Effects of Childhood Bullying on Specific Ethnic Minorities Currently Residing in Boston MA

Chapter 1: Introduction

Historical Background

Bullying is an act of using coercion or force to abuse or oppress others. It has negative psychological effects on both the victim and the bully. The victim may be traumatized for life and such individuals suffer from low self-esteem. Bullying consists of both physical and verbal abuse. Extensive studies have been conducted by psychologists on bullying. A review of background profiles of most bullies indicates that these individuals suffer from psychological disturbances. With the advent of information technology, bullying has gone a notch higher. Cyber bullying is also becoming a common form of bullying across the world, which affects the youth through the spread of emails and text messages. The social media has presented a platform for individuals to spread rumors and hurl insults at others. With this form of bullying, in most cases, the perpetrators remain anonymous and it is difficult to address online bullying. According to research by Harris (2009), cases of bullying happen at every seventh minute in playgrounds. In classrooms, such coercion occurs once in every 25 minutes. Therefore, this problem has remained the focus of many psychologists and sociologists, due to the concerns about the consequences of bullying. Therefore, there is an urgent need for schools, education and sports institutions to take initiatives to eradicate bullying (Harris, 2009).

In this context, parents have a crucial role to play in guiding their children to report bullying. Most children do not disclose their feelings to their parents when they are bullied online. Thus, parent/child relationships form a significant element that will help overcome the severe effects of bullying. Child bullying is not just limited to physical abuse but also includes verbal abuse. Similarly, bullying on the basis of ethnic background and sexual orientation is quite common and various studies have been conducted in the past to address these issues (ScholarlyEditions, 2011). The issue of child bullying and its effects on the victims have remained one of the most researched subjects in academia. In the last 20 years, there have been over 600 studies aimed at understanding the reasons for bullying, incidences, and their implications on the victims. A new study on a selected ethnic group will shed more insights on the problem of bullying. Therefore, it is important to compare the findings from the present study with those that are already published. This will help in understanding the status of bullying in schools.

Problem Statement

Bullying can carry life-long consequences for both the victims and perpetrators. Besides, this behavior may also affect other students, who witness such atrocities being inflicted on others. The problem leaves an indelible mark and the long-term emotional trauma on victims. In order to attain a realistic view of the seriousness of this issue and the intensity of its impact on the victimized children, the short and long terms effects of bullying need to be investigated thoroughly. Additionally, there is need to appreciate that the bullying experience in childhood continues to affect people during their adult lives. In most cases, childhood victims harbor feelings of hatred towards the perpetrators for life. Thus, the effects of bullying are severe due to the long-term emotional trauma caused by bullying. Moreover, the short-term effects of bullying are also severe and they may adversely affect the life of an individual. There are numerous incidences of suicide and self-harm amongst bullied children, adolescents, and even adults. This is often triggered by feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem, fear and guilt (Marin, 2011).

A more disturbing fact is the high incidence of bullying because of racial discrimination. This has been noted for people belonging to minority ethnic groups and specifically the African Americans residing in Boston, MA. Most of them are either immigrants from countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya or they are born in the US to migrant parents from these countries. In the modern, civilized world, such discrimination is intolerable in a country like the US that upholds the creed of equality and freedom.

Thus, the bullying of African Americans students of Ugandan, Kenyan, and Nigerian descent in Boston, MA schools should be addressed immediately. It is already established that bullying afflicts far-reaching psychological damage on victims. In this context, the present study is somewhat similar to the previous studies including Moran, Smith, Thompson, & Whitney (2011) and Vervoort, Scholte, & Overbeek (2010) investigating differences in child bullying experiences and effects amongst children of different age and ethnic groups. These studies are highly relevant, as they have been undertaken in Boston education institutions. Thus, it will be possible to conduct a comparative analysis between the findings of past studies and those produced by the present study. It is the duty of the United States administration and all authorities to ensure equality and rights of every citizen of the country, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or the region to which they belong. Thus, when discrimination is exhibited towards African American children born to immigrants from Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya, who are studying in schools in Boston MA, the government needs to intervene and eradicate such mistreatment. Moreover, there is an urgent need to identify effective measures that can help the school authorities effectively address and solve this problem.

Rationale

The most significant reason behind choosing this social issue for the current research is the growing amount of bullying cases in Boston schools and playgrounds. Victims are largely children born of Kenyan, Ugandan and Kenyan immigrants. The situation has been found so severe as to warrant immediate remedial action. It has been estimated that around 200 million children throughout the world are bullied every year. The figures are astonishing and indicate the threat of bullying on the social environments of developed countries such as USA, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Racially motivated bullying in a country like the US, which upholds human rights and fundamental freedoms (justice and equality) cannot be tolerated. Thus, many of the concerned bodies are attempting to resolve the situation through the introduction of different campaigns against bullying (Vaughn, et al., 2010; Boulton, et al., 2007). Another significant factor to be considered is that the effects of bullying continue to manifest on individuals even in their adulthood, thus leading to lifelong psychological problems. Countries like Australia have a system where almost all schools have developed strategies and policies to safeguard their children from being bullied. When one considers the disastrous effects of bullying that may last for life, there emerges a great need to investigate the problem in order to formulate solutions that can effectively contain bullying (Vernberg & Biggs, 2010). Though in the US, authorities have made some efforts to address the issue of child bullying and its adverse effects through some preventive programs, it appears that these measures are not adequate. Hence, the legislature requires greater accountability from schools to develop and implement active policies in order to prevent, record, and take cognizant and affirmative actions in such incidences (Guerra, Williams, & Sadek, 2011). Therefore, a research on a selected ethnic group can help identify the specific issues relating to the problem and help design effective counter measures to address them.

Research Aims and Objectives

The aim of the study is to understand the phenomenon of bullying and its short-term and long-term impacts on the people who were bullied as children and to suggest the measures that can address this issue. The primary objective of the present study is to investigate both the long-term and short-term impacts of bullying on the adult lives of African American individuals of Nigerian, Kenyan, and Ugandan descent currently residing in Boston, MA. The secondary objective focuses on the differences of bullying effects among different ethnic groups. This research will also assess the current measures in the country to address the issue and endorse suitable recommendations as to what additional efforts could be made to address the problem.

Methodology

The scope of the study encompasses the identification of psychological and social issues related to bullying. A discussion and analysis will be carried out on the experiences of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, especially African background, as concerns child bullying and its effect on their adult lives. Both primary and secondary data will be considered for the purpose of the investigation into the consequences of bullying and the psychological effects it has on children of immigrant parents from countries such as Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, who are studying in the schools in Boston, MA. Primary data will be obtained via administration of a survey questionnaire on a sample population from the selected background i.e., Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya residing in Boston, US, who will be enrolled for the study. The questions will include both closed-ended and open-ended questions, primarily to derive information of the earlier bullying experience as students. The survey will seek to extract information relating to how the bullying has impacted them throughout their adult lives and any current existing effect if applicable. The subjects will include the affected population falling in the range of 18 to 55 years so that the bullying habits of recent years, as well as in the earlier days, can be understood. They will also be asked whether any of their children, currently studying in schools, face the problem of bullying. If so, the nature of bullying and whether it is targeted to a specific ethnic group will also be ascertained. In addition, attempts will also be made to ascertain information related to bullying through the school authorities, such as teachers and principals or administrative staff. For a study of this magnitude, the data collected have to consider both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the issue of bullying. Thus, the researcher will consider a mixed method approach for collecting relevant data. The findings of the study will envisage the experiences of child bullying and its impact on individuals belonging to different countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya who are currently the residents of Boston, MA.

Terminologies

  • Bullying: Intentional use of force, aggression, or influence on others to intimidate them.
  • Verbal Bullying: Intimidating individuals through the use of insult, aggressive, teasing, or racist language.
  • Physical Bullying: Hurting someone with the use of power and using physical strength to cause pain to others.
  • Psychological Bullying: Exhibiting behavior that involves use of subtle methods of coercion.
  • Intelligence Quotient: Test score that is indicative of an individual's cognitive ability vis a vis that of the general population.