School Bullying and Its Causes

Introduction

Bullying in schools has become a worldwide problem, and in some cases, its effects may have lasting implications on the victims. The definition of bullying varies. However, the behavior has common characteristics, which include intentionality, repeatability, and power imbalance (Jan & Husain, 2015). In the school context, bullying involves physical and verbal assaults together with harassment towards a victim by an individual or group of students over a prolonged period. Despite numerous studies and efforts made towards addressing this problem, bullying continues to affect millions of students in all countries around the world.

We will write a custom School Bullying and Its Causes specifically for you
for only $14.00 $11,90/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

In this paper, it is argued that if the causes of bullying in schools can be established, a good solution can be found to address the problem. Different theories and suggestions have been put forward to explain the causes of this problem. However, the available literature gives general causes of bullying, which might explain why it continues to be a problem in different schools. Therefore, this paper addresses the various causes of bullying in schools. Researching on this topic is important because many students continue to suffer, as the issue has not been addressed well.

Literature Review

Causes of Bullying in Schools

The topic of the causes bullying in schools is subject to debate because people have different explanations of the issue. Diverse factors and theories have been put forward to address this subject. According to Jan and Husain (2015), bullying in schools can occur due to environmental factors. For instance, some media contents that students are exposed to shape their thoughts about violence.

Human beings are influenced by their environments, and thus their behaviors are determined by what is happening around them. Therefore, in most cases, violent media presents aggression as a good behavior, and thus children may develop the wrong perception of the same, and seek to practice what they see in school set-ups. A study by Verlinden et al. (2014), established that children who are exposed to violent media are highly likely to engage in bullying.

Another study by Menesini and Salmivalli (2017) showed that students from areas prone to gang violence and other forms of street aggressions are more likely to engage in bullying as compared to their counterparts who have not been exposed to the same environments. Therefore, environmental factors play a significant role in explaining what causes schools to have bullies.

Other studies associate causes of bullying in school with social factors (Menesini & Salmavalli, 2017; Bevilacqua et al., 2017). Parenting plays an important role in the way children grow and develop together with the kind of adults that they become later in life. Bevilacqua et al. (2017) note that children that have been exposed to parental or family problems are likely to engage in bullying three times more as compared to their counterparts with healthy parenting.

Children are exposed to social issues like relationships through their parents. Therefore, if a child’s first experience is unhealthy relationship with his or her parents, he or she may grow up not knowing how to interact with other people. Menesini and Salmavalli (2017) argue that bullying is a behavioral problem caused by different personal factors. As such, most bullies have personality problems that can be associated with their families.

Get your
100% original paper on any topic done
in as little as 3 hours
Learn More

Peer pressure has also been identified as one of the causes of bullying in schools. Jan and Husain (2015) argue that due to peer pressure, some students engage in bullying “to foster feelings of belongingness and establish themselves in social hierarchy” (p. 44). As children grow, the majority of them lack the emotional capacity to understand their worth and value as individuals. Therefore, most of them look for affirmations by creating group identity where their actions can be praised (Jan & Husain, 2015). Ultimately, one may end up bullying others as a way of gaining acceptance into a certain group.

Jan and Husain (2015) note that while bullying is highly associated with individuals, over 85 percent of cases occur within groups. This observation shows the significant role of peer pressure as a cause of bullying in schools.

Finally, bullying occurs due to the personality of the perpetrators. According to Mitsopoulou and Giovazolias (2015), most bullies have low empathy towards the problems of others. Additionally, victims of this behavior are highly likely to bully others as a form of revenging. On the other hand, students may engage in bullying due to different personal reasons. For instance, one may decide to bully others for fun. Children are naturally curious, and thus they want to have different experiences. Additionally, students may decide to bully their peers because the victim annoyed them. Therefore, this revengeful form of bullying is caused by the urge to get even. Finally, bullying can be caused by the need to extort money and other material possessions from the victims.

Theories of Causes of School Bullying

Despite the numerous causes of bullying in schools, the issue could be understood better using theories to explain it. This section will discuss some of the theories that have been put forward to explain this problem. The first approach indicates that bullying in schools is caused by individual differences, which shows the dominance theory. According to Evans and Smokowski (2016), students have different levels of personal power.

These differences may be physical or psychological. A study by Evans and Smokowski (2016) found out that in most cases, bullies are physically stronger as compared to their victims. Therefore, this difference in physical characteristics allows perpetrators to bully their victims as a way of showing their authority. Consequently, physically weaker students are mostly targets of this form of bullying. On the other hand, bullying can occur due to psychological factors.

In this case, students with lower intelligence quotient (IQ) may bully their counterparts, who are bright in class. Bullies in this scenario seek to get even through physical means to cover what they cannot achieve intellectually. Evans and Smokowski (2016) argue that the “desire for power and dominance is a central motivating factor that fuels bullying behavior and bullies use intimidation and humiliation as a means of obtaining power” (p. 370). Therefore, bullies seek to gain power and dominance whether physically or psychologically. This theory covers causes of bullying in schools such as peer pressure and the need to be at the top of the social structure.

The socio-cultural theory on the causes of bullying in schools argues that this behavior occurs due to power differences in society in terms of gender, social class, and race among others (Evans & Smokowski, 2016). Naturally, males are normally dominant. This argument explains why boys are more involved in bullying cases as compared to girls. Historically, females have been victims of oppression in different aspects.

We will write a custom
School Bullying and Its Causes
specifically for you!
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Learn More

Therefore, the urge for males to dominate is a social and cultural problem, and thus the probability of a boy bullying a girl is high. Differences in social class also play an important role in school bullying. Normally, children from poor socio-economic backgrounds are victims of bullying through harassment from their peers from middle class or wealthy families. According to Evans and Smokowski (2016), human beings like competing with one another based on material possessions.

Therefore, students from well-to-do families may look at their poor peers as lesser beings. As such, this difference in social status becomes a potential cause of bullying in schools. Similarly, racial differences lead to bullying amongst students. Evans and Smokowski (2016) assert that racist bullying is common in schools, and it is caused by societal perceptions that one race is better than another.

The theory of humiliation holds that being humiliated is painful, and thus victims of any form of bullying are more likely to have the same behavior as a way of revenging. Evans and Smokowski (2016) posit, “Humiliation is ‘excessive overt derogation’ that occurs when a more powerful individual publically reveals the inadequacies of a weaker victim, who feels the treatment is unjustified” (p. 371). As such, bullying victims seek to revenge as a way of dealing with the pain caused by their experiences.

However, as noted earlier, in most cases, bullies are physically stronger as compared to their victims. Consequently, a physically weak victim may not confront a stronger bully. Ultimately, such a victim will look for individuals that he or she can bully as a way of revenging. Therefore, bullying becomes a cycle, and its negative effects are replicated across different school populations. This aspect may explain why bullying is such a common problem in different learning institutions around the world.

The organizational culture theory introduces a different perspective into the debate on causes of bullying in schools. According to this theory, bullying occurs in schools due to poor administration that allows the culture of bullying. Evans and Smokowski (2016) argue that organizations operate under a set of rules, which form a given culture. Therefore, school environments without strong policies against bullying will allow the presence of this behavior. A study carried out in 2012 showed that students in positive school culture and environment felt secure and bullying cases were minimal (Evans & Smokowski, 2016). In such school environments, teachers offer support and intervene in social issues like bullying. Additionally, students are taught on self-worth and the need to stand for their rights.

Finally, the personality theory argues that bullying is caused by different personalities (Mitsopoulou & Giovazolias, 2015). This argument explains why some students will become bullies while others will not even when exposed to the same conditions. This paper holds that the personality theory is the most convincing cause of bullying in school. This argument will draw criticism given that different theories and causes of this problem have been identified. However, the next section will be used to justify the stand that bullying is a personality issue.

Discussion

Personality theory offers the best explanation why schools have bullies. According to Mitsopoulou and Giovazolias (2015), personality is a “dynamic organization, inside the person, of psychophysical systems that create the person’s characteristic patterns of behavior, thoughts, and feelings” (p. 62). An individual’s personality may contribute to bullying in two aspects. On the one hand, one’s personality may facilitate him or her to become a bully.

Not sure if you can write
School Bullying and Its Causes by yourself?
We can help you
for only $14.00 $11,90/page
Learn More

On the other hand, personal characteristics can expose one to be bullied. The Big-Five factor (BF) model can be used to explain the different personalities together with how they contribute to bullying and victimization (Mitsopoulou & Giovazolias, 2015). The main personality dimensions include openness to experience, extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness (Mitsopoulou & Giovazolias, 2015). Normally, individuals showing neuroticism are emotionally unstable, while those with extraversion have high levels of energy.

Different studies carried to study bullying patterns in school-going children showed strong links between different personalities and the tendency to become a bully or a victim (Mitsopoulou & Giovazolias, 2015). For instance, children with low scores on extraversion are more likely to be victims of bullying. On the other hand, children with neuroticism are more likely to be bullies. The bullies’ abnormal behaviors are an expression of an underlying problem, which in most cases is associated with one’s personality. In another study, it was found that bullies would score lowly on the scale of agreeableness and conscientiousness (Mitsopoulou & Giovazolias, 2015). As such, such individuals were found to have low empathy and unfriendly.

With the understanding gained from the personality theory, bullying and victimization can be understood better. Therefore, one may conclude that people will become bullies or victims of the same based on their personal characteristics. This explanation is better than the other theories on causes of bullies in different ways. However, the most important issue here is that the personality theory covers all other explanations of towards this topic.

For instance, the socio-cultural causes of bullying give different factors including power differences and social classes. However, this dimension does not explain why some individuals will become bullies or victims, while others do not even after being exposed to the same conditions. In other words, given two children with poor parenting, one may become a bully while the other may be disciplined and respectful towards others.

In this case, the personality theory will argue that the two children have different underlying personalities, which explains the different behavioral outcomes. Therefore, the main causes of bullying in schools are based on the view that children have different personalities. Consequently, some personalities will expose some individuals to become victims and others to develop bullying tendencies. Such personalities, when exposed to the right environment or conditions, come out through different behavioral patterns.

Conclusion

Bullying is a big problem in the modern times. Scholars and researchers have come up with different explanations to the causes of bullying in schools. Some of the causes discussed in this paper include environmental, social, and cultural factors together with peer pressure among others. Similarly, several theories that explain this phenomenon have been discussed. They include the dominance theory, organizational culture theory, humiliation theory, and socio-cultural theory. However, the personality theory offers the best explanation to what causes schools to have bullies. This theory explains all other hypotheses associated with this topic.

This knowledge offers new and better implications for the understanding of causes of bullying in schools in the field of education. If I were a school administrator, I would apply the findings of this paper to different populations in different ways. First, I would analyze and understand the underlying issues, and then use the applicable finding to that particular problem. Second, I would emphasize on understanding children’s personalities and come up with ways of addressing their problems from that particular perspective.

References

Bevilacqua, L., Shackleton, N., Hale, D., Allen, E., Bond, L., Christie, D., … Viner, R. M. (2017). The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying: A cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics, 17(1), 160-170.

Evans, C. B. R., & Smokowski, P. R. (2016). Theoretical explanations for bullying in school: How ecological processes propagate perpetration and victimization. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(4), 365-375.

Jan, A., & Husain, S. (2015). Bullying in elementary schools: Its causes and effects on Students. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(19), 43-58.

Menesini, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: The state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 22(1), 240-253.

Mitsopoulou, E., & Giovazolias, T. (2015). Personality traits, empathy and bullying behavior: A meta-analytic approach. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 21, 61-72. Web.

Verlinden, M., Tiemeier, H., Veenstra, R., Mieloo, C. L., Jansen, W., Jaddoe, V. W. V., … Jansen, P. (2014). Television viewing through ages 2-5 years and bullying involvement in early elementary school. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 157-170.

Annotated Bibliography

Bevilacqua, L., Shackleton, N., Hale, D., Allen, E., Bond, L., Christie, D., … Viner, R. M. (2017). The role of family and school-level factors in bullying and cyberbullying: A cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics, 17(1), 160-170.

This article seeks to understand the role that families and the level of school play in bullying. According to the authors, families play an important role in shaping children and determining their behaviors later in life. The authors conclude that some children with poor parenting and weak family backgrounds tend to become bullies. On the other hand, the organizations structure and management factors contribute directly to the students’ behaviors. Schools with poor administrative structures will encourage bullying. The authors used baseline survey to collect data from 6667 students from 40 English schools. Therefore, the information given in this article is credible and reliable. Additionally, given that the article was published in 2017, the data is current, and thus it can be generalized in different set-ups. As such, the article provides important information in answering the research question on what causes schools to have bullies.

Evans, C. B. R., & Smokowski, P. R. (2016). Theoretical explanations for bullying in school: How ecological processes propagate perpetration and victimization. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(4), 365-375.

This article uses different theoretical models to understand the causes of bullying in schools. Some of the theories discussed include the dominance theory, social capital theory, the theory of humiliation, and organizational culture theory. According to the authors, schools’ culture and environment play an important role in determining the prevalence of bullying amongst students. The article’s credibility hinges on the view that the authors carried out extensive literature review on the topic. Over 100 scholarly sources have been used to support the claims made. Additionally, the authors are professionals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and they have published numerous works on the topic. Therefore, they have extensive knowledge on the subject, and thus the article is reliable and current. Finally, the article is important as it offers valuable information to address to research question for this paper.

Jan, A., & Husain, S. (2015). Bullying in elementary schools: Its causes and effects on Students. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(19), 43-58.

The main objective of this article is to understand the causes of bullying in elementary schools and its impacts on pupils. The authors have established different causes of this behavior including power fullness and social exclusion among others. According to the authors, boys are more likely to perpetrate bullying as compared to girls. The article is credible as the writers are assistant professors in different universities. Simple random sampling technique was used to collect data from 10 teachers and 40 students. Even though the sample size is small for the results to be generalized in other set-ups, the authors used numerous peer-reviewed referencing materials to support their claims. Moreover, the information contained in this article is current as it was published in 2015. The article has contributed significantly to the research question as it offers direct answers to the thesis statement.

Menesini, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2017). Bullying in schools: The state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 22(1), 240-253.

The authors of this article seek to highlight the current information concerning what is known about bullying in schools, and the available intervention measures. According to the authors, the major causes of bullying in schools include power differences, social classes, poor parenting, and differing personalities among others. The authors urge that bullying should be studied and understood in context to come up with effective intervention measures. The authors used 83 scholarly sources to gather information and support their claims. Therefore, the article is credible because the issues raised are not personal opinions, but verifiable information. Additionally, the article was published in 2017, and thus it offers up-to-date information. The authors are also professionals in education working in different universities in Finland and Italy. The article is useful because it addresses the research question on why schools have bullies.

Mitsopoulou, E., & Giovazolias, T. (2015). Personality traits, empathy and bullying behavior: A meta-analytic approach. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 21, 61-72.

The main argument in this article is that bullying in schools occurs due to the differing personalities amongst students. The authors have used the Big-Five factor model to explain the different personalities together with how they contribute to bullying and victimization. The personality theory explained in this article supersedes all other theories on the causes of bullying in schools. Therefore, the article plays an important role in the development of this research paper as it is used extensively in the discussion section of the paper. Additionally, the article is credible as the authors use numerous peer-reviewed resources to make different conclusions concerning the topic. Similarly, the authors are professionals in the field of psychology, and thus they have in-depth knowledge on the subject of school bullying and personality theories. The article was also published in 2015, and thus it offers current information.

Verlinden, M., Tiemeier, H., Veenstra, R., Mieloo, C. L., Jansen, W., Jaddoe, V. W., … Jansen, P. (2014). Television viewing through ages 2-5 years and bullying involvement in early elementary school. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 157-170.

The authors of this article examine the link between television viewing and the involvement in bullying for children in early elementary schools. According to the authors, children exposed to television for prolonged periods are highly likely to engage in bullying activities in early elementary schooling. Latent class analysis was used for assessment. The authors studied 3423 students with an average age of 6.8 years and 1176 students with mean age of 7.6 years. Therefore, given the large sample size, the results obtained are credible, and they can be generalized in other set-ups. Therefore, the information obtained is credible and reliable. As such, the article has important information that answers the research question on what causes schools to have bullies. The article is also current given that it was published in 2014.

Check the price of your paper