Bullies in School

Powerful Essays
Topics: Bullying
Bullies in School Kathleen Berger 1 Bullying was once commonly thought to be an unpleasant but normal part of child's play, not to be encouraged, of course, but of little consequence in the long run. However, developmental researchers who have looked closely at the society of children consider bullying to be a very serious problem, one that harms both the victim and the aggressor, sometimes continuing to cause suffering years after the child has grown up. 2 One leading researcher in this area is Dan Olweus, who has studied bullying in his native country of Norway and elsewhere for twenty-five years. The cruelty, pain, and suffering that he has documented in that time are typified by the examples of Linda and Henry: Linda was systematically isolated by a small group of girls, who pressured the rest of the class, including Linda's only friend, to shun her. Then the ringleader of the group persuaded Linda to give a party, inviting everyone. Everyone accepted; following the ringleader's directions, no one came. Linda was devastated, her self-confidence "completely destroyed." Henry's experience was worse. Daily, his classmates called him "Worm," broke his pencils, spilled his books on the floor, and mocked him whenever he answered a teacher's questions. Finally, a few boys took him to the bathroom and made him lie, face down, in the urinal drain. After school that day he tried to kill himself. His parents found him unconscious, and only then learned about his torment. 3 Following the suicides of three other victims of bullying, the Norwegian government asked Olweus in 1983 to determine the extent and severity of the problem. After concluding a confidential survey of nearly all of Norway's 90,000 school-age children, Olweus reported that the problem was widespread and serious; that teachers and parents were "relatively unaware" of specific incidents of bullying; and that even when adults noticed bullying, they rarely intervened. Of all the children Olweus surveyed, 9

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