In her study, ‘Violence at School, Bullying at School’, Mariann Buda writes that more than one-third of children are somehow involved in school violence, whether as a bully or a victim. Fifteen percent of children are bullied several times a week, while one in four is a bully. Bullying is primarily physical for boys, while for girls it consists of exclusion, slander and gossip.
Bullying is a disorder in the community, and not a natural process. Usually, it starts in pre-school and is most common in grades 6–8.
Why does a child become a bully? A violent child has low self-esteem, is often neglected or abused at home, and usually has a rigid, tyrannical parent(s). But there are also children who hurt their peers but don’t experience abuse and neglect at home. The extent to which the school and community allow violence also matters.
There are kids who are openly aggressive and who bully because they like the feeling of having power. There is another group of bullies — the academic, the top athlete, the charismatic kids — who are favoured by teachers and who want to become leaders in the community at all costs. These children are, as Kelly Oakes, author of BBC Future puts it, ‘Machiavellian kids’.
What can we do if our child harasses others? Find out what bullying gives your child. Schools, parents, and classmates may reward this behaviour, or they may follow a parental pattern. Those who witness the event play a huge role as well — they can influence the outcome of the events through passivity or intervention; bullying is viable when no one intervenes.
To solve the situation, parents must uncover the cardinal points in the story: the persons involved, and the possibility for a peaceful settlement. It is also important for parents to teach their children how to keep their anger and frustration at bay. However, as the author of the article concludes, the most important remedy to school bullying is creating a healthy community where children can feel good about themselves.