Concepts and Experiences of Bullying in the Elementary Level

Catherine O. Espero, Mary Grace DP Espinosa


Bullying in school is a frequent and serious problem. According to Peterson and Skiba (2002, in Corrigan, 2004), “A student is being bullied or victimized when exposed, repeatedly over time, to intentional injury or discomfort inflicted by one or more students. It implies an imbalance of power or strength in which others victimize one child”. Bullying can be differentiated from the usual conflicts between students. The former is a combination of aggression and power while the latter has no deliberate intention to hurt physically and/or emotionally.
In the elementary level of the U.P. Integrated School (UPIS), students often go to the guidance office to report unresolved conflicts with a classmate or other students. Such conflicts emanate from name calling, playing offensive jokes, hiding or getting someone’s personal belongings, and inflictingphysical injury. The students expect the guidance counselor to intervene by calling the attention of the students complained about. Sometimes, they label conflicts which do not involve intentional hurting (e.g., rough and tumble play) as bullying. On the other hand, some students who experienced being bullied do not inform others about it for fear of further being bullied, or they might not be aware of their situation. Such situation affects not only the personal and social aspects of a student’s life but also his/her academic performance.
It is thus imperative to investigate the students’ awareness regarding bullying and find out the incidence of bullying at the elementary level. It is important to identify high risk children or those who have tendencies of being bullied because researches have found a positive relationship between having been bullied in school and being bullied in the adult workplace (Smith, Singer, Hoel, & Cooper, 2003, in Chapell, 2006). Moreover, it is vital to identify those who have tendencies to bully others because it is observed that “children who have not learned to achieve their social goals other than through coercive behavioral strategies by around 8 years of age (end of Grade 3) will likely continue displaying some degree of anti-social behavior throughout their lives” (Walker et al., 2004). Appropriate actions or programs can then be implemented to educate and help children to cope with bullying.
Although many researches about bullying have been done internationally, there is a dearth of research conducted locally. Such local researches (Paredes, 1982; Lopez, 1980, in Bayhon, 2001) are generally exploratory in nature, focusing only on the meaning and characteristics of aggression among males and females. This paper on bullying, however exploratory in nature, is one that can serve as basis for formulating interventions. The individual students’ perception of bullying may help in the identification of students most likely to bully, and students most likely to be bullied. An effective bully prevention program is one which helps students to be better equipped in their social interactions, be more assertive, and better able to cope with problems (Casey-Cannon, Hayward & Gowen, 2001 in Beagle, 2004) and requires adult involvement (Peterson & Skiba, 2001, & Olweus, 1993, in Corrigan, 2004).

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