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Problem of School Bullying: Ways to Solve It

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Bullying is an act which can be experienced or perpetrated at any point within an individuals’ life, yet it is at its most prevalent during teenage years. Bullying reaches its pinnacle during the secondary school as children change schools and the new relations and statuses need to be established. Among factors contributing to adolescent bullying, individual aspects play an important role and will be described in the following paragraphs.

Intra-personal aggressiveness aggravates during adolescence where the temperament is one of the principal reasons. An aggressive temperament can manifest poor emotional regulation, hot-tempered personality, impulsivity and sensation seeking, these are partially heritable traits that could enhance the risk or likelihood of getting involved in bullying. Nevertheless, the mechanisms behind bullying are largely relational in nature and based upon perceived or actual issues regarding power structures within social relationships. Furthermore, these relational mechanisms often seek to create, or emphasise the ‘otherness’ of their intended victims. At the core of these behaviours, low self esteem, low sense of agency and under-nourished social or emotional skills are prominent contributing factors to an individual’s likelihood to engage in bullying behaviour. This is strongly related to the agent perspective held within Social Cognitive Theory. Cognitive factors partly determine which environmental events will be observed and what meaning will be conferred on them. 

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According to various researchers, bullies are children with a high level of aggression and lack of compassion for the victim. They have difficulties in understanding the feelings of other people and fail to judge their real intentions which can lead to antisocial behaviour and stems from the Theory of Mind. According to authors, bullies are willing to use violence for self-affirmation, they easily experience frustration, hardly follow the rules, demonstrate rudeness and have a lack of compassion for the victims. Perpetrators have no skills to process the intentions and emotions of other people and experience the symptom which is known as social blindness. However, Smith argues that bullies can understand things well but have a cold cognition and don’t have affective empathy for their victims. 

Group therapy as well as Individual therapy has proven to be a good solution to cope with bullying as it has to be approached from different levels. As an example of effective anti bullying prevention – KiVa – Finnish programme which teaches adolescents to develop their social skills while increasing the empathy and has proven the effectiveness of 79.4% to reduce the problem.

The intervention is based upon the agentic perspective of social cognitive theory outlined by Bandura, and is designed to address issues of agency and self esteem in order to prevent future bullying. Both bullies and victims will develop greater understanding of bullying triggers, and work towards developing higher levels of self-esteem and social skills.  

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is broadly used to prevent bullying among adolescents and its efficiency is supported by empirical evidence and research over the last 20 years. It involves a well-structured problem-solving approach. One of the concepts of CBT in relation to bullying is that the core reason for the problem is most likely to be within the person himself rather than external. Negative emotions are not caused by situations, but by thoughts, assessments of situations, assessments of self and other people.  Hence, thoughts, feelings and behaviour interact, stay interconnected and strongly influence each other. In relation to victims CBT aims to increase their self-esteem and teach them about new behaviour patterns, while bullies learn to manage their anger, aggression and understand other people’s feelings. As we can see CBT can address bullying for both victim and bully. It helps teenagers to recognise their self-defeating thoughts and destructive behaviours while helping victims to find coping strategies, reduce anxiety and depression with high effectiveness as such as 95%. Its ability to improve confidence and communication skills and change negative thought patterns in a short duration of time is well adapted to help teenage bullying victims.

CBT helps to develop social interaction skills, improve self-esteem and acquire decision-making skills in a stressful situation, alongside replacing negative coping mechanisms with more positive ones. It is particularly helpful to high school students since it focuses on the here and now mentality associated with teens. In general CBT intervention for a secondary school would involve aspects such as psychoeducation, helping to understand thoughts and feelings of other people, self-awareness training, cognitive reorganisation, replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts and coping strategies.

In conclusion, it is worth saying that bullying has become a common problem among teenagers. But there are effective solutions and you should definitely take advantage of them. 

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