Bullies? What about them? (Part 1)
In May of 2002, I completed my Masteral thesis at De La Salle University which focused on bullying perceptions of adolescent students, school counselors, and teachers. One of my main research objectives back then was to define bullying in the eyes of Filipino’s as literature on the subject usually originates from the Australia, Europe, and the United States.
I discovered through several focus groups, individual interviews, and survey’s that local bullies are perceived to have an edge, usually physical, over their victims and that they are generally male, stronger, bigger, and older while victims are perceived as weaker, smaller, and younger. Bullies were described as physically and verbally intimidating and overpowering. Most respondents—students, teachers and counselors—believed that the goal of the bully is to dominate and assert his power over others. Some teachers even considered bullies to have problems on self-esteem and therefore, need attention while others perceived bullying as solely a way of drawing attention. Bullying behavior was commonly found in groups; these bullying groups are smaller, usually five to nine members, in the private school and larger, usually ten or more, in the public school. The primary targets of bullies in the public school are the female students while the primary targets in the private school are homosexuals. These targets were picked because they were perceived as different, weak, and unable to retaliate.
Bullying strategies usually included verbal insults, taunting, teasing, and name-calling. Pre-adolescents and adolescents subjected to such treatment were likely to be angry at and afraid of the bully. Another staggering revelation was that not all victims of bullying would turn to figures of authority such as mothers, teachers, counselors as some choose to confide in their friends and are reluctant to approach adults for assistance. In extreme cases, it is also not uncommon to see victims unwilling to go to school for fear of being bullied. From the perception of adolescent respondents, bullying is a frequent occurrence in the Filipino school setting, both public and private. Bullying involves a group which bullies their victim to the point that they lose face in the presence of other students. This experience of embarrassment or loss of face is akin to what earlier researchers in Filipino personality called Hiya. The phenomenon of hiya (shame, embarrassed, feeling of inadequacy) can be pivotal in understanding bullying in Filipino schools. Although the Filipino knows the meaning of hiya and napahiya (humiliated in the presence of others), the experience is a highly subjective one and dependent on the individual’s perception of the event. Article On the other hand, interviews of the guidance counselors and the teachers revealed a highly individualized approach to bullying behavior based on their personal values and preferences. At present, bullying behavior is not included in most school handbooks and this leaves the interpretation and intervention on the incident at the discretion of the guidance counselor and or the teacher. Given these findings, there is now a need more than ever for a forum of school authorities, teachers, counselors, students, and parents for the purpose of coming up with a working definition of bullying behavior in their school setting. With this working definition, the schools can develop appropriate interventions to address this growing problem.
*AS SEEN IN THE SEPTEMBER 2005 ISSUE OF BABY MAGAZINE