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Bullying: Gender Differences

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Bullying: Gender Differences


Submitted by: Kelsey Lee
Submitted to: Mrs. Davies
Class: A
Date: 08/04/13

In yesterday’s society, bullying was most common in boys, whether it be that the boy is the bully or the victim. However, the percentage of girls that are being victimized or is bullying others is increasing daily. This is due to the social media, behaviour patterns, and newly defined gender roles society has taken on to a new level. The definition of bullying is not just simply to physically abuse a victim, but is now more common in verbal bullying as well as cyber bullying. In an experiment, girls and boys ages 8-18 were asked to give a brief definition of what the term bullying means to them (Vaillancourt et al, 2008). This will help the researchers to understand how the prime age group of bullying perceives and interpret different forms of bullying.

Review of the Literature

Bullying and behaviour patterns
Behaviour patterns are critical when examining a situation in which someone is being bullied, for both the bully and the victim. The percentage of bullying correlates to the way males and females act towards certain situations. Susan Swearer had found that women are more likely to threaten someone using relational aggression, for example, threatening to leave a relationship, whereas with men, they are more likely to use physical aggression (S. Swearer and D. Espelage, 2010). Women tend to act upon different situations calmly and would use their words instead of physically hurting someone.

Behaviour patterns do not only include the patters you act on, but being able to identify different situations that may lead to a form of bullying. In an experiment, 14 children across Europe and Asia were shown various cartoons of stick figures and were told to identify which cartoons involved any bullying behaviour (M. Underwood, 2002). The results showed that most of the children had a consistent understanding of identifying a bullying behaviour (M. Underwood, 2002). This will help to reduce the amount of bullying and decrease the amount of bystanders, due to the fact that they are able to identify bully behaviours, they are more inclined to stop the situation.

The after effects of being bullied can be identified easily, however in some situations; it is difficult to fully understand the situation that the victim is trying to convey. With children, ages 3-15, parents find it difficult to get through to their child about what had happened because the child may have a sense of fear of “ratting” or “snitching” on the bully, which in the child’s mind would make the situation worse than it already is.

Teenagers, however, are different. Teenagers will try and act as if nothing had happened, simply because they do not want their parents to get involved, they want to handle the situation on their own and be independent. Teenagers will often refer to the situation as “harassment” or “annoyance” and will avoid the word “bullying” as much as possible. Signs of a teenager who has been bullied may include isolation, skipping classes or extracurricular activities, and moodiness. Some teenagers may appear to their parents as rude. Identifying these signs at an early stage can help the victim from any decisions they might make.

Bullying and Gender Roles
Through this case study, fifty-five people were surveyed on their thoughts about bullying. In the end, their hypothesis was accurate, “women will have been bullied more than men; men will have bullied more than women; men will have been bullied more by males than by females; women will have primarily bullied and been bullied verbally and emotionally; and that people will believe that bullying decreases with age” (S. Wimmer, 2001). Throughout the surveys, questions such as “do men bully alone or in a group?” or “who do you think is bullied more, men or women?” (S. Wimmer, 2001). Gender roles have developed differently from what society was like decades ago. Today, it is not unusual for females to get involved in bullying situations, or may be the bully, but years ago, it was improper for a female to be involved.

The social media has impacted a major portion of this idea of gender roles. From movies and shows, such as The Big Bang Theory or Mean Girls, the behaviour portrayed in these shows and movies make men and women think that the behaviours they see in the media are allowed in today’s society, so they mimic what has been seen. As time goes on, more and more people are doing this, making it acceptable in society to act a certain way that once was foreign. The media also portrays certain behaviours that may change a person’s personality, making them more or less inclined to start a fight or not (J. Munro, 2006). Someone who was once a mature, intellectual, prioritizing woman can easily be changed into an immature woman who dropped out of school and does not care about the world through the media. This woman will be more likely to start a fight, whether it be with her friends, or rebelling against her parents. Media does influence people’s personality and may increase their probability to be involved in a situation where one is bullied.

Enough information has been acquired by many different researchers to agree that more men primarily physically bully, while women tend to bully one using emotions and psychology. Although the level of aggression is higher in man than women, a study has shown that women had been bullied more frequently than men. An experiment was conducted at the University of New Hampshire where 312 undergraduate students in the field of sociology were surveyed (K. Schlieper, 2009). Their hypothesis of the study was “college women are not more likely to get bullied than college women” (K. Schlieper, 2009).

Questions such as “Have you ever been bullied?” and “have you experienced emotional bullying?” were asked to these students (K. Schlieper, 2009). Their findings were that more than half of the females who were surveyed had been emotionally bullied by other females as well as had experience being bullied (K. Schlieper, 2009). In total, more females had been bullied physically and emotionally compared to men. This study contradicts other studies due to the fact that many studies suggest that men are bullied more due to their aggression, whereas the study conducted at the University of New Hampshire states that men are bullied less compared to the women.

In another study, researchers argue to agree that it is difficult to understand the relationship between gender differences and aggression because there is no specific definition and extent to the subtype of aggression. This is the problem that most researchers disagree with their studies because of the extent of the topic they are focusing on. There are always numerous levels of some sort of topic, so for researchers to completely agree, they must be on the same level.

To help fully understand the details on gender differences in bullying, experiments should be done where the researcher physically goes to a school, whether it is a high school or an elementary school, to examine the different behaviours children and teenagers have on a daily basis. This information can help to compare the daily behaviours with such behaviours occurring in a certain situation. It can be hypothesized that gender differences causes a big impact on bullying and they type or form of bullying people may use.

Certainly everyone goes through a situation where the gender difference is involved; people are just unaware of what is really going on in the situation. Eventually, the situation will fade, but what is important is for people to examine the situation to identify why the person is either bullying or being bullied, the type of bulling that is taking place, and what the after affects might come out of the situation, in order for people to understand the correlation between bullying and gender differences.

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