When It Comes to Bullying, There Are No Boundaries
Nations Try Various Strategies to Eradicate Such Behavior in Schools
Students with Aspergers are particularly prone to bullying. By Marianne D. Hurst
American policymakers have been urgently seeking solutions to school bullying and violence in recent years, but the issue had been receiving attention in many other countries long before it hit the U.S. spotlight.
“Bullying is a problem in every school in the world, which may seem
like a simplistic answer, but it’s true,” said Andrew Mellor, the manager of
the Anti-Bullying Network at the University of Edinburgh, an organization
funded by the Scottish government to provide schools and students with
information and support.
Most scholars generally accept the concept of bullying as an imbalance
of power that exists over an extended period of time between two
individuals, two groups, or a group and an individual in which the more
powerful intimidate or belittle others. Bullying can be both physical and
psychological, but physical bullying is not as common as the more subtle
forms, such as social exclusion, name-calling, and gossip.
“Somehow, in the context of school, the way children experience
victimization is common,” said Ron Astor, an education professor at the
University of Southern California who has been studying school bullying in
Israel since 1997. “Bullying is germane to schools.”
Most schools, he said, are introduced to the problem through an act of
violence or suicide. In Scandinavia, researchers began the first significant
push to understand the problem in the late 1960s. Still, it wasn’t until
1982, after three Norwegian adolescents committed suicide as a result of
being bullied, that Norway launched an aggressive national campaign to deal
with the intimidation.
Norway encouraged schoolwide intervention policies, including classroom rules establishing limits to unacceptable behavior, the formation of teacher-development groups, class meetings with children on peer relations and behavior, and counseling for bullies, victims, and parents.
Studies showed a 50 percent decrease in school bullying by 1985. The
country’s parliament strengthened efforts in 2002 with passage of a
manifesto that committed the central government, local authorities, and some
parent and teacher groups to a program of action in the hope of quickly
eliminating the practice.
The movement to curb bullying has since moved into many other
countries, including Scotland and Australia, which set up government-supported organizations and Web sites-such as the Anti-Bullying
Network and Australia’s NoBully.com program-to help schools understand the
issue and offer guidelines to establish effective school policies and
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