Bullies And The Balance Of Power

Sep 20, 2017 Letters > 0


Dear Editor,>

Inclusive Education is overcoming many barriers to accessing education that previous existed for the learner with Special Education Needs and/or disability. The inclusion of learners with Special Education Needs and/or disability into mainstream education will create many social challenges. These social challenges can affect all learners in an inclusive school environment. One of the major social challenges the learners in an inclusive learning environment will face is the bullying phenomenon.

Bullying in schools is a major problem in many countries and Guyana is no exception. Recent studies have shown that one in every four students which is equivalent to 22 percent report being bullied during the school year (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015). 64 percent of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36 percent reported the bullying

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. It is also defined as a form of low-intensity violence which occurs in schools and which may be labeled as a subtype of the aggression aimed at proving that the victim is psychologically weaker than the aggressor; the act of transgression is intentional and takes place at regular intervals over time.

In order for a behaviour or act to be considered bulling, it must meet some criteria judging the impact of the act or behaviour. These criteria state:

· The act/behaviour must involve a real or perceived power imbalance. The perceived power imbalance means that the bully is seen as having an advantage, edge, superior strength/force. The power imbalance is also created by wealth, family status and in this case having a Special Education Needs and or disability. In education, this power balance is often seen between the extreme academics and extreme athlete who are non-academics. With the onset of inclusive education, which gather all learners in a mainstream classroom, has led to the creation of new groups with a unique power imbalance. These two groups now include: learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and learners considered normal.

· The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. An isolated occurrence or behaviour cannot be considered bullying. The repetition does not always occur in an identical pattern. However, there are similarities to the original act/ behaviour. This may simply be the environment in which it occurs.

· The behaviour is intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally; cause discomfort, humiliate.

· The behaviour is often aimed at certain groups, eg because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation and now in schools at children with Special Education Needs and/or disabilities.

In order to fully understand the dynamics of bullying and organized support and solutions, mainstream teachers in Guyana need a comprehensive view and analysis of each unique occurrence and the environment it occurred in. In order to acquire that full understanding, we need to approach the analysis from a constructivist and social-ecological perspective.

Many studies of bullying, while providing important information, also tend to generalize about the components of the bullying dynamic, to make judgements about the individuals involved, and to deal more with the components than with the whole system. There is a tendency to make causal links between individuals and events, and to lock people into roles, adopting the deficit perspective. Using the deficit model, educators link cultural deprivation or other deficit like financial resources and poor academic performances to victims of bullying.

As one analyzes the phenomenon of bullying from recently conducted studies, there are two very salient findings. First, there was no difference in the rate of bullying between students in special education and those in regular mainstream education. This is a bit surprising as past studies have shown that kids with special needs (for example learning disabilities) are at higher risk for being victimized Why the discrepancy in the results of these recent studies as against the previous studies? One possibility is that the rates of bullying may be changing. Specifically, most data on special education and bullying comes from studies conducted in the 90s.

It is possible that the rates of bullying (or at least the self-report of bullying) in general education classrooms is increasing and now stands equal (about 10-15%) than among students in special education. Another possibility is that previous studies were conducted with very small sample sizes and that these recent studies more accurately reflect the rates of bullying in general population.

A second surprising finding is that both bullies and victims in special education seem to perform better overtime than bullies and victims in regular education. Why? This effect may reflect the effectiveness of the special education program. That is, it is likely that kids in special education receive more targeted interventions that help them modulate the harmful effects of bullying.

The final thought is that there is no significant variation of the act of bullying for regular education and special education. The occurrences and impact disrupt education and the social well- being of both the victim and the bully in both educational settings. Guyanese mainstream teachers especially those in inclusive education settings or even learning environments that practice integration need to reflect upon this.

Lidon Lashley B.Ed., M.Ed., M.A.SEN

Source : https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2017/09/20/an-analysis-of-bullying-in-the-mainstream-school-system/

An analysis of bullying in the mainstream school system
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