When talking about bullying I have noticed there is a tendency to focus a lot about the victimcs of bullying (at least in Denmark). How can these children be helped, supported and come back to a normal school life again with as little damage as possible. Of course there has to be a focus on the pupils being bullied. They need help and support to overcome these unpleasant episodes, but at the same time I also believe there has to be bigger a focus on the pupils who bully. How can they be turned around so that they do not just find themselves another victim or keep bullying their previous victim?
Last year Aarhus Universitet in Denmark made a study on bullying and well-being in lower secondary education classes in three different municipalities in the surrounding area of Copenhagen. The study is a part of a bigger research project called “Exbus” (Exploring Bullying in Schools). The study showed significant differences between the pupils being bullied and the pupils who bully. Pupils who bully often feel sick and tired of the academic content in the school and feel unhappy about their teachers, with whom they also have a bad relationship. In contrast the victims of bullying are more likely to feel happy about the academic content, their teachers and about learning in generel. Another significant difference is that the pupils being bullied expect better grades than the pupils bullying. So overall the pupils who bully do not like or expect much of the academic aspect of the school.
I think this study is very interesting because it finds a significant difference between the thoughts and feelings the pupils being bullied have and the thought and feelings the pupils bullying have towards the academic aspect of the school. There seems to be a correlation between bullying and the pupils’ point of view on going to school.
After seing these study results Helle Rabøl Hansen, Inge Henningsen and Jette Kofoed, who were responsible for the study, hypothesize that if schooling makes no sense for the children then being in a community of bullying can. According to these scientists the children whose main interest is not on the academic aspect will focus more on the social hierarchy. For those students the essential part of schooling becomes getting to the top of the popularity scale – and that can be done through bullying. From my perspective it is disturbing that Danish schools are designed like that – if you don’t feel any solidarity in the teaching settings you have to turn towards a community with bullying. But even though it is concerning it is at the same time a step towards knowing what to do about the pupils who bully – they need academic motivation. If school interest works in a preventive way there needs to be a focus on these pupils’ motivation and to get them into some sort of solidarity in the teaching settings. Then they would not need the the community that bullying gives them.