Social Psychology of Bullying

Bullying is a pervasive problem, once found in elementary school all over the world. Despite efforts to completely eradicate it, the behavior has remained persistent throughout the years. A thorough analysis of several peers reviewed articles and journals, will be conducted to understand the issue of bullying and causes it in the first place, and what can be done to prevent it. The seven literature reviews attempt to demonstrate and support the hypothesis on the social psychology of bullying.

Bullying among the young people is no longer perceived as a problem of one individual. Rather, it is now understood as a complicated behavioral pattern that manifests in various environmental, social, and community conditions. It is also clear that bullying is not only confined to the school compound but more widespread into the context of the workplace, relationships, and post-school environments. Similarly, and in contrast to the popular belief, nowadays it is easier to get to the cause of the problem as compared to early years. With this in mind, it is imperative that while bullying is a complex phenomenon, the ability to understand and manage the behavior carefully determines its occurrence and continuation in school or workplace. 

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In a research article by Slee and Skrzypiec, two specific issues were addressed to guide the study. The first was to evaluate the presence of indicators of bullying, such as level of details, the heaviness of lines drawn in drawings made by schoolchildren. The second was to focus on the drawings of the victims who self-identified and focus upon the range of indicators in the first study. It was hypothesized that children experiencing emotional distress are likely to display these signs in their drawings and as they grow old, their graphical representations become smaller. It was also assumed that the size of the image did not define the extent to which the subject was threatening or attractive.  The first sample consisted of random drawings taken from pupils from three different schools. The survey assessed the experience of children in school bullying, including how frequently it occurred, awareness of coping techniques and its effects. The group age range was between 5 to 13 years. The second survey considered drawings from a large semi-rural school, which had 114 participants.  This was to assess the general characteristics of bullying and its effects on the emotional state of the children. The results of the two surveys supported the hypothesis. Children below five years produced heavier drawings with more details than their older counterparts. It was also noted that children drew bullies larger than they drew their victims. Consequently, it was evident that children did not represent bullies in larger drawings. However, the distance between the victim and the bully signified how frequent the incident occurred (Slee & Skrzypiec, 2016). The study was not without some limitations. Firstly, children drawings were littered with contradictory results. Secondly, the study relied on young children who are hard to engage in data collection.

All the results combined confirm that bullying has some effects on the victims. The correlation is established by reviewing the second article by Faucher, Cassidy, and Jackson (2015), which examines several studies to understand the similarities and differences that exist in traditional bullying, harassment and cyber bullying in school and workplaces. According to Faucher et al., bullying was once considered to be the dominion of the “tough child” in the school yard. However, it is now a complex and widespread problem, which has also taken several, forms. The report hypothesized that the classical bullying behavior now manifests itself in a new way and is experienced across all ranges of gender, age, and living conditions. The paper included examining previous surveys from three works of literature on the type of inappropriate messages students received, gender-based and sexual orientation harassment, as well sharing out of personal information without their consent. All this was tested to evaluate the new form of bullying in the modern world. The results of the survey showed that females are more likely to be victims of gender-based bullying as compared to their male counterparts. In most cases, the men were the perpetrators, while the women were by far the victims of cyber bullying. The other thing the survey found out was that such cases of bullying had the lowest frequency of reporting. Most people did not report because either, they were not aware it was a crime and others chose to suffer in silence due to a number of factors. Probably, because of the difficulties that revolve defining bullying, and the manner in which the issue is handled both at school and at the workplace. Similarly, results showed that traditional bullying was more prevalent as compared to cyber bullying. As with every other bad behavior, bullying affects the victim in various ways. Children and youths who are subjected to this act are likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem, low concentration capacity, emotional stress, anxiety, and problems with their academic performances. Luckily, as Faucher et al., assert, there is a solution to this problem. Students, teachers, parents, and the school administration should start by raising awareness to ensure that everyone understands the nature, extent, and the effects of the problem on the life of the victims. They should also implement various administrative policies that would make reporting easier and ensure that help is accorded to the victims. The study seemed to agree with the hypothesis spelled out at the beginning. However, the it suffered some drawbacks. Such included the various distinctions between conceptual definitions of the terms. The gendered behavioral patterns were also analogous among the three literature works examined, with little evidence available.

Interrelationships, mutual influences and diversity in family relationships can determine a child’s behavior towards their peers. This is according to a report by Cross and Barness (2015), where they used some system theories to evaluate and respond to the influence of family on bullying behavior. The hypothesis was to use system theories to evaluate the effects of parenting factors on bullying attitudes and beliefs and normative standards that can be adopted to prevent the behavior. The survey examined key elements of system theories to understand whether it is right to blame particular family members for the behavior of their offspring. The study revealed various theories such as relevance to peer aggression and bullying. Children who live in such environments may grow up believing that it is normal to deal with stress aggressively and may later transfer it to their peers. It also found that dysfunctional relationships are more likely to influence the children who grew up in such environments to be involved in bullying as a defense mechanism. Parents who are overprotective to their children may also lead to submissive individuals who fail to speak out in the face of hostility. Other than that, exposure to violence at home was also found to be one of the primary contributors of peer aggression and increased victimization. Lastly, the study examined how these systems can be applied to preventing and intervention to stop bullying behavior. The research found that family attitudes and expectations largely determined the outcome of this behavioral act when solving it. It must be noted that the survey met all the requirements of the hypothesis. Virtually, there were no limitations in the study.

Once a behavior is recognized and a trend established, it is not enough to only apply some theoretical systems. Most importantly, when addressing bullying in schools, all members of the school system must be involved. Similarly, it is only appropriate to understand that measuring the effectiveness of the school-wide anti-bullying programs is critical to ensure that the behavior is minimized if not completely eradicated. The hypothesis of the article by Vahedi, Azar and Golparvar (2016), aims at determining the effectiveness of the anti-bullying programs on classroom behavior and teacher efficacy in managing such practices. The statistical survey consists of women in the elementary school in the year 2013 to 2014. The participants included 40 teachers who were chosen randomly and placed in two groups. The aim of the program was to recognize and deal with students’ bullying. The results of the study indicated that how victims were treated highly determined the resulting changes. It seemed that anti-bullying program would be effective in managing this behavior. However, there is need to implement various programs to prepare the teachers, parents, and students to deal efficiently with the problem.

In order to contextualize fully the knowledge of bullying, and how to prevent its occurrence, this paper also went into details on the international research and its significance on prevention of bullying in schools. The article by Cassidy, Faucher and Jackson goes into details on the relationship between cyber bullying and traditional bullying. The article hypothesis that prevention and intervention strategies may be employed by teachers, parents, and counselors to solve the problem of bullying. It also examines the importance of school and home culture to evaluate how Information communications Technology and other non-punitive strategies can be used to model an effective counter-measure to the problem. The survey was evidence-based on several international research literature materials, which first examined the definition of cyber bullying and the problems associated with it. The results of the study share a commonality with the rest of the reviewed articles regarding what is required in the curriculum, the types of programs to be developed and ways to deal with both the bully and the victim. Drawing from the results, it is clear that problems that involve bullying on young people should not be dealt with in isolation or bits. Rather, there is a need to embrace a comprehensive impulse and endeavor to address the problem from the root if effectiveness is to be attained.

The articles define bullying as a recurring problem among young people, which occurs for a number of reasons. The studies were clear that several curriculums and intervention measures should be put in place if we want to reduce the behavior in learning institutions or even workplace. They also defined the clear connection between bullying and its impacts on the students. Clearly, the reports are very comprehensive in that they cover all components associated with bullying in schools, causes, and the role of all participants in putting an end to the behavior. The authors, start by giving a factual definitions on what bullying is, they proceed to identify the various forms and interpretations. They present clearly defined survey details, with results. In all the articles, the authors conclude with a brief summary of the whole concept, with recommendations and reasoning for their study. On the hypothesis, they were not necessarily clearly labeled, which made it hard to find. It was slightly confusing on what the authors were testing. However, the findings of the survey all seemed to support the hypothesis spelled out at the beginning of the articles. The majority of the articles used evidence-based survey, which was extracted from previous literature materials. Others sampled their own data using various data collection techniques and sampling methods.

The components adopted by a school when implementing anti-bullying programs, ensures the success of the program. While identifying bullying in children and young people may be hard, schools should consider implementing policies that allow proper reporting of the incidents when they occur. The intervention of the behavior is more successful when addressed by all the parties involved, that is, the teachers, parents, children and the school administration. Schools should also implement educational programs as a way of creating awareness of bullying behavior, its effects, and preventive measures. By doing this, it not only solves but also improves the effectiveness of bullying intervention programs.


Sleep, P. &Skrzypiec, G. (Sep 2016). No more bullying: an analysis of primary school children’s drawings of school bullying.  Educational Psychology, 36(8), 1487-1500.

Faucher, C., Cassidy, W., & Jackson, M. (Nov 2015). From the Sandbox to the Inbox: Comparing the Acts, Impacts, and Solutions of Bullying in K-12, Higher Education, and the Workplace. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 3(6), 111-125.

Cross, D. & Barnes, A. (2014).Using Systems Theory to Understand and Respond to Family Influences on Children’s Bullying Behavior: Friendly Schools Friendly Families Program. Theory Into Practice, 53(4), 293-299.

Vahedi, S., FathiAzar, E., &Golparvar, F., (Mar/Apr 2016). The effectiveness of school-wide anti bullying programs on teachers’ efficacy in dealing with students’ bullying behavior.Journal of Fundamentals of Mental Health.,18(2), 68-75.

Cassidy, W., Faucher, C., & Jackson, M. (2013).Cyberbullying among youth: A comprehensive review of current international research and its implications and application to policy and practice. School Psychology International, 34, 575-612.

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