Thursday, January 29, 2015

Community Safety Bullying Covert Bullying Cyber Bullying "Covert bullying as an emerging social phenomenon" Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study Child Health Promotion Research Centre Edith Cowan University W.A May 2009 Bullying at School Workplace Bullying Indirect Bullying Relational Bullying Spurious Complaints Spurious Whistleblowing False Reports Stalking Surveillance Vigilantism Hyper-Vigilantism Female Aggression



With the growing data indicating that, for both boys and girls, 

covert forms of bullying are likely to ‘cause the greatest amount of suffering, 

while they have a greater chance of going unnoticed by teachers’ [122], 



it is clear that the old saying 

‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me’ 

is not only inaccurate, but is also dangerous 

in that it has marginalised the importance of covert bullying 

in the context of school bullying policy and teacher awareness. 


"...may have had an isogenic effect, forcing students to find more covert forms of bullying [108]. 

Borkqvist [109] used the term the ‘effect-to-danger ratio’ 

to suggest that in inflicting harm on another person or group of people, 

individuals look for forms of bullying that will have the greatest effect 

while minimising their risk of being caught or placed in danger."



Edith Cowan University 2009



http://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/australian_covert_bullying_prevalence_study_chapter_2.pdf 




"...has been to date only minimal attention given to the definition and understanding

of covert bullying (aka indirect or relational bullying)."



"...school harassment policies have focused primarily on curtailing physical and direct aggression, 

and have placed less emphasis on establishing school-wide policies 

to address indirect (or covert or relational) bullying 

(e.g. rumour spreading, isolation and social seclusion which is more hidden)."




"...had the fewest children reporting being bullied in the playground, 

implying that a shift had taken place towards the use of more covert bullying 

and less noticeable bullying behaviour,  

as a result of better playground supervision."



"...reactions to physical bullying, verbal bullying, and
social exclusion, 

Yoon and Kerber [117] found significant differences in teacher reactions across all three bullying types, 

with teachers showing significantly less empathy towards, and involvement in, dealing with relational aggression (covert or indirect bullying).




"Studies are increasingly indicating that students are less likely to report incidences of covert bullying 

than overt physical or verbal aggressive behaviour [84; 116; 118], because they felt they could not
count on teachers and administrators intervening to stop the bullying, 

suggesting that instead teachers tended to ignore or dismiss 

the (covert bullying) behaviour [83; 112; 119]."





"...may have had an isogenic effect, forcing students to find more covert forms of bullying [108]. 

Borkqvist [109] used the term the ‘effect-to-danger ratio’ 

to suggest that in inflicting harm on another person or group of people, 

individuals look for forms of bullying that will have the greatest effect 

while minimising their risk of being caught or placed in danger."




http://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/australian_covert_bullying_prevalence_study_chapter_2.pdf 
 






2.2 Covert bullying as an emerging social phenomenon





The nature of all forms of bullying means that it tends to occur where adult supervision is low or absent.
Studies conducted in various countries have found it to be one of the most under-reported of all abuses
[79], and although under reporting has generally been viewed as a result of the shame associated with
victimisation, Olweus et al. [106] suggests that the inconsequential or inappropriate response of teachers
and/or parents was another reason why only a small proportion of young people report bullying.
Policies introduced in most schools across Australia as a result of the National Safe Schools Framework
have attempted to change the views and responses of principals and teachers to bullying, from one
that in the past treated problems and managed crises, to one based on the promotion of positive
social environments and behaviours [58]. To this end, the National Safe Schools Framework incorporates
a comprehensive mandate that requires changes to: policy and practice; classroom management
and curriculum; school ethos; school, home and community links; student teams; and the physical
environment. In practice, however, schools have finite resources and capacity to address bullying.
Consequently, they must adopt policies and practices that are most appropriate to their situations.
Past national research indicates approximately 50 per cent of reported bullying happens during school
break times [4; 107]. The most widely adopted responses by schools have emphasised: improving active
supervision by duty staff; increasing their visibility and consistency of response; modifying teacher duty
areas to cover ‘hot spots’ of high bullying prevalence; encouraging understanding of social rights and
responsibilities among all bystanders; and using student supporters to encourage bullied students to
seek help from a trusted adult.

While these policies and practices have served to reduce the cases of ‘visible’, physical school yard
aggression, evidence is emerging that where they have been implemented in isolation of broader policies
aimed at improving the overall behaviour and ethos of the whole school environment, inadvertently, they
may have had an isogenic effect, forcing students to find more covert forms of bullying [108]. Borkqvist [109]
used the term the ‘effect-to-danger ratio’ to suggest that in inflicting harm on another person or group of
people, individuals look for forms of bullying that will have the greatest effect while minimising their risk
of being caught or placed in danger. 

Similarly, Craig, Pepler and Atlas [110] found that bullying generally
reflects the constraints of the situation, with covert bullying being more common in the classroom,
whereas overt bullying is more common in the school yard. In a detailed study of the content of 

antibullying
policies in the UK, Woods and Wolkes showed a significantly higher incidence of relational
bullying, as opposed to overt bullying, in those schools that had detailed and comprehensive anti-bullying
policies, compared with schools that had less thorough policies [108]. Interestingly, their study found that
despite schools with strong policy scores showing higher incidences of relational bullying, they also
Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study 17

had the fewest children reporting being bullied in the playground, implying that a shift had taken place
towards the use of more covert bullying and less noticeable bullying behaviour, as a result of better
playground supervision. In line with these findings, Archer and Coyne [111] have surmised that where
schools’ policies and practices have increased the costs of overt aggression, without simultaneously
implementing strategies to increase the costs of indirect forms of bullying, they have unintentionally
created fertile grounds for the emergence of covert bullying.
Similarly, Ferrell-Smith [88] points out that many American school harassment policies have focused
primarily on curtailing physical and direct aggression, and have placed less emphasis on establishing
school-wide policies to address indirect bullying (e.g. rumour spreading, isolation and social seclusion
which is more hidden). While this may in part be due to teachers’ lack of training and awareness of
how to recognise covert forms of bullying [112], a recent study by Bauman and Del Rio [83] also found that
teachers have tended to treat covert bullying as a less serious issue and have less empathy for children
who are bullied through relational means rather than through overt physical and verbal bullying, and as
such are less likely to intervene to prevent it. Equally, other studies noted that teachers were less likely to
include relational or covert forms of bullying in their definitions of bullying behaviour [113-115] and considered
it to be less problematic [116]. Moreover, in a modified version of the Bullying Attitude Questionnaire [110]
aimed at rating primary school teachers’ attitudes and reactions to physical bullying, verbal bullying, and
social exclusion, Yoon and Kerber [117] found significant differences in teacher reactions across all three
bullying types, with teachers showing significantly less empathy towards, and involvement in, dealing
with relational aggression.
The importance of school personnel and adults’ reactions to covert bullying cannot be emphasised
enough. 

Studies are increasingly indicating that students are less likely to report incidences of covert
bullying than overt physical or verbal aggressive behaviour [84; 116; 118], because they felt they could not
count on teachers and administrators intervening to stop the bullying, suggesting that instead teachers
tended to ignore or dismiss the behaviour [83; 112; 119].

When developing and evaluating comprehensive programs for the prevention of school bullying, like the
National Safe Schools Framework, it is imperative that they implement all components of the package
[120]. Teachers are essential to intervention efforts [121] and it is crucial to address both their attitudes
to different forms of bullying, as well as their awareness of, and confidence in, how to deal with more
covert forms of bullying [83]. 

With the growing data indicating that, for both boys and girls, covert forms of
bullying are likely to ‘cause the greatest amount of suffering, while they have a greater chance of going unnoticed by teachers’ [122], 

it is clear that the old saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but
names will never harm me’ is not only inaccurate, but is also dangerous in that it has marginalised the
importance of covert bullying in the context of school bullying policy and teacher awareness. 

As Hazler
et al. [116] observed, the mistaken notion that physical and/or overt bullying is more serious than relational
bullying needs to be reversed. School anti-bullying programs need to address the issues underlying
18 Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study
the reasons why young people are bullying or being bullied, using whole-school approaches aimed at
developing a positive school ethos and culture through teaching pro-social values, such as acceptance
of differences and compassion [16; 77; 123; 124]. Unless they do this, they run the risk of simply managing the
immediate symptoms of the problem rather than developing long-term solutions. While there is growing
agreement that covert bullying needs to be integrated into school policies and practices [78; 83; 116; 117], there
has been to date only minimal attention given to the definition and understanding of covert bullying.


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