Advertisement

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 365–375 | Cite as

Theoretical Explanations for Bullying in School: How Ecological Processes Propagate Perpetration and Victimization

  • Caroline B. R. Evans
  • Paul R. Smokowski
Article

Abstract

Bullying is a complex social dynamic that can best be understood by using various theoretical frameworks. The current article uses social capital theory, dominance theory, the theory of humiliation, and organizational culture theory to better understand the motivations behind bullying behavior, bullying’s negative effects on victims, and how school culture and climate play a role in the prevalence of bullying. Specifically, the acquisition and maintenance of social capital and the desire for dominance are prime motivating factors for the initiation and continuation of bullying perpetration. The lack of social capital experienced by victims serves to maintain victims in their current role and prevents them from gaining social status. Further, the domination used by bullies to subjugate victims results in intense humiliation that has lasting negative effects on victims, such as anger and depression. The overall culture and climate of the school setting impacts the prevalence and severity of bullying behavior, highlighting the need for whole school bullying interventions. Implications for social work practice are discussed.

Keywords

Bullying Victimization Theory Humiliation Trauma 

References

  1. Atlas, R. S., & Pepler, D. J. (1998). Observations of bullying in the classroom. Journal of Educational Research, 92(2), 86–99. doi: 10.1080/00220679809597580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagwell, C. L., & Schmidt, M. E. (2011). Friendships in childhood and adolescence. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beugelsdijk, S. & Smulders, S. (2003). Bridging and bonding social capital: Which type is good for economic growth? Paper submitted to European Regional Science Association. Retrieved from http://www-sre.wuwien.ac.at/ersa/ersaconfs/ersa03/cdrom/papers/517.pdf.
  4. Bowen, G. L., Rose, R. A., & Ware, W. B. (2006). The reliability and validity of the school success profile learning organization measures. Evaluation and Program Planning, 29, 97–104. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2005.08.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burton, K. A., Florell, D., & Gore, J. S. (2013). Differences in proactive and reactive aggression in traditional bullies and cyberbullies. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, 22, 316–328. doi: 10.1080/10926771.2013.743938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carlisle, N., & Rofes, E. (2007). School bullying: Do adults survivors perceive long-term effects? Traumatology, 13(1), 16–26. doi: 10.1177/1534765607299911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Mayeux, L. (2004). From censure to reinforcement: Developmental changes in the association between aggression and social status. Child Development, 75(1), 147–163. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00660.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95–S120. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780243
  9. Craig, W., Harel-Risch, Y., Fogel-Frinvald, H., Dostaler, S., Hetland, J., Simons-Morton, B., & HBSC Bullying Writing Group. (2009). A cross-national profile of bullying and victimization among adolescents in 40 countries. International Journal of Public Health, 54, 216–224. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-5413-9.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66(3), 710–722. doi: 10.2307/1131945.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. D’Andrea, W., Ford, J., Stolbach, B., Spinazzola, J., & van der Kolk, B. A. (2012). Understanding interpersonal trauma in children: Why we need a developmental appropriate trauma diagnosis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82, 187–200. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01154.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. de Bruyn, E. H., Cillessen, A. H. N., & Wissink, I. B. (2010). Associations of peer acceptance and perceived popularity with bullying and victimization in early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 3D, 543–566. doi: 10.1177/0272431609340517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deal, T. E. & Kennedy, A. A. (1983). Culture and school Performance. Educational Leadership, February 14–15. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership.aspx.
  14. Deal, T. E., & Peterson, K. D. (2009). Shaping school culture: Pitfalls, paradoxes, and promises. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Dubin, R. (1978). Theory building. New York: Social Sciences Press.Google Scholar
  16. Dulmus, C. N., Sowers, K. M., & Theriot, M. T. (2006). Prevalence and bullying experiences of victims and victims who become bullies (bully-victims) at rural schools. Victims and Offenders, 1(15), 15–31. doi: 10.1080/15564880500498945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Evans, C. B. R., Fraser, M. W., & Cotter, K. L. (2014). The effectiveness of school-based bullying prevention programs: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19, 532–544. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2014.07.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Evans, C. B. R., & Smokowski, P. R. (2015). Prosocial bystander behavior in bullying dynamics: Assessing the impact of social capital. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,. doi: 10.1007/s10964-015-0338-5.Google Scholar
  19. Fitness, J. (2001). Betrayal, rejection, revenge, and forgiveness: An interpersonal script approach. In M. Leary (Ed.), Interpersonal rejection (pp. 73–103). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Fitness, J., & Fletcher, G. J. O. (1993). Love, hate, anger, and jealousy in close relationships: A prototype and cognitive appraisal analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(5), 942–958. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.65.5.942.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Frey, N. & Fisher, D. (2008). The under-appreciated role of humiliation in the middle school. Middle School Journal, January 4–12. Retrieved from http://www.fisherandfrey.com/_admin/_filemanager/File/Humiliation%281%29.pdf
  22. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of culture. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  23. Gladden, R. M., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Hamburger, M. E., & Lumpkin, C. D. (2014). Bullying surveillance among youths: Uniform definitions for public health and recommended data elements, Version 1.0. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  24. Gladstone, G. L., Parker, G. B., & Malhi, G. S. (2006). Do bullied children become anxious and depressed adults? A cross-sectional investigation of the correlates of bullying and anxious depression. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194(3), 201–208. doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000202491.99719.c3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldweber, A., Waasdorp, T. E., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2013). Examining associations between race, urbanicity, and patterns of bullying involvement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 206–219. doi: 10.1007/s10964-012-9843-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Guerin, S., & Hennessy, E. (2002). Pupils’ definitions of bullying. European Journal of Psychology and Education, 17(3), 249–261. doi: 10.1007/BF03173535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ha, H. N. (2015). A cross-sectional study of alcoholism: Is there an association with bullying in school-age adolescent. ProQuest Theses and Dissertations (UMI 1590889).Google Scholar
  28. Hartling, L. M., & Luchetta, T. (1999). Humiliation: Assessing the impact of derision, degradation, and debasement. Journal of Primary Prevention, 19(4), 259–278. doi: 10.1023/A:1022622422521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D. J., & Craig, W. M. (2001). Naturalistic observations of peer interventions in bullying. Social Development, 10(4), 512–527. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1467-9507
  30. Jackson, M.A. (1999). Distinguishing shame and humiliation (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertation and Thesis Database (UMI Number 9968089).Google Scholar
  31. Juvonen, J., Graham, S., & Schuster, M. A. (2003). Bullying among young adolescents: The strong, the weak, and the troubled. Pediatrics, 112, 1231–1237. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/112/6/1231.full.html
  32. Klein, D. C. (1991). The humiliation dynamic: An overview. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 12(2), 93–121. doi: 10.1007/BF02015214.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Klein, J., Cornell, D., & Konold, T. (2012). Relationship between bullying, school climate, and student risk behaviors. School Psychology Quarterly, 27(3), 154–169. doi: 10.1037/a0029350.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Kvarme, L. G., Helseth, S., Saeteren, B., & Natvig, G. K. (2010). School children’s experience of beign bullied-and how they envisage their dream day. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Scineces, 24, 791–798. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00777.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lee, C. H., & Song, J. (2012). Functions of parental involvement and effects of school climate on bullying behaviors among South Korean middle school students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 2437–2464. doi: 10.1177/0886260511433508.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lester, L., Cross, D., & Shaw, T. (2012). Problem behaviors, traditional bullying and cyberbullying among adolescents: Longitudinal analysis. Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, 17(3–4), 435–447. doi: 10.1080/13632752.2012.704313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lin, N. (2001). Social capital: A theory of social structure and action. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lin, N., Cook, K., & Burt, R. S. (2001). Social capital: Theory and research. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lindner, E. G. (2001a). Towards a Theory of Humiliation: Somalia, Rwanda/Burundi, and Hitler’s Germany (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Regensburg, Germany. Retrieved from http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/evelin/HumiliationBook2.pdf
  40. Lindner, E. G. (2001b). Humiliation and the human condition: Mapping a minefield. Human Rights Review, 2(2), 46–63. doi: 10.1007/s12142-001-1023-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lindner, E. G. (2003). The theory of humiliation: A Summary. Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (pp. 1–56). Unpublished manuscript Retrieved from http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/evelin/HumiliationTheorySummary.pdf
  42. Lindner, E. G. (2006). Making enemies: Humiliation and international conflict. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar
  43. Lindner, E. G. (2007). In times of globalization and human rights: Does humiliation become the most disruptive force? Journal of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, 1(1), 1–30. Retrieved from http://www.humilliationstudies.upeace.org/
  44. Long, J. D. & Pellegrini, A. D. (2003). Studying change in dominance and bullying with linear mixed models. School Psychology Review, 32(3), 401–417. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/spr/index.aspx?vol=42&issue=4
  45. Meltzer, H., Vostanis, P., Ford, T., Bebbington, P., & Dennis, M. S. (2011). Victims of bullying in childhood and suicide in adulthood. European Psychiatry, 26, 498–503. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2010.11.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Menesini, E., Modena, M., & Tani, F. (2009). Bullying and victimization in adolescence: Concurrent and stable roles and psychological health symptoms. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 170(2), 115–133. doi: 10.3200/GNTP.170.2.115-134.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Mishna, F. (2012). Bullying: A guide to research, intervention, and prevention. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. National Center for Educational Statistics. (2011). Student reports of bullying and cyber-bullying: Results from the 2009 school crime supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Retrieved from http://nces.Ed.gov/pubs2011/2011336.pdf
  49. National School Climate Center. (2014). School Climate. Retrieved from http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/
  50. Olweus, D., Limber, S. P., Flerx, V. C., Mullin, N., Riese, J., & Snyder, M. (2007). Olweus bullying prevention program: Teacher guide. Center City, MN: Hazelden.Google Scholar
  51. Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). Bullying, victimization, and sexual harassment during the transitions to middle school. Educational Psychologist, 37, 151–163. doi: 10.1207/S15326985EP3703_2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pellegrini, A. D., & Bartini, M. (2001). Dominance in early adolescent boys: Affiliative and aggressive dimensions and possible functions. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 47(1), 142–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pellegrini, A. D., Bartini, M., & Brooks, F. (1999). School bullies, victims, and aggressive victims: Factors relating to group affiliation and victimization in early adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(2), 216–224. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.91.2.216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Peskin, M. F., Tortolero, S. R., & Markham, C. M. (2006). Bullying and victimization among Black and Hispanic adolescents. Adolescents, 41(163), 467–484. Retrieved from http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-adolescence/
  55. Peters, T., & Waterman, R. (1982). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best run companies. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  56. Pollastri, A. R., Cardemil, E. V., & O’Donnell, E. H. (2009). Self-esteem in pure bullies and bully/victims: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 1489–1502. doi: 10.1177/0886260509354579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Popp, A. M., & Peguero, A. A. (2012). Social bonds and the role of school-based victimization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(17), 3366–3388. doi: 10.1177/0886260512445386.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Prinstein, M. J., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2003). Forms and functions of adolescent peer aggression associated with high levels of peer status. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49(3), 310–342. doi: 10.1353/mpq.2003.0015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Putnam, R. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s decline in social capital. Journal of Democracy, 6, 65–78. doi: 10.1353/jod.1995.0002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rivers, I. (2001). Retrospective reports of school bullying: Stability of recall and its implications for research. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 19, 129–142. doi: 10.1348/026151001166001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Robers, S., Kemp, J., & Truman, J. (2013). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2012. (NCES 2013-036/NCJ241446). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013036.pdf
  63. Rodkin, P. C., & Berger, C. (2008). Who bullies whom? Social status asymmetries by victim gender. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32, 473–486. doi: 10.1177/0165025408093667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rose, A. J., Swenson, L. P., & Waller, E. M. (2004). Overt and relational aggression and perceived popularity: Developmental differences in concurrent and prospective relations. Developmental Psychology, 40, 378–387. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.40.3.378.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Russell, J. (2010, November 28). World of misery left by bullying. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/11/28/ a_world_of_misery_left_by_bullying/
  66. Salmivalli, C. (2010). Bullying and the peer group: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15, 112–120. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2009.08.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Salmivalli, C., Lappalainen, M., & Lagerspetz, K. M. J. (1998). Stability of change behavior in connection to bullying in schools: A two-year follow-up. Aggressive Behavior, 24, 205–218. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Salmivalli, C., & Nieminen, E. (2002). Proactive and reactive aggression among school bullies, victims, and bully-victims. Aggressive Behavior, 28, 30–44. doi: 10.1002/ab.90004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  70. Schoen, L. T., & Teddlie, C. (2008). A new model of school culture: A response to a call for conceptual clarity. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 19(2), 129–153. doi: 10.1080/09243450802095278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Scholte, R. H. J., Overbeek, G., ten Brink, G., Rommes, E., de Kemp, R. A. T., Goossens, L., & Engles, R. C. M. E. (2008). The significance of reciprocal and unilateral friendships for peer victimization in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 89, 89–100. doi: 10.1007/s10964-008-9287-6.Google Scholar
  72. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (1999). Social dominance: An intergroup theory of social hierarchy and oppression. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Siegel, D. J. (2012). The developing mind. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  74. Simmons, R. (2002). Odd girl out. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.Google Scholar
  75. Smith, D. (2001). Organizations and humiliation: Looking beyond Elias. Organization, 8(3), 537–560. doi: 10.1177/135050840183005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Smokowski, P. R., & Kopaz, K. H. (2005). Bullying in school: An overview of types, effects, family characteristics, and intervention strategies. Children & Schools, 27(2), 101–110. doi: 10.1093/cs/27.2.101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Ttofi, M. M., Farrington, D. P., Losel, F., & Loeber, R. (2011). Do victims of school bullies tend to become depressed later in life? A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 3(11), 63–73. doi: 10.1108/17596591111132873.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Vaillancourt, T., Hymel, S., & McDougall, P. (2003). Bullying is power: Implications for school-based intervention strategies. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19(2), 157–176. doi: 10.1300/J008v19n02_10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. van der Kolk, B. A. (1994). The body keeps the score: Memory and the evolving psychobiology of postraumtic stress. Harvard Review Psychiatry, 1(5), 253–265. doi: 10.3109/10673229409017088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. van der Kolk, B. A. (1997). Traumatic memories. In P. S. Apelbaum, L. A. Uyehara, & M. R. Elin (Eds.), Trauma and memory: Clinical and legal controversies (pp. 243–260). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  81. You, S., Furlong, M. J., Felix, E., Sharkey, J. D., Tanigawa, D., & Green, J. G. (2008). Relations among school connectedness, hope, life satisfaction, and bully victimization. Psychology in the Schools, 45(5), 446–460. doi: 10.1002/pits.20308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Violence Prevention Works. (2015). Home of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Hazelden Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/olweus_program_materials.page.
  83. Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School bullying among adolescents in the United States: Physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(4), 368–375. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.03.021.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WelfareUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations