Bullying refers to aggressive behavior that is repetitive and
intentional in which a power differential exists between the victim and bully.
The negative effects of bullying on an individual’s mental and physical health
are substantial and in line with other major forms of child maltreatment.
Efforts to increase detection of bullying are indicated, especially among youth
presenting with school phobia, depression, anxiety, and declining school
performance. Several antibullying efforts have been developed and promoted at
the school and community level. Research indicates that many of these programs
are effective and share some common elements that can help reduce the
prevalence and impact of bullying. This article comes in the help of teachers,
parents, psychologists, pedagogues, students and everyone who wants to
understand that the problem of bullying is a real one and we have to be aware
H. is a 17 years old high school student who moved
to town two months before taking a job at the movie theatre. She moved from her
old town because she had been bullied by her colleagues at H. old school.
When H. first moved, she attended a party hosted by
her “best and only friend” K., who indirectly introduced H. to two
boys, describing them as “stupidly sweet”. At school, H. and one of
the boys begin a flirtatious relationship and she led him
on a wild goose chase; she lured him onto the bus,
got his number, ditched him on the bus, and told him
to meet her at the park later that night. They hang
out in the park for a little while, and the boy secretly took a picture of H.
as she was going down the slide while wearing a dress. They then kiss on the
slide (H. revealed
that it was her first kiss) and he sneakily took a few more pictures.
At school the next day, the boy was talking to his friends and showing
them the pictures he took of H. The other boy then grabbed the phone from him
and texted the picture to everyone in the school, igniting rumours of H. being
“easy” and a slut, which was the initial blow to her reputation.
After this episode, H. thought that is a good idea to go to the school’s
counselor and tell him about what happened the other day. The counselor told
her that this kind of things happens all the time and she should get over it.
H. walks out of the office crying.
Many more episodes of bullying happens to H. like : being slapped in
public by one of her friends, had a stalker by her window at night taking
pictures of her naked and distribute one of it at school and the most traumatic
part of H. life is that she was being raped at a party.
The tragic incident about the rape happened one night when H. was
feeling lonely and she was at home all by herself. She then thought that it
will make her feel better
to take a walk along the neighborhood with her bike. As she was riding
her bike she heard some music coming from a friend house. She approached the
house and one of the boys greeted her and told her that she can come in. After
a few drinks she wanted to go home feeling dizzy from the alcohol, one of the
boys told her not to leave. H. was getting hotter and hotter from so many
glasses of wine so she went into the swimming pool. One of the boys also
entered with her. He grabbed her by her arms and put them behind her back. He
was so strong and nobody was there to help her. She left the party crying and
telling herself that she wanted to die in that very moment.
Let’s now talk about H. parents. Her mom and dad were working at their
own business: a pharmacy. Earlier that day when she got raped, something else
happened to her. Her parents give her an amount of money that H. needed to put
them in the bank account. She lost the money and told them how this happened.
They were so disappointed, but let the story vanish away.
H. decides to give life one more try. She went into her parents’
pharmacy and asked for some money, but when they weren’t looking, she also
grabbed some razor blades. She visited counselor and discloses that she gave up
on life and wanted it all to end, admitting her rape but when she couldn’t tell
him her rapist’s identity, he told her to move on with life. H. went back home,
filled her bathtub and had used the razors she stole from her father’s shop to
slit her wrists. H. then died by bleeding out to death and was found by her
mother and father but she had already died.
In this situation that we have presented, the dilemma is the following
statement: the counselor is the main actor, therefore he is in the middle of
all H. decision to take her life. When H. come to tell him her problems he
didn’t question himself if what she told him is real. The second time she came
to him, he wanted to do something about it but he was wondering if it’s the
best to tell the school principal, the police but not at least, H. parents. He
wanted a name for the rapist. The girl got scared and didn’t tell him the name
so he thought that this isn’t real as well and she just wanted attention.
Understanding the problem
H. says about herself that she is feeling very lonely and her parents
are too preoccupied with their business to
have time to talk with her. She tried to make friends, but in the end,
all of the bullied her. She also explains that she can’t understand why her
colleagues are doing those things to her. She really wanted to have an amazing
high school experience when she moved in the town.
As we go further in this case, we have to rely on a theory for a better
understanding. The psychology usually use Uri Bronfenbrenner ecological system:
this theory helps us understand why we may behave differently when we compare
our behaviour in the presence of our family and our behaviour when we are in
school or at work. .
We will begin with the first level of Bronfenbrenner’s theory: the microsystem. The microsystem is the
system closest to the person and the one in which they have direct contact.
Some examples would be home, school. A microsystem typically includes family,
peers, or caregivers. Relationships in a microsystem are bi-directional. In
other words, your reactions to the people in your microsystem will affect how
they treat you in return. This is the most influential level of the ecological
Let’s look at the microsystem H. lives in. The first part of his
microsystem is her home environment. This includes his interactions with her
parents. H.’s school is also part of her microsystem. Her regular school
interactions are with her teachers, counselor and the other children in her
The next level of ecological systems theory is the mesosystem. The mesosystem consists of the interactions between the different parts of a person’s
microsystem. The mesosystem is where a person’s individual microsystems do not
function independently, but are interconnected and assert influence upon one
another. These interactions have an indirect impact on the individual.
One aspect of H.’s mesosystem would be the relationship between her and
her supposed “friends”. Her parents don’t take an active role in the school
problems nor her life. She considers that her mother and father are too engaged
in their busyness. This has a negative impact on her development because the
different elements of her microsystem are not working together. H.’s
development is affected in a negative way because the different elements of his
microsystem were working against one another.
The exosystem is the next level we will examine.
The exosystem refers to a setting that does not involve the person as an active
participant, but still affects them. This includes decisions that have bearing
on the person, but in which they have no participation in the decision-making
One part of H.’s exosystem would be the decision of
the counselor not to do anything about her problems and her family not to get
involved in her life outside family time. This situation impacts H. and she
becomes anxious, filling more and more lonely and irrational.
The macrosystem is the largest and most distant
collection of people and places to the child that still exercises significant
influence on the child. It is composed of the child’s cultural patterns and
values, specifically the child’s dominant beliefs and ideas, as well as political
and economic systems.
The chronosystem adds the useful dimension of time,
which demonstrates the influence of both change and constancy in the child’s
environment. The chronosystem may thus include a change in family structure,
address, parent’s employment status, in addition to immense society changes
such as economic cycles and wars.
Was there something to do?
To show interprofessional collaboration between
school, police, parents and the community we can do the following steps. This
kind of relationships between this three major institution can help prevent any
kind of bullying to happen.
Establish common set of expectations for positive behavior across all
Establish and implement clear anti-bullying policies.
Involve all school staff, police and parents in
Train teachers to implement effective classroom management strategies
and how to respond to bullying.
of supervision in
“hot spots” (e.g., playgrounds, hallways, cafeteria)
Training for parents made by teachers in collaboration with police:
– How to talk with their children
– How to communicate concerns about bullying to the school
– How to get actively involved in school-based prevention efforts
prevention activities for the community:
– Awareness and social marketing campaigns produced
by school and involving the entire community around school and so on
– Messages tailored for specific groups of adults (e.g., doctors, police
Opportunities to become involved in prevention activities