Teachers' Perceptions of Bullying in High Schools: A Turkish Study

By Sahin, Mustafa | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, February 2010 | Go to article overview

Teachers' Perceptions of Bullying in High Schools: A Turkish Study


Sahin, Mustafa, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Peer bullying is universally considered to be a form of aggressive behavior although it is defined in different ways in many cultures. In the relevant literature peer bullying deals mainly with the period of childhood and early adolescence. Bullying includes physical, verbal, and psychological attacks, which cause the victim to be scared and hurt. It is known that there is no balance of power between the parties, as the strong one applies pressure to the weaker one, nor does the victim provoke the bully in any way, and that happens naturally among the children (Nansel et al., 2001). Bullying is not restricted only to physical aggressiveness. Bullying can include hurting the victim's feelings, insulting them verbally, or weakening their self-confidence and self-respect by sidelining them socially (Hazler, 1996).

Heinemann named bullying as mobbing for the first time and defined it as a group violence towards an individual that starts and finishes suddenly (cited in Dolek, 2001). Dan Olweus began the first longitudinal studies in this field in the 1970s in Scandinavian countries (O'Moore & Minton, 2005). Olweus defined peer bullying as the violence that is observed among peers, in which there is no provocation and no equality of power physically and psychologically and in which the strong one applies pressure to the weak one deliberately (Olweus, 1994a, 1994b). Olweus handled peer bullying in two ways in his research (Olweus, 1991, 1994a, 1994b) as direct and indirect aggressiveness. Direct aggressiveness can be in the form of physical injury, verbal assault, and humiliating actions. Indirect aggressiveness takes place by harming the victim's social position and sense of belonging (Giiltekin, 2003; Milsom & Gallo, 2006).

Mynard and Joseph (2000) added a fourth dimension to Olweus' physical, verbal, and relational dimensions of bullying: attack on personal possessions. This includes bullying acts such as harming the victim's possessions, stealing them, and taking them without permission. In another study carried out by Verkuyten and Thijs (2001), peer/school bullying is examined as an attack on the victim's ethnic background, the culture in which s/he lives, and her/his personality. Attacking the victim's ethnic and cultural background is defined as group peer bullying, and attacking the victim's personality is called personal peer bullying. Elliot (1997) classifies bullying acts as: physical (hitting, kicking, punching etc.), verbal (naming, gossiping etc.), psychological (emotional pressure, excluding, sidelining etc.), and threatening (demanding money, taking possessions and homework).

Rigby (1997, 2003) discusses bullying in two ways: bullying which harms another, and bullying which is harmless. According to Rigby, deliberate bullying has bad intentions, and satisfies the bully by hurting the victim deliberately through her/his power. However, unintentional bullying has no bad intentions. The bully simply does not think that the victim would get hurt and the actions are conducted with the intention of making the bully popular in their peer group. But this type of bullying is as dangerous as the first one for the victim. Bully students scare other students through verbal and nonverbal acts, make fun of them, take away the right to learn that all students should have, harm their possessions, prevent them from expressing themselves, make them feel insecure at school, and discourage their class attendance.

The results from early studies indicate that 10% of students may have been involved in bullying either as bully or as victim at some time during their school life (Besag, 1995). Studies that were conducted in the United States (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005), Germany (Wolke, Woods, Stanford, & Schulz, 2001), Finland (Kumpulainen & Rasanen, 2000), Australia (Rigby & Slee, 1991), and Canada (Charach, Pepler, & Ziegler, 1995) revealed that the rate of bullying in schools is about 15-25%. …

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