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Monday, September 20, 2010

Traditional and Electronic Bullying among Adolescents

Definitions of Traditional and Electronic Bullying -- Bullying has been a major problem in schools ever since. It may take different forms either verbal, non-verbal, direct or indirect. It is a problem that has caused major attention because of it's rising gravity and the numerous cases of student deaths resulting from intense bullying. Adolescents are most likely the culprits and victims of bullying because it is a time in the human physical and social development that emotions are most sensitive, hormones are at an all-time high, and peer pressures are abound. However, in the fast paced world that we have that caused evolution of technology, traditional bullying has taken on a different look. Like our gadgets, clothes, look and style has been modernized, so has traditional bullying. It has taken a form that was motivated by the availability and accessibility of the internet. It is now of another form referred to as “electronic bullying”.

Traditionally, bullying is said to occur when a person is the target of criticism or any form of attack and that the bullied person eventually feels that he is powerless to put a stop to the harm being done to him. The main forms of bullying are physical and verbal (Olweus,2001). Physical bullying would mean physically hurting another person by kicking, punching, pushing, throwing things and other forms of abuse that may hurt the person physically. Verbal bullying on the other hand, constitutes calling the person names that are emotionally hurtful. It may also be teasing and throwing words that are degrading and demeaning. It may be direct or indirect. Other definitions of traditional bullying by experts are : Bullying is a subtype of aggression (Dodge, 1991; Olweus, 1993; Smith & Thompson, 1991); "A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other students" (Olweus, 1993, p. 9) ; "A student is being bullied or picked on when another student says nasty and unpleasant things to him or her. It is also bullying when a student is hit, kicked, threatened, locked inside a room, sent nasty notes, and when no one ever talks to him" (Smith & Sharp, 1994, p. 1).

Electronic bullying is a form of bullying by electronic means and may be indirect or direct. Electronic bullying has been defined as a means of bullying in which peers use electronics to taunt, insult, threaten, harass, and/or intimidate a peer. Anecdotal evidence and media reports show that Internet bullies use text messaging, e-mails, defaming websites, and online “slam books” to aggress against peers (Tench, 2003; Wendland, 2003). One specific example may be the use of cellphones to take pictures that may compromise the dignity of your peers and by distributing this to others. This pictures may have been taken by secret or through deceit. Electronic bullying has also been referred to using other terms such as cyber bullying or online social cruelty. It is said that Electronic Bullying has now been considered as more dangerous than traditional bullying. “Cyber bullying is a very difficult form of bullying to prevent and to police. A major difference between cyber bullying and traditional bullying is the ability to bully without a face-to-face confrontation. Kids become emboldened by the false feeling of being anonymous and they say things they might not have said in person (Beckerman & Nocero, 2003).”

Characteristics of a Bully
Because of the growing problem about bullying, a lot of studies have focused on the determination of the inherent qualities or observable qualities of a bully. This is important for the determining of ways on how this can be cured and avoided. Healthwise (2009) provides a list of characteristics of a bully: Children who bully:may witness physical and verbal violence or aggression at home. They have a positive view of this behavior, and they act aggressively toward other people, including adults; may hit or push other children; Are often physically strong; may or may not be popular with other children around their same age; have trouble following rules; and show little concern for the feelings of others.

The Dominance Theory by Hawley in 1999 and the Social Cognitive Theory by Bandura in 2002 may somehow give light as to how the social networks would provide a venue for bullying (Moutappa, 2010). The dominance theory takes the position that some students use agression against the weaker peers so that resources are made available for them as well as an increase in social status. The social cognitive theory on the other hand poses that some students makes models of some of their more popular peers and imitate their behaviors including aggression.

Preventive Measures in US Schools against Bullying
Since the school is the common venue for bullying, it is important that the school engage in preventive measures to avoid the mitigation of this social problem. Some actions made by schools in the US are to fund researches and concentrate on strategies to reduce bullying in schools. Several websites that are informative were designed by a collaboration of a number of schools to provide the students an online help and information center when they experience problems regarding bullying. Example of which is stopbullying.com. Leaflets and brochures that talk about the negative effects of bullying and how this can be prevented are circulated in the campus to provide insights for students. These materials are also distributed to parents on occasions such as PTA meetings and other gatherings so that they are also educated and informed. Students are also immersed in seminars, talks and lectures made by experts in the field to further the cause of the elimination of bullying in schools. Guidance Counselors also encourage the students to seek help whenever there are onsets of bullying that they may feel they are subjected to. It is a constant effort that everyone lends a hand in putting a stop to this problem that has emotionally maligned a number of teens in the United States and even lead to tragic deaths that may have been avoided.

The US governments also make efforts in reducing bullying in schools. In August 2008, the California state legislature passed one of the first laws in the country to deal directly with cyberbullying. The legislation, Assembly Bill 86 2008, gives school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying others offline or online.This law took effect, January 1, 2009 (Surdin, 2009)

Raskaukas, J. Stoltz, A. (2007). Involvement in Traditional and Electronic Bullying Among Adolescents. Washington DC: American Psychological Association

Olweus, D. (2001). Peer harassment: A critical analysis and some important issues. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 3–20). New York: Guilford Press.

Dodge, K. A. (1991). The structure and function of reactive and proactive aggression. In D. J. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 201-216). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Smith, P. K., & Thompson, D. (1991). Practical approaches to bullying. London: David Fulton.

Smith, P. K., & Sharp, S. (Eds.). (1994). School bullying: Insights and perspectives. London: Routledge.

Michele Mouttapa "Social network predictors of bullying and victimization". Adolescence. FindArticles.com. 09 May, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2248/is_154_39/ai_n6364179/

Surdin, Ashley (January 1, 2009). "States Passing Laws to Combat Cyber-Bullying— washingtonpost.com". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2009-01-02.

Beckerman, L., & Nocero, J. (2003, February). High-tech student hate mail. Education Digest, 68(6), 37.

Tench, M. (2003, January 21). Schools struggling to stop tech-savvy bullies
who have taken their taunting to cyberspace. Boston Globe, p. B1.

Wendland, M. (2003, November 17). Cyber-bullies make it tough for kids to leave playground. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved September 24, 2004, from http://www.freep.com

Healthwise. (2009, January 14). Bullying: Characteristics of Children Who Bully. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/bullying-characteristics-of-children-who-bully

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