Bullying in schools is one of the major problems that preservice teachers must be informed about in order to establish and maintain better relationships among the students. Although the problem has received widespread concern recently, the standardized investigation of the problem began with the work of Olweus in 1970s in Scandinavia (Pepler, Rigby, & Smith, 2007). This doesn’t necessarily mean that there had been no bullying cases before his investigations. The very nature of human beings has always been selfish and will always be on the go. A very famous German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, talks about this selfishness and the power struggle that it creates in our lives. In ‘Will To Power’ and in the 13rd aphorism in his book ‘The Gay Science’, he says that “This world is the will to power and nothing besides.” (Nietzsche, 1924) and “Benefiting and hurting others are ways of exercising one's power upon others; that is all one desires in such cases.” (Nietzsche & Kaufmann, 1974). In my opinion, this is true since our everyday lives are fueled by two things: greed and money. The capitalist world order and the humans’ will to power go hand in hand and create power struggle in every aspect of our lives. People walk over each other in private sector, television series are constantly broadcasting violence, families are controlled by the one who’s stronger than his/her partner, and as a result, children represent their parents’ and the society’s images and identities in the classroom. However, these are only some of the reasons why some children are more susceptible of being a bully or a victim. According to Pepler et al. (2007), not only the aforementioned ones, but also children’s personalities, disabilities, and the nature and quality of friendships and peer-group reputation could be the reasons.
One may ask “What is bullying after all?”. Bullying actually occurs when there is a conflict between people of different power (Rigby, p. 584). This is important to differentiate the two possible conflicts: Two equals and The stronger vs. The weak. In the former, we can’t talk about the outcomes of a struggle, since they won’t feel helpless at the end of a conflict. In the latter, one side is often disempowered. In my opinion, as long as we don’t change our global economical system and brainwash every single person on the planet in a short period of time, this struggle between the stronger and the weak in the classroom is inevitable. Therefore, asking for equality would be meaningless, as people will find alternative ways to show their superiority. However, as Nietzsche suggests, there are two ways of exercising power others and we should aim at choosing the one that doesn’t hurt others, but benefit them. This is possible only if we encourage challenges that won’t hurt anybody in the classroom. Some examples that come to my mind are the intellectual and sportive ones. A student who is being bullied for being physically weak can rightfully show his/her strong sides in an intellectual debate. A teacher who observes possible bullying scenes in a classroom should find a way to empower the victim, and deliberately let him/her challenge the bully in his/her strong side by not hurting the bully but in a benefiting challenge. While planning such a challenge, the teacher should carefully observe their personal traits and find a suitable challenge between the two sides. Of course, this is my theoretical approach as a preservice teacher to prevent bullying in schools that might not reflect the realities of a real school environment.
There are also professional steps that have been taken to prevent bullying among students, one of which is curriculum interventions. These include the change of old curriculum with videotapes, lectures and written curriculum. According to a study, these interventions did not consistently decrease bullying, however, the students in the control group did broaden their definition of bullying to some degree (Vreeman & Carroll, 2007). Another method is whole-school multidisciplinary intervention. These include the combination of schoolwide rules and sanctions, teacher training, classroom curriculum, individual counselling, conflict resolution training. Adaptation of such an intervention showed positive results in decreasing bullying and even improved schools climate after the invention (Vreeman & Carroll, 2007).
Parents also play a critical role in tackling with bullying. Since children are very keen on reflecting what they live in their homes, a bully may bring his/her domestic problems to the classroom and even imitate his/her parent who is engaging in violence. Therefore, parents should be informed about the problems of bullying via parent meetings and newsletters (Maliki, Asagwara, & Ibu, 2009). In those meetings, the fact that children observe their parents’ behaviours and socially learn from them must be acknowledged.
To conclude, bullying is a serious problem that concerns not only the victim, but also the societal groups in which the victim maintains his/her life. These groups as a whole may or may not help the situation; the friends of him/her might see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The parents of both sides might not even realize what’s going around in the classroom, the victim might not reflect what’s on his/her mind. However, as preservice teachers and educators, we can’t turn a blind eye on it, and there are several approaches that we can adapt. I, as a classroom guidance teacher, would probably encourage challenges that don’t hurt either parties in the process, but benefit both. If power struggle is the truth for humanity, I’d make sure that it’s of my top priority to provide withitness in the classroom to alter it in a positive way.
Maliki, A. E., Asagwara, C., & Ibu, J. E. (2009). Bullying Problems among School Children. Journal of Human Ecology, 25(3), 209–213. doi: 10.1080/09709274.2009.11906157
Nietzsche, F. W. (1924). The will to power. London: Allen.
Nietzsche, F., & Kaufmann, W. (1974). The gay science: With a prelude in rhymes and an appendix of songs: Translated, with commentary by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random.
Pepler, D. J., Rigby, K., & Smith, P. K. (2007). Bullying in schools: how successful can interventions be? Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Rigby, K. (2003). Consequences of Bullying in Schools. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48(9), 584. doi: 10.1177/070674370304800904
Vreeman, R. C., & Carroll, A. E. (2007). A Systematic Review of School-Based Interventions to Prevent Bullying. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 161(1), 78. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.161.1.78
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