Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Name Calling and the Peer Beliefs of Elementary School Children

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Name Calling and the Peer Beliefs of Elementary School Children

Article excerpt

Bullying is a problem in elementary schools today, both in the United States and other countries (Hoover & Hailer, 1991). According to Ross (1996), Olweus (1978), who is the leading authority in the world on childhood bullying, first brought bullying as a problem in schools to the attention of the public in Sweden. Other researchers have described bullying behavior among elementary school children in Japan (Prewitt, 1988), Australia (Rigby & Slee,1991), Ireland (O'Moore & Hillery, 1989), Canada (Charach, Pepler, & Ziegler, 1995), and Great Britain (Stephenson & Smith, 1989). As a universal experience, 15% to 20% of children will be victimized by bullies during their school years (Batsche & Knoff, 1994).

Name calling, which is the "act of teasing or referring to a peer with a label that may create unpleasant or hurtful feelings" (Embry, 1995, p. 8), appears to be the most common form of bullying among elementary school children (Sharp & Smith, 1994; Whitney & Smith, 1993). Shakeshaft et al. (1995) reported that antagonistic behavior among children is usually expressed verbally, rather than-physically Name calling has been categorized as mild, moderate, and severe (Garrity, jens, Porter, Sager, & Short-Camilli,1996). Mild name calling includes mocking and taunting. Moderate verbal abuse includes teasing about clothing, possessions, or appearance. At the severe level are verbal threats of violence or threats to inflict bodily harm (Garrity et al., 1996).

The experience of being bullied through name calling may differ depending on a child's age or grade level, although reports of studies examining name calling and grade level have had mixed results. For example, Whitney and Smith (1993) found that middle school children reported name calling behavior at a rate twice that of secondary students. Embry and Luzzo (1996) found that older children experienced more name calling than younger children Other researchers have reported that younger children report being called names by bullies more often than older children (Boulton, & Underwood, 1992; Charach et al., 1995; Olweus,1984; O'Moore & Hillery, 1989).

Gender differences in name calling have also been found. While some studies have found that boys and girls report being bullied in approximately equal numbers (Barone, 1995; Boulton, & Underwood, 1992, Charach et al., 1995), the type of bullying experienced by children appears to differ by gender. Boys tend to be the victims of name calling accompanied by physical bullying whereas girls are bullied primarily through name calling (Besag, 1989; Siann, Callaghan, Glissov, Lockhart, & Rawson, 1994). Boys are more likely to be called names by both genders. Girls tend to be called names by other girls (O'Moore, 1990; Whitney, Nabuzoka, & Smith,1992).

Racial differences have also been found among victims of name calling. Racial minority children appear to be called names more frequently than racial majority children (Akhtar & Stronach,1986; Kelly & Cohn, 1988; Siann et al. 1994). African American and Asian children report being called names based on race more frequently than do children who are White (Kelly & Cohn, 1988). Charach et al. (1995) found that name calling based on race is reported by almost half of students who have been bullied.

Name calling may substantially impact victims' selfesteem. Olweus (1993) indicated that children who are victimized by bullies tend to be loners, are viewed by their teachers as being sad and under stress, and are nonassertive in the classroom. Other researchers have found that victims of bullying are more apprehensive and have more negative perceptions of school. than do children who are not bullied (Baker & Mednick, 1990; Blyth, Thiel, Bush, & Simmons, 1980; Roberts & Coursol, 1996). Hailer, Hoover, and Oliver (1992) found a decline in the grades of 90% of bullying victims they studied. …

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