Effects of Gender Related Bullying and Harassment Essay

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Bullying and Conflict in Relation to Learning About Gender and Other Forms of Equity

One of the harsh realities of life in the United States is the potential for bullying behaviors to adversely affect the learning environment for young victims, transforming the school environment from a place of learning into one that is dreaded and feared. Moreover, bullying behaviors can have a profound effect on the manner in which young people are socialized concerning gender roles as well as their perspectives concerning equity later in life. To determine the facts about these issues, this paper provides a review of the literature to develop a discussion concerning the issues of bullying and conflict in relation to learning about gender and other forms of equity and the implications these have for students and teachers. Finally, following this discussion, a summary of the research and important findings concerning these issues are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

In a school context, bullying is defined by Isernhagen and Harris (2009) as being any type of instance in which "a student is exposed repeatedly to negative actions by one or more other students" (p. 5). In response to the growing recognition of the problem, there has been an ongoing nationwide campaign and more aggressive zero-tolerance policies implemented by school districts across the country that are aimed at reducing the incidence of bullying in the schools. To date, however, these strategies have largely failed to address the antecedents to the problem head-on (Fuller & Gulbrandson, 2013). In this regard, Meyer (2008) emphasizes that, "Many schools have been trying to combat violence and harassing behaviors by implementing blanket bullying policies that do little to address the underlying issues of the school climate and culture that allow these behaviors to persist" (p. 35).

Unfortunately, the problem may be far more severe than estimates suggest. Notwithstanding zero-tolerance and other anti-bullying policies that have been implemented in recent years, current estimates indicate that about 15% of all students are still being bullied or engaging in bullying behaviors (Isernhagen & Harris, 2009) while other estimates place the incidence far higher. Indeed, research has shown that fully 80% of middle school students in the U.S. report initiating direct bullying incidents at least once a month (Isernhagen & Harris, 2009). According to Isernhagen and Harris (2009), direct bullying involves "hitting, taunting, threatening, teasing, stealing, excluding, or spreading rumors," behaviors that are most commonplace during the elementary and middle school years and then tapering off somewhat when students enter high school (p. 6). Nevertheless, a growing body of evidence indicates that bullying behaviors continue well into the high school years and even into the adult workplace in some cases. In fact, bullying is virtually universal throughout American society and the practice is socially ingrained in the national consciousness (Gilbert & Raffo, 2013). As Kirby (2001) points out, "You can't grow up without encountering a bully.

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It's not a stretch to suggest that our culture is built, in part, on a culture of bullying, It's in the school yard, on the playing field, and in the workplace" (p. 30).

When bullying behaviors are gender-related, the problem becomes even more complex and potentially harmful to victims. For instance, Popp and Peguero (2014) report that, "School bullying has detrimental consequences for its victims, including undermining students' educational outcomes. Furthermore, gender has been shown to play a significant role in determining the type of bullying victimization experienced and educational outcomes" (p. 843). The results of a study by Meyer (2008) indicate that gender-related bullying can be sufficiently insidious to avoid detection by teachers and administrators but which can have an enormous negative impact on those targeted, including diminished academic performance, increased absenteeism, substance abuse problems, depression and even suicidal behaviors. Gendered harassment is defined by Meyer (2008) as being "any behavior that acts to assert the boundaries of traditional gender norms: heterosexual masculinity and femininity"; these behaviors can include "(hetero)sexual harassment, homophobic harassment, and harassment for gender non-conformity (or transphobic harassment)" (p. 34). Although gendered harassment is similar to bullying, it assumes some different forms, but these may subsume some types of bullying behaviors including violence (Meyer, 2008). Moreover, the negative effects of gender-related bullying can even be more severe than other types of bullying behaviors As Meyer concludes, "Students who are targets of sexual and homophobic harassment have been identified as being at even greater risk for these harmful behaviors and leaving school" (p. 34).

While many victims of gender-related bullying may opt to simply leave school altogether or pursue an alternative homeschooled curriculum, others may elect to take more drastic actions to resolve the conflict by either killing their tormentors or taking their own lives, and both of these types of undesirable outcomes have become increasingly frequent in recent years. In the majority of cases, however, it is reasonable to posit the victims of gender-related bullying and harassment simply "suffer in silence" (due in large part to the unwritten but ubiquitous "schoolyard code" that prohibits "snitching") until they can graduate and escape their tormentors. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of American students who are victims of bullying do not report the incidents (Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, & Hanson, 2010). A study of the specific characteristics of bullying victimization that have been shown to prompt higher levels of reporting among bullying victims include incidents that involved physical injuries, the destruction of property, actual physical contact (e.g., shoving or pushing), higher frequency levels of bullying, bullying occurring in more than one location, and, interestingly, at least one bullying incident occurring on a school bus (Petrosina, 2010).

As noted above, gender-related bullying may assume some forms that are difficult to detect but in many cases they are….....

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Bullying statistics. (2017). National Bullying Prevention Center. Retrieved from http://www. pacer.org/bullying/resources/stats.asp.

Cyberbullying data. (2017). Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved from http://cyber bullying.org/2015-data.

Fetner, T. & Elafros, A. (2012, May). Safe spaces: Gay-straight alliances in high schools. Canadian Review of Sociology, 49(2), 188-192.

Fuller, B. & Gulbrandson, K. (2013, November-December). Bully prevention in the physical education classroom. Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, 26(6), 3-6.

Gilbert, J. A. & Raffo, D. M. (2013, Spring). Gender, conflict, and workplace bullying: Is civility policy the silver bullet? Journal of Managerial Issues, 25(1), 79-82.

Isernhagen, J. & Harris, S. (2009, Spring). A comparison of bullying in four rural middle and high schools. Rural Educator, 25(3), 5-9.

Kirby, D. (2001, July 3). What makes a BULLY? The Advocate, 30.

Meyer, E. (2008, Winter). A feminist reframing of bullying and harassment: Transforming schools through critical pedagogy. McGill Journal of Education, 43(1), 33-36.

Petrosino, A., Guckenburg, S., DeVoe, J., & Hanson, T. (2010, August). What characteristics of bullying, bullying victims, and schools are associated with increased reporting of bullying to school officials? National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance: REL 2010-No 092.

Popp, A. M. & Peguero, A. A. (2014, October 1). Gender, bullying victimization, and education. Violence and Victims, 29(5), 843-847.

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