To what extent does bullying affect Standard Four and Five students between the ages of 10 and 14?
Prior to plunging into the data and statistics, how about we complete a quick reflection? As a student have you ever been bullied in any form? How did it make you feel? Is it accurate to say that it was an immediate factor that molded your scholarly advancement? Did it bear any weight with respect to molding the individual that you are today? This research paper seeks to answer the questions stated above, aiming to understand the calamities associated with bullying in Primary Schools. Bully in Primary Schools has been steadily increasing over the years, and with the aid of technology, schools can no longer cover the incidents of bullying.
I chose this topic based on the beliefs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by keeping a safe learning environment. Children need to feel safe in their school environment, as a prospective teacher it is my intention to provide the safest environment for all my students, understanding the realm of bullying will allow me to reduce one factor that will create an unsafe environment for my students. In my short Practicum encounters, I admittedly have very few cases of bullying, due to the fact that I was predominantly present in the class when the class teacher was present and the children were on their best behavior. It was in my personal school experience that I saw the full brunt of bullying. I was once on both sides of the spectrum, I was once bullied and then bullied.
“Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involve a real or perceived power imbalance.” (Stop Bullying.gov, May 2019). This act of human violation occurs in every school throughout the world. Bullying is an extreme form of control, those who bully aim to seek total dominance of their victim. There are many forms of bullying that occur within the Primary School Education System, they include Physical, Verbal, Cyber, and most disturbing Sexual Bullying.
Physical Bullying: this type of harassment is alluded to as Physical Abuse at the Primary School Level. Stop Bullying.gov, May 2019 describes physical bullying as hitting/kicking/pinching, spitting, tripping/pushing, taking or breaking someone’s things, and making mean or rude hand gestures.
Given that there is a lack of physical scars and bruises, verbal bullying leaves a huge emotional impact on the victim. This form of bullying is just as manipulative as physical bullying, preying to pounce on the weakness, these bullies select the emotional weakness and vulnerability of their victims, and they aim to intimidate, belittle, and demean another person. There is no physical proof or verbal proof, which makes it very difficult for the teachers at the Primary school level to persecute the tormentor. A few examples of verbal bullying are teasing, insults, intimidation, racist remarks, and now homophobic remarks.
Technology innovation has been gradually supplanting the pooch's job as man's closest companion. Technology is an increasingly underlying key factor in every lifestyle decision, task, solution, business venture, and educational practice. The use of technology has made tasks easier; it has bridged communication barriers; it has improved the education system. On the flip side, technology has paved a clear road for Cyberbullying which is known as the new frontier and is the latest form of bullying that has penetrated the defense system of the Education System in Trinidad and Tobago. This form of bullying occurs through Social Media Applications. Applications include Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram. “When a tween or a teen uses the Internet, a smartphone, or other technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person, this is called cyberbullying” (Gordon 2018). Research has shown that Cyberbullying is slowly becoming the most popular form of bullying.
We might ask, “Which is the most common form of bullying that occurs at the Primary School Level? A Turkish survey conducted in 2013 can shed some light on the question above. Oya Yerin Guneri (2013) reports both quantitative and qualitative information suitable to prove the above thesis statement the article reports “To identify the most and least common bullying behaviors, the participants were asked to rate seven bullying behaviors on a ﬁve-point scale from ‘never’ to ‘several times a week’. The total number of times the most common bullying behaviors was 2-3 times a month, once a week, and several times a week. After conducting the research, the results stated that the most frequent form of bullying was ‘verbal bullying’ ‘calling mean names, making fun of, or teasing in a hurtful way’ (38.2%). The least common form of bullying was ‘taking away money’. This study reveals that Verbal Bullying is the most practiced form of bullying; at least in Turkish Primary Schools.
Prevalence of Bullying in the Primary School System in Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean).
Bullying is prevalent among youth but prevalence rates differ significantly across countries, likely due to cultural factors (Currie, et al., 2012). The writer goes on to say that the heinous act of bullying occurs at every school worldwide and more often in certain areas. UNICEF (2015) lists some of the following statistics on bullying in various countries:
- Bangladesh – 30% of students admitted “bullying someone at least once in the past year”.
- Kenya – 63-82% of children in Nairobi Public Schools report experiencing “various types of bullying.
- South Africa – more than 50% of children report being bullied once or twice in the past month.
- Canada – (Public Safety Canada, 2014) 20% of children aged 4-14 years and 10-15% of children in high school are estimated to be victims.
Dr Randy Seepersad directed a review in 2014 using Primary Schools in North Trinidad which revealed that 94.8% of the students that participated in the survey had shared that they have personally experienced one or more forms of bullying/victimization within the last term. These alarming results further prove the statement that bullying is a global issue.
Effects of Bullying on Students at the Primary Level
Through research, one can safely deduce that bullying; regardless of the structure has many changing negative symptoms on its exploited people. Physical Bullying can render physical scars and pain while cyberbullying and verbal bullying leave mental scars.
Academic - Many articles have made implications that there is a strong correlation between bullying and academic achievement. The Dupage County Regional Office of Education et al. (2011), even defines bullying as “to otherwise substantially interfere in a student’s academic performance or ability to participate in any school-related activity” (p.5). Victims of bullying develop issues to remain focused on classroom activities. The victims will invent numerous excuses to stay at home all in the pursuit to avoid any contact with their predators. Barrington (2018) shares the result of a UCLA survey, which showed the direct relationship between bullying and academic progress, “students who are repeatedly bullied receive poorer grades and participate less in class discussions… students may get mislabeled as low achievers because they do not want to speak up in class for fear of getting bullied”. Juvenon also remarked that “Once students get labeled as ‘dumb,’ they get picked on and perform even worse”.
As the previous article referenced, students that get bullied do not want to speak up in the classroom, this reservation transfers into the home and leisure activities. This creates the beginning of the spiraling of a person’s demeanor. A survey conducted in East London with a sample of students between the age of 11 to 14 revealed that “27.3% of the sample had depressive symptoms... Those bullied in the last term were approximately one and a half times more likely to have depressive symptoms”.
Suicide - From a religious perspective, acts of self-directed harmful behavior with any intent to end one’s life are one of the few unforgivable sins, could this sin be now forgiven if it comes as the result of bullying? Research uncovered that there is an increase in the occurrence of adolescent suicide and bullying. There are numerous articles that explicitly show suicidal attempts as a direct result of bullying. Physical scars and depression can be adjusted/solved with modern-day medicine, but the resolution of suicide is determined by religious beliefs. Suicide can be deemed as the worst effect of bullying. “Bullying was present in 6 deaths (8.1%) and it was the only identified contributing factor in fewer than 5 deaths.” Sinyor, M., Schaffer, A., & Cheung, A. H. (2014).
What can we do as teachers in cases of bullying?
Albert Bandura is a known social learning theorist, known for his belief that students learn by modeling and observations. Teachers in the instruction framework in Trinidad and Tobago are not merely teachers, we take on the roles of caregivers, disciplinarians, and social workers. Prospective teachers can work with parents of students to take on the responsibility of exhibiting proper social behaviors, displaying proper ways to express anger rather than resorting to bullying. Both parents and teachers can work together to decrease the observation of ‘bullying’ or violent acts witnessed by students; whether in reality or in media.
With the intention of moving from a Teacher-Centered Classroom or a Student-Centered Classroom, teachers are now paying close attention to their students' preferences, dislikes, and behaviors. Bullies and victims display a uniform set of behaviors that can be detected by teachers. Bullies display an intense level of aggression, disruptive behaviors, defiance, and negativity, while the victims of bullying become withdrawn, quiet, and shy. Prior to attempting to stop the incidents of bullying, teachers can attend anti-bullying seminars which assist in identifying and solving bullying. Teachers can pay attention to the changes that occur in her/his students, this can result in nipping the ongoing incidents of bullying in the bud. Nicolaides, Toda& Smith (2002) “Overall, it was thought 33.4%(SD=22.7) of bullies got talked to, which is probably accurate; and 25.6%(SD=18.8). This journal reports that 33.4% of bullies get ‘talked to’ by their teachers. What happens to the other 66.6%? Teachers need to step up with regard to addressing the ongoing epidemic of bullying
Critiques, Strengths, and Weakness in the Research Articles:
There was a wide number of foreign, Caribbean, and local scholarly articles, journals, surveys, and reports that were available for the completion of this research paper, especially within the age group. The articles were also within ten years, making the information relevant and reflective of the occurrences of bullying in Primary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019.
While UNICEF produces qualitative and quantitative data, the results did not necessarily reflect the culture of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the prevalence of bullying in this country. Dr Seepersad definitely renders that local information that was missing however, even a novice researcher contests the reliability of his findings since they were conducted solely in a school in the Northern Vicinity of the country. The culture of the locals in North Trinidad vastly vary from that of the southern local, Dr Seepersad’s data might be skewed because it does not represent the entire country.
Many articles found have delved into the after-effects of bullying, for example, the effects and what can be done to help the victims and the perpetrators, however, there are very few articles that focus on what causes bullying. The very few articles that did try to address the causes of bullying, admitted to being inconclusive, stating that there cannot be one main reason why students choose to bully others at that young age.
With the world making significant technological advances, schools can no longer shift bullying under the rug, and parents and teachers can no longer turn a blind eye when it occurs. Rather than apply offensive measures, parents and teachers can work together to implement preventative solutions. This article review has highlighted the negative effects bullying can have on a student at the Primary School level. Teachers can no longer say that the correlations are speculations, bullying has serious tangible effects and therefore should address EVERY incident of bullying. We need to create an environment that teaches students to practice better ways to express their grievances rather than resort to bullying.
- Barrington. K. (2018, May 21). How does bullying affect a student’s academic performance? Retrieved from https://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/how-does-bullying-affect-a-students-academic-performance
- Currie, C. et al., eds. Social determinants of health and well-being among young people. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: international report from the 2009/2010 survey. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2012 (Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No. 6). Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/163857/Social-determinants-of-health-and-well-being-amongyoungpeople.pdf?ua=1
- Dupage County Regional Office of Education and State’s Attorney’s Office. (2011). Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and Intervention. Retrieved from https://www.dupage.k12.il.us/main/antibullying/pdf/BestPracticesManual.pdf
- Gokhan. A Oya. Y. Guneri, (2013). Bullying and victimization: Predictive role of individual, parental, and academic factors. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Goekhan_Atik/publication/273588322_Bullying_and_victimization_Predictive_role_of_individual_parental_and_academic_factors/links/560826fe08aea25fce3b81c6/Bullying-and-victimization-Predictive-role-of-individual-parental-and-academic-factors.pdf
- Gordon, S. (2018). Six types of bullying every parent should know about. Very Well Family. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/types-of-bullying-parents-should-know-about-4153882
- Nicolaides.S, Toda. Y,& Smith, P, K. (2002). Knowledge and attitudes about school bullying in trainee teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology. 72, 105–118. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Smith34/publication/11449084_Knowledge_and_attitudes_about_school_bullying_in_trainee_teachers/links/59d8a29f0f7e9b12b3683583/Knowledge-and-attitudes-about-school-bullying-in-trainee-teachers.pdf
- Seepersad, R. (May 2014). Bullying and victimization in selected primary schools in north Trinidad. Citizen Security Programme& Ministry of Education. Retrieved from http://csp.gov.tt/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=QK8eG0-iHKg%3D&tabid=191&portalid=0&mid=1055
- Sinyor, M., Schaffer, A., & Cheung, A. H. (2014). An Observational Study of Bullying as a Contributing Factor in Youth Suicide in Toronto. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 59(12), 632–638. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371405901204
- Stop Bullying.gov. (2019, May 30). What Is Bullying? Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html
- UNICEF. (2015, July). Investigating the prevalence and impact of peer abuse (bullying) on the development of Jamaica’s children. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/jamaica/bullying_FULL_REPORT_Anti_Bullying_Consultants_Report_Edited_2ac.pdf