The Effects of Bullying Behaviors in School Research Proposal

Introductory Section

Literature Review

Multiple studies have been conducted to assess bullying behaviors in school. The studies identified the origins of bullying mentality and various approaches that help in adopting particular forms of intervention. In contrast to the informational researches, there is less information about effects of bullying in schools (Hodson, Roscingo, & Lopez, 2006). In order to address the issue of bullying to the full extent, it is important to identify the long-term and short-term results of the behavior for victims, bullies and bystanders.

Bullying is unacceptable and dangerous in all its forms, as it involves negative consequences for all the participants. Allison Shaffer in her study claims that first and foremost, bullying has far-reaching and serious effects on victims rather than on abusers (Marin, 2011). The number of researches has been done in an attempt to understand the nature of psychological symptoms and their persistence in the adulthood. It is worth admitting that children, who are bullied, often act much younger than is appropriate for their age. The slower rate of the behavioral development can be explained by the fact that they actively attempt to protect themselves from the hostile environment. However, the action results in the increase of teasing, which elevates troubling of the victims (Namie, 2007). The situation is particularly destructive in the pre-teen years, when a child is trying to build and maintain personal relationship with the classmates. The intimidating treatment may have lifelong negative consequences on the individual’s ability to interact successfully with other people.

The subject of psychological consequences in pre-teen and adolescent ages requires the particular in-depth analysis of such effects as anxiety and depression. In the teenage years, individuals prefer to act independently and deny any assistance, especially from the adults and authority figures. At the same time, coping with bullying is extremely difficult situation for teens. Thus, they usually fail to address with the psychologic maturity (NoBullying.com, 2015). Hence, adolescents start internalizing the problem, which motivates the feelings of helplessness and anxiety to emerge (Bates & Swan, 2014). The continuous presence of the diminishing feelings usually leads to the development of anxiety and depression disorders. Additionally, the unnoticed cases of bullying are likely to result in eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that children, who are bullied, are likely to develop serious psychological and physical disorders in the nearest future. Crothers and Levinson admit such issues as problems with concentration, a high degree of depressive state, and other self-oriented disorders (Marin, 2011). To the largest extent, victims are tending to act violently towards others as a result of their personal feelings of helplessness and lasting suffering. Therefore, a need for investigation of the psychological consequences of bullying behaviors in school is crucial in the long-term framework, as victims are also regarded as potential sources of violence in the future. Thus, the problem is related to concepts and disciplines, which are beyond basic concepts of psychology (NoBullying.com, 2015). In fact, bullying behaviors in school pose a definite threat to a socio-cultural environment of a contemporary school.

Apart from long-reaching effects of bullying, victims may demonstrate immediate behavioral reactions that threaten school culture. The research conducted by Smokowski and Kopasz focuses on the impact of bullying on social and physiological health (Harold, 2007). The authors promote a certain view that the victims of physical bullying are more likely to miss classes regularly. Hence, the victims demonstrate poor academic performance and have no interest in school, as long as they perceive it to be the place of danger. Holt, Finkelhor and Kantor maintain that the pervasive feeling of fear eventually disturbs the overall school climate (Harold, 2007). For instance, in response to the fear, a student may ultimately become involved in illegal actions, such as carrying weapons in school. Further, in the comprehensive research, Hall makes the relevant observation that the bullied children may develop delinquent behavior in the future (Harold, 2007).

Research Problem

The issue of bullying emerges mainly among teenagers, who are easily affected by deviant and aggressive behaviors. Thus, it needs to be prevented to ensure the socio-cultural stability.

Based on the aforementioned points, the current research will focus on the definition and analysis of effects of bullying behaviors in schools. Resultant from the complexity of the issue, the current study will investigate the problem from several perspectives. The first perspective is the approach of the victims of bullying, as long as the group is most likely to face negative affects both in short and long-term. At the same time, bullies suffer from the behaviors as well. Thus, the second perspective of the research focuses on bullies (Lutgen-Sandvik & Sypher, 2009). The third perspective is the bullying consequences for bystanders as witnesses of acts of victimization. The witnesses are also affected to a particular extent; thus the touches upon the third-party problem. As long as Internet communication has created a new paradigm of cyberbullying, the phenomenon should be reviewed and compared to bullying in real life circumstances as the fourth angle (Rogers, 2010). The four perspectives are essential for the solution of the problem. The current knowledge of the bullying phenomenon is extensive, but emerging of cyberbullying paradigm makes many researchers approach the problem from a different angle. Therefore, the current study perceives the Internet problem as a potential indication for the connection between cyber and real life bullying (Rogers, 2010). It is possible to argue that cyberbullying is not related to bullying in schools. Moreover, school is the main location where teenagers communicate. Hence, causes of cyberbullying are tending to emerge in school environment. Besides, bullying has become an element of informal school culture; thus, the contemporary society considers harassment as a natural phenomenon. Moreover, bullying is a deviant behavioral model, as 60% of school bullies carry weapons by the age of 24 (Tusinski, 2008). The statistics obviously prove social, demographic, and cultural threats of bullying in schools. Thus, the phenomenon has to be addressed to develop the counteracting measures.

Hypothesis

Following from the literature background, the hypothesis of the current study has to be based on the hypothesis that all parties of the act of bullying tend to behave violently in the future. The assumption is related mainly to abusers and victims, but a role of bystanders also comprises the entire phenomenon of school bullying. The third party group is likely to develop aggressive behaviors as well. Therefore, the paper will particularly focus on long-term effects, since they are the most dangerous from the perspective of social, cultural, and demographic considerations. The study will base on a combination of primary and secondary qualitative and quantitative data analysis. The variables of the research will be introduced in the following section.

Operational Definitions

The dependent variables of the current study are the number of the participants in act of bullying in schools: abusers, victims, and bystanders. The independent variables will be determined as various effects produced by bullying behaviors. The hypothesized consequences include violence, helplessness, anxiety, depression, deviant and dangerous behaviors. By the same token, the evidence of cyberbullying and the related effects should be identified as the independent variable, since it will be analyzed together with the real life bullying data. The main purpose of the analysis is to determine whether acts of bullying are moved to a cyberspace with the same participants. Moreover, the analysis will attempt to identify the presence of intensified effects in the cyberspace. However, cyberbullying may be transferred to the real life. The factor plays a role in choosing the methodology for the study.

Methods

Participants

The participants of the research will be divided into three groups: the abusers, the victims, and the witnesses of bullying in schools. Since the majority of cases occur among adolescent school students, the teen age group will be chosen as preliminary. According to the recent statistics, 95% of teens feel inferior in some period of their lives (Stage of Life, 2015). At the same time, 85% feel superior for the majority of the days. 41% of teens expressed the need to make someone else feel inferior. In fact, research witnessed the trend: 95% of teenagers are likely to become victims of bullying, 85% are bystanders, while 41% are the bullies (Stage of Life, 2015). The participants will be chosen through random sampling method from different schools within the state. The major population of interest consists of schools that were reported in mass media with controversial cases of bullying. The distinct effects of bullying are the major goal of the research. Thus, research procedure includes certain observations. To be more specific, the first step of study is observation and recording of evidence of bullying in schools. The second stage is the interview with the participants.

Interviewing will present insights into the bullying effects and ensures the consent of the interviewees, as they will be asked direct questions. The parents and teachers should consent to the participation of certain teenagers in the research. Participants will not be informed about conducted research and observation in order not to interfere with the natural environment (Lutgen-Sandvik, & McDermott, 2008). The focus groups with teachers and parents will ensure the relevance of results and leverage of recorded data. Moreover, the clear definition of data collection methods is needed to avoid the possibility of data confusion. Hence, the instrumentation should be specified.

Instrumentation

The exact procedure of data collection involves recording of the dependent variables in accordance with a number of abusers, victims, and bystanders. The number of acts of bullying per schools will be counted separately on the case basis. The recording will be conducted via observation within at least three days for every chosen school in the state. In addition, participants will be interviewed in the end of the observation. The results of interviews will be correlated to the literature review and the recorded data from observation to determine the evidence of bullying and corresponding behavior of the participants. Long-term effects will be predicted as long as qualitative and quantitative data presents a meaningful basis for forecasting. To return to the subject of bullying evidence, the related statistics will be interpreted for the prediction of overall increase of bullying cases in schools. However, application of the independent variables should be also considered.

The independent variables will be determined as the permanent effects of bullying. The participants will be observed at the moment of mistreatment and during the entire school day. The lasting approach to observation will help to formulate the exact list of effects, which are likely to worsen in a longer time frame. Thus, the most prevailing and long-term outcomes of bullying will be indicated through the observation. It is also pivotal to place the emphasis on the interviewing of teachers and parents as they might give important information concerning frequency of the Internet use by their children. The data will help to determine the impact of cyberbullying on the rate of bullying in schools as well as its long-term consequences. Hence, the results of cyberbullying will be recorded independently for the further comparative analysis.

Procedure

The method of observation is suggested for the investigation as its application to the research contains evident advantages. Observations presuppose a direct viewing and coding of observed behaviors and comparing them with the reported outcomes in literature (Biggs & Vernberg, 2010). Observation can be conducted within a short period of time, but the process of recording and analyzing will include more data from qualitative data collection and literature review. The method gives a chance to evaluate the phenomenon in a larger context as the participants’ behaviors will be observed in the different situations to pinpoint the explicit cases of bullying (Biggs & Vernberg, 2010). Some researchers suggest that participants have to be aware of the observation because their behaviors alter in a positive manner even though they lose track of the observers.

Interviewing is also an effective method for research and diagnosis of bullying behaviors. The semi-structure data collection method is helpful for acquisition of more detailed and comprehensive information, especially concerning internalization of adolescents’ behaviors (Biggs & Vernberg, 2010). Moreover, the specific complex of interview modules for bullying diagnosis will provide the effective interviewing procedure as every single module contains questions regarding predetermined effects. Therefore, a teenager, who was observed to develop a depression disorder, will be asked the related questions in order to specify the role of bullying in occurrence of clinical condition (Biggs & Vernberg, 2010). As a result, observation and interviewing will collect sufficient data for assessment of bullying behaviors function. In other words, collected data will be compared with already designed patterns of bullying behavior to indicate the typical antecedents and consequences. Functional behavioral assessment is especially crucial for investigation of cyberbullying effects because the other means of data leverage can be identified. The current study will be limited to a particular extent. The following section describes the limitations.

Limitations

Since the investigation will utilize the method of observation, the time and distance constraint is evident. An observer is not able to follow the participants everywhere so that certain behaviors can remain unnoticed. The knowledge gap will be filled via application of interviewing. The focus group can render comprehensive and detailed information. The limitations can be potentially expanded in the investigation of cyber bullying effects as accessibility to the related data is initially framed. Hence, the current study will rely heavily on functional behavior assessment and specific interview modules. The primary data sources are insufficient, but they will provide suggestions for the further research. Nevertheless, vagueness of the results makes the comparative analysis ambiguous as initial variables of cyberbullying are insufficiently supported by the evidence and statistics. The internal limitations obtain technical nature so that any deviations can be leveraged. On the contrary, external elements are the matter of objective real situation and should be studied independently.

The external limitations for the study will be spotted in difficulties with recording of dependent and independent variables. To be more specific, several participants may take part in various acts of bullying in different roles; thus, the qualitative and quantitative assessments are complicated. Likewise, they may face effects, which were not predetermined by the literature review. Still, the surprising evidence has to be recorded as they are an evident sign of gap in knowledge related to the research problem. However, the most complicated limitation is the absence of measurements of qualitative data. Feelings of the participants cannot be measured clearly to apply tracing of particular behavioral patterns. The limitation can be controlled with careful recording of the qualitative data, especially in regards to the fact that even minor effects of bullying behaviors may produce the negative impact in the future.

Data Collection

The data will be collected from various schools in the state. Schools, which were reported to have a high bullying rate, will be visited on the priority basis. The collection of data via observations and interviewing will be completed within no more than three days per a chosen school. The observer will receive an initial permission from the school’s administration and parents to conduct a research. Then, the observer will visit school secretly from students. In the end of the research period, interviews will be conducted. All procedures are the duty of the researcher; thus, assistants will not be needed. Data will be recorded manually and then transferred digitally into the Excel chart. The interpretation of results will be visualized by means of graphs, charts, and tables. The training is recommended to last no more than seven days (Finn & Krysik, 2013). The main objective of the training is design of protocol, which can be used as a guide for the factual collection of data. The protocol is advised to include the following items. Firstly, it should clearly indicate the object of data collection for the independent as well as the dependent variables (Finn & Krysik, 2013). Secondly, any policies and guidelines have to be included in order to avoid conflicts and violations of legal perspectives. Thirdly, the overview of the research should be included because the researcher may deviate from the initial purpose of data collection (Finn & Krysik, 2013). Fourthly, specific recommendations for behavior, voice, intonation, and attire of the researcher are compulsory for the protocol. Fifthly, schedule and time management manual is useful for the investigation. Finally, the templates of modules for interviews have to be enclosed.

Data Analysis

With regard to the primary hypothesis of the study, the data will be analyzed from the perspective of correlation between quantitative and qualitative data. The number of school bullying cases will be compared to the degrees of the produced effects. The research will indicate the exact number of cases with a particular dominant effect. The dominance of the effects will be determined on the basis of exceeding 60% of cases. Situations, which contain equal percentage of effects, will be investigated separately with application of supportive data (teachers’ and parents’ interviews). As for the comparative analysis, the data for cyberbullying and for real-life bullying will be compared and contrasted because the source of the information for the second data set is not valid. The correlation between both types of bullying will be distinguished by identification of the similarities of effects. To be more exact, the comparative analysis will determine the initial type of bullying and the derived type with intensified effects.

Overall, the positive testing of the hypothesis is expected to include more than 50% of the cases to show the dominant effects. The comparative analysis is expected to show the correlation between cyberbullying and the same behaviors in school, which will become a subject for the further investigation. It is also worth saying that the data will be leveraged by application of teachers’ and parents’ interview results as they will present the cases at the more objective angle. The technique will be used for elimination of any vagueness of data or in case none of correlations demonstrate the expected results.

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