Dorothea M. Ross
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Bullying is a form of terrorism. It is an unprovoked attack intended to cause distress and discomfort in the victim. This form of antisocial aggression may involve a 1:l interaction or several bullies against one or more victims. The problem of bullying has long been with us, in the workplace (Adams, 1992; Dean, 1995), the home (Bowers, Smith, & Binney, 1992; Dishion, 1990), in prisons (Ireland & Archer, 1996; Williams, 1995), and particularly in schools (Ahmad & Smith, 1990; Batsch & Knoff, 1994; Olweus, 1985). From historical (Arib, 1962; Burk, 1897) and fictional (Hughes, 1857) accounts it seems probable that bullying has been a part of school life, especially boarding school life, for as long as schools have existed (Smith & Sharp, 1994).
Bullying affects everyone in the school—those who are bullied, the bullies themselves, bystanders who witness the bullying, and the children who hear about it. It creates a climate of fear and anxiety that acts as a deterrent to learning (Greenbaum, 1989). Bullying often begins in the preschool period (Moffitt, 1993; Schwartz, Dodge, & Coie, 1993) and may continue well into adulthood (Eron & Huessman, 1990). It is one of the most stable of human behaviors (Olweus, 1979), a characteristic that is reason for concern because many people, such as school teachers (Dean, 1995), must confront some form of bullying during their adult lives (Namie & Namie, 1999).
Although bullying has been a problem for centuries, it is only since the late 1970s that it has become a topic of research interest, first in Scandinavia (Olweus, 1978, 1979) and later in other parts of Europe and the world.