Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bullying in Schools:An Analysis of Relevant Journal Articles

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Bullying in Schools

An Analysis of Relevant Journal Articles

The issue of bullying is more prevalent today than ever before. The popular media and school districts have all recognized the need to address and to ratify the issue of bullying. In an attempt to better understand the scope of the issue, as well as proposed solutions to the problem, an analysis of five journal articles was performed. The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, the need to obtain a clearer understanding about the issue of bullying is paramount. Second, proposed strategies or solutions to this problem would be of great interest. In addition, this paper will attempt to extrapolate the finding of these journals, into a classroom setting. It is hoped, thus, that this critic of journal articles will offer a potential solution to the problem of bullying.

Stuart Greenbaum’s article, “What Can We Do About Schoolyard Bullying?,” is a good example of bullying and its prevalence in today’s society. In this article, the author states that bullying is an extreme problem in North America, and particularly in the United States. The author begins the article with a short recounting of Nathan Faris and his tragic and fatal reaction to bullying. The formation and prioritizing of the bullying problems is later recounted as violence in schools becomes more prevalent. In addition, legal recourse, available to students and their parents, now allow school districts to be held accountable for incurred damages. In other words, bullied students can seek compensation for physical and emotional suffering at school. The author also states that teachers and schools must take a lead in stopping bullying. In order to accomplish this task, educators must establish rules and norms as “‘the school has the obligation to protect pupils from mistreatment from other children’” (Greenbaum, 187). The Harvard Practicum developed a five step strategy for dealing with bullying in school. First, the problem of bullying must be recognized. For instance, Dan Olweus found that around forty percent of primary grades and sixty percent of junior grades reported that their teachers talked very little about bullying (Greenbaum, 187). Second, the issue of fear is of paramount importance. For example, many bullied children adopt “fugitive-like routines” to avoid confronting or experiencing fear. It is the schools responsibility, therefore, to develop an atmosphere of peace and safety within its walls (Greenbaum, 187). Third, bullying starts in the home. Bullies also have a one in four chance of having a criminal record. It is the duty of teachers, thus, to intercept these ‘at-risk’ individuals before they become too engrossed or too involved to be helped. Fourth, bullying is not an acceptable or even ‘normal’ part of development. For instance, violent aggression, outside of school, is not tolerated. Schools must, therefore, develop an intolerance towards aggression on school property. Last, the development and implementation of intervention strategies is discussed. The article cites evidence, from countries throughout the world, that established rules and strong policies can and do reduce bullying in school. In other words, bullies need to model the appropriate behaviour of their teachers. Of particular importance, however, is the need for educators to acknowledge and to intervene bullying during the primary grades. These children are at greatest risk as they have limited cognitive facilities for dealing with bullying. Another strategy for dealing with bullying comes from Dixon Middle School in Provo, Utah. This school proposes a “Code of Conduct” that requires each parent to sign a contract. The school, then, is required to carry out and to implement these contracts. The net result of Dixon’s “Code of Conduct” is quite positive as the rate of bullying has decreased substantially (Greenbaum, 187). Finally, the article attempts to ratify the bullying problem by suggesting alternative strategies. For example, a non-aggressive yet resolved approach is proposed.

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This article poses interesting questions as well as potential remedies for bullying. The issue at hand, however, is far more encompassing and engrossing than originally thought. In the end, it is the educator that must deal with and ‘solve’ the problems found within schools. This article also fails to provide for a comprehensive solution to the bullying problem in schools. It merely skirts the issue while failing to offer comprehensive solutions.

In my opinion, this article is quite idealistic while, at the same time, fraught with difficulties. For instance, the article states that bullying is a pervasive and devastating problem that affects children of all ages. A proposed solution is for children to adopt a non-violent yet defiant stance towards bullying. While this solution is preferable, it is potentially dangerous for the child. In other words, if a child, who is being bullied, attempts to stand up for himself, his problems may escalate instead of subsiding. The articles description of Dixon’s “Code of Conduct,” however, appears more realistic in terms of applicability. For instance, the schools are protecting themselves as well as their students by ensuring that every parent signs a contract. In sum, these contracts encourage both schools and parents to ensure the safety of their children.

Another article of interest is Ronald Oliver, I. Neal Oaks, and John H. Hoovers “Family Issues and Interventions in Bully and Victim Relationships.” In this article, the authors define and offer suggestions for reducing bullying. For instance, the article defines bullying as “longstanding physical or psychological abuse of a student who is unable to defend himself or herself” (Oliver, Oaks, & Hoover, 14). The article also holds that adult aggression stems from bullying during childhood. More exactly, the authors’ believe that “bullying is not only problematic behavior, but wide-spread in occurrence and deleterious to development and to the educational experience” (Oliver, Oaks, & Hoover, 14). The article then continues to analyse the family structure of bullies. The family atmosphere is believed to directly influence the probability of a child becoming a bully. There are six identifiable characteristics of problem families. First, a family with a distant or cold emotional environment may contribute to childhood aggression. Second, lack of familial rules often impart weak parental control. Third, families of bullies are often socially isolated from the community. Fourth, problem families often experience high rates of internal conflict. Moreover, families with aggressive children are more likely to implement inept discipline. For instance, these families often employ the use of negative reinforcement. Finally, aggressive children frequently grow up in rigid family settings. In other words, parents may utilize authoritarian parenting tactics to control their children (Oliver, Oaks, & Hoover, 14). The article then continues to explain the family structure of the bullies victims. For instance, research shows that families of victims are often overly involved in their child’s life. Furthermore, chronic victims of bullies are more subject to have “depressive reactions and to suffer low self-esteem and anxiety in social situations (Kagan & Moss, 16; Olweus, in press; Robins, 166; Oliver, Oaks, & Hoover, 14).

Finally, the article attempts to suggest potential counselling techniques for dealing with families of bullies. One possible solution is to have a family conference to identify and to outline possible courses of action. Another option, for families of bullies, is to promote familial closeness and to establish firm rules. These courses of action, thus, should minimize the prevalence of bullying. Alternately, families of bullies victims may entertain various counselling techniques. For instance, family members may strive to distinguish themselves as individuals as well as participate in extracurricular activities. These suggestions, therefore, seem to minimize the stresses and the problems associated with bullies and their victims.

This article was an attempt to identify childhood aggression and to outline why children might become bullies. Moreover, it offered various strategies for minimizing the harmful effects of bullying. This article proved quite successful in establishing the foundations of bullying. For instance, an analysis of family environment assist in the general understanding of problematic family structures. This article, however, is not a particularly good resource for the classroom. In other words, it deals with the theory and applicability of aggression and bullying. For the teacher, however, these practices and suggestions are nearly impossible to implement. It would have proved more useful if suggestions for educators were provided. Regardless, the article does highlight the need for educators to inquire and to understand the pervasiveness and problems associated with bullying.

Personally, I believe that this article is not very applicable for the classroom. The article stresses the need for educators to meet with the parents to discuss the problem of bullying. This suggestion, however, is difficult to implement as parents are sometimes quite resistant to acknowledging familial problems. The research on family structure, as contributing to childhood bullying, may prove useful. For example, recognizing and minimizing the prevalence of bullying, while children are young, may prevent future incidences of bullying.

The next article, “The Support Group Approach to Bullying in Schools,” by Sue Young, outlines a support group approach to dealing with bullies and their victims. This approach, called the “No Blame Approach” to bullying was developed by Barbara Maines and George Robinson in 11 (Young, 18). Throughout the past few years, this strategy has been successfully employed in a variety of settings. Some educators, however, are resistant to adopt the “No Blame Approach.” They feel that this approach is ‘unproven’ and unverified as a successful anti-bullying strategy. The article delves into the various steps that this strategy employs. First, the bullying victim is interviewed to ascertain the degree of bullying involved. Next, a support group, containing bullies, bystanders, and supporters, is developed. The group is then asked to divulge unhappy memories about school. This is done to create empathy for the victim. The group then states that no individual should feel dissatisfied with school. In turn, the group offers potential solutions to assist the victim. The victim is debriefed about the results of the meeting after the session has concluded. The success of this approach is quite high; over seventy percent of referrals were a success (Young, 18). Moreover, the “No Blame Approach” to bully intervention appears to have positive benefits for older children. Unfortunately there are some drawbacks and failings of this strategy. First, it has been found that teachers have a difficult time ‘rewarding’ bullies improved behaviour. Consequently, the benefits of the group session are mitigated. This approach, as it turns out, is an off-shoot of applied brief therapy. In other words, an evolution in psychoanalysis therapy has greatly contributed to the development of the support group approach (Young, 18). Finally, one reason why this approach is so successful is because the developed solutions exist outside of the teacher. The individuals involved, such as the bully and the victim, develop appropriate solutions in concert instead.

This article, with its emphasis on the support group approach, offers a potential solution for bullying. Although this article clearly outlines the process of the support group, it fails to provide practical implications. In other words, the process of organizing, implementing, and ratifying the support group approach is unclear. In addition, this approach is more applicable for a well established, as opposed to new, teacher. The success rate of this approach, however, can not be ignored. This approach appears to be very beneficial for both the bullies and the victims. This article, unfortunately, lacks sufficient follow-up data concerning the success of support groups. A re-analysis of past cases would definitely have been beneficial.

This articles implications are varied and wide. For example, the problem and prevalence of bullying is prominent throughout the public school system. The problem is not in the proposed solutions but rather in the implementation of this strategy. While this approach may provide a successful solution for bullying in public schools, schools and individuals may resist the support group approach to bullying.

Another article of interest is John Hoover and Richard J. Hazler’s “Bullies and Victims.” This journal article was quite helpful in summarizing the issues and the problems of bullying. Moreover, the article suggested potential strategies to help reduce the degree of bullying. To begin with, the article states that “perceived physical and psychological safety enhances student performance” (Anderson, 18; Hoover & Hazler, 11). It is this writings stance, thus, that bullies create a detrimental atmosphere for all students. Moreover, victims are bullied for various reasons such as personality, physical, and psychogenetic characteristics (Floyd, 185; Greenbaum, 187; Olweus, 17; Hoover & Hazler, 11). The pervasive problem of bullying is also identified in this article. For instance, it has been found that bullying exists in many different cultures and regions including Japan, North America, and Europe. This journal also summarizes the main characteristics of bullies and victims. For example, many bullies seek to control and possess feelings of inadequacy (Elkind & Weiner, 178; Hoover & Hazler, 11). The difference between bullies and aggressive children is highlighted as well; bullies do not act out indiscriminately while aggressive children do. Furthermore, victims are found to be less popular and suffer from “lower self-esteem, social isolation, and physical weakness (Gilmartin, 187; Kaufman, 185; Hoover & Hazler, 11). A comparison of research on this topic has discovered a few startling details. First of all, identified victims of bullying are more disposed to identifying school as an unhappy place (Gilmartin, 187; Hoover & Hazler, 11). In other words, children experiencing unpleasant retribution at school are more likely to view school negatively. Second, the perceived attitudes of school professionals have a significant effect on bullying (Greenbaum, 187; Hoover & Hazler, 11). An educator’s reaction to a bullying offence may indeed determine future occurrences of bullying. The article then continues to explain the lack of viable research data, and the resulting implication that school management of bullying is seriously impaired. Next, the cooperative approach to managing bullying is discussed. This article states that cooperative learning succeeds when group rewards and social integration are utilized. Another suggestion, to reduce bullying, involves the use of peer tutoring. Of particular importance, however, is that educators must take a proactive and sensitive approach to dealing with the bullying problem. The article maintains that counselors have a vital role in addressing and reducing bullying in school.

This article affords a useful insight into the realm of bullying as well as to the potential strategies for reducing the occurrence of bullying. In addition, the journal examines different strategies of minimizing bullying problems such as group work, cooperative study, work projects, interactional tactics, and cooperation between parents, educators, and students. The positive implications of this article are vast. For instance, bullying is currently a pervasive problem in our school systems; as a result, strategies to help reduce the level of bullying must be carefully examined. The article fails, however, to provide comprehensive solutions for teachers. In other words, the article states possible problems and potential solutions, yet does not expand of the implementation of these tactics. It would prove useful, thus, to provide for a more comprehensive analysis of the issue of bullying.

There were various areas of interest in this article. First, the ideas of cooperative learning and peer tutoring may undoubtedly contribute to my performance as a teacher. For instance, all of these proposed solutions are readily accessible to and feasible for teachers. Moreover, the degree of success, for each of these strategies, is quite high. On the other hand, the drawback to this article is its failure to discuss success rates in schools. For example, where have these various tactics been employed? Were they successful?

The last article to be reviewed was “Bullies and Their Victims Understanding a Pervasive Problem in the Schools” (Batsche & Knoff, 14). The article begins by asserting that school violence is identified by three characteristics; assault, theft, and vandalism. Moreover, bullying is defined as outward aggression which is directed towards another student(s) by physical, psychological, or sexual methods. The article also maintains that “bullying may be the most prevalent form of violence in the schools and the form that is likely to affect the greatest number of students” (Batsche & Knoff, 14). The possibility that bullying is “‘intergenerational’” is also considered. For instance, research has found that bullies typically come from homes that are physically and mentally abusive, that adhere to lax rules, and that have parents who model inappropriate behavior (Batsche & Knoff, 14). Bullies are also positively and negatively reinforced for their behavior; thus, the possibility of aggressive behavior increases. The authors also identify two types of victims; passive and provocative. Passive victims are commonly weaker, insecure, and anxious. Provocative victims, in contrast, are usually retaliatory, restless, and aggressive. The journal also identifies boys as being more likely to be bullied than girls. The higher propensity of younger children being bullied was also addressed in this article. The effects of bullying, upon the victim and the educators response, is also considered in this journal. For example, the study found that in more than sixty percent of the cases, school personnel responded inadequately to a bullying incident (Batsche & Knoff, 14). A variety of recommendations were considered in this writing as well. Educators, for instance, should promote facts and dispel beliefs about bullying, develop a student code of conduct, involve students, parents, and educators in strategy assessment, and provide for evaluation. These are the recommended strategies to combat aggressive behavior in schools.

This article is a well written account of the pervasive problem of bullying in schools. It also presents well-considered recommendations for their problem. In sum, this writing outlines a valid strategy for dealing with bullying in schools, yet it fails to provide for ‘practical application.’ In other words, the problems and solutions are suggested while the practicality is ignored. A logical sequence of action that could be employed to solve the problem of bullying would have strengthened the article.

The problem of bully, I believe, is of paramount concern in today’s schools as the incidences of aggressive behavior is continually increasing. As a result, the need for a tested and sound procedure for dealing with bullying is required. I believe that this article offers such a solution. Unfortunately, this study’s method of employment is often unclear and possibly impractical. In other words, this journal would have benefited from a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to the problem of bullying.

In conclusion, the issue of aggression in public schools is of paramount concern. The problem of bullying is the responsibility of not only educators but also society. For instance, educators must devise alternative strategies for contending with the issue of aggressive children in public schools. It is also the responsibility of society to reassess the impact of bullying upon young children, and it may possibly ratify or nullify the rampant effects of bullying. In sum, bullying has cast a dark shadow upon the educational system. It is the responsibility of all, be it parent, teacher, or student, to remedy the affliction that is harming innocent children.

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