Bullying is widespread and perhaps the most underreported safety problem on American school campuses. Contrary to popular belief, bullying occurs more often at school than on the way to and from there. Once thought of as simply a rite of passage or relatively harmless behavior that helps build young people's character, bullying is now known to have long-lasting harmful effects, for both the victim and the bully. Bullying is often mistakenly viewed as a narrow range of antisocial behavior confined to elementary school recess yards. In the United States, awareness of the problem is growing, especially with reports that in two-thirds of the recent school shootings (for which the shooter was still alive to report), the attackers had previously been bullied. "In those cases, the experience of bullying appeared to play a major role in motivating the attacker.",
† It is important to note that while bullying may be a contributing factor in many school shootings, it is not the cause of the school shootings.
In the United States, fewer studies have been done. A recent study of a nationally representative sample of students found higher levels of bullying in America than in some other countries. Thirteen percent of sixth- through 10th-grade students bully, 10 percent reported being victims, and an additional six percent are victim-bullies. This study excluded elementary-age students (who often experience high levels of bullying) and did not limit bullying to school grounds. Several smaller studies from different parts of the country confirm high levels of bullying behaviors, with 10 to 29 percent of students reported to be either bullies or victims. ,
†† In some of the studies, lack of a common definition of bullying potentially distorts the estimates of the problem (Harachi, Catalano and Hawkins 1999). In addition, in the United States, the lack of a galvanized focus on bullying has resulted in a lack of large-scale school research efforts (such as those in Scandinavia, England, Japan, and Australia). Thus we have only limited insights into the problem of bullying here.
Clearly, the percentage of students who are bullies and victims varies by research study, often depending on the definition used, the time frame examined (e.g., ever, frequently, once a week) and other factors. Despite these differences, bullying appears to be widespread in schools in every country studying the problem.
“When a child is traumatised by being hit, punished, shouted at, etc., he identifies either with the aggressor, in which case he will become a bully; or with the victim”, says Abraham le Roux. “Children who take on the victim role often become withdrawn and compliant. They frequently lack assertiveness and may become the prey of sexual molesters or playground bullies”. It is significant that mass murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer are often described as being quiet, unassuming and rather withdrawn. When uncovered, their crimes are usually a complete surprise to the people who have known them. It’s only when their family history is investigated that it becomes apparent they were traumatised as children, and had no supportive adult to turn to for help.
Several researchers suggest, although there is not agreement, that some chronic victims are "irritating" or "provocative" because their coping strategies include aggressively reacting to the bullying. The majority of chronic victims, however, are extremely passive and do not defend themselves. Provocative victims may be particularly difficult to help because their behavior must change substantially to lessen their abuse.
While many, if not most, students have been bullied at some point in their school career, chronic victims receive the brunt of the harm. It appears that a small subset of six to ten percent of school-age children are chronic victims, some bullied as often as several times a week. There are more chronic victims in elementary school than in middle school, and the pool of chronic victims further shrinks as students enter high school. If a student is a chronic victim at age 15 (high school age), it would not be surprising to find that he or she has suffered through years of victimization. Because of the harm involved, anti-bullying interventions should include a component tailored to counter the abuse chronic victims suffer.
There are two basic reasons why children become violent according to developmental psychologist, Aletha Solter. “A child who hurts others is usually a child who has been hurt himself. A child who is spanked, hit, beaten or threatened with violence will have a tendency to become violent. Sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and the accumulation of everyday minor hurts and frustrations can also lead to violent behaviour”. These situations may take place outside the home beyond the control of the parents, e.g. at playschool. However, the parents can be helped to assist the child with his feelings about these traumas and help him get over them.
Merit scholarships are often related to academic performance, but can also be given to a candidate displaying exceptional artistic or athletic success and skill, or even a combination of both.
Victims of bullying suffer consequences beyond embarrassment. Some victims experience psychological and/or physical distress, are frequently absent and cannot concentrate on schoolwork. Research generally shows that victims have low self-esteem, and their victimization can lead to depression that can last for years after the victimization. In Australia, researchers found that between five and ten percent of students stayed at home to avoid being bullied. Boys and girls who were bullied at least once a week experienced poorer health, more frequently contemplated suicide, and suffered from depression, social dysfunction, anxiety, and insomnia. Another study found that adolescent victims, once they are adults, were more likely than nonbullied adults individuals to have children who are victims.
The imbalance of power here was not in the bully's size or strength, but in the instrument the bully chose to use, bringing worldwide publication to vicious school gossip.