RISK FACTORS (Olweus, 1996)
Factors to identify possible BULLIES:
they repetitively make fun of others in a nasty way,
they reprove, intimidate, threaten, insult, deride, ridicule, order others;
they push, kick and punch, damage other people’s belongings ecc.;
they can behave this way towards many other students, but they tend to aim at the weakest and defenceless ones;
furthermore, many stay in the background and push some of their followers to act as ‘manpower’.
Characteristics of a BULLY:
- they can be physically stronger than their classmates, and in particular than their victims;
- they can be the same age or older than their victims;
- they are physically able in sport activities, games and fights (especially the boys);
- they strongly need to dominate and bend other students to their will, to establish themselves with power and threat to impose their point of view boasting their real or imaginary superiority over others;
- they find it difficult to respect the rules;they tend to take advantages even through deceit;
- they show hardly any empathy towards the victimized students;they are not anxious, or insecure but they have a high opinion of themselves (they have an average or above-average level of self-esteem);
- their popularity can be average, below or above average;
- their progress at school is varied at primary school but is lower at middle school;
- negative attitude towards school;
- at an early age they take part in other anti-social behaviour such as theft, vandalism and use of alcohol, they mix with ‘bad companies’.
- they are repeatedly mocked, insulted, reproved, denigrated, ridiculed, intimidated, humiliated, threatened, ordered about, dominated;they are the laughing stock, apparently in a friendly way;
they are physically assaulted, beaten, pushed, punched and kicked, without being able to defend themselves adequately; they are involved in arguments or confrontations where they are helpless, and where they tend to withdraw often crying;
their books, money, or other belongings are taken, damaged or thrown about;they carry bruises, wounds, cuts, scratches, or torn clothes, to which it is not possible to give a natural explanation.
Secondary factors of the possible VICTIMS at school:
- they are often alone and left out by the peer group during the lunch time break;
- they do not seem to have any good friend in the class;they are the last chosen in team games;
- they tend to stay close to the teacher or other adults during the break;
- they find it difficult to speak in class and they give the impression of being anxious and insecure;
- they appear depressed, low and whining;they show a sudden or gradual worsening of the progress at school.
Factors of the possible VICITMS at home – Detected behaviour by the parents:
- they do not bring any classmates at home or other peers after school and rarely spend time with them, at home or outside;
- they do not have any friends to spend free time with (to play, go shopping with, to join sport or musical events, have a chat on the phone with);
- they are rarely or never invited to parties and are not interested in organizing them, as they do not expect anyone wants to participate;
they seem fearful or reluctant about going to school in the morning, they hardly have any appetite, they suffer from recurrent headaches or stomach-aches;
- they choose longer and complicated routes to go to school and to go back home;
- they lose interest in school activities and have low marks;they seem unhappy, sad and depressed, or are unexpectedly moody, showing irritation and explosions of rage;
- they ask for or steal money from the family to indulge the bullies requests.
Factors of the provoking VICTIMS
- they can be characterized by a ‘quick temper’, so they tend to resort to violence to counter, even if not efficiently enough, when they are attacked or insulted;
- They can be hyperactive, restless, rarely concentrated and offensive and create tensions;they can be clumsy and immature and have acquired irritating habits;
- They can be unpopular among adults too (teachers);
- They can tend to prevail on the weakest students.