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Article

Reforming Approaches to Persistent Bullying in Schools  

Deborah M. Green, Barbara A. Spears, and Deborah A. Price

Bullying remains a global issue, and persistent bullying among students in schools has become of increasing interest and concern. Extensive research has provided insights into the developmental trajectories of those who bully; however, less is understood about why they either continue to engage in bullying behavior or desist over time. Persistent bullies, those who seem to continue or increase their bullying behaviors over time, not only negatively impact individuals and communities both during their schooling and long after graduation but also experience negative life outcomes as a result of their behavior. It is therefore important to understand what contributes to, supports, or motivates their ongoing bullying behavior: especially when interventions and preventative approaches employed by schools to reduce bullying, have to date, been found not to be universally successful. This is particularly important, as interventions and approaches to reduce bullying behavior, have until the early 21st century been largely measured against and are relevant to Olweus’s traditional bullying definition, which references power imbalances, repetition, and intent to harm and rests largely within the developmental psychology domain. In the early 21st century, debates to contemporize the definition, however, involve contributions from other paradigms designed to bring a more holistic, nuanced understanding of the whole socio-educational context of bullying. This may eventually bring different insights to the issue of persistent bullying, as it would include, for example, an understanding of the broader notions of societal power, individual agency, privilege, and bias-based bullying, potentially resulting in better preventative and intervention outcomes to address bullying more generally, and persistent bullying specifically. Whereas school reform often refers to the process of making changes in educational policy or practice, usually in response to concerns about student academic achievement, behavioral issues such as bullying, which impact wellbeing, engagement, and, ultimately, achievement, also require similar “reforms” to policy and practice. Significantly, such reforms demand evidence to ensure there are no unintended or iatrogenic consequences, such as, for example, the escalation or continuation of bullying behaviors. Reforming approaches to understanding, preventing, and effectively intervening with those who persist in bullying others, a unique subset who seem resistant or immune to bullying prevention and intervention approaches used in the early 21st century, are therefore necessary and timely given the extant knowledge about bullying and victimization derived from the past 30-plus years of research. Knowing more about those who appear immune to intervention and prevention approaches used in the early 21st century, their lived experiences, the contexts that may serve to support and maintain their behaviors, and the community’s view of them, is imperative if approaches are to be reformed in response which subsequently bring about change in schools to reduce bullying. Reforming approaches at the whole-school level are considered, which simultaneously employ a multi-tiered system of behavioral support within the school setting for all students: where specific supports are targeted and enacted for those who persist in bullying, alongside strategies for those victimized, in a climate where all bullying is universally rejected. This approach sits alongside the notion of a whole education approach recommended by the UNESCO scientific committee on school violence. This recognizes that a wider community approach is needed, which acknowledges the interconnectedness of the school, the community, and the technological, educational, and societal systems.

Article

Preventing Bullying in School and Work Contexts  

Iain Coyne and Marilyn Campbell

The knowledge base on bullying within school and working contexts has matured to the extent that researchers and practitioners are developing a deeper understanding of this complex social relationship problem. Although controversies still exist, evidence to date provides estimates of the prevalence of bullying, risk factors for bullying, antecedents of bullying, and theoretical models explaining bullying behavior and experience. There is little doubt that bullying in all its forms can have severe negative impacts on those involved in the bullying situation. As a result, it is important to establish coherent and evidence-based approaches to preventing bullying behavior in schools and workplaces. In contrast, the development and evaluation of bullying interventions has not received the same level of support. Both in school and working contexts, there are examples of preventative approaches, but either these are espoused and not directly evaluated, or, where evaluations exist, data is limited in providing definitive answers to the success of an approach. An increasingly dominant voice advocates the creation of policies and laws for preventing workplace bullying. However, the usefulness of policies and laws on their own in reducing bullying is questionable—especially if they are developed with a quick-fix mentality. Trying to prevent such a complex social phenomenon requires an integrated program of actions necessitating significant investment over a prolonged period of time. Stakeholder engagement is paramount to any intervention. Ultimately, schools and workplaces need to try to develop a culture of dignity, fairness, respect, and conflict management which pervades the institution. Challenges remain on how to create such interventions, whether they are effective, and what impact societal values will have on the success of bullying prevention strategies.

Article

Queer-Identifying Boys, the School Toilet, and Queerphobia  

Ndumiso Daluxolo Ngidi, Nkonzo Mkhize, and Brian Bongani Sibeko

School geographies have received little attention from scholarship on queerphobic bullying in South Africa. This is worrying because overwhelming evidence shows how schools are unsafe spaces for queer students. Indeed, schools are key to understanding the geographies of young people. They also play a central role in shaping their social identities. Within the South African context, school toilets are among the most dangerous areas for students in schools. In these spaces, students experience bullying, gendered violence, and crime. Yet the subjective experiences of queer students when accessing school toilets are not well understood. To shed some light on how the school toilet is a space that allows the re-enactment of violent hegemonic masculinities by heteronormative male students, this article reflects on queer experiences of schooling by paying particular attention to the space of the school toilet. Through our experiences, we show how the toilet space is a site for queerphobic bullying. We argue that school toilets are areas for the (re)construction of hegemonic, dominating, and violent heterosexual masculinity, and the further legitimization of hetero-patriarchal systems. While there is evidence of agency in our experiences, it is at the cost of violence. We conclude that schools should abandon the notion of gender binary not just in their toilet spaces but in all spheres of school life, from the curriculum to school culture and infrastructure. Drawing on these experiences, the article submit that this will, in part, reframe South African schools as possible sites for constructing a gender-equal society.

Article

Classroom Ethics  

Hugh Sockett

Classroom ethics is the responsibility of both the teacher and the learner. The teacher is an autonomous moral agent; and the child-learner is in the process of becoming one, so classroom ethics cannot be seen as managed by the teacher, or salient sources of moral agency will be neglected. Definitions of both “classroom” and “ethics” situate an inquiry focused on American schools. The child’s ethical experience of a classroom can be found in friendship and trustworthiness, or the lack of either, and in children’s ethical transgressions, cheating and bullying. Classrooms are not always benign environments and can be places of fear and loneliness. How teachers respond to these four elements of the child’s classroom experience is central to their moral agency as teachers. The quality of ethics in a classroom is central to, not exclusively determined by, the four elements in moral agency—namely, ethical sensitivity, including race, prejudice, and diverse classrooms; ethical judgment and religious issues; ethical motivation and a plea for altruism, yielding teachers’ ethical actions. Classroom ethics are not acquired by teachers as moral techniques. The basis for classroom quality lies in teachers and student teachers having a strong moral identity, presently being crowded out by testing, management theory such that teachers are unable to grow their moral autonomy as professionals through the onerous and threatening activities of educational systems, their administrators and politicians.

Article

Bullying in School and Cyberspace  

Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ivette Noriega, and Daniel J. Flannery

For students, bullying is a significant problem, especially in middle school: up to half of students are involved, either as a bully, a victim, or a bystander. The effects of bullying range from negligible to very severe, including individual psychological difficulties as well as consequences for criminogenic behavior. Theories to explain multidetermined bullying behavior include ecological as well as family-based approaches. Bullying must contain the following elements: unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or groups of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. This definition describes traditional bullying, in which a person or persons can be seen to be engaged in bullying behavior. Since the late 1990s, cyberbullying has been on the rise. Traditional bullying and cyberbullying differ in the following ways: (a) cyberbullying often means the victim does not know who the bully is; (b) cyberbullying is not a discreet incident; it can be preserved in cyberspace indefinitely; (c) anger rumination, anxiety, depression, and suicidality are more prevalent among cyberbully victims; (d) cyberbullies can exhibit decreased empathy for others relative to traditional bullies; and (e) longitudinal research has found some support that cyberbullies may develop delinquent behaviors in adulthood. Bullying affects a significant proportion of students, between 18% and 31% of students in the United States are likely to be involved in traditional bullying, whereas rates of cyberbullying involvement are close to 59%. Any participation in bullying can affect youth negatively. Being either a bully or a victim can lead to depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Being a perpetrator of bullying and cyberbullying may also increase the likelihood of criminal activity in young adulthood. According to the path analytic model of juvenile delinquency, it is likely that association with delinquent peers and parenting style are related to bullying behavior. Prevention and intervention programs have had some positive effects. Prevention and intervention efforts should concentrate on universal dissemination of effective strategies, including that cyberbullies are not really anonymous. Family and school-based interventions can strengthen adult support while encouraging programs that teach children to respect each other, promoting prosocial development. For traditional bullying, school climate programs in primary school have shown positive effects. Interventions for traditional bullying that are based in family therapy have shown success. Due to the novelty of cyberbullying, few intervention studies are available as yet. Efforts to prevent cyberbullying include setting up anonymous tiplines in schools and sharing up-to-date technological advances with parents so that they can implement those blocks that are available. Finally, there are no specific federal laws in the United States addressing bullying; however, federal regulations do exist to provide frameworks for anti-discrimination laws pertaining to protected classes. Although there are no explicit federal regulations that address bullying, state and local policies have been key components in addressing bullying issues. There has been some evidence that suggest that anti-bullying laws and policies in schools may decrease bullying perpetration. Countries including New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden have passed specific laws to address bullying, while some countries apply laws created to address other infractions to include bullying.

Article

School Violence  

Gordon Capp, Hadass Moore, Ronald Pitner, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Ron Avi Astor, and Rami Benbenishty

School violence can be understood as any behavior that is intended to harm other people at schools or near school grounds. This may include bullying and victimization, or more severe forms of violence involving weapons. To respond effectively to school violence, school personnel and leaders must understand the influences on their schools that come from individuals, the surrounding community, and cultural and political spheres. Careful and ongoing assessment of the needs of any given school is also a prerequisite to effective intervention. The severity of violence, the exact location of violent acts, and how different groups on a school campus experience violence are all key details to understanding and measuring problems. With this information, schools are then able to choose intervention programs that will utilize a whole-school approach. Sometimes, existing Evidence Based Programs can address the needs of a particular school and surrounding community. Other times, schools need to either modify existing interventions or create their own to address the particular forms of violence that exist in their schools and communities.

Article

School Safety, Victimization, and Bullying  

Ronald Pitner, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Rami Benbenishty, and Ron Avi Astor

This article focuses on socio-ecological and whole-school approaches to coping with school violence, while highlighting best practices for selecting, developing, and monitoring interventions. We present several empirically supported programs, followed by identified characteristics of successful interventions and considerations on selecting an appropriate program for a particular school. Finally, we discuss the systematic monitoring method and approach and its utility in creating safer schools while emphasizing the contextual features and the nested environment in which schools reside. We suggest manners in which the systematic monitoring approach can be considered, advocated, and implemented by school staff members, particularly school social workers.

Article

Workplace Mistreatment: A Review and Agenda for Research  

Ivana Vranjes and Zhanna Lyubykh

Workplace mistreatment researchers study negative interpersonal behaviors under a plethora of different labels, including incivility, bullying, harassment, aggression, and violence. While negative interpersonal behaviors differ in their intensity, intent, and frequency, a common denominator of these behaviors is their adverse impact on employees and organizations. Research has identified the nomological network of workplace mistreatment, which illustrates individual and contextual factors associated with mistreatment behaviors. Authors have also highlighted outcomes of mistreatment, showing that mistreatment results in reduced psychological and physical health, worsened job attitudes, and diminished performance for both targets and bystanders. Further, enacted mistreatment is not without consequences for the perpetrators, and these consequences can be both negative and positive. While workplace mistreatment research has been steadily growing, many questions remain unanswered. There are unexplored topics, approaches, and methodologies. First, there is a need to understand the uniqueness and similarities of different mistreatment constructs to provide a more comprehensive approach for studying workplace mistreatment and highlight alternative ways of measuring mistreatment constructs. Novel methodological approaches, such as HotMap and artificial intelligence, could shed light on the dynamics between targets and perpetrators of mistreatment, allowing researchers to capture the dynamic nature of mistreatment behaviors. Second, the interactions among societal, cultural, and interpersonal factors are likely to shape enacted mistreatment. For instance, social networks within organizations and the interrelations between employees are likely to influence not only the individual who becomes targeted, but also the way in which bystanders are to take action against such mistreatment. Third, while the role of bystanders in the dynamics of workplace mistreatment is undoubtedly important, there is a need to critically investigate the role bystanders may play in curtailing or encouraging mistreatment. More specifically, bystander interventions can take both constructive and destructive forms. Finally, targets’ responses to experienced mistreatment are likely to be relevant to the understanding of the dyadic nature of workplace mistreatment, such that an aggressive target response is likely to cause a mistreatment spiraling. However, it remains unclear what type of target response, if any, would be beneficial in helping de-escalate destructive behavior from the perpetrator. Thus, more research is needed to help address the important question of the best ways to deal with experienced mistreatment.

Article

Public School Policies: Discrimination, Harassment, Bullying, and Accommodations  

Sean Cahill

Discrimination, harassment, and bullying against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are a major concern. Research shows that such victimization starts early, occurring in elementary schools. Given the central role social media play in the lives of youth, cyberbullying is an increasing concern. Victimization also takes the form of sexual harassment. Anti-LGBTQ victimization can cause youth to distance themselves from the school environment both physically and emotionally, skipping school or dropping out entirely. Fighting back against victimization and other factors, such as family rejection, homelessness, and survival crimes such as shoplifting, can cause LGBTQ youth to become involved with the juvenile justice system at higher rates than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Research also shows that victimization correlates with greater behavioral health burden, including substance use disparities, suicidal ideation, depression, self-esteem, and social integration. LGBTQ youth are more likely to feel unsafe at school, get in a fight at school, and carry a weapon to school. Victimization also negatively correlates with academic performance, and hopes and aspirations for the future, such as plans to attend college. There is limited research on the disproportionate racial/ethnic impacts of these phenomena. A number of school-based programs and policies, and public policy interventions, have been initiated to ensure equal access to public education for LGBTQ youth. These include teacher and staff training, safe school programs, gay-straight alliances, and LGBT-focused schools. Policy interventions include nondiscrimination laws and regulations at the local and state level, interpretation of federal sex discrimination laws to encompass and prohibit some forms of anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment, and Congressional bills which would outlaw sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in public schools. Some state and federal laws, such as parental rights provisions and abstinence-only laws, inhibit educators’ and administrators’ ability promote tolerance and acceptance of LGBT youth and promote sexual health and reduce HIV/sexually transmitted infection risk. There are a number of gaps in the research on LGBT-related school policies, including how to engender better parent–child communication about LGBT identity development and sexual health and how to measure sexual behavior in an increasingly nonbinary world.

Article

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace  

Ståle Valvatne Einarsen and Kari Wik Ågotnes

Workplace bullying and harassment is prevalent in contemporary workplaces with detrimental negative outcomes for targets as well as for bystanders and the organization itself. At any one time, some 3%–20% of the working population is targeted, suffering reduced motivation and productivity, severe mental and physical health problems, and a risk of exclusion from the organization and even working life altogether. Bullying and harassment is about the systematic and ongoing mistreatment of an employee by other organization members, mostly of a psychological and social nature and often involving a gradually escalating process that may end in severe victimization of those targeted if not properly managed and handled in its early phases. In early phases, by some denoted incivility, the behaviors involved are often subtle, indirect, and discrete, while in later phases they become ever more prevalent and direct—even involving threats and open verbal abuse. Bullying may involve work-related behaviors creating a difficult and even dangerous working situation for the target, personally demeaning behavior, acts of social exclusion and non-inclusion, and physically intimidation behaviors. Hence, bullying comes in many shades and forms, as well as at many levels of intensity. Although risk factors and antecedents of this complex problem may be found on many levels, factors in the immediate working environment and the design and management of work are particularly important. Furthermore, bullying is particularly prevalent in working environments characterized by a hostile working climate and in organizations where such behaviors are permitted or even rewarded.

Article

Gender and Bullying  

Elizabeth J. Meyer

The field of bullying research initially paid minimal attention to the influences of gender role expectations (masculinity, femininity, and gender role conformity), as well as heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia in understanding the phenomenon. This has shifted since the late 2000s, when more research emerged that analyzes gender as an influential factor for understanding bullying dynamics in schools. More recent studies have focused on LGBTQ youth, issues of disability, and racialized identities, as well as the impacts of online interactions. When examining gender and bullying, it is important to also examine related forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, dating violence, and other forms of sexual and violent assault such as transphobic violence and murder. In order to more effectively support schools and professionals working to reduce bullying, there must be a deeper understanding of what is currently known about gender and bullying, what works to reduce it in schools, and what still needs more attention in the research literature.

Article

Masculinities and School Gun Violence in the United States  

Samantha Deane

Schools are sites of personal, political, and symbolic violence. In the United States acts of rampage school gun violence, themselves symbolic, are connected to acts of personal violence via the inscription of social gender norms. Carried out by White teenage boys rampage school shootings call us to grapple with the ways in which schools form and discipline gendered subjectivities. Central to the field of masculinity studies is R. W. Connell’s theory of masculinity which draws on a Gramscian theory of hegemony rather than a Foucauldian theory of power. Whereas Gramsci focuses the ways in which power moves down, Foucault studies the impact of small interaction on our subjective sense of self. When addressing the phenomena of rampage school gun violence where White teenage boys target their schools in acts of gendered rage, a Foucauldian theory of power helps us to take seriously the significance of everyday interaction in legitimating gendered ontologies. Jointly Foucault and the contemporary works of Jane Roland Martin, Amy Shuffelton, and Michel Kimmel point towards an avenue that may afford us the opportunity to root out practices and environments wedded to hegemonic masculinity (and thus rampage school gun violence): the everyday celebration of gender-inclusive and egalitarian ways of learning and living.

Article

Bullying in Youth  

Jonathan Singer and Karen Slovak

Bullying is the most common form of violence in schools and has been shown to disrupt the emotional and social development of both the targets and the perpetrators of bullying (Raskauskas & Stoltz, 2007). Bullying can be physical, verbal, relational, and direct or indirect. There are well-established age and sex trends (Olweus, 1993; Smith, Madsen, & Moody, 1999). There has been considerable research on bullying-prevention programs and scholarship on best-practice guidelines for school social workers (Dupper, 2013). An emerging concern is with the use of electronic and Internet devices in bullying, referred to as “cyberbullying.” In this article we define bullying and cyberbullying; discuss risk factors associated with being a bully, a victim, and a bully-victim; describe prevention and intervention programs; and discuss emerging trends in both bullying and cyberbullying.

Article

Occupational Health Psychology  

Sharon Clarke

Occupational health psychology is concerned with improving the quality of work life and protecting and promoting the safety, health, and well-being of workers. Research and theoretical development in this area of psychology has focused on a number of core areas, particularly the study of workplace stress, health and safety at work, workplace aggression and bullying, work–life balance, and impact of the organization of work on health and well-being, including flexible work and new technology. Researchers have devoted attention to understanding the causes and mechanisms linking work design and organizational factors to health, safety, and well-being in the workplace, as well as developing interventions to improve work conditions and promote well-being. While much of this work has focused on alleviating negative effects (e.g., preventing disease and injury and reducing stress symptoms), positive psychology has influenced researchers to examine motivating effects that create the conditions for personal growth and learning (e.g., job crafting, thriving at work, and work engagement).

Article

Children: Overview  

Dorinda N. Noble

Children are interesting, resilient people, whose lives are often perilous. Social workers deal extensively with children and families, and with policies that affect children, to help children and families overcome family disruption, poverty, and homelessness. Social workers also provide mental health care while working to ensure that children get medical care. Schools are areas of practice for social workers dealing with children. The issues of ethical practice and social justice for children are complex.