Edited by Larisa Gvozdenović, psychologist
Peer violence implies intentional harm and humiliation inflicted upon students by other students. Targeted students are those who are physically smaller, weaker, younger or in any other way more vulnerable than the students who inflict violence. It could also be said that this is an intentional attempt to inflict pain on others and once a student who is prone to violence does this, it is very possible that he/she will choose another more vulnerable student as the victim and continue to manifest this form of behavior towards him/her.
There are several types of violence. Verbal violence represents every form of ridicule, slandering, insulting, mockery and name-calling. Physical violence involves hitting, pushing, snatching and destroying things. Children who are isolated from society and ignored by their friends, subjected to gossip and fabricated stories that do not have true content, are victims of social violence. Psychological violence implies unwanted comments, extortion, blackmail, etc. Sexual violence involves unwanted touching, getting inappropriate comments, and, in most severe cases, sexual coercion. Electronic / internet violence most often involves the abuse of children’s photos and videos.
Students who are prone to violent forms of behavior are not born as such. They eventually become such people. They have adopted the violent model of behavior mostly from their family and are witnesses of violent scenes. Their violence becomes something natural and they perceive it as the only way to fit into the peer group and even dominate it. Although they are violent towards other students and hurt others, they can also be considered as the victims because students who are the victims of domestic violence or some other form of violence, for that very reason, become prone to violence themselves. Students also often adopt patterns of violent behavior through mass media and the Internet, both through television content with violent scenes and computer games or other internet sites that promote violence and treat it as a part of our everyday lives.
Children who withdraw, avoid conflict at all costs, do not express their opinions and have low self-esteem, are often victims of violence. Such a child will react to the most benevolent remark or criticism by crying, withdrawing and avoiding people. Violent students often have not learned to use adequate communication patterns with other children and do not know how to behave differently in a peer group except to try to find their place within the group by inflicting violence. Many psychological studies dealing with the topic of peer violence show that students prone to this type of behavior have not sufficiently developed social skills and do not have enough other, prosocial and socially acceptable forms of behavior in their behavioral repertoire to affirm themselves in the peer group and by inflicting violence on others, they try to achieve what they want.
Students who are prone to violence would not exist without students who endure it. They know perfectly who to choose as their victims. The victims are usually shy, calm students who are easily scared and begin to be afraid of students who bully them every day.
One important characteristic is that often the violent student and the victim are socially isolated and are not close with anyone from their peer group. The first one is prone to domination, open to self-expression, loud, inconsiderate towards others, acts without compassion, while the victim is often shy, silent, calm and dislikes to express his/her opinion in front of the class. Both often have problems of fitting into a peer group because the victim does not have developed social skills needed to be accepted in it and the student who is prone to violence is the one who everyone is afraid of and that's why everyone avoids him/her.
Witnesses or students who were present when the violence occurred, but often do not dare to report it, become also the participants. One of the reasons for not reporting may be that they are afraid that they will be targeted by a student who inflicts violence. However, it is important for students to know that witnesses of violence have a very important role.They need to report the violent situation that they have witnessed and thus help the victim, because, otherwise, they support the bullies in some way.
If you can recognize some of your friends in the above-mentioned descriptions of students who inflict some form of violence or endure it, do not remain silent, deaf and blind to this phenomenon. If violence is hidden, many students suffer and instead of remembering school as the most beautiful period of their lives, it sticks in their memories as a period of life they do not like to remember.
Help your friends who are in this situation and report violence to the homeroom teacher, teacher, school psychologist or pedagogue! Do not be afraid; this will not make you a "tattletale" but a child with a proper world view and compassion towards other human beings, the one who has helped someone who suffered and made his/her life more beautiful and better.