Why bullying is an issue to study in development


Why bullying is an issue to study in human development

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Most researchers on bullying have recently turned their focus to this subject. Studies estimate that at least seven million children in grades six to ten have been involved in frequent or moderate bullying during the school term. Bullying can be defined as repeated negative actions between the bully and the target. The chronic and widespread nature of bullying shows that it has a considerable impact on children; hence an issue to study in human development (Dale, Smith, Norlin, & Chess, 2009). Psychologists, given their expertise and skills in matters of human development, are uniquely qualified to help in the implementation of research-based intervention programs. This will address the negative effects of bullying on both the bullies and targets.

Types of bullying behavior

The main types of bullying behavior include various actions of physical abuse like slapping, punching, biting, kicking, and any actions that inflict harm on the target. Verbal bullying includes mocking, insulting, and degrading statements and opinions with the intent to hurt the target. Coercion is a form of bullying, which makes the targets perform harmful actions to the target or other people. This may involve attacking others, self-inflicted injury, cheating, theft, and telling lies that will result in damage (Dale, Smith, Norlin, & Chess, 2009). In addition, bullying behavior includes exclusion resulting in isolation in order for the target to suffer from lack of interaction and loneliness besides organized attacks. In addition, cyber bullying entails sending of degrading or insulting emails and messages. This could include posting messages or pictures on web pages that degrade or humiliate the target.

How gender and sexual orientation influence styles of bullying

It is evident that Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people experience harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) to a greater level than the heterosexual counterparts do. A recent survey conducted by the Human Rights Watch body on these categories documented severe and persistent homophobic Bullying such as physical attacks, social exclusion, property damage and taunts (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010). LGBT persons are four times likely than the heterosexuals to be physically injured or attacked with a weapon. This leads to high rates of skipping school, as they feel unsafe. Besides, adults who are former victims of HIB in school have high chances of attempting suicide and expressing suicidal ideations.

How self-esteem affects bullying

Children who are bullied frequently will eventually develop low self-esteem. Usually, self-esteem can be defined as a person’s perception of himself. It is measured by how much individuals love or appreciate themselves. The early year of a child is intensely critical as it is the time that shapes the formation of a child’s self-esteem. If a child is constantly being harassed in school, the children will gradually lose confidence in themselves. Such a child ends up disliking himself for his flaws: for example, when bullied due to overweight. This is the most crucial time when parents must make the child proud of his/her uniqueness (Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman, 2010).

How family interactions are affected by bullying

Being bullied could cause behavioral or emotional changes, which might lead to family interaction problems at home. On the other hand, increased knowledge of signs and symptoms may help minimize the challenges experienced by families affected by bullying. Often, people who are bullied tend to be secretive at home (Lines, 2008). It will be hard for parents to discover because of the changes in their children. The family environment may become tense when parents display suspicion and frustration authoritatively. It will be hard for a child to share his/her the experience of being bullied in such a circumstance. Sometimes, victims may isolate themselves; decreasing the quality of family relationships. The reduced interaction levels may make other family members feel disconnected or unsupported. Gradually, this may result in a decreased overall family closeness.


Dale, O., Smith, R., Norlin, J.M., & Chess, W.A. (2009). Human behavior and the social environment: Social systems theory (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Lines, D. (2008). The bullies: Understanding bullies and bullying. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Zastrow, C.H., & Kirst-Ashman, K.K. (2010). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (8th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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