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Bullying 2

Concept investigation – Bully                      

by Joanna Patuła-Krasteva



The investigation is focused on the concept of ‘bully’, which is a typical for English culture. I chose this specific one, because of the great differences in the interpretation of this word, the various fields of existence of the term as well as the wide area of the possible usage of the word.


A dictionary definition

To begin with the explanation of the word, I chose a few definitions from different, respected and well-known dictionaries. Definitions of the word based on the dictionaries’ descriptions show that ‘bully’ in most of its usages has a pejorative meaning (except for ‘bully’ as a bully beef and a start play with a bully (in field and ice hockey)). The word in its negative meaning implies the person who seeks to harm those whom they perceive as vulnerable. In its origins of Middle Dutch boele means a ‘lover’ and the current sense comes from the late 17th century. It is also a thug and a pimp and in most situations it is used in its connection to the force and persecution area. In its archaic meaning ‘bully’ has a positive sense as a sweetheart and a fine person. ‘Bully’ as an adjective means ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ and it is used in its meaning from the late 17th century. For the first time it appears in the late 16th century and it means admirable, gallant or jolly person. ‘Bully’ in its meaning of corned beef is used from mid-18th century (alteration of bouilli). In the sports area it is connected to field and ice hockey and it means starting to play with a bully (originally denoting a scrum in Eton football late 19th century). The word also means native freshwater fish - Redfinned bully (Gobiomorphus huttoni), Taranaki, New Zealand



The usage of the concept in media

Most articles in the newspapers draw the bully topic out, when they want to underline or relate the situations connected to the act of seeking to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable. All newspapers write about this problem, but very often in a different way. The yellow press (e.g. The Mail) presents mostly the particular situations giving specific information about people and the final result (very often death) looking for a sensation. More serious newspapers such as The Telegraph, Independent or The Guardian are more concentrated on specific cases trying to find a solution or giving additional information about research. Sometimes they try to make the reader aware of the problems in specific areas such as the medical profession or the dangerous consequences when we are in constant contact with bullying e.g. at work. It is an interesting fact that in the last years the great tool for bullying seems to be the mobile phone or the computer. This phenomenon leads to involving a new term in the language – cyber-bullying.

There are a lot of fiction films with their main theme of bullying or bullying as a background issue (as an act towards intimidation). On  the Internet there seem to be even more video materials about bullying made by institutions whose main aim is to deal with the problem. They are produced for schools or institutions in order to inform about bully problem, fight with it and protect children.

Statistical data about the concept

Bullying is seen as a worldwide problem and the issue started to generate more research and interest on the topic in recent years. Research has found that gender does not play a significant role in who the bully is and who  - the victim. Bullying has been found to be an important factor associated with children’s mental health. Studies found that children who had been bullied at the age of thirteen were more than twice as likely to have depression at the age of eighteen. Children who were bullied were more likely to report an increase in depression and anxiety over time and conversely, after taking initial levels of being bullied into account, children who had depression or anxiety were more likely to be bullied over time.

According to National Center for Educational Statistics (2016) more than one out of every five students report being bullied what makes 20,8%. Collecting data of school bullying started in 2005 when the prevalence of it was around 28 %. From 9% to 98% vary rates of bullying. The researches made among 12-18 year old students stated a mean prevalence rate of 35% for traditional bullying involvement and 15% for cyberbullying one. It should be underlined that 64% of children who were bullied did not report it. Only 36% reported being a victim. Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression. 23% of victims are women while 19% are men who are students. In contrast, a higher percentage of male than of female students report being physically bullied (6% vs. 4%) and threatened with harm (5% vs. 3%). What is important bullying prevention programs organised by schools decrease it by up to 25%. Researchers show that students who bully others, are being bullied, or witness bullying are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behaviour than students who report no involvement in bullying.

The researches show that the problem is really serious although it often remains outside the attention of society. The studies show that between 2011 and 2012 those who were bullied frequently in the last 6 months were over 4 times more likely to report than those who were bullied less frequently or not at all (9%). The frequency of being bullied was by far the strongest predictor of higher total difficulties scores of all the measures included in the regression analysis.

According to European Working Conditions Survey made in 2010 the highest percentage of people being bullied at work in EU countries can be observed in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria. The countries where bullying has the lowest level are Poland and Bulgaria. Exposure to workplace violence by gender and age implies that women between 30 and 49 are most likely to experience bullying at work, followed by men in their age of 15 to 29.

The surveys show that in proportion to the increasing number of bullying reported in the last years increased also the number of materials such as documentary videos and fact sheets about the issue whose main aim is to give information and deal with the problem. They underline that bullying can be analysed as a social problem, how it can affect health, who can be in the risk group of bullying and how we can prevent the problem. Bullying was established as a serious public health problem that may include verbal or physical injury as well as social isolation or exclusion.

The concept is used in literary texts

There are many books or poems written by children who suffered from bullying that are targeted to children who probably are in a similar situation. Many books about bullying are published to educate from an early age that this kind of behavior is negative and should be punished or rejected by the society.

In poems about bullying we can hardly find a metaphor, because the aim of them is to approach the victim who shares the same fate. More often we can find rhetorical questions about the current situation connected to bullying. Repetitions are also used, such as anaphora in order to underline the persona’s empathy towards the victim’s feelings or making the issue shared (pronoun I or I am at the beginning of each lien. The repetition can occur as a whole line- I am a student being bullied (look at the resources).  This kind of poetry has its own audience – mainly people being bullied. The message in most cases is stated very clearly in order to support everyone in their hard life situation. We cannot expect from this kind of poetry sophisticated stylistic figures as its aim is quite different – to play on emotions so as support or show understanding.

            Songs, as well as books and poems, in most cases relay on direct messages. The story is told without necessary effort required from the addresser to read between the lines. The stylistic figure in the song (look at the resources) are mainly repetitions. Anaphor - Nobody knows - has its role to show that the problem may exist but may not be noticed by the others (very often even by the family). The repeated a few times line Dare To Be Different implies that tolerance  s a very important part of our life and we should not be afraid of it. What is more, we should be informed about it. Being tolerated and tolerating others implies a better life. Usage of the pronouns such as he, she remarks that bullying concerns both boys and girls.

            There is a great number of literary works addressed to children in order to start the education against bullying from an early age. In 2006 an action-adventure video game was developed by Rockstar Vancouver Bully since books can be hardly accepted by the young generation, especially by children between twelve and eighteen where the bullying has the highest percentage. Set within the fictional town of Bullworth, the story follows a student and his efforts to rise through the ranks of the school system. Players control James "Jimmy" Hopkins, a student who is involuntarily enrolled at Bullworth Academy. He discovers that the school is filled with bullies, and becomes determined to bring peace, ultimately becoming more respected among town groups. Despite initial controversy for its expected violence and homosexual content, Bully received positive reviews. Obviously it involves also an educational element, because the whole idea is to create peace in the school by eliminating bullies and protecting children being bullied. The target group seems to be not only those being bullied or witnesses but also those who bully.

            In conclusion it should be mentioned that there is a lot of information on the Internet and this short investigation does not exhaust the topic but only introduces or stimulates to furtherer studies.