Physical activities like shoving or kicking, as well as verbal threats and disparaging statements, are not the most common types of bullying. The most common method used by bullies is social exclusion.
This behaviour, also referred to as “relational aggression,” entails excluding peers from group activities and spreading untrue tales about them. Additionally, research highlights the harm that this conduct causes.
According to University of Missouri at Columbia researcher Chad Rose, when a youngster is excluded from social activities by classmates at school, the long- and short-term repercussions on the child will be just as detrimental as if they were kicked, punched, or slapped every day. The broad social marginalisation that young people feel is thus made clear by this study.
The Mizzou Ed Bully Prevention Lab, which works to lessen bullying in schools, is directed by Rose.
Rose and his colleagues examined a survey that was carried out in 26 middle and high schools across five school districts in the southeast of the United States for a study that was just published in Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth. We asked more than 14,000 adolescents whether they agreed or disagreed with sentences that illustrated relational aggression, perceived popularity, and pro-bullying beliefs.
Among the claims are:
- “A little joking around never hurt anybody.”
- I don’t care what the kids name me, as long as it doesn’t include me.
- “I am usually the one who makes decisions in my group of friends.”
- The speaker said, “When I’m furious, I get back at them by kicking them out of my group.
- The outcomes were eye-opening.
Children who believe they are socially dominating or popular support anti-bullying sentiments, but they do not believe they are engaging in relational aggression, according to the research, according to Rose. Another group, which did not consider itself to be socially dominant or well-liked, yet supported bullying and exhibited relational aggressiveness.
Therefore, he explained, the first group accepted bullying but did not recognise themselves as doing it, even though they were actually excluding others. The group that acknowledged shunning someone may have been doing so to advance in the social scale.
Non-aggressors or bystanders, a third group of survey participants, exhibited low levels of relationship aggression and low levels of pro-bullying views.
According to Rose, who was quoted in a university news release, “what’s fascinating about bystanders is that they often perpetuate bullying, meaning they function as social reinforcers and are present when it’s happening.”
“While we urge children to use the well-known phrase “See something, say something,” in practise, even adults find it difficult to intervene and quickly settle disputes. We felt compelled to intervene in a fight between two kids that was getting physical. The unsettling thing is that when we see kids being rejected by their classmates, adults don’t necessarily appear to think it’s equally bad.
Children’s uniformity is typically appreciated when they are young, but as they get older and become adults, originality is what makes us stand out and achieve in both our professional and personal life, claims Rose. Some of the messages that adults convey in our homes, neighbourhoods, and places of education should be woven with personality.
Another recommendation Rose makes that instructors can use right away is to incorporate social communication skills into the regular curriculum for children.
He noted that in addition to establishing academic goals for group tasks, teachers should evaluate how successfully their students are welcoming the inclusion of others’ viewpoints through enjoyable, motivating interactions. As stated by the National Education Association, “Teachers should provide additional appreciation when they witness inclusive and courteous behaviour in action since teaching and reinforcing these skills are just as important as the math, science, and history courses.”
If children are not taught how to communicate their thoughts, wishes, and needs clearly, Rose continued, they may be more likely to behave aggressively. It’s not necessary for every child to have a friend, but it’s still crucial to respect everyone.
According to Rose, bullying is an issue in the community and does not begin or finish with the school bell. “I think that as adults we need to be more aware of what we are teaching our children in terms of how we engage socially, because schools are a reflection of our communities.”
For additional information on bullying, see the US Department of Health and Human Services.
SOURCE: News release, University of Missouri-Columbia, August 26, 2022