Bullying in Prison

Topics: Prison, Penology, Sociology Pages: 11 (5024 words) Published: April 22, 2015
Bullying in Prison
Bullying is common within UK prisons, which report consistently high levels of violence and aggression(ref). A 2000 ESRC survey found that nine in ten prisoners and staff agreed with the statement: ‘violence in prison is inevitable’ ( Edgar and Martin, 2000) and the Justice Inspectorate found 26-43% of prisoners had been victimized by prisoners or staff depending on age, abilities, ethnicity or religion (Justic Inspectorate, 2014) Recent studies suggest over half of UK prisoners have experienced bullying ( Ireland & Ireland, 2008; South & Wood, 2006). The changing face of UK prisons

Prison populations and changing, in part due to their fundamentally transient nature, with average sentence length of 15.4 months(MOJ, 2013a), but also in terms of diversity diversity, with growing numbers of foreign nationals, black & minority, muslim and older prisoners (Prison: the facts). Liebling interprets a changed 'tone and ethos' within prisons due to shifting demographics and suggests a rise in terror related charges is partly responsible for growing levels of fear amongst prisoners and staff (Liebling 2012). There are also higher rates of learning difficulties (Prison Reform Trust, 2014) and mental health issues in prison. For example, 25% of women and 15% of men in prison reported symptoms of psychosis in comparison to 4% generally (Ministry of Justice, Gender differences in substance misuse). Other changes include increased overcrowding, (MOJ: Monthly Population Bulletin March 2014), higher reconviction rates (MOJ: Proven re-offending statistics quarterly July 2011 to June 2012, 2014) ), more serious assaults (MOJ 2014, Safety in custody) and funding cuts, causing the ratio of prison officers to prisoners in England and Wales to fall signifigantly. (Hansard, 2007, 2014). Interventions must attempt to reflect and respond to these changes. Defining Bullying

The scope of bullying and victimization differs according to environment. This report adopts Ireland’s definition of prison based bullying which recognizes that, due to the transience of prison populations, bullying may not require sustained patterns of behavior. 'An individual is being bullied when they are a victim of direct and/or indirect aggression happening on a weekly basis, by the same or different perpetrator(s). Single incidences of aggression can also be viewed as bullying, particularly when they are severe and when the individual either believes or fears that they are at risk of future victimization' (Ireland 2002a). Ireland Identifies four bully groups: pure bullies, pure victims, bully-victims (those who are bullied and bully themselves) and those not involved. Statistics suggest that ‘not involved; (35.6%) and ‘bully-victim’ (29.4%) (Archer et al 2007) groups account for the majority of prisoners, which indicates a need to address group behaviours (Archer, 2005) Bullying can be viewed as an 'asymetrical' aggressive relationship between aggressor and victim( Perry et al. 1992) and can be 'proactive' or 'reactive' (Salmivalli, 2010).

Victims are diverse and can lso be both provocative, initiating bullying behaviors, or passive (Peters, McMahon and Quinsey, 1992). Victims range from “those in debt" to the "weak and vulnerable", "new prisoners" and those serving short sentences” (Ireland, 2000). Reported rates of victimization are higher for foreign nationals, muslim, black and minority prisoners and those with learning disabilities (MOJ, 2013-14). O'Donnell lists six categories of prisoner victimization: assault, robbery, threats, cell theft, exclusion, verbal abuse (O'Donnell 1998). Other studies add initiation ceremonies (Ireland, 2002), ‘baroning’, where goods are lent to prisoners at high interest, and ‘taxing’, where goods are taken as tax - both of which play on limited resoucrses within prisons. (Ireland 2002). Why Tackle Bullying? Intended Outcomes

Bullying increases a variety of negative outcomes, including self-harm, stress and...
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