualitative and Quantitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Neuman, W. L., & Kreuger, L. (2006). Social work research methods with research navigator. New York: Allyn & Bacon.
Oliver, R. L., Young, T. A., & LaSalle, S. M. (1994). Early lessons in bullying and victimization: The help and hindrance of children’s literature. The School Counselor, 42,137-146.
Olweus, D. (1991). Bully/Victim problems among schoolchildren: Basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. In Debra, J. Pepler and Kenneth H. Rubin. (eds.) The development and treatment of Childhood aggression. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Olweus, D.,& Solberg, C. (1998). Bullying among children and young people: Information and guidance for parents. [Translation into English: Caroline Bond]. Oslo: Pedagogisk forum.
Pardeck, J. D. (1994). Bibliotherapy: An innovative approach for helping children. Contemporary Education, 65(4), 191-193.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Perren, S., & Hornung, R. (2005). Bullying and delinquency in adolescence: victims’ and perpetrators’ family and peer relations. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 64(1), 51- 64.
Raskauskas, J., & Stoltz, A. D. (2007). Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents. American Psychological Association, 43(3), 564-575.
Rigby, K. (2005). Consequences of bullying in school. Can J Psychiatry, 48, 583-590.
Ritchie, J., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: a guide for social science students and researchers. Sage Publications: London.
Rossman, G. B., & Rallis, S. F. (1998).Learning in the field: An introduction to qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ruane, J. M. (2005). Essentials of Research methods: a guide to social science research. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Rubbin, A., & Babbie, E. (2008). Research Methods for Social Work. New York: Cengage Learning.
Salmon, G., James, A., & Smith, D. M. (1998). Bullying in schools: Self-reported anxiety, depression, and self-esteem in secondary school children. British Medical Journal, 317, 924-925.
Sampson, R. (2002). Bullying in school. Problem-oriented guides for police; Problem-specific guides series. No. 12.U.S Department of Justice. Retrieved October 15, 2009, from http://www.cops.usdoj.gov
Seidman, I. (1998). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.
Sentse, M., Scholte, R., Salmivalli, C., &Voeten, M. (2007). Person-group dissimilarity in involvement in bullying and its relation with social status. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35, 1009-1019.
Shafii, M, & Shafii, S. L. (Eds.). (2001). School violence: Assessment, management, prevention. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Shann, M.H. (1999). Academics and a culture of caring: The relationship between school achievement and prosocial and antisocial behaviors in four urban middle schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 10(4), 390-413.
Shoemaker, D. J. (2000).Theories of delinquency: An examination of explanations of delinquent behavior (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Simmons, R. (2002). Odd girl out: The hidden culture of aggression in girls. Orlando, FL: Harcourt.
Sosin, D. M., Koepsell, T. D., Rivara, F. P., & Mercy, J. A. (1995).Fighting as a marker for multiple problem behaviors in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 16, 209-215.
Sughrue, J. A. (2003). Zero tolerance for children: Two wrongs do not make a right. Educational Administration Quarterly, 39(2), 238-258.
Sutton, J., & Smith, P. K. (1999).Bullying as a group process: An adaptation of the participant role approach. Aggressive Behavior, 25, 97-111.
Sweeting, H., & West, P. (2001).Being different: Correlates of the experience of teasing and bullying at age 11.Research Papers in Education, 16 (3), 225-246.
U.S. Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2003). Indicators of school
Valois, R. F., &McKeown, R. E. (1998).Frequency and correlates of fighting and carrying weapons among public school adolescents. American Journal of Health Behavior, 22(1), 8-17.
Valois, R.F., Zullig, K. J., Huebner, E. S., & Drane, J. W. (2001).Relationship between life satisfaction and violent behaviors among adolescents. American Journal of Health and Behavior, 25(4), 353-366.
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (Producer). (2005, May 25). With good reason.
Woolfolk, A. (2003). Educational psychology (10th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Yoo, J., & Johnson, K. (2007).Effects of appearance-related teasing on ethnically diverse adolescent girls. Adolescence, 42 (166), 353-380.
Section 1: Basic Information
What is your weight in pounds? ………………………….
What is your height in inches? ………………………….
What is your gender? (Please check where appropriate )
What kind of high school did you attend?
Are you in special education placement? (tick appropriate box)
Do you wear trendy clothes? (Tick appropriate box)
Section 2: Bullying Experiences
Have you ever been picked on, harassed, or bullied in school?
If yes, how many times have you been bullied?
Have you ever participated in picking on, harassing, or bullying other students?
What are the forms of discipline procedures carried out on students fighting in school?
Are teachers vigilant with regard to bullying instances in the school? (tick appropriate box)
Are you willing to take part in an interview regarding your previous experiences with bullying?
If Yes, please, offer the following information:
Phone number ____________________
E-mail address ____________________
Is this the question you were looking for? If so, place your order here to get started!