Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Ben Arnold Lohmeyer, Adjunct Researcher, Flinders University
If you want to cut bullying in schools, look at the 'invisible violence' in our society

A new strategy to tackle bullying of children both inside and outside the school gates was recently released by the South Australian Department of Education.

It has adopted the national definition of bullying that directly links it to a misuse of power. The strategy also questions the role “movies, television, newspapers and the internet” could play in promoting violence.

But bullying is just one way people misuse power to harm others, and violent media as the cause of violent behaviour in young people is an old idea.

Read more: Not every school's anti-bullying program works – some may actually make bullying worse

My research challenges simplistic answers about what causes young people to be violent.

To reduce school bullying we need to look at what is known as the invisible violence that young people are typically exposed to in their everyday lives.

Invisible violence isn’t direct action, such as bullying between people. It’s a feeling of violation experienced through culturally accepted behaviours and power imbalances.

Physical violence can then be thought of as the visible eruption or outpouring of the pressure built up through invisible violating social and power inequalities.

Violent media is not the (only) problem

The new Bullying Prevention Strategy aims to reduce the likelihood of bullying by addressing individual factors, social dynamics and social and cultural factors.

On this last point, the strategy says:

While research in this area is still emerging, there is evidence that social and cultural factors can influence children’s experiences of bullying.

The strategy suggests there is a need to better understand the influence of media on behaviour.

But the idea that violence in movies, games and other media is corrupting young people has been extensively researched and is regularly a source of unwelcome moral panic.

Political leaders are often quick to point the finger of blame at violent video games as the cause of youth violence. In contrast, the results of significant research into a straightforward link between violent media and violent behaviour suggest this idea is inappropriately simplistic.

Sure, plenty of movies and video games glorify violence, and this is clearly visible to young people. But there are other less visible ways that young people are exposed to power inequalities and violence.

Exposure to ‘invisible violence’

My research gathers marginalised young people’s experiences of violence. These are young people who have often been victims or perpetrators of school bullying and violence.

When asked about what violence means to them, they would begin by talking about physical fighting, verbal abuse and sometimes more complex experiences such as self-harm or neglect.

When I asked more, they started describing other power inequalities and abuses that are not typically thought of as violence. They talked about “rolling people for their money” because crime is “what happens with the loop of poverty”.

They saw a system that “rewards you for being upper middle class and white and educated”, and which considered people “not really that violent” if they are nice and polite.

These ideas are not usually thought about as violence. Violence is usually associated with physical force. But these young people saw violence all around them. As one young person described to me:

[…] the violence of our systems and structures of our society that we participate in […] even in just existing, it’s like a violent existence.

This violence is hidden because we don’t think about violence in this way. But this invisible violence tells a story about how young people see who has power and how they use it.

There isn’t a simple correlation between young people seeing or experiencing this kind of violation and then acting out bullying behaviour. Social systems and human behaviour are more complex than that.

But research so far in this space suggests this kind of invisible violence legitimises and justifies interpersonal violence.

This is a new area of research and there are unlikely to be simple answers. But blaming youth violence and bullying on violent media hasn’t produced meaningful ways forward. This issue needs new and creative ways of rethinking the problem and causes of violence among young people.

A big issue in need of answers

An alarming number of Australians experience bullying and violence in schools and workplaces. More than a quarter of students in years 4 to year 9 in South Australian schools and more than a third of all employees in Australia have been bullied at some time.

My research suggests violence isn’t simply something that is inherent to youth or that we grow out of as an adult.

Instead, visible violence and bullying can be thought of as a symptom of invisible violating social inequalities. Young people don’t grow out of violence; they just learn to accept it and hide it in socially acceptable places.

That’s why changing violent behaviours such as bullying in schools requires us to challenge our assumptions about violence. Rather than disparate incidents of bullying between individuals, violence needs to be examined as a pattern of abuses of power and a social narrative that underpins our society and cultural identities.

Authors: Ben Arnold Lohmeyer, Adjunct Researcher, Flinders University

Read more http://theconversation.com/if-you-want-to-cut-bullying-in-schools-look-at-the-invisible-violence-in-our-society-123093

Writers Wanted

Hippocrates and willow bark? What you know about the history of aspirin is probably wrong

arrow_forward

My best worst film: She's The Man – Amanda Bynes shines in a hilarious commentary on gender

arrow_forward

No snapback: the budget sets us up for an unreasonably slow recovery. Here's how

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Safe with Roller Shutters

If you operate your business in a neighbourhood or city that is not known for being a safe environment, it is not surprising if you often worry about the safety of your business establishments o...

News Co - avatar News Co

Expert Tips on How to Create a Digital Product to Sell on Your Blog

As the managing director of a growing talent agency, I use the company blog to not only promote my business but as a way to establish ourselves as an authority in our industry. You see, blogs a...

Adam Jacobs - avatar Adam Jacobs

How to Find A company with Tijuana manufacturing

If you have decided to launch a business in Tijuana, there is a need to know about the manufacturing companies. The decision to choose a manufacturing company is not so easy as it looks.   The rig...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion