It doesn’t matter if you are a student, educator, parent of a child or adolescent, or a community member. Everyone has a role in the prevention of school bullying, and most people have directly or indirectly participated in, witnessed, or experienced some form of bullying in schools. Unfortunately, some children are victims of chronic bullying, occurring multiple times a week. This is more common in elementary school and can lead to missed class days. It is of utmost importance that schools step in and intervene in cases of chronic bullying to prevent long-term harm. There are many factors that come into play that can result in bullying. If there are students that have tendencies towards bullying, and the school climate allows it, bullying is likely to occur. Bullying can be a result of a difficult home situation, low self esteem, or poor social skills.
Students need school to be a positive climate where they feel safe. This reduces their own stress and potential aggression, allowing them to focus on the learning necessary for them to be successful in their lives.
A search of bibliographic electronic databases PsycINFO, MEDLINE, ERIC, Web of Science, and PubMed was performed in May 2020. Thirty-seven studies were included in the review. For each study included, the following specifics were examined:
- methodological characteristics
- prevalence estimates of bullying behavior
- forms of bullying
- risk factors
- consequences of bullying
It was found that bullying happens in India, and some risk factors for bullying and victimization in India are typical to the Indian context. In addition, bullying in India is associated with adverse consequences for both the aggressor and the victim. Many studies on bullying from India should be interpreted cautiously because of problems with data collection processes, instrumentation, and presentation of the findings. Cross-cultural comparisons for prevalence estimates, and longitudinal studies to examine the direction of possible influence between bullying and its correlates need to be conducted, to cater to the large adolescent population of India.
Bullying is an intentional and repetitive act of physical or psychological aggression, where the aggressor is more powerful than the victim (Olweus 1993). Meta-analytic studies have confirmed the marked prevalence of and risk factors associated with bullying perpetration and victimization among children and adolescents in school . In a recent survey conducted in 79 countries with over 300,000 participants, 30% of the adolescent respondents reported that they had been victims of bullying in the past 30 days (Elgar et al. 2015).
In India, research on bullying is scarce, certainly in proportion to its population size, as well as socio-cultural diversity (Milfont and Fischer 2010; Smith et al. 2018). The vast adolescent population provides ample opportunity and resources to further our understanding in the field of bullying. The disparities seen in India in terms of socio-cultural factors such as SES, religion, caste, gender, and color, which have been recognized as typical to the Indian context (Panda and Gupta 2004), may aid in breeding an imbalance of power, an underlying element of bullying (Olweus 1993). Moreover, given the diverse socio-cultural context of India, and its structural incongruence with western cultures (Charak and Koot 2015), literature from western countries may not be generalizable to the Indian population, thus requiring scientific attention to examine the role of these factors specifically in India (Smith et al. 2018).
Through the current review, we aim to provide researchers a notion of challenges that need to be addressed in future studies on bullying and victimization in India. Systematic reviews are of importance, because they closely follow a scientific and step-by-step approach, with an aim of limiting systematic errors or bias, and particularly seek to identify, evaluate, and synthesize all relevant studies to elucidate knowledge and advanced understanding of the topic at hand (Petticrew and Roberts 2008). The present systematic review focuses on traditional bullying and victimization among adolescents in schools in India, highlighting the following specifics: (a) methodological characteristics of included studies, (b) prevalence estimates of bullying behavior, (c) forms of bullying, (d) risk factors, and (e) consequences of bullying.
Specifically, we examine the psychometric properties of the instruments adopted in the included studies from India, as well as methodological characteristics including design and data collection, sample size and sampling procedures of the included studies, and characteristics of bullying behavior distinctive to the Indian context.
Fortunately, there are actions that students and school staff can take to prevent bullying and harassment in schools and to create a more positive school climate. The culture of school violence cannot be impacted by only working with bullies and victims alone. It takes consistent and united action by everyone — students, school staff, administrators, and parents.
Dr. Mamta Singh
B.A | B.Ed | M.A | Persuing M.Ed
School Principal at Rahul Education, Queen Mary’s High School
- Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
- In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviours happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
There are three types of bullying:
Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone’s things
- Making mean or rude hand gestures
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighbourhood.
Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.
Anti-bullying refers to laws, policies, organizations, and movements aimed at stopping or preventing bullying, which is itself a situation where a person, called a bully, verbally or physically threatens or assaults a person, causing the person to feel a real or perceived power imbalance.
There are many warning signs that could indicate that a student is involved in bullying, either by bullying others or by being bullied. However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well. Below is a list of common signs:
- Reluctant to go to school or certain places.
- Silent about what is happening at school.
- Frequent lost or damaged possessions.
- Academic problems.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Low self-esteem.
- Social isolation.
- Quiet, depressed, irritable, or anxious.
- Gets into physical or verbal fights with others.
- Enjoys putting others down.
- Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained.
- Disrespects authority and disregards rules.
- Has an attitude of superiority.
- Quick to blame others.
- Needs to have power or control over others.
- Enjoys violence.
Bullying is wrong and it is not your fault. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school. Follow these steps if you are in a bullying situation:
- Speak up against bullying. Be firm and clear when you speak. Say something like “stop it”.
- Walk away. Act like you do not care, even if you really do.
- Tell an adult you trust. Report it to your parent, teacher, counselor, or School Resource Officer.
- Stick together. The buddy system works. Staying with a group or friend will allow someone else to help you speak up or run to get help.
Bullying can be scary. Know that you are not alone. Follow these steps to help you avoid being in a bullying situation:
- Do not give bullies a chance.
- Take a different route to class or home from school.
- Avoid unsupervised areas of the school.
- Find a buddy and stick together.
- Stand tall and be brave
Risk factors for being the victim of bullying include having low understanding of emotional or social interactions, a tendency to become upset easily, or already suffering from anxiety or depression. Actual or perceived obesity of the victim is also a risk factor. Being underweight is slightly associated with being bullied. Youth are more often victims of bullying. Children who have disabilities or are immigrants or highly achieving minorities are more vulnerable to being bullied, as well.