Characterictics of Bullying

Bullying is a very serious and controversial issue nowadays. It’s very common in every place, particularly in school. Parents are worried for their children’s mental health and school performance because of this. Research has shown that this causes serious mental, physical and emotional health problems among school children.

School bullying shows in different forms. According to Dr. Dan Olweus, a psychologist from Norway who is recognized as a pioneer and founder of research on bullying and victimization, bullying is a “repeated negative, ill-intentioned behavior by one or more students directed against a student who has difficulty defending himself or herself. Most bullying occurs without any apparent provocation on the part of the student who is exposed.” In other words, bullying shows in several characteristics that intimidates a weaker person. Olweus classified the bullies in different categories.

The aggressive bullies are the common image of the school bullies in school. In movies, they may be portrayed as the popular ‘jocks’ or boys in leather jeans and jackets. These bullies are extremely confident and popular. Boys are the ones who are commonly under this category. Aggressive bullies intimidate their victims physically. That’s why they pick a prey that is physically weaker than them.

The passive bullies are the aggressive bullies’ allies. Unlike the aggressive bullies, the passive bullies have low self-esteem. They get along with aggressive bullies to compensate with their insecurities. They are the active participants once a bullying incident happens.

The bully-victims are bullies because they themselves have become victims. This may be portrayed by Lucas Nickle from “The Ant Bully.” Research has shown that there are bullies that were once victims of it. Their aggressors are physically stronger than them, but they themselves are physically stronger than their own victims.

The pure bullies are described by Dieter Wolke of University of Hertfordshire as healthy individuals who enjoy school. They were labeled by Wolke as “cool operators.”

Each gender has different manners used in bullying. Boys commonly used their physical strength to dominate. Girls bully through giving emotional attacks such as teasing, spreading rumors about the victim and whispering to others in the victim’s presence.

The common characteristics of bullying victims are insecure, frail, shy and socially-awkward. Olweus also classified the victims into three categories: The bully-victims, which were described above, the passive victims and the provocative victims.

The passive victims do not provoke the aggressor through their social interaction. Commonly, the passive victims are socially withdrawn, depressed and sensitive. The bullies sense this vulnerability that makes them an easy target. There are some theories that tell that the “victim” mentality the bullying victims have, are due to their sensitivity to emotional stress. The passive victims have three subcategories: The vicarious victims, the false victims and the perpetual victims.

The vicarious victims are also called as the surrogate victims. They are described as indirect victims of bullying because they themselves are not bullied but they have witnessed or heard bullying incidents. They feel sympathetic with the bullying victims but they choose not to interfere because they are afraid that they themselves might become the target.

False victims are not really bullying victims. They are just some small groups of students who complain frequently to their teacher about being bullied by their classmates. In other words, they are just students who seek attention and sympathy from their teacher.

Perpetual victims are described as bullying victims that have been bullied throughout their life.

In contrast with the passive victim category, the provocative victims are bullying victims that arouse the negative responses from those people around them. The provocative victims might have done something that causes the aggressor to attack or reject them. They are the ones who commonly have a psychological disorder.