It is during Middle School that this first becomes a social ideal.."..Studies indicate that starting in middle school, bullies are considered 'cool,' while their victims are rejected from the social milieu." (Smith-Heavenrich) Early adolescence is when the competitive, cutthroat mindset begins to emerge in the form of bullying.
Statistically, bullying is staggering. Half of all violence against teenagers occurs not on the streets or at home, but on school property, where students are supposedly being enriched. There are between 500 and 600 thousand attacks every month in public schools alone. Bullying causes over 28 million student absences every year because students are afraid to even go to school because of the cruel treatment. Bullying is so widespread that about 80% of all students report having been the victim of bullying at some point in their school career. At any particular time, 15% of the school population is made of victims of bullying. An estimated 75% of students are witnesses or spectators to bullying, the majority of whom are themselves passive bullies because they do not interfere in any way, and many of whom actively support the bullying. These figures may be smaller than the actual numbers, because most bullying is not reported. These numbers remain so high even after years of media attention because of a number of factors. In most cases, "Bullies do not respond to mediation. It will not change their behavior. Many adults believe that bullying is natural and kids need to learn to cope with it. Many adults when subjected to bullying behaviors [such as] harassment or assault... can use civil courts or criminal complaints. Most kids have little or no such recourse." (BCL)
As many as 25% of aggressive bullies are female, but a far greater number are passive bullies. The reason that girls may flock to being passive bullies is because "there is a "hidden culture of girls' aggression," spawned by a society that denies girls the right to deal with conflict openly.... girls turn to covert forms of aggression...." (Bach) Girls are unable to express themselves fully or gain power in a male-dominated society otherwise, so being the support for aggressive males can gain social status and protection. Male bullying is usually marked by fist fights, vandalism, and sexual harassment, in an attempt to intimidate, control, humiliate, or dominate others. Female bullies are more commonly motivated by a desire to manipulate others, character assassination, or to hurt the feelings of other people. " Tactics most commonly used include name-calling, spreading false rumors, and isolating the victim from others. However, girls may also engage in physically aggressive behavior." (ORP) Some experts claim that "the harshest bullies in schools are girls."
Although the majority of bullies are boys, there are also a significant number of female bullies. Likewise, when bullying is addressed, usually only aggressive bullying is acknowledged. There is also passive bullying, which may be inflicted by the majority of the student population in some cases. Passive bullies associate with or support the active, aggressive bullies, providing an audience which encourages the behavior. Early adolescence is one of the harshest periods for victims of bullying because of the social and developmental changes that the student population is experiencing during that time, and bullies are seeking a way to gain popularity and respect. Passive bullies are also looking for approval, popularity, and protection by associating with the aggressive bullies. Bullying in schools is encouraged by our social makeup which encourages aggressive and cutthroat behavior in order to succeed in the professional world.
Bach, Deborah. "Not All Young Bullies are Boys." Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 27 January 2004. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/158176_bully27.html
Bartini, Maria; Brooks, Fred; Pellegrini, Anthony. "School Bullies, Victims, and Aggressive Victims: Factors Relating to Group Affiliation and Victimization in Early Adolescence." Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 91, Issue 2. 1 June 1999. Pages 0022-0663.