Bullying at school
Under bullying at school means a against students directed Bullying, commonness, annoyed, attacking and bullying. If teachers are the target of such attacks, it is commonly referred to as workplace bullying . Especially in the English-speaking world, the term bullying is often used in general for situations among schoolchildren , without differentiating between individuals ( English bully for tyrant ) or groups ( English mob for mob ) as aggressors.
Basically, there are three manifestations of mobbing or bullying:
Physical bullying: This includes all actions aimed at physically injuring a person (e.g. hitting, kicking, pulling the hair).
Verbal bullying / bullying: This form includes all verbal attacks (e.g. hurtful nicknames, verbal threats, insults, body shaming )
Relational bullying: This form describes the attacking and destruction of social relationships of the victim (e.g. deliberately letting go, ignoring , Exclusion from social groups).
According to Dan Olweus , bullying means that “one or more individuals are repeatedly exposed to negative actions by one or more individuals over a long period of time” . Negative actions are when an individual causes or tries to cause harm or inconvenience to another. Such actions can be verbal (threatening, mocking, abusing, ...), physical (hitting, pushing, kicking, pinching, holding on, ...) or non-verbal (making faces, angry gestures, turning back, ...). Olweus also regards individual harassing incidents as bullying if they are very serious. Bullying requires that there be an imbalance of forces between the victim and the offender (or group of offenders), which may be related to physical or psychological strength. According to Olweus, it is not a question of bullying when two equally strong students argue with each other.
In an online survey carried out in 2007 by the Center for Empirical Educational Research at the University of Koblenz-Landau , in which 1997 pupils of all grades took part, 54.3 percent said that they were directly affected by bullying. 19.9 percent felt affected by cyber bullying . Direct bullying occurs more frequently in the lower grades, while the proportion of cyber bullying increases in the higher grades. According to this study, male students are more likely to be victims than female students in both direct bullying and cyber bullying.
The “Bullying and Victimization Questionnaire ” (BVF) (by Nandoli von Marées and Franz Petermann ) is an instrument that can be used to measure the extent of alleged bullying at a school. In 2008, von Marées published her dissertation on the construction and analysis of instruments for recording bullying in pre-school and primary school age. The student and teacher versions of the BFV consist of a perpetrator and a victim scale.
The American psychologist Kenneth A. Dodge ( Duke University ) describes schoolyard bullies as emotionally uneducated children who have a tendency to interpret the behavior of other people as aggressive and hostile. You spontaneously perceive others as adversaries and jump to conclusions without a reality check that the other means you ill. As a result, at the slightest stimulus they “strike back” without further information and without considering how the conflict could be resolved peacefully. While most aggressive boys have learned by the end of the second year of school to curb their bullying and to resolve conflicts of interest through negotiation and compromise, on the contrary, bullys are increasingly dependent on coercion and intimidation.
In contrast, the social psychologist Elliot Aronson attributes bullying among the students to their competition, as it is promoted by almost all forms of teaching. According to the school researcher Wolfgang Melzer , bullying cannot be traced back to specific perpetrators and victims, but to the school climate.
The psychologists Andrew V. Dane, Zopito Marini, Anthony Volk and Tracy Vaillancourt published a study in 2015, the results of which support the assumption that bullying, which occurs most frequently during adolescence , is behavior (consciously or unconsciously) driven by evolutionary psychological motives , since harming underdogs increases personal status . Bullies would therefore also have greater access to sexual partners. Dane, Marini and Volk affirmed this, together with the psychologists Ann H. Farrell and Daniel A. Provenzano, in a further study from 2017. According to this, people with a poor conscience and lack of honesty , humility and tolerance tend to Show aggressive behavior, such as bullying, to demonstrate strength and dominance in order to increase one's own sexual attraction and decrease that of others. According to the research, this fact also coincides with the concept of the Dark Triad . However, conscience-related inhibitions about bullying increased with age. Both studies criticize that the consideration of the sexual reasons of bullying is too little consideration in combating it, which results in ineffectiveness and therefore advocate analyzing prosocial ways to achieve sexual goals and teaching these adolescents so that they are protected from antisocial, such as bullying , drain.
The psychologist and bullying researcher Olweus distinguishes between two ideal types of bullying victims in schools:
- passive victim
- provocative victim
The passive victims are generally more fearful and insecure. They are sensitive, cautious, and silent, and very often reject violence. According to Olweus, the behavior of the victims signals to those around them that they are afraid and do not dare to defend themselves against the troublemaker if they are attacked. Conversations with the parents of harassed children indicate that they were cautious and sensitive from an earlier age.
The provocative bullying victim , who is generally unfocused and nervous, is less common. His behavior creates anger and a tense relationship. This can trigger negative reactions in his environment.
The situation for the victim is usually as follows:
- The victim's reputation is deliberately damaged.
- Communication with the other children / students is impeded and prevented.
- The victim's social relationships become the target of the attack.
- Physical assault on the victim.
Children are particularly at risk
- that are smaller or weaker than the average.
- who are overweight .
- who are afraid or shy.
- which have socially unacceptable characteristics (no branded clothing, poor appearance, etc.)
- who behave aggressively themselves.
- who come from a parental home with an overprotective parenting style.
- who are autistic .
A British government study in 2008 found that the possibility of being bullied is increased for people belonging to an ethnic minority (example was, in the study, the situation of white children, who are now in the minority in some regions of Great Britain). Contrary to the German study mentioned above, boys and girls are equally often victims. 80 percent of all disabled children stated that they had suffered severely from their peers in their school in the past three years.
According to one study, teachers often tend to focus their attention on the perpetrators (e.g. authoritarian interventions), often overlooking the needs of the victims. It is therefore important that teachers work more with victims and support them as far as they can.
School bullies are more positive about violence than the average high school student . Their potential for violence is often directed not only against students, but also against teachers and parents. The bullies are often characterized by impulsiveness and a strong need to dominate others. You have average or relatively high self-confidence . Several analyzes using different methods (including examination of stress hormones and projective tests) have refuted that the aggressions and brutal behavior could be a sign of fear and lack of trust (“hard shell - soft core”). The empirical results of Olweus rather indicate the opposite. The bullies would be less fearful and insecure. More insecure and fearful individuals usually do not take the initiative. They tend to be followers or spectators. Karl Gebauer sees a deeper attachment problem as a trigger and in the humiliation and the use of violence the signs of emotional insecurity. Schäfer and Korn characterize bullying students as socially competent to a certain extent . They are influential but unpopular and use their social skills to harm their victims.
Typical for the mental state of schoolyard bullies are ideas such as For example, "it's okay to hit someone when you freak out with anger" , "when you shy away from a fight, everyone thinks you're a coward", or "someone who is beaten up doesn't really suffer that much" . As the US psychologists John D. Coie and Janis B. Coopersmidt have described, most schoolyard bulls are judged to be unsympathetic by their peers two to three hours after their first contact. Don Offort observed in a long-term study that up to 50% of children who were troublemakers as six-year-olds did not get along with other children and parents and teachers resisted constant resistance when they were teenagers. Because they do not fit into the social system of the classroom and are quickly written off by teachers as unwilling to learn, schoolyard bullies usually fail academically from the third grade at the latest.
According to one study, teachers often react to bullying cases primarily through authoritarian interventions (e.g. verbal reprimands, punishments) against the perpetrators. The second most common intervention is non-punitive working with the perpetrators (e.g. showing alternative courses of action, discussing causes). In addition, perpetrators of bullying are often referred to other adults (e.g. school management) or other people from the perpetrator's environment are included (e.g. parents).
The problem with the victim is very often that, in order to avoid the bullying , he or she refuses to attend school or leaves or changes school. In fact, the victim is negatively sanctioned, while the bully (s) are indirectly rewarded. The solidarity of the teachers with the victim is not very pronounced according to previous experience.
Victims of bullying can suffer psychological trauma , show self-harming behavior and also react violently, possibly years later. In Gdansk , a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl committed suicide and rampages such as the rampage in Emsdetten or the rampage in Kauhajoki are associated with years of bullying against the rampage .
A connection between bullying at school and binge drinking has also been scientifically proven . A higher percentage of students who experienced verbal aggression from their teachers were involved in binge drinking than students who did not experience aggression from teachers towards them.
Interventions, Prevention and Help
When it comes to measures to combat bullying, a distinction must be made between direct interventions and longer-term systemic prevention programs. In the former, the teachers present in the school play a major role alongside the classmates. Teachers have several options to respond to the bullying incident. A research study published in 2015 showed that the teachers surveyed would respond to a hypothetical bullying case with certain behaviors:
- authority-based interventions (e.g. setting limits with a certain demeanor, punishments), followed by
- non-punitive work with the perpetrators. The other three behaviors were rarely mentioned:
- Support the victims,
- Involvement of other people (e.g. parents, other teachers, directors) and
- Ignoring the incident.
German-speaking teachers have so far preferred authoritarian measures and mainly focused on the perpetrators. They placed less value on supporting the victims.
Research shows that the widespread and sometimes very serious problem cannot be adequately addressed with individual measures. Therefore, extensive prevention programs have been developed. The international Olweus bullying prevention program has been introduced in Baden-Württemberg since 2015, coordinated by Heidelberg University Hospital. The program is not limited to individual interventions, but aims to further develop relationships and forms of communication in the school on many levels in the long term and to improve the school climate. It is based on four rules: Adults (teachers and parents) act as role models and intervene when they see something is wrong. Second: there are clear statements which behavior is not accepted at the school. Third: Those who do not adhere to them have to face the consequences. Fourth: Sympathy: The students receive benevolent attention from teachers and classmates. A fundamental difference between the Olweus program and other prevention programs against bullying is that social issues are dealt with throughout the school year and with everyone, i.e. with teachers, children and everyone else involved in school life.
In other federal states, preventive democracy education has begun to remove the breeding ground for bullying. One example is the Rhineland-Palatinate network of so-called model schools for participation and democracy, in which common strategies against bullying and exclusion are developed. In this context the training program developed by Wolfgang Wildfeuer should be mentioned as an important basis, which teaches learners non-violent conflict resolution. a. is disseminated within the framework of the “new again moderator model”.
Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina , including psychologist John Lochman , ran experimental programs in the 1980s in which they trained aggressive children to be more attentive to their own feelings and the feelings and intentions of other children. Three years later, the participating children had fewer problems with their self-esteem, in school or with alcohol or other drugs than the children in the comparison group who had not received such support.
Typical reactions to bullying are fearful withdrawal or the attempt to please the bullying student. But this behavior stabilizes the dynamic of violence between victim and perpetrator. On the other hand, an “ energetic demeanor towards the bullies (...) puts an end to violence much more likely than fearful withdrawal. “If a student is bullied, the case should be disclosed as soon as possible and discussions should be sought with teachers, parents, the parents' representatives, the school management and, ultimately, with the bullied students themselves. The so-called “ Farsta Method ” and the “ No Blame Approach ” are tried and tested strategies for dealing with the problem. The no-blame approach is particularly suitable for primary school. Apart from case descriptions, there are hardly any results on the effectiveness of the approach and the sustainability is unclear. Other weaknesses or problems are: Success depends on the work of the support group (50% of which consists of perpetrators and their assistants) and the teacher. The victim may feel exposed.
If all educational measures do not work or if the bullying has already reached criminal proportions, those affected should “in no case be afraid to take legal action”. Although young people are in Germany until the age of 14 than blame unable so against these educational measures and juvenile detention after JGG can not be imposed, but measures are at fault incompetent bullies the child and youth services .
Several meta-analyzes show that programs to prevent bullying in schools are successful. Merrel (2008) showed that, above all, knowledge about bullying, attitudes and perception of the topic are improved; however, the influence on the frequency of bullying activities was small. Ttofi (2009) showed that schools with a prevention program reduced the number of bullying cases by 20–23 percent and describes the effective elements of the programs.
Situation in individual countries
The different types of ijime can be broken down into, for example:
- 虐 め の 四層 構造 "ijime no shisō kōzō" ("Ijime four-layer structure"), with the perpetrator, victim, audience and bystanders as participating groups;
- 虐 め の 三層 構造 "ijime no sansō kōzō" ("Ijime three-tier structure"), with a leader, the executor and the victim as participants, all coming from one and the same closed group;
- a violent group physically assaults or blackmails an outsider;
- Based on discrimination , starting from the unconscious "logic" of the elimination of any otherness, ijime is practiced.
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