Bullying is unwanted aggressive behaviour by another peer (individual or group) that may harm or distress the targeted youth physical, psychologically, socially, or educationally. It involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is, or is highly likely to be repeated (Gladden et al., 2014).  Bullying is a social phenomenon that involves not only the youth who bully and who are victimised, but also bystanders who may assist or reinforce the bullying behaviour or counter bullying behaviour by defending the victim or intervening (Salmivalli 1999). Although peers are often present when bullying occurs, the majority of these youth do nothing to help the youth who is being bullied (Cross et al., 2009). Encouragement by peers through praise, assistance and prestige can motivate students who bully to maintain or achieve social power (Gini, 2006).

Students who bully have generally been found to be low in empathy, social and emotional skills, and self-efficacy. Students who bully have also been observed to take a competitive stance on school life, academic achievement and friendships (Menesini, Camodeca, & Nocentini, 2010).

The relationship between bullying and self-esteem is mixed with some research finding average or high self-esteem in students who portray bullying behaviours (Rigby & Bortlozzo, 2013), whilst other research has found students who bully to have low self-esteem (Moore & Kirkham, 2001). The high self-esteem is believed to be the result of a sense of dominance over others. Those that reported low self-esteem also reported feelings of inadequacy in relation to academic achievement, popularity, physical appearance, school life, and interpersonal relationships. Fanti & Henrich (2015) have found that narcissism is a better predicator of bullying behaviours compared to self-esteem.

Factors that place children at risk of bullying victimisation include low self-esteem, fewer friends, age, anxiety, low emotional intelligence, difference in appearance, difference in race, difference in ethnicity and difference in education (Kokkins & Kipritsi, 2012).

It is clear that bullying is a major problem and can have a long lasting impact on those involve resulting in mental illness issue slater in life. When it comes to intervening in bullying behaviour we adopt a restorative approach. Restorative approaches constitute the second most employed anti-bullying strategy in schools, following direct sanctions (Thompson & Smith, 2011). Restorative approaches require that a person, who has bullied someone (perpetrator), reflects upon the unacceptable behaviour, experiences a sense of remorse, and acts to restore a damaged relationship with both the victim and the school community. Reports from teachers in England claim success in stopping bullying using the restorative approach in 68% of cases in primary school and 77% of cases in secondary school, higher than that claimed for direct sanctions (62%) (Thosborne & Vinegrad, 2006). 

This week is also about promoting upstanders and changing peer bystander behaviour. When peers actively support bullying, the behaviour increases significantly, conversely, actively defending victims is associated with decreased bullying (Salmivalli, Voeten, & Poskiparta, 2011). Positive bystander behaviours include trying to make the student stop bullying, reporting the incident to an adult, or supporting, consoling, or befriending the student being victimised (Espelage, Green, & Polanin, 2012). The key skills to encourage in students to motivate positive bystander behaviours include noticing the event, interpret the event as an emergency that requires help, accept responsibility for intervening, know how to intervene or provide help and implement the intervention decision (Nickerson et al., 2014).


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Gladden, R. M., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Hamburger, M. E., & Lumpkin, C. D. (2014). Bullying surveillance among youths: Uniform definitions for public health and recommended data elements. Atlanta, GA: National Centre for Injury Prevention and Control, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S Department of Education

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Rigby, K., & Bortolozzo, G. (2013). How schoolchildren’s acceptance of self and others relate to their attitudes to victims of bullying. Social Psychology of Education, 16, 182-197

Fanti, K. A., & Henrich, C. C. (2015). Effects of self-esteem and narcissism on bullying and victimisation during early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 35, 5-29

Kokkinos, C. M., & Kipritsi, E. (2012). The relationship between bullying, victimisation, trait emotional intelligence, self-efficacy and empathy among preadolescents. Social Psychology of Education, 15, 41-58

Thosborne, M., & Vinegrad, D. (206) Restorative practice and the management of bullying: Rethinking behaviour management. Queenscliff, VIC, Australia; Inyahead Press.

Salmivalli, C., Voeten, M., & Poskiparta, E. (2011). Bystanders matter: Associations between reinforcing, defending, and the frequency of bullying behaviour in classrooms. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolscent Psychology, 40, 668-676

Espelage, D. L., Green, H., & Polanin, J. (2012). Willingness to intervene in bullying episodes among middle school students: Individual and peer-group influences. Journal of early adolescence, 32, 776-801

Nickerson, A. B., Cornell, D. G., Smith, D. & Furlong, M. (2014). Perceptions of school climate as a function of bullying involvement. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 30, 157-181.