Peer Influence on Bullying

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Peer pressure is the pressure given to an individual to think and behave in a certain way in order to be accepted by his peers. According to Floyd Allport (1924), our behavior is influenced by behaviours and actions of others. A person may engage in negative behaviours (e.g. smoking, drinking, bullying) due to peer influence. Bullying can be defined as a subset of aggressive behavior (Espelage, Bosworth, & Simon, 2000). However, bullying is different from aggression as bullying includes the imbalance of power between bully and victim, is harmful and a repetitive behavior (Olweus et al., 1999). An imbalance of power means the bully usually has more power over the victim in terms of social status and size. Bullying is believed to start as early as elementary school (kindergarten). Many bullies are also a victim themselves; therefore the roles of “bully” and “victim” are not fixed. There are a few theories in simple terms to prove that peer influences causes bullying.

Homophily (Cairns & Cairns, 1994; Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003) is one of the theories that lead to peer bullying. It can be defined as the tendency to be attracted to one another due to similar demographic factors (e.g. grade, sex, and race). A research had been carried out in order to examine peer influences on bullying. 422 middle school students participate in this survey and were asked questions about their feelings, friends and aggression. Students were required to complete a peer-nomination task, demographic questions, and a self report on bullying and fighting. Researchers found that demographic variables of peer group did not influence the peer-level bullying. Moreover, they found that peer influence differs across different types of aggression (fighting & bullying). It was said that bullying is a predecessor of a serious forms of aggression. Lastly, researchers also discovered that students tend to hang out with peers who have similar behavior attributes. This is supported by the...
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