Essay on Bullying, Perspectives, and Solutions
Number of words: 2107
Bullying is an aggressive behaviour primarily identified among teenagers that involves maltreating and harassing the less privileged in schools and the community. Bullying has a long-lasting effect on the bully and the bullied individual and is a repeated and prolonged infliction of pain. Bullying includes actions such as threats, rumour-mongering, physical and verbal attacks. Recently, with technological advancement, bullying has shifted to a more severe form called cyberbullying (Bowman, 2018). Cyberbullying is a mode of bullying done through social media, making it impossible to track the bullies. However, some sociological factors are linked to bullying, and several experts have developed solutions to reduce this social problem.
Sociological causes and explanations linked to bullying.
Further, bullying is a complex issue that is affected and results from various factors. The study of why some people become bullies is essential to understanding the sociology of bullying. Different institutions can also understand how people become bullies and develop ways to eradicate bullying and improve the environment.
Gender plays a critical role in bullying. People who are gender non-conforming are at higher risks of becoming bullying victims (Bowman, 2018). Gender plays a crucial role in developing a bullying attitude, with sixty-six percent of the male gender identified as bullies.
The disparity in the number of bullies between the male and female gender is associated with their upbringing. Girls are encouraged to talk about their feeling which, is described as a sign of weakness in boys. Since the boys are not allowed to express themselves, boys become physically and verbally aggressive to deal with their feelings. Additionally, society is more comfortable with the aggressive attitude of boys than the display of emotions (Bowman, 2018). The male gender is faced with a difficult situation on whether or not to display their feelings and can lead them to either become victims of bullying or engage in bullying behaviour.
Stress is also another sociological cause of the development of aggressive attitudes. The annual bullying survey states that many people become bullies after exposure to stressful phenomena for a long time. People respond differently to stressors, and some can develop bullying behaviour (Bowman, 2018). The study also states that the inability to create positive strategies to cope with stress results from a lack of proper training at the family level. Further, people who portray bullying characteristics are more distant from their families, and they do not have a support system to share their stress.
One of the most stressful events that can lead to bullying is a victim of bullying. The study of Bowman (2018) states that victims of bullying develop this behaviour as a defines mechanism, and they believe by bullying others, they are no longer victims. Further, victims develop bullying behaviour to prove to themselves and others that they are better than certain other groups. Bullies who are victims of bullying also grow this behaviour to attract attention and prove that some people are more deserving of bullying than themselves. Bullying behaviour develops from observers of bullying who decide to copy the behaviour to satisfy the urge to exert their power on others.
The theoretical perspective of bullying
Social capital theory
The theorist explains bullying from a theoretical perspective due to its complexity. Several theories are used to expound the understanding of bullying and the adverse outcomes to the victims. One of the theories that help explain the concept of bullying is the social capital theory. Social capital is the benefit that is gained by people through social interactions and strengthens social bonds. Most people invest their time in social interaction to fulfil their goals and profit from such interactions (Smokowski & Evans, 2019). Social capital theorists stated that access to information, influence, social credentials, and reinforcement of identity are benefits from social interactions.
Bullying affects the social status of the victims, and they end up forming friendships with fellow victims. These friendships have less value since they do not increase the accessibility of important information, social credentials, and access to people of power. Most bullied people are excluded from most social events due to their low social capital (Smokowski & Evans, 2019). The low social capital prolongs the victimization experience, and the bullying behaviour continues uninterrupted. On the other hand, bullies use bullying tactics to gain social capital by exerting power on the weak in their community. Though bullies are often disliked, they are more popular, indicating social capital and a higher social status than their victims.
The dominance theory explains the desire for individuals to acquire and exert power on the weaker group, which is the primary motivation for developing bullying behaviour. Bullies use intimidation and humiliation to obtain power. The effect of shame is far-reaching, making the victim lose confidence in their self-worth (Smokowski & Evans, 2019). Through humiliation, victims of bullying perform poorly in their area of operation as the bullies thrive at their expense. Further, humiliation violates the human need for respect and, in extreme cases, result in depression. In contrast, some victims of humiliation develop anger which can make them aggressive, and develop bullying behaviour.
Social factors contributing to bullying
The family, especially parents, play a significant role in building the attitude and behaviour of a child. The different parenting styles applied by parents influence the child’s behaviour. The ability of parents to create time and openly talk to their children about stressful events affects their children’s attitude towards bullying. Children raised by loving and caring parents are less likely to become bullies, whereas parents who neglect their children risk the development of bullying behaviour. Further, domestic violence is another family factor that can lead to bullying behaviour (Bowman, 2018). Children raised in an environment with domestic violence copy the violent behaviour from their parents and are angry and aggressive towards their peers. However, children from physically violent families can also become victims of bullying since they can develop fear and resentment from the poor living conditions in their homes. Parents should understand their impacts on their children’s lives since they absorb any positive and negative behaviours.
Individual factors play a critical role in bullying. The urge to acquire more power and exert it on weaker individuals significantly contributes to bullying. The desire to elevate the status quo results in bullying. Adolescents and teenagers are mostly affected by this factor since they develop self-identity and shape their lives (Bowman, 2018). Further, the hormonal imbalances and physical changes associated with the adolescent stage develop bullying behaviour to gain popularity among their friends. Individuals who develop shyness at this stage are often bullied since they cannot fight back. Further, the inability of individuals to cope with social stressors can lead to bullying as a way to release stress.
Race and religious minority
Despite laws to protect racial and religious minorities, they are still bullied and discriminated against; bullies target the weak and the vulnerable in society. Therefore, racially and religiously marginalized communities fall victim. Members of the mainstream community disregard marginalized groups as they feel superior to them. The black race is mostly affected by bullying (Bowman, 2018).
Black children in school are segregated and are given fewer opportunities to further their studies compared to whites. Additionally, the whites give the black people insulting names lowering their self-esteem.
The stereotypes about certain marginalized religions and some races further lower their social capital and make it difficult to access social amenities. These marginalized races also face harassment from the people in authority. In the United States, most black people are profiled and followed around by security guards in stores since they assume that all black people are thieves. This discrimination crosses over to the criminal justice system (Bowman, 2018). The police handle black people brutally when they suspect them of crime. Similarly, the justice system passes the verdict without enough evidence as many black people are stereotyped as criminals.
The financial status and background
The financial well-being of individuals also affects the social capital of an individual. Wealthy people are less likely to be bullied since they have high social capital. In schools, students from low-income families are often predisposed to bullying since they have less social capital. Studies have shown that most bullies and their victims come from low economic backgrounds (Tippet & Wolke, 2014). However, some other students from wealthy backgrounds mistreat the poor students and exploit them to do their assignments since they are accustomed to having everything done for them. Additionally, most poverty-stricken neighbourhoods have high crime levels, and people living in such areas develop bullying attitudes to protect themselves from criminals.
The media in our world today has greatly influenced the direction of bullying. Bullying has shifted from face-to-face modes of bullying to the use of social media to bully others. In the United States, most students have embraced social media, and they use the media to embarrass and humiliate their peers. The media has proven to be an effective way to spread rumours due to its speed in reaching many people. This bullying mode has led to very serious consequences, and many young people have committed suicide due to social media bullying.
The media has also contributed to bullying through the airing of violent movies and films aired on TV stations. Such films do not seem to encourage bullying on the surface, yet they promote bullying in subtle ways. Some movies aired to promote the formation of social groups and manipulation of the weaker to remain loyal to the group. Some movies tell children that gossip, manipulation, deceit, and aggression, whether physical or verbal, are acceptable ways of achieving life goals. Other violent shows teach the children that violence is an acceptable way of handling disagreements. Therefore, continuous exposure of children to such shows corrupts their morals, and they are more predisposed to develop aggressive behaviour.
What do sociologists believe to be the solution to bullying?
The family is identified as a significant player in promoting bullying, and hence several changes should be done at the family level. Parents should invest more time in their children and understand their different personalities. Spending time with the children gives time for the children to express their needs and any social stress that they may be facing. Children especially adolescence as they change physically require the guidance of their parents as they change physically. Parents should guide teenagers in their identity development to make sure they become the best versions of themselves. The parent should relate to the social problem facing their children and help them navigate the social problem (Kousholt & Fisker, 2015). Parents need to understand their actions greatly impact their children and hence avoid marital arguments and fights in the presence of their children.
Additionally, the school administration should set time to create awareness to students about the impacts and risks involved in bullying. The schools must establish disciplinary action against the students who bully others in the school environment. This disciplinary action helps to formulate a safe learning environment for all students that encourages students to speak up in events of bullying (Kousholt & Fisker, 2015). Further, the community should inculcate a culture that ensures that all individuals in the society are properly treated. In the workplace, the organization should set up policies that clearly define steps to follow in case one is bullied.
Further, to resolve one of the most used modes of bullying called cyberbullying, governments across the globe have developed policies and procedures that enable the victims to report such bullies who are traced and incarcerated. Anti-bullying campaigns have been established to ensure that bullying is eradicated in all sectors to ensure that the dignity of people in these sectors is upheld. Bullying has long-lasting psychological effects on the victim and hence seeking professional help is important to deal with the traumatizing effect of bullying (Kousholt & Fisker, 2015). Seeking help from a health professional helps the victims’ mental state to return to normal and reduces the possibility of the victims becoming bullies in defines of their traumatizing experience.
Bowman, D. (2018). The Sociology of Bullying: Prevention and Intervention Using a Three Themed Model.
Kousholt, K., & Fisker, T. B. (2015). Approaches to reduce bullying in schools–A critical analysis from the viewpoint of first‐and Second‐Order perspectives on bullying. Children & Society, 29(6), 593-603.
Smokowski, P. R., & Evans, C. B. (2019). Bullying and Victimization across the Lifespan. Springer International Publishing.
Tippett, N., & Wolke, D. (2014). Socioeconomic status and bullying: a meta-analysis. American journal of public health, 104(6), e48-e59.