* SILVIA MARTIN
* VIVIANA SEGURA
* SILVANA DIAZ
* LAURA HERRERA
* MARGARITA LEAL
* VANESA ARGAÑARAZ
I. WHAT IS BULLYING?
II. TYPES OF BULLYING
III. HOW TO PREVENT BULLYING
V. WHAT CAN TEACHERS DO?
VI. WHAT CAN SCHOOLS DO ABOUT BULLYING?
WHAT IS BULLYING?
Over the last few years there hasbeen a lot of interest in the problem of bullying, more especially in schools. This is clearly evident in a recent survey of bullying and responses to bullying by Peter Smith and others (1999) in over 21 countries in America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia. In the country in which I live, Australia, two of the state governments, Queensland and Victoria, have recently required schools to haveanti-bullying policies and to take appropriate action to stop it. Others will probably follow suit. In Australia, as elsewhere, bullying is being recognized as a major problem Packages, strategies, programs, procedures are already in demand. This is fine. But unfortunately there has been little thoughtful discussion on what exactly constitutes bullying. It is assumed that we all know what it is andthe only question is what actions we should take. The question of what constitutes bullying is not merely a philosophic question suitable for after-dinner conversation. It is a question of pressing practical importance. This paper directly tackles the issue.
As long as we are thinking about malign bullying, which is, for the most part, what concerns us as educators, we can reasonably think of "awillful conscious desire to hurt another and put him/her under stress" as a necessary but not sufficient condition underlying bullying. Most recent writers have conceived bullying as a kind of behaviour characterized by intentionality and hurtfulness. The leading figure in the war against bullying, Dan Olweus (1993), defined bullying as "negative behavior" by which he meant behaviour intended toinflict "injury or discomfort." Typically, we may add, such behavior is repeated during successive encounters.
The means by which people bully have been frequently described and categorized. They include both physical and psychological means. The "injury or discomfort" may be delivered or induced directly by a blow, an insult or offensive gesture or indirectly through spreading rumors, socialmanipulation or exclusion.
In the listing of actions by which bullying may carried out, there is a danger that the behavior itself be seen as bullying, regardless of its motivation or the social context in which it occurs. This is not so. For example, a blow may be struck in self-defense; an infant may be excluded from an activity because it is dangerous for someone so young. We must remindourselves that bullying is behavior intended to hurt and is typically repeated over time.
For some this is where the story ends. We have defined bullying. Then someone asks an awkward question: “Is it bullying when two people of equal strength have the occasional fight or quarrel?" Maybe not. We may think that fighting and quarrelling are undesirable, especially in a school where we would like order toprevail. We may well think that the antagonists do sincerely want to hurt each other, but is this bullying? To accommodate this difficulty, Olweus suggested that bullying occurs only when there is an "imbalance of power." The aggressor or group of aggressors is more powerful in some way than the person they are targeting. This suggestion has been adopted by most (not all) subsequent writers. Butit does raise the difficult question of how assess differences in power that are relevant to bullying.
In fact, little attention has been given to this question. An imbalance is obvious enough when a bully towers over a cowering victim or a group of bullies abuse a solitary individual. But what we are inclined to call bullying often seems to occur between people for whom the nature or basis for...