Bullying in the School Environment
Professor C. Jones
March 3rd 2011
Bullying comes in many forms. From verbal, physical to emotional, the recipient of
this abuse is made to feel vulnerable, weak and afraid. It usually involves repeated acts of
abuse over time in an attempt to enforce an imbalance of power over another and it is often
strategic. Most bullying occurs in the school environment, starting from as early as
kindergarten. Unfortunately, bullying does not dissolve with age. It carries on into high
school and can take a toll on an individual’s self-esteem and confidence for the rest of their
life. The aftermath of bullying differs from person to person, and can range from one
extreme to another. The side effects of bullying are indeed harmful, there is no denying that,
but to what extent and to what degree is the question that needs to be answered. This research
paper will focus heavily on bullying that occurs amongst children and teenagers in their
school environment. I will discuss the different forms of bullying and how often it occurs,
the traumatizing effects bullying can have on a victim, and a communication strategy to help
aid and shed more light on this issue.
How Often Does Bullying Occur?
The Honorable Marvin A. ZUKER, Ontario Court of Justice defines bullying in his
paper regarding Bullying, School Violence and Youth Crime as “the tendency for some
children to frequently oppress, harass or intimidate other children, verbally, physically or
both, in and out of school” with repeated and systematic harassment and attacks on others.
The occurrence of this type of abuse happens more frequently than many like to believe. A
2004 study conducted by the Government of Alberta found that bullying occurs once every
seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom. It also showed
that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. According
to an international study done for Health Canada (1999) found that 56% of boys and 40% of
girls in grades 6 and 8 admitted that they had bullied someone that year; 43% of boys and
35% of girls said they had been targets of bullying.
Another study conducted by the University of British Columbia reveals just how
common bullying is in schools. Using a sample group based on 490 students (half female,
half male) in Grades 8-10, the study showed staggering results. 64% of kids admitted they
have been victims to bullies at school while 12% said it occurred on a regular basis (once or
more a week). Perhaps the most shocking finding from this study is that 64% of students
considered bullying a normal part of school life and felt it was not a serious matter.
The internet has also become a gold mine for bullies to attack their victims. The term
to describe this type is abuse is called Cyber bullying and it refers to the use of
communication technologies to physically threaten, verbally harass or socially exclude an
individual or group. Students use popular social networking sites such as Facebook, and
MySpace to harass and abuse their victims. A poll released by the Canadian Teachers
Federation in 2008 revealed that more than one third of Canadians know of a kid who has
been bullied online in the last year and 20% knew of a teacher who had been cyber bullied.
A national survey done by Kids Help Phone between Dec. 20, 2006, and Jan. 20,
2007 revealed prevalent findings. More than 70 per cent of teens between the ages of 13 to
15 reported that they have been bullied online, while 44 per cent said they have bullied
someone online. The report says 76 per cent of respondents reported being called names and
being made to feel bad, while 52 per cent reported having rumors spread about them and 38
per cent reported being threatened or scared. Of the methods used, 77 per cent reported being
bullied by instant messaging, 37 per cent by e-mail and 31 per cent on social networking
sites, such as MySpace and Facebook.Cyber bullying is a growing epidemic throughout
Canadian schools and is very hard to discipline because of the anonymity of the internet.
How Does Bullying Affect the Victim?
The experience of being bullied can end up causing lasting damage to the victims.
This is both self-evident, and also supported by an increasing body of research. Studies found
that victimized children are at risk for a variety of negative outcomes: They are more anxious
and insecure (Olweus, 1991); have lower self-esteem (Craig, 1998), are lonely, (Boulton &
Underwood, 1992), are more likely to be rejected by their peers, and are depressed (Craig,
1998) than non-victimized children. Some short term effects Victims of bullying may
experience are anger, depression, anxious avoidance of school, and lower grades. Long term
effects may include reduced occupational opportunities, lingering feelings of anger and
bitterness, desire for revenge, difficulty trusting people, and self-esteem issues.
As we are starting to witness more these days, the effects of bullying are far reaching
and can sometimes end in extremely tragic circumstances. According to a study done by
Yale University, Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than
non-victims and that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. An
example of this is the tragic suicide of Pheobe Prince, who committed suicide at the tender
age of 15 after an onslaught of cyber-bullying from fellow students.
The study conducted by the University of Alberta sheds light on how often bullying
occurs in the school environment. With findings that reveal that bullying occurs once every
seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom, it raises the
question of why this is being able to occur so often. Bullies are usually outnumbered, but
when bystanders choose to turn the other way and allow for the bullying to occur, they
enable the aggressor, giving them more power. The survey done by Kids Help Phone showed
that 72 percent of teens have observed bullying at school at least once in a while and in the
majority of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when peers intervene, or do not support
the bullying behavior. When fellow students object to that kind of behavior, it changes the
whole dynamic of the situation. The bully will then feel outnumbered and feel inferior.
With the immense popularity of the internet amongst teens, the statistics show a
staggering rise in cyber bullying throughout the years. Cyber bullies no longer have to be
physically present to harm their victims, they can log onto popular social networking sites
and spew gossip and hate in a matter of seconds to millions of people. This is a critical issue
because the victims have no way to escape their aggressors to seek solace and isolation.
Also, bullies do not need to identify who they are on the internet to bully their target, they
can hide behind anonymity. Even when the victim speaks up about cyber bullying, the
school’s hands are often tied. Unless it crosses the line into death threats or other criminal
offences or there is clear evidence the material is being sent from a school computer, the
school may not have grounds to prosecute the aggressor.
The correlation between suicide and bullying brings forth findings that need to be
taken seriously. Bully victims who are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide, and girls
aged 10-14 may be at an even higher risk according to the study done by Yale University.
The study shows that teens are most vulnerable to bullying during transitions from
elementary to high school. Teens resorting to suicide shed light on the lack of proactive
prevention on suicide. Those who choose this route feel as though their situation will not
improve and the only way to escape their pain is to take their own life. They should not have
to feel as though they have they have exhausted all their options, bullying should not be
tolerated in the school environment.
Bullying has definitely evolved over time. With the popularity of the internet, the
bully has been given another highway to antagonize their victims leaving them feeling
cornered and alone. In order to help prevent bullying, I have come up with a few different
strategic approaches to help aid the fight against bullying in schools. Anti-bullying material
can be incorporated into the school curriculum. Schools can ask students to sign a pledge that
states that they will not participate in bullying like behaviour. School officials can also set up
self-esteem workshops and seminars for all students as a way to build up confidence and
togetherness. Another way to spread the message across is to use the very tool that enabled
bullies to torment their victims with a click of a mouse; the internet. With the use of popular
networking sites such as Facebook, twitter and MySpace, the anti-bullying message can be
spread worldwide. We cannot eliminate bullying overnight, but a collective and practical
approach can help in the fight.
Boulton, M. J. &Underwood, K.. (1992). Bully/victim problems among middle school children.
British Journal of Educational Psychology, 62, 73-87.
‘’Bullying and Victimization Among Canadian School Children.’’ Health Resources and Skills
Development Canada. Web.28 Feb 2011.
Bullying, School Violence and Youth Crime, Honorable Marvin A. ZUKER, Ontario
Court of Justice.
Canadian Children's Rights Council. Virtual Library, Resource Centre, Archives and Advocacy.
Web. 26 Feb 2011.
Craig, W. (1998). The relationship among aggression types, depression, and anxiety in bullies,
victims, and bully/victims. Personality and Individual Differences, 24, 123-130.
Olweus, D. (1991). Bully/victim problems among school children. The development and
treatment of childhood aggression, (pp.411-438). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Teachers against Cyberbullying,” Education International. Web. 26 Feb 2011.
‘’What is Bullying?’’ Government of Alberta. Web. 28 Feb 2011.