Bullying is both a psychological and a sociological phenomenon that occurs among human beings who live, work, and study together. Although certain individuals are more likely to bully (psychological), the context in which they exist (sociological) can also contribute toward an environment in which bullying is more acceptable. Young people are rarely bullied because they are perceived to be the same as everyone else; they are often bullied because they stand out in their environment for being different in some way from their peers. This reality points to the need for schools to promote an understanding and appreciation for diversity among young people. Research shows that levels of bullying and other forms of discrimination decrease when young people are provided with an opportunity to reflect on difference as a positive aspect of life. The current geopolitical context challenges us more than ever before to promote inclusion and address discrimination as a form of bullying in our schools, workplaces, and wider society.
Bullying as a form of human aggression occurs in organizations, workplaces, voluntary groups, universities, and particularly in schools (Lutgen-Sandvik, et al. 2016; Datta, et al. 2016; Lapidot-Lefler and Dolev-Cohen 2015; and McGuire 2013). Bullying is a problem that transcends social boundaries and can result in devastating psychological and emotional trauma, such as low self-esteem, poor academic performance, depression, and, in some cases, violence, and suicidal behavior (Smith 2014). There is no universally agreed definition for bullying. However, bullying is generally understood as a form of aggressive behavior characterized by three core elements: (1) it is aggressive behavior or intentional “harm doing,” (2) is carried out repeatedly and over time, and (3) occurs in an interpersonal relationship characterized by an imbalance of power. In addition, the bullying behavior often occurs without apparent provocation, and negative actions can be carried out by physical contact, words, intentional exclusion from a group, or other ways, such as making faces or mean gestures (Del Barrio, et al. 2008). When assessing behavior that might be considered to be bullying, it is important to evaluate the extent to which intent, repetition, and an imbalance of power exist; otherwise, no matter how conflictual or aggressive the encounter is, it may not be considered to be bullying. However, some researchers argue that a one-off event can also be considered to be bullying if there is a threat that it may be repeated (Gladden, et al. 2014). Hamarus and Kaikkonen 2008 argues, depending on which definition of bullying is used, only acts that conform to a particular definition are identified and labeled as bullying, thus excluding whole aspects of conflict and aggression that also may occur. The definition and related self-report questionnaire in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (created by Dan Olweus in 2007) has been used extensively in international research. However, this approach has been critiqued from the point of view that it does not account for nuances in different cultural meanings and terminology associated with the concept of bullying. For example, Smith, et al. 2002 alludes to the fact that the term ijime is used in Japan as a bullying equivalent, but the term implies less of a focus on physical violence and a greater emphasis on social manipulation. This has implications for those who are being asked to create policies and procedures that include definitions of bullying. The core challenge here for organizations, workplaces, and schools is how to develop a workable definition that sufficiently covers various types of aggressive behavior. This article examines and outlines the phenomenon of bullying by exploring historical developments that have led to the current theoretical approach to the problem as it occurs in early-21st-century society. It considers both the psychological and sociological aspects of bullying while suggesting strategies for prevention and intervention in the educational and workplace settings.
Datta, Pooja, Dewey Cornell, and Francis Huang. 2016. Aggressive attitudes and prevalence of bullying bystander behavior in middle school. Psychology in the Schools 53.8: 804–816.
This article explores the reinforcement of bullying behavior augmented by pro-aggressive attitudes and the role of bystander students. The findings suggest this can be counteracted by implementing anti-bullying programs that promote positive bystander intervention.
Del Barrio, Christina, Elena Martín, Ignacio Montero, Héctor Gutiérrez, Ángela Barrios, and María José de Dios. 2008. Bullying and social exclusion in Spanish secondary schools: National trends from 1999 to 2006. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology 8:657–677.
This paper reports on a national longitudinal study on bullying in schools in Spain.
Gladden, R. M., A. M. Vivolo-Kantor, M. E. Hamburger, and C. D. Lumpkin. 2014. Bullying surveillance among youths: Uniform definitions for public health and recommended data elements, Version 1.0. Atlanta: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United States Department of Education.
This report provides background on the problem of bullying, including what is known in the early 2010s about the public health burden of bullying and the need for a uniform definition of bullying.
Hamarus, Päivi, and Pauli Kaikkonen. 2008. School bullying as a creator of pupil peer pressure. Educational Research 50.4: 333–345.
This article explores the phenomenon of school bullying within a social and cultural framework, which also provides a new way of understanding pupils’ social relationships.
Lapidot-Lefler, Noam, and Michal Dolev-Cohen. 2015. Comparing cyberbullying and school bullying among school students: Prevalence, gender, and grade level differences. Social Psychology of Education 18.1: 1–16.
This article compares the phenomenon of cyberbullying and school bullying. The findings of the research are based on the study of 465 junior high and high school students in Israel and reveals that cyberbullying is less common than school bullying.
Lutgen-Sandvik, Pamela, Jacqueline N. Hood, and Ryan P. Jacobson. 2016. The impact of positive organizational phenomena and workplace bullying on individual outcomes. Journal of Managerial Issues 28.1–2: 30–49.
This article examines in tandem positive organization scholarship (POS) and counterproductive workplace behavior (CWB) with two goals. The first looks at positive interpersonal work experiences; the second explores the effects of negative behavior, such as bullying, on positive organizational features.
McGuire, Lian. 2013. Third-level student experiences of bullying in Ireland. In Bullying in Irish education. Edited by Mona O’Moore and Paul Stevens, 100–123. Cork, Ireland: Cork Univ. Press.
This chapter presents the first definitive study of bullying in higher education in Ireland. It explores the various types of bullying, where it can take place, and by whom, offering strategies for prevention and intervention.
Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Hazeldene Foundation.
This resource was developed by Dan Olweus in 2007 and has been used throughout the world as a form of bullying prevention and intervention in schools. It relies on a specific definition and a self-reporting questionnaire.
Smith, Peter K. 2014. Understanding school bullying: Its nature and prevention strategies. London: SAGE.
In chapter 5 of this book, Who is at risk, and what are the effects?, the author outlines who is at risk of being bullied and what the possible effects are on them.
Smith, Peter K., Helen Cowie, Ragnar F. Olafsson, et al. 2002. Definitions of bullying: A comparison of terms used, and age and gender differences, in a fourteen-country international comparison. Child Development 73.4: 1119–1133.
This article explores how children understand the meaning of the English word “bullying” in fourteen different countries. Twenty-five cartoon stick-figures of social situations between peers were shown to eight- and fourteen-year-old students in order to investigate whether each country’s native terms equaled the English equivalent.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alternative Certification Programs for Educators
- Alternative Schools
- American Indian Education
- Art Education
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Athletics, College
- Augmented Reality in Education
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Case Study in Education Research
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Civic and Social Engagement of Higher Education
- Classroom Management
- College Admissions in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Development, Moral
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Digital Divides
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Doctoral Education and Training
- Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Europe
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Pedagogy
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Science
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Polici...
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Equity, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Excellence in Education
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
- Family and Community Partnerships in Education
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Gender and Achievement
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Growth of Effective Mental Health Services in Schools in t...
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education Faculty Characteristics and Trends in the...
- Higher Education Governance
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Management
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- High-stakes Testing
- History of Education in the United States
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Inservice Teacher Education
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership Training
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Learning Strategies
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- LGBT Youth in Schools
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literacy, Multiple Documents
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Museums, Education, and Curriculum
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Numeracy Education
- Online Education
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology for Special Education
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Productivity and Higher Education
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Religion in Elementary and Secondary Education in the Unit...
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School Improvement through Inclusive Education
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Standards-Based Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Access, Equity, and Diversity in Higher Education
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technologies, Teaching, and Learning in Higher Education
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- Technology-based Assessment
- The Bologna Process
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Three Conceptions of Literacy: Media, Narrative, and Gamin...
- Tracking and Detracking
- Transitions in Early Childhood Education
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Using Ethnography in Educational Research
- Value of Higher Education for Students and Other Stakehold...
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Wellness and Well-Being in Education
- Women's and Gender Studies