Bullying involves the infliction of harm on a less powerful person by a more powerful individual or group by way of physical, verbal or psychological means. It is a growing problem in schools that threaten to cause long-term negative effects that victims and bullies may be burdened with all their lives (Hawker & Boulton, 2000).
This paper endeavors to study the causes, consequences and possible interventions for bullying behaviors in schools. It is the researcher’s attempt to contribute solutions to this common issue in schools that is shared by many, but not addressed enough, hence the bullying cycle continues.
Definition of Bullying
Olweus (cited in Nansel, Haynie & Simons-Morton, 2003) defines bullying as aggressive peer-to-peer behavior with three conditions, namely: an intention to harm or disturb the victim; the aggression is done repeatedly and there is an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. Ayenibiowo & Akinbode (2011) identified three forms of bullying as physical, verbal and psychological aggression. Physical bullying inflicting bodily harm on someone and may involve hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing, taking personal things, etc. Verbal bullying employs the use of mean words and tone of voice to express aggression and may entail taunting, teasing, name calling, threatening, criticizing, humiliating, etc.etc. Finally, psychological bullying is intentionally causing anxiety, stress and fear in a victim to make him or her emotionally unstable and may involve spreading rumors, destroying social relationships, intimidating, making one a target of jokes, etc. Lyznicki et al (2004) claim that bullying occurs usually in school. With boys, the bullying is mostly physical and verbal while with girls, relational bullying is usually resorted to and this is more subtle and more difficult to detect. Causes of Bullying Anyone can be a victim especially if he or she is not assertive enough to protect him/herself. However, the bully is the one responsible for inflicting harm, so the problem usually lies with him. There are many causes of bullying behavior. One is frustration at one’s situation. The bully may have learning disabilities that he is having a difficulty coping with while being expected to perform at a required level in school (Kaukiainen, Salmivalli, et al. (2002). Consistently getting poor grades and disappointing his parents may be disheartening and one way he or she expresses such disappointment is through bullying others. The bully may also be abused or neglected at home and needs a victim to express anger and pour out his or her frustrations upon. Another cause may be that the bully is being bullied himself and needs someone to bully around just to maintain the status quo (Esplage, Holt & Henkel, 2003). This way, he or she may feel that power has been regained even though in reality, he or she still feels powerless with the person who bullies him or her. The child may also have a poor or no role model who can guide him to appropriate behavior (Fekkes, Pijpers & Verloove-Vanhorick, 2005). The bullying behavior may also have been learnt from someone who has been a bad influence to him (Turner, 1991). Although in theory, hurting others is known to be an inappropriate but in practice he or she sees people of authority practicing bullying, he or she then imitates it in his or her own life. Finally, the bully may have a conduct disorder which is the precursor to antisocial, psychopathic or personality disorder (Bullying in Schools, n.d.). Ayenibiowo & Akinbode (2011) explain one theory that stimulates