Friday, November 9, 2012

Origins of Bullying

The desire to survive is an instinct that was developed since the beginning of life, which is the competition for resources against other species. “This survival instinct, along with a competitive atmosphere, has remained the same as the human race has evolved” (Donegan, 2012). The constant drive to surpass others and surmount obstacles has become an ideology “where bullying is unintentionally instilled as a survival tactic from a very young age” (Donegan, 2012). Students quickly learn unethical ways to outshine everybody in the highly competitive educational and social environments that school conveys. However, Richard Donegan in his article Bullying and Cyberbullying: History, Statistics, Law, Prevention and Analysis (2012) states that, “these tactics are dangerous because once a student realizes their effectiveness, he or she may construct a life style from them.” These bullying tactics may include spreading social rumors, pressuring others to obtain the right answers to get good grades, intimidating others, name-calling, stealing belongings, and even hitting or threating another student if they tell on the bully. When a person exerts power and intimidation over weaker students, they have the advantage to control any situation that may arise.

In addition, when a bully successfully maintains control over the other students, he or she can manipulate them to do homework for them, and can use them to achieve higher educational goals and ultimately better job opportunities. On the other hand, most students are not properly taught to deal with peer pressure and bullying at schools, which may lead to depression, terror, loneliness, anger, anxiety, pain, low-self-esteem, physical, emotional and psychological damage, and lastly suicide. A few decades ago parents would teach children to stand up for themselves, or teach them ways to handle the pressure from being bullied, survival tactics. Also, if any of the bullying methods were happening to you, you went and told your parents so they could go to the school and help you deal with it. However, now a day there is a growing strain in communication between parents and kids. Children are not communicating with their parents about any issues, and part of this is the due to the ample amount of free information that is easily accessible online; but what kids don’t realize is that, yes, they might get information on the issue, but it doesn’t really teach them how to put everything into context and act on it. Survival tactics are not being passed on from generation to generation anymore. Parents figure that kids will develop their own tactics and that they will come to them if they cannot find a solution, but this is not the case anymore.

Furthermore, it is only in recent years that bullying has been recognized and recorded as a separate and distinct offence, but there have been well documented cases that have been recorded over the centuries. This could be happening because the technology is providing a new method of bullying, cyber bullying, which can be anonymous. Also, the deterioration in communication between parents and children can be another factor which accounts for the lack of survival tactics on recent younger generations. Survival tactics are not necessarily malicious; they can be learning how to outsmart the bullies and not letting the bullying interfere with school or their emotions. In addition, children can learn what to do to stop it on time, so it doesn’t develop into a severe problem. In an effort to raise consciousness in parents and children, in October 2006, the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center initiated the awareness week; this “event has evolved into a month’s worth of events and activities to raise awareness and provide the latest resources to those who need it” (Temkin & Holmquist, 2012). Programs like this one can help guide children, parents, and teachers on how to deal properly with traditional or cyber bullying.  Next, to help put bullying in a historical content, a timeline with a short description of each event will be illustrated.

The following timeline was taken from the website article Amanda Todd Suicide Reminds Us of Bullying Problem, by K. Gilmour.

v    1838    First Use Of Bullying In Literary Work – In literary works; children have been singled out and harassed since the beginning of time. Written by Charles Dickens and published in 1838, Oliver Twist was one of the first novels in the English language to focus on the bullying and criminal mistreatment of a child protagonist.

v    1862    First Report Of Bullying – First report of a bullying victim turning violent and shooting his tormenter was also a soldier. The story of John Flood was detailed in an article in The Times (London) in August of 1862. Flood had been the victim of “long, malignant and systematic bullying”. Flood was convicted and sentenced to death but because he was known to be a man of kindly disposition by everyone he came in contact with his sentence was overturned by the Queen.

v    1897    First Characterizing Of Bullying Behavior - Bullying behavior was first characterized as part of the experience of children in an 1897 article entitled “Teasing and Bullying” published by Burk in the Pedagogical Seminary. The article sought to expose behaviors of tormenters and victims, and provided strikingly horrific examples of victimization among children. The examples involved all of the four Ps- power, pain, persistence, and premeditation. Power was involved because all of the examples were of an older tormenter and a younger victim; both physical and psychological pain were clearly explained for the victim; persistence was evident because the bullies continued the behavior (becoming increasingly more delighted) until their victims cried or ran away; premeditation was involved because the tormentors always had a plan and intentional targets.

v    1970    First Bullying Research - In the early 1970s, Dr. Dan Olweus initiated the world's first systematic bullying research. The results of his studies were published in a Swedish book in 1973 and in the United States in 1978 under the title Aggression in the Schools: Bullies and Whipping Boys.

v    1981    First Proposition Of Anti-Bullying Law - Dr. Dan Olweus has long seen school safety as a fundamental human right.1 As early as 1981, he proposed enacting a law against bullying in schools so students could be spared the repeated humiliation implied in bullying. By the mid-1990s, these arguments led to legislation against bullying by the Swedish and Norwegian parliaments.

v    1993    Olweus Published Book On School Bullying - In 1993, Olweus wrote Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do, and is now widely considered to be the world's leading authority on bullying behavior. Olweus's groundbreaking research and intervention programs have played a significant role in increasing awareness that bullying is a growing social problem, one that must be taken seriously by researchers, educators, lawmakers, parents, students, and society in general.

v    1999    Columbine - On April 20th 1999, two teenage boys who had been relentlessly bullied brought 50 bombs to school, and then went on a shooting spree wounding twenty-three, fatally shooting thirteen, and taking their own lives. Children, parents and school officials around the country were shocked, and no one could deny the need for more pro-social and accepting school environments and a way to combat bullying among students.

v    2000    Cyber Bullying - With the increase of access to the internet and cell phone us cyber bullying has become an epidemic among teenagers in school. Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. By definition, it occurs among young people.

v    2001    Statistic On Bullying (2001) - In 2001, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that more than 160,000 students skip school every day because they are anxious and fearful of being bullied by other students. School is supposed to be a safe haven where learning takes place not where a student has to defend themselves from peers because of differences.

v    2002    School Shooting Statistics - In 2002, a report released by the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Education concluded that bullying played a significant role in many school shootings. In fact, one key finding was that in 37 incidents involving 41 school shooters, many of the attackers felt bullied, persecuted, or injured by others prior to the attack.

v    2003    Cyber Bullying Leads To Teen’s Suicide - Ryan Halligan was bullied so relentlessly at school, he finally learned kickboxing to defend himself from the physical assaults. But when the attacks moved online, he had no way to fight back, and no refuge. October 2003, Ryan hanged himself in his family's bathroom. He was 13 years old. Now, Ryan's father travels to schools around the country to share the events that led up to his son's suicide and to warn educators and students about the dangers of cyberbullying.

v    2004    Cyber Bullying Statistics (2004) - Cyber Bullying Statistics

• 42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once.

• 35% of kids have been threatened online. Nearly 1 in 5 have had it happen more than once.

• 21% of kids have received mean or threatening e-mail or other messages.

• 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out of 10 say it has happened more than once.

• 53% of kids admit having said something mean or hurtful to another person online. More than 1 in 3 have done it more than once.

• 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.

*        Based on 2004 i-SAFE survey of 1,500 students grades 4-8.

v    2006    Federal Las Passed Against Cyber Bullying - In January 2006, the US Congress passed a law making it a federal crime to “annoy, abuse, threaten or harass” another person over the internet.

v    2007    Top 5 Bullying States - School bullying statistics and cyber bullying statistics in 2007 the five top worst states to live in to avoid bullies in K – 12 were: 1. California, 2. New York, 3. Illinois, 4. Pennsylvania, 5, Washington.

v    2008    Cyber Bullying Law Passed - One of the first cyberbullying laws is passed in California; Assembly Bill 86 2008 gives school administrators the authority to discipline students for bullying others offline or online.

v    2009    Megan’s Law Proposed – Introduced. Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act - Amends the federal criminal code to impose criminal penalties on anyone who transmits in interstate or foreign commerce a communication intended to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to another person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior. This prevention act came to be because of a 13 year old girl who committed suicide after being a target of cyberbullying. Megan developed a relationship on MySpace with an individual who she thought was a new boy in the area, but turned out to be a group of other individuals from the neighborhood, including adults. The group created an elaborate hoax to make Megan believe that she had a flourishing relationship with the boy. When the plot was revealed for all to see, Megan was unable to deal with the humiliation and took her own life.

v    2011    Bully Prevention Conference - The President and First Lady Michelle Obama discuss how we can all work together to end bullying as an accepted practice and create a safer environment for our kids to grow up in. March 10, 2011.

v    2012    National Day Of Action Against Bullying And Violence - On Friday 16 March 2012 schools throughout Australia will join together to celebrate the annual National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. The focus of the 2012 day will be on parents and families taking a stand together with school communities and recognizing the important role everyone plays.

To sum up, bullying incidents have been happening for centuries, but it is recently that the brutality of few events has brought this issue to surface making it one of the most talked about issues worldwide. For example, the death of Matthew Shepard a 21-year-old (1998) who was tied to a fence, tortured and murdered because of how the perpetrators felt about LGBT (Shepard, 2010), Columbine High School Massacre (1999) (Gilmour, 2012), the suicide of Ryan Halligan, a 13-year-old (2003) victim of cyberbullying (Littler, 2011), the suicide of Megan Meier another 13-year-old (2006) victim of cyberbullying with a fake MySpace profile (Littler, 2011), suicide of Tyler Clementi an 18-year-old (2010)   victim of cyberbullying to LGBT youth (Unknown, 2011). Due to violent events like these ones, law and new school policies have been passed here in the United States to cease bullying by making everyone aware that this issue must be tackled because of the physical and psychological damage it involves with either the victim or the offender. Parents as well as educators need to engage with the children while at an early age, so a trust bond can be developed and kids feel free to talk about what they are experiencing in school and on social environments whether they are real or virtual. In this new age and era is time for us to stop bullying once and for all, and use innovative methods so everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.  



Donegan, R. (2012, April). Bullying and cyberbullying: History, statistics, law, prevention and analysis. Retrieved from web/academics/communications/research/vol3no1/04DoneganEJSpring12

Gilmour, K. (2012, October 29). Newsoxy. Retrieved from

Littler, C. (2011, February 07). Kold cast tv. Retrieved from

Shepard, J. (2010). Matthew shepard foundation. Retrieved from

Temkin, D., & Holmquist, J. (2012, October 02). A history of bullying prevention month. Retrieved from

Unknown. (2011, November 15). Wikipedia. Retrieved from


  1. This was a good description of bullying and its development. What really impacted me was the piece on the separation between parents and kids today. "Survival tactics are not being passed on from generation to generation anymore. Parents figure that kids will develop their own tactics and that they will come to them if they cannot find a solution, but this is not the case anymore." This is one of the realest perspectives on society today and the future looks grim as the trajectory doesn't look good.

    1. Yes, the future may look harsh for bullying but only because of the continuous development techonology, which has taking bullying to a new level harder to monitor because of the anonimity. But as I wrote on my last post, once they improve the research methods that are currently in place to mesure bullying, it will be easier to adapt strategies to work with the group that is being studied and the strategies will aslo be easily adaptable to the community that is trying to stop bullying in their neighborhood. It is possible, but we all have to get involved.

  2. This is an excellent description of bullying and its strategical development. Survival tactics don't work anymore. Also, the problem of cyber bullying written down within an essay. Let's identify its solution!

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