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Bullies and the Bullied: The Nature of Bullying in Schools
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  1. Bullies and the Bullied: The Nature of Bullying in Schools Lisa DeSouza Academic and Professional Tutor, University of Nottingham And Joint Acting Principal Educational Psychologist, Nottingham City February 2007

  2. Learning Outcomes • Definitions of bullying in schools • Prevalence of bullying in schools • Effects of bullying • Characteristics of those who bully and those who are bullied • Influence of bystander behaviour • Homophobic and racist bullying • Interventions used in schools to tackle bullying • The role of parents • The role of educational psychologists

  3. What is bullying? • No universal definition • Direct physical aggression • Direct verbal aggression • Indirect aggression/relational bullying

  4. What is bullying? • “We say a child or young person is being bullied, or picked on when another child or young person, or a group of children or young people, say nasty and unpleasant things to him/her. It is also bullying when a child or a young person is hit, kicked threatened, locked inside a room, sent nasty notes, when no-one ever talks to them and things like that. These things can happen frequently and it is difficult for the child or the young person being bullied to defend himself/herself. It is also bullying when a child or young person is teased repeatedly in a nasty way. But it is not bullying when two children or young people of about the same strength have the odd fight or quarrel.” (From Whitney & Smith, 1993; and Olweus, 1989, 1993, 1999)

  5. Prevalence of Bullying in Schools • Rates of bullying vary depending on type of approach used to measure its extent • Main measures used: • Children’s self report • Teacher reports • Observational studies • Parental reports • Peer nominations

  6. Prevalence of Bullying in Schools • Physical and verbal bullying in primary schools – estimates range from 8% to 46% (based on self-reports) • Lower proportions of pupils reported bullying in secondary schools • Reporting less likely in schools perceived as being tolerant of bullying • Inaccurate figures due varying definitions of bullying

  7. Why Children are Bullied – Potential Risk Factors • Difficulties with social skills/social competence and self-esteem • Lack of social support systems • Children with special educational needs

  8. Effects of Bullying on Victims • Academic achievement • Mental Health • Physical Health • Adverse effects in adulthood

  9. Characteristics of Those who Bully • Being victimised/bullied • Two groups: socially skilled vs. socially unskilled • More aggressive, lack of empathy • Home backgrounds-less affection, more violence

  10. Effects of Bullying on Bullies • Increased risk of depression • Higher risk of criminal activity

  11. Responses to Bullying • Aggressive response • Passive unconstructive response • Passive constructive response • Assertive response (From Sharp & Cowie, 1994)

  12. Bystander Behaviour • Bullying occurs in groups • Bystanders key in either sustaining or preventing bullying • Bystanders often afraid of becoming involved

  13. Bystander Behaviour “Perhaps the most important factor in combating bullying is the social pressure brought to bear by the peer group rather than the condemnation of individual bullies by someone in authority” (Herbert, 1989; pp79-80)

  14. Role of Bystanders • Assistants • Reinforcers • Outsiders • Defenders (Salmivalli, 1996, 1999)

  15. Bystander Behaviour • 9% - bystanders supported victim • 6% - bystanders attempted a resolution • 55% - bystanders made no response to help • 7% - bystanders smiled/laughed • 24% - bystanders supported bully (Tapper & Boulton, 2005)

  16. Homophobic and Racist Bullying • Little research in this area • Higher risk of being bullied if from an ethnic minority • Clear relationship between individualised racial bullying and institutional racial bullying

  17. Homophobic and Racist Bullying • Homophobia has increased rather than decreased over last 20 years • 30%-50% of young people attracted to others of same sex have experienced homophobic bullying in secondary schools (Warwick et al 2004) • Bullying long term, systematic and carried out by groups of peers as opposed to individuals

  18. Strategies to tackle Homophobic and Racist Bullying • Support by school staff to victims of racist/homophobic bullying • Schools open to discuss matters of sexual orientation • Staff aware of issues re psychosexual development in childhood and adolescents • Training/awareness raising for staff • Clear procedures in place to challenge racism and homophobia

  19. The Involvement of Parents/Carers • Assisting their children to develop social competence • Parental alertness to possibility of bullying • Awareness of school’s anti-bullying policy • Training workshops for parents/carers

  20. Anti-Bullying Interventions • Peer support approaches • Co-operative group work • Circle Time • Befriending/Buddy Schemes • Circles of Friends • Conflict resolution/mediation • Peer Tutoring • Peer Counselling • Peer mentoring

  21. Anti-Bullying Interventions • Pikas Method of Shared Concern • Stage 1 – Meeting with group members • Stage 2 – Meeting with person who has been bullied • Stage 3 – Further Meetings with group members • Stage 4 – Further meeting with all the group members (Pikas, 1987)

  22. Anti-Bullying Interventions • The No-Blame Approach • Interview bullied pupil • Arrange a meeting for all pupils who are involved • Explain the problem • Share responsibility • Identify solutions • Let pupils take action themselves • Meet them again (Maines & Robinson, 1992)

  23. Anti-bullying Interventions • Assertiveness Training for bullied pupils • Body Language and eye contact • Assertive Statements • Resisting manipulation and threats • Responding to name calling • Enlisting support (From Sharp et al, 1994) • Assertiveness training for bystanders

  24. Anti-Bullying Interventions • Developing a whole-school anti-bullying policy • Government initiatives used in schools: • “Don’t Suffer in Silence” (DfEE, 1994) • Promoting Emotional Health and Wellbeing (Healthy Schools, 2004) • SEAL Materials– Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning

  25. Role of the Educational Psychologist • Supporting the implementation of anti-bullying interventions • Supporting schools in designing appropriate anti-bullying policies • Providing training and awareness raising programmes on bullying to staff, pupils and parents

  26. Key References • DECP (2006) ‘British Psychological Society Submission to the Education and Skills Select Committee Inquiry into Bullying’ www.bps.org.uk • Olweus, D. (1993) Bullying at School: What we know and what we can do Blackwell • Reid, P., Monsen, J. & Rivers, I. (2004) ‘Psychology’s Contribution to Understanding and Managing Bullying within Schools’ Educational Psychology in Practice Vol 20, No 3 pp 241-268

  27. Key References • Rigby, K. (2002) New Perspectives on Bullying Jessica Kingsley Publishers • Smith, P.K. & Sharp, S. (Eds) (1994) School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives London: Routledge