Sticks and Stones: An Examination of the Effects of Bullying on Health and Relationships

Sticks and Stones: An Examination of the Effects of Bullying on Health and Relationships

Carol M. Wagner (Marymount Manhattan College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7036-3.ch012
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Although bullying has occurred for generations, movement to fully understand the effects of the dangerous behavior has recently been ignited. While much research has focused on the negative effects of bullying on victims, little research has focused on the effects bullying behavior has on the bully. The following is an examination of research regarding the short and long term negative effects bullying has on both bullies and victims. In addition, research regarding the influence of familial, peer and romantic relationships on the engagement of bullying behavior is also addressed, as well as the influence bullying behavior has on the formation and quality of these relationships. The utilization of this research to create anti-bullying programs in schools, homes and informal social situations may help to eradicate bullying behavior.
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Bullying Defined

In order to thoroughly examine bullying, it is necessary to clarify the meaning of the term. Although the word bullying is constantly used in conversation and media outlets in daily life, the academic definition of the word is often overlooked. While a variety of researchers have attempted to define bullying, the most common definition used in academic research springs from Dan Olweus, who is often considered a pioneer of bullying research (Beran & Qing, 2007). In his revolutionary work, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do (1993), Olweus presented his definition of modern day bullying, specifically citing three types of bullying behavior and three characteristics that must be present in order to make the situation an instance of bullying (p. 3).

The three types of bullying that Olweus presented centers on the medium in which the harmful behavior is conveyed. The first type of bullying, known as physical bullying, occurs when an individual is being inflicted with physical harm by others (for example, hitting, kicking, poking, hair pulling, etc.) (Olweus, 1993, p. 3). In contrast, verbal bullying occurs when the harmful behaviors is transmitted orally (such as teasing, using racial slurs, etc.) (Olweus, 1993, p. 3). Finally, the last form of bullying, emotional bullying, occurs when an individual tries to manipulate or abuse the emotions of the target individual or the individuals around him/her to cause harm to a specific victim (for example, leaving someone out of a friend group, trying to make others dislike him or her, spreading rumors, etc.) (Olweus, 1993, p. 4). The last form of bullying is often not included in other definitions of bullying (Olweus, 1993, p. 10), and is arguably what makes Olweus’ definition the most relevant to daily life, especially in the era of cyberbullying (Perren et. al, 2012).

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