Bullying – Lifespan Psych Class

PSY-210 All over the world, bullying and victimization are common at various levels of schooling from elementary to secondary and beyond. The objective of bullying can range from humiliating to instilling fear in an effort to establish a character of dominance on the part of the bully. It can be in the form of physical violence, verbal abuse, or social isolation and can have lasting consequences on the victim ranging from low self esteem to the most severe: suicide. The question we all have to ask ourselves is where does this behavior stem from?

Children are not born innate with an evil gene (excluding mental disease), therefore, we have to begin by looking at the family structure, the familial influence, and what role they play in the bullying behavior. In the research study “PROCEDURAL JUSTICE IN RESOLVING FAMILY DISPUTES: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHILDHOOD BULLYING” (Brubacher, Fondacaro, Brank, Brown, Miller, 2009), the authors looked at the interaction between a child and their family with regard to conflict resolution and how that may effect the ability of a child to deal with their peers.

Since a dominant role is most apparent in the parent-child relationship, it can suggest that children will be considerably affected by how their parents treat a situation where conflict needs to be resolved. Parents play a pivotal part in the ability for their child to understand right from wrong, empathy, respect, and a sense of fairness. Throughout their course of cognitive development, the attitudes and behaviors put forward by the parent will be internalized by a child and become part of that child’s working model of social conduct.

The purpose of this study was to develop the correlation between the family dynamics, and how it may contribute to the behavior of children and their core moral and ethical values when interacting or dealing with their peers. The groundwork is laid at home and if not met with properly, can result in the same cycle repeating in generations to come.

The study used participants of middle school age (average age was just over 12-1/2), and a randomized selection of classes from nine participating school districts within various states which was a good representation in that it looked at students in more a metropolitan setting where you usually have a more dense student body, a larger mix of ethnicities, which can sometimes lend to more conflict amongst peers as they are interacting and trying to integrate with one another.

The age of students is particularly important because it’s at this tender age where they are beginning to form their independence and having to make autonomous decisions about their behavior and still learning the consequences associated with those decisions. I’m certain that aggressive behavior in parenting styles has huge implications on a child’s attitude. Parents who use physical and/or emotional harm are doing nothing to instill healthy, acceptable social behaviors. All children need to feel a sense of value, empowerment over their ability to be autonomous, and in the absence of that, will act out that which they’ve learned.

Often times, it can be the subliminal behavior of the parents/adults that can foster unacceptable values in children. The catalyst can be the ethical and moral opinions like racism, cultural beliefs, and even religious affiliations that the parents have personal qualms about… that can weave into the fabric of a child. Many parents are oblivious to what they’re unconsciously teaching their children simply by how they talk about other societies, traditions, or backgrounds. That kind of blind hatred passes down from generation to generation and no doubt rears its ugly head in our schools… the melting pot of the world.

In our textbook “HUMAN DEVELOPMENT” (J. W. Vander Zanden, T. Crandell, C. H. Crandell), Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist found a number of parental practices and attitudes that seem to facilitate the development of socially responsible and independent behavior in children. She found that parents who are socially responsible and assertive, and who serve as daily models of these behaviors, foster these same characteristics in their children. Parents should emphasize and encourage individuality, self-expression, and socially appropriate aggressiveness.

Susan Crockenber and Cindy Litman (1990) show that the way parents handle autonomy issues have a profound consequence for their youngsters’ behavior. When parents assert their power in the form of negative control (threats, criticism, physical intervention, and anger), children are more likely to respond with defiance and thus behave the same way. I agree that there is a correlation between parenting styles and how that influences a child’s ability to resolve conflicts. The family environment has a direct relationship to problematic behavior in children resulting in social cruelty, especially bullying.

No one can prepare you for the most difficult task in life. Parenting. Countless books, advice from others, even your own childhood experiences never seem to quite arm you with enough strength to handle it with grace and fluidity. Yet we all take that leap of faith, to fulfill our moral obligation to procreate life, convinced that we know the secret to raising a well-adjusted individual. Yet many of us fail to carry out the process correctly… either repeating past behavior, or expecting too much from our little ones, too soon. In the article published on Psychology Today “HOW TO RAISE YOUR CHILDREN NATURALLY”, Gerard Young, Ph.

D. , discusses parenting styles with regard to discipline, self esteem, happiness, and stress both on the part of parents and their children. He focuses on the importance of not only timing and applying proper techniques… reminding us that children’s cognitive and social skills grow with age, but the importance of the environment in which those practices would be effective… needing a warm and balanced platform. Discipline should not solely be about punishment for the wrong behavior, but should also encompass limits and the boundaries for self-control.

He discusses that Learning theory has provided excellent discipline techniques, which can help shape a child by using rewards, reinforcements, points, time outs, and even punishment… without resorting to the use of corporal/physical methods. Parents need to have patience and understanding if they are to instill appropriate social and developmental behaviors in their children. We need to appreciate that they have a different schedule and rhythm than we do, and if we’re to be effective parents, we need to manage that in order to gain a measure of control while teaching them the proper skill sets they need for self-control.

Most important, we need to be more liberal with our praise, giving them enjoyment to strive for more. If we are to raise a healthy child, we need to value what is special within our child and support and build on that. Understanding what makes your child “tick”, and “giving them the tools to tick better”. We should provide them with an environment which not only sets limits & expectations, but freedom to express & explore, so they can grow with a sense of initiative and independence which will translate into adulthood for positive life goals and values.

All this requires dedication and commitment from parents to be on their best behavior. Children watch, observe, imitate, and learn from us. It would be prudent for us to remember the initial goal we had in mind when we decided to have children. To tenderly love him/her, to make a contribution to society by raising a healthy, well adjusted individual who will in turn perpetuate that for generations to come. That cannot happen if we are to take a back seat approach and not follow through with our moral responsibility. Children did not have a choice to be born.

So why then should we rob them of a chance they rightfully deserve at a peaceful upbringing. Learning, by definition in our textbook “HUMAN DEVELOPMENT” (J. W. Vander Zanden, T. Crandell, C. H. Crandell), involves a relatively permanent change in a capability or behavior that results from experience. Behavioral theories emphasize that people can be conditioned by positive or negative reinforcers… that cognitive theories focus on how to fashion the cognitive structures by which individuals think about their environment… and that social learning theories stress the need to provide models for people to imitate.

This definition encompasses intellectually all the fine points Dr. Young wrote about in his article. We can all reason that positive behaviors will produce positive outcomes. We just need to actually follow through with them. The most important role model in a child’s life is their significant caregiver, in most cases, parents. To learn a behavior, you need to be taught that behavior. Why then with all this information, do we still choose to parent incorrectly is beyond me. It is so much easier to teach a child than it is to fix an adult.

References Brubacher, Michael R. , Fondacar, Mark R. , Brank, Eve M. , Brown, Veda E. , Miller, Scott A. , (2009). Procedural Justice in Resolving Family Disputes: Implications For Childhood Bullying. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol 15(3), Aug, 2009. Pp. 149-167. Doi:10. 1037/a0016839 Vander Zanden, James W. , Crandell, Thomas L. , Crandell, Corinne Haines (2007). Human Development. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Co. , Inc. Young, Gerald Ph. D (Oct. 4, 2011). How To Raise Your Children Naturally. Psychology Today.

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