Bullying has to start somewhere, it does not mysteriously just appear, especially in children.
Experiences with family, media and other children prepare children more likely to engage in the bullying-related behavior. This usually starts in a child’s early development.
Children will learn more from their family behavior as they observe family violence, physical punishment or physical or verbal aggression to control them or others. This may lead to aggressive behaviors and thus become involved in bullying at an early age. As children who grow up in more caring families, they tend to learn more positive social skills and tend to less likely to initiate bullying. However, you have to take into account peer pressure, at time children who wouldn’t normally engage in bullying, might do so to if pressure from school peers.
Media can play a role in the development of bullying. They may learn these behaviors by watching movies or television that celebrate violence towards others. It has also been suggested that children who play violent video games that display violent behavior tend to learn anti-social behaviors and may contribute to bullying towards others. Media that is educational material might enable children to interact with their peers in a positive manner.
But it is direct experiences with other children and siblings that can influence how they will interact with others. Those who experience bullying by either siblings or other children tend to turn their aggression on others to relevant their own bullying. This originates in the early childhood setting as they observe or interact with other children who are engaged in bullying-related behaviors.
Children ages 2-4 might use aggressive or bullying to defend their possessions, territory, and friendships, whereas, children ages 4-6 use bullying to threaten or intimidate other children. Bullying behaviors develop systematically depending on the response of the target. If allowed to continue, this may lead to full-blown bullying – For example, if a child cries, and yields to someone who is bullying, the bullying then tends to select and target that same child over and over, and the behavior will continue.
This becomes a problem when other children observe the behavior thus joining in – dominating the same victim and using the same tactics may lead to other children to seek out and dominate victims of their own. If allowed to continue over a substantial amount of time power hierarchies could form allowing dominant children to bully others who in turn give into their demands by yielding or crying. It’s important to understand that as the bullying continues it can take on a more sophisticated and various forms.
Bullying occurs in both girls and boy and they all engage in a variety of bullying-related behaviors. The difference is that boys and girls show differences in aggression. Boys tend to engage in physical and verbal bullying, displaying power and dominance. This type of behavior requires direct intervention and are easy to detect and observe. Whereas girls who bully are more sophisticated, and indirectly associated with patterns of affiliation and exclusion.
Parents and educator’s need to learn and become aware of children’s behaviors in relation to bullying. To understand when intervention is necessary, how to deal with bullying and most importantly learn the signs and listen.
U.S. Department of Education. Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development Policy and Program Studies Service. Analysis of the State of Bullying. December 2013.