Bullying and How It Affects the Development of Children

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Bullying and How it Affects the Development of Children

Aaron Alexander Patton

University of the Fraser Valley

PSYC 250 – Developmental Psychology

October 18, 2010

Abstract

In one point of history, not too long ago, bullying was considered normal in schools and was just considered a part of growing up. A little teasing and an occasional fight is what turned a boy into a man. However, bullying has now become a major problem in childhood, especially within schools and more research is being done on what effects it has on the development of the child for both the person who is the bully and the victim of such bullying. The current paper will discuss the profile of the typical bully as well as the victim, how a victim reacts to bullying, as well as what are the short and long term effects of bullying on the child using recently published research articles. It is important to note however that with changes in ours and future generations as well as advances in technology, the methods and complications of bullying can and may very well change.

Bullying and How it Affects the Development of Children

In one point of history, not too long ago, bullying was more of a concept than a problem that existed throughout schools and childhood play. Teasing and the occasional fight to solve problems were seen as normal in childhood and were part of the growing up process. However, in the early eighties, public policy began to change and bullying started to become recognized as a problem after three Norwegian boys committed suicide due to bullying (Ma et al., 2001).

What is bullying? Smokowski and Kopasz (2005) describe bullying as a form of aggression in which one or more children intend to hard or disturb another child who is perceived as being unable to defend himself or herself. Pepler et al. (2006) defines bullying as negative actions that can be physical or verbal that have hostile intent, is repeated over time, and involves a power differential between the bully and the victim. Smokowski and Kopasz (2005) go onto say that bullying behaviours include, but are not limited to, name calling, physically assaulting, threatening, stealing, vandalizing, slandering, excluding, and taunting. Ma et al., (2001) give us a very detailed definition that says “bullying is repeated attacks – physical, psychological, social, or verbal – by those in a position of power, which is formally or situationally defined, on those who are powerless to resist, with the intention of causing distress for their own gain and gratification.” (p. 2).

There are both characteristics of a bully that may incline them more to harass others as well as characteristics of a person who is bullied that may make them bigger targets to the bully. Pepler et al. (2006) explains that the power that bullies hold over others can come from individual characteristics that the bully possesses such as superior size, strength, or age, knowledge of other’s vulnerabilities, as well as position in a social group such as high school status or by membership in a group of peers who support bullying. Bullies are said to have certain characteristics. Bernstain & Watson (1997) describe that bullies are typically older male children and tend to have little empathy for peers. The bully usually values violence and is aggressive towards parents, teachers, and peers. They also tend to be impulsive and exhibit a strong need to dominate others. Compared to victims, bullies usually have little of the anxiety and insecurity that the victims have and think very highly of themselves. Pepler et al. (2006) tell us that bullying usually occurs in an effort to make the bully more popular and to dominate within the peer group. Successful bullies have sound social cognition and mind skills to manipulate and organize victims and often inflict suffering in a subtle but damaging way to avoid being detected as a bully (Ma et al., 2001).

Ma et al. (2001) also mention that many bullies show...
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