27 Affiliate 1 (2001-2002)

handle is hein.journals/aff27 and id is 1 raw text is: American Bar Association
Young Lawyers Division
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chio, IL 60611-4497
ISSN: 0360-5485

/M     A Publication of the Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Outreach Project * Volume 27 Number 1 * September/October 2001 * http://www.abanet.org/yld

The Problem of Bullying
By Heather D. Dawson

ullying is a part of everyday
life. While it is present in the
workplace, home, gym and
on the sports field, school is the
most common place where chil-
dren learn bullying behaviors. We
all have memories involving a
childhood bullying incident that
involved either ourselves or some-
one we knew at school. In fact, a
recent survey of 200 adults found
that all of them could recall a bul-
lying situation and 190 of them
could recall the names of the indi-
viduals involved in the situation.
However, most of us do not realize
the significant impact this child-
hood behavior has on children or
what we can do to help.
Unfortunately, some children
learn how to dominate others by
foul means instead of by fair play.
Sadly, children begin to enjoy doing
so, setting a pattern for how they
will behave as adults. Meanwhile,
other children who are
more easily dominated
suffer miserably, often
in silence, and develop a
victim mentality that
they may be unable to
shake off into adult-
hood. This article iden-
tifies the problem of
childhood bullying and
the effects of bullying
on children and will
encourage you to help
work toward a solution.
The Problem
Recent research in the United States
and abroad documents that bullying
is a common and potentially dam-
aging form of violence among chil-
dren. For example:
 In the United States, studies
show that approximately 20
percent of students report
having been bullied and that
most bullying behaviors
occurred in places with little
adult supervision such as play-
grounds and hallways.
 A recent study by the National
Association of School
Psychologists found that
160,000 students miss school
each day in order to avoid the
discomfort caused by bullying
behaviors.
 The National Institute of Child
Health and Human
Development recently report-
ed that in a majority of
schools in the United States:
-One-third of the students are
involved in bullying behaviors;

-11 percent of all children are being bullied;
-13 percent of all children report being bullies;
-Boys are more likely to be bullies or victims of
bullying;
-Girls are more likely to be victims of malicious
rumors or sexual harassment; and
-36 percent of younger children are comfortable
reporting or sharing information about bullying
behaviors, but that number decreases to approxi-
mately 5 percent as these children become older.
If these facts alone do not seem alarming, then consider
them in conjunction with a recent report by the National
Threat Assessment Center. This report reveals that in over
two-thirds of the thirty-seven public school shootings that
have occurred in the United States since 1974, the attack-
ers reported that they felt persecuted, bullied or threat-
ened. Even more alarming is the fact that 50 percent of
those attackers reported revenge as the motivation for
their behavior.
Given the prevalence and severity of bullying behaviors
among children, it is dangerous for adults to assume that
bullying behaviors make tougher children or teach them
to solve their own problems. Thus, it is important to
understand what bullying is, its effects on children and
how we can work together as young lawyers to help pro-
vide a solution to the problem.
What Is Bullying?
Bullying occurs when a child continuously does or says
things in order to gain power over another person. Such
behaviors include simple name-calling, exclusion from
peer groups or threatening or physically harming another
child. A child is a victim of bullying when he or she is
repeatedly exposed to intentional injury or discomfort
inflicted by one or more peers. In short, bullying implies

an imbalance in power or strength
in which children victimize other
children. Children who bully other
children intend the outcome of their
actions. Bullying behavior can be
characterized as follows:
* a desire to hurt + hurtful action
+ imbalance of power + repeti-
tion (typically) and
. an unjust use of power + evi-
dent enjoyment by the aggres-
sor + a sense of being oppressed
on the part of the victim.
In contrast, children who tease
other children usually do not intend
harmful outcomes or are not aware
that they are creating a hostile envi-
ronment for the target of the teas-
ing. Often, these children will stop
the teasing behavior when they
learn the effects of their behavior on
the target's feelings.
Why Do Children Bully?
Children engage in bullying behav-
ior because they may see it as a way
to become more popular with others
or to be perceived as tough and in
charge. Other children may bully to
get attention or because they are
jealous of the child they are bully-
ing. Children may also leam bully-
ing behaviors from their family, culture or lack of role
models to teach them rules and appropriate expectations.
Why Are Children Bullied?
While some children are bullied for no particular reason,
children are usually bullied because they are perceived to be
different--whether it be the color of their skin, the way
they talk, their size or their name. Bullying victims tend to
be more anxious and insecure than other students and
commonly react by crying, withdrawing or avoiding attacks.
The Long-Term Effects of Bullying
Studies of bullying suggest that there are short- and long-
term consequences for the perpetrators and victims of bul-
lying. Not only does bullying harm both its intended vic-
tims and the perpetrators, it also may affect the climate of
schools and, indirectly, the ability of all students to learn to
the best of their abilities.
Children who engage in bullying behaviors during their
school years may take part in criminal or other aggressive
behaviors in their adolescent and adult years. They are
likely to develop an attitude that power and aggression are
appropriate means to achieve attention and status.
Children who are victims of bullying report feelings of
vengefulness, anger and self-pity after a bullying incident.
Left untreated, these effects may develop into depression or
physical illness. In extreme cases, cornered victims fight
back with firepower, killing their tormentors or commit-
ting suicide. Students who are chronic victims of bullying
experience more physical and psychological problems than
their peers who are not harassed by other children. In
addition, bullying victims may develop an attitude that
only those in power can make, break or change the rules.
Finally, bullying victims often have a skewed sense of
continued on page 3

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