Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Bullying in Brazilian Schools and Restorative Practices

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Bullying in Brazilian Schools and Restorative Practices

Article excerpt

Introduction

Bullying is not a new problem, but it is often underreported and dismissed as a "playful joke" by education professionals (Grossi, Aguinsky, & Grossi, 2010b). Media coverage and exploration of this phenomenon in professional literature has enhanced awareness of this problem. Concerns about bullying are emerging in the school system and workplace as students and staff recognize the importance of addressing this pervasive societal problem that causes severe damage in social relations (Silva, 2010), and it has been observed across all social strata and cultures around the world. Therefore, it is necessary to understand this phenomenon that has the potential to generate psychological scars for the victims' entire lives.

One common characteristic of bullying is that it is often perpetrated by people who are known to the victim. Bullying can be expressed through verbal abuse (e.g., derogatory nicknames, cruel teasing, being picked on, humiliation), psychological abuse (e.g., discrimination, isolation, exclusion, ignoring, intimidation, harassment, terrorizing, tyranny, scaring), and/or physical abuse (e.g., beating, pushing, hurting, stealing, breaking and stealing personal belongings). Studies indicate that bullying may generate serious consequences including low self-esteem, suicide, and the perpetuation of the cycle of violence (Pepler & Craig, 2008).

Bullying is an English word that has been adopted in other countries and cultures meaning interpersonal intimidation. It is defined as "the conscious and deliberate desire to mistreat one person and put him/her under stress" (Debarbieux & Blaya, 2002, p.72). Pepler and Craig (1988) define bullying as "a form of aggression in which there is an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. The bully (or bullies) is (are) always more powerful than the victim (or victims). Bullying can be direct (face-to-face) or indirect (behind someone's back). Indirect bullying includes exclusion and gossip" (p.1). Silva (2010, p.24) adds that bullying can be sexual as well. It takes the form of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual comments concerning the victim. This sexual harassment can be made by one aggressor or by a group of students together. Another form of bullying is the cyberbullying that occurs by means of internet technology such as Messenger (MSN), Skype, Orkut, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, and other technoloiess. Usually, a fake e-mail is created in a relationship site, pretending to be another person with the only objective of intimidating, teasing, and defaming others.

Four factors contribute to the development of a bullying behavior:

* A negative attitude toward the child by parents or care-givers;

* A tolerant and permissive attitude toward aggressive behavior of the child and/or teenager;

* An authoritarian parenting style that uses power and violence to control the child or teenager; or

* A natural tendency of the child or teenager to be arrogant (Day, 1996, p. 44-45).

In Brazil, there are very few studies on bullying. One pioneer study was developed by ABRAPIA, the Multiprofessional Association for Protection of Childhood, in partnership with the Social PETROBRAS Program, which initiated a project in September 2002 dedicated to identifying bullying among students, establishing statistics of its prevalence, and implementing anti-bullying policies. This project has been undertaken in 11 elementary schools in Rio de Janeiro, nine of which are funded by the city government and two of which are private. The survey, carried out by ABRAPIA in 2002 involving 5875 students from fifth to eighth grades in 11 schools of the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, revealed that 40.5% of these students admitted having been involved in bullying acts that year in which 16.9% were targets, 10.9% were both targets and perpetrators, and 12.7% were perpetrators only (ABRAPIA, 2007). …

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