Select Page
  

Solved by verified expert:In this second memo, describe the ways in which bullying, discrimination and youth violence is connected to multiple levels within the social ecological model, focusing specifically on the role of power and privilege.Incorporate the concepts, reading and lecture materials into your memo when possible and appropriate. Remember to include at least two class readings as references using in-text citations and a full reference page following APA standards. At a minimum, you must reference and incorporate content from the Office of Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (Ali, 2010).Explore these questions:What contributes to bullying and youth violence?How is power connected to bullying and discrimination prevention?How has my identity and related social privilege shaped the way that I understand bullying, discrimination and youth violence?
underwood2014_1_.pdf

wong_lo__2011__digital_aggression.pdf

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Expert answer:article writing about bullying and discrimination
Just from $10/Page
Order Essay

guerra_2012_can_we_make_violent_behavior_less_adaptive_for_youth_1_.pdf

Unformatted Attachment Preview

This article was downloaded by: [University of Vermont]
On: 31 January 2015, At: 07:13
Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Theory Into Practice
Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/htip20
Bullying May Be Fueled by the Desperate
Need to Belong
a
Marion K. Underwood & Samuel E. Ehrenreich
a
b
The University of Texas at Dallas
b
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas
at Dallas
Accepted author version posted online: 31 Jul 2014.Published
online: 15 Oct 2014.
Click for updates
To cite this article: Marion K. Underwood & Samuel E. Ehrenreich (2014) Bullying May
Be Fueled by the Desperate Need to Belong, Theory Into Practice, 53:4, 265-270, DOI:
10.1080/00405841.2014.947217
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2014.947217
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or
howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising
out of the use of the Content.
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/termsand-conditions
Theory Into Practice, 53:265–270, 2014
Copyright © The College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University
ISSN: 0040-5841 print/1543-0421 online
DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2014.947217
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Marion K. Underwood
Samuel E. Ehrenreich
Bullying May Be Fueled by the
Desperate Need to Belong
Human beings have a fundamental need to
belong, for ongoing positive interactions with
others who provide companionship and caring
(Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Children may hit,
exclude, or harass others electronically because
when their own needs for belongingness are
threatened, or when they want to enhance their
own status, they lash out and hurt others in the
way they think will be most painful, by engaging
in behaviors that undermine the target’s sense
of belongingness. For reasons discussed herein,
children and adolescents might be especially
vulnerable to desperate needs for belongingness.
Viewing bullying as motivated by the need to
belong has profound implications for prevention
and intervention programs to reduce bullying.
F
aggressive behaviors are characterized as bullying when they chronically occur between the
same perpetrators and victims and when there
is an imbalance of power between the aggressor
and the victim (Olweus, 1978). As children mature, online communication offers a context for
experiencing connectedness with peers, but also a
venue for engaging in bullying. Cyberbullying is
defined as “intentional behavior aimed at harming another person or persons through computers,
cell phones, and other electronic devices, and
perceived as aversive by the victim” (Schoffstall
& Cohen, 2011, p. 588).
Many theories for why children and adolescents engage in bullying focus on individual
characteristics, most of which are deficits: inadequate parental socialization (Baldry, 2003; Bauer
et al., 2006), difficult temperament (Georgiou
ROM THE TIME WHEN YOUNG children
learn to walk and talk, most (at least sometimes) hurt others physically (Tremblay et al.,
1999), by hitting, kicking, biting, and shoving;
and socially (Crick, Casas, & Moshier, 1997),
by social exclusion, friendship manipulation, and
spreading rumors. These physically and socially
Marion K. Underwood is the Ashbel Smith Professor
of Psychological Sciences at The University of Texas
at Dallas and Samuel E. Ehrenreich is a Research Scientist in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Correspondence should be addressed to Professor
Marion K. Underwood, School of Behavioral and
Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, 800
West Campbell Road, GR41, Richardson, TX 75080.
E-mail: undrwd@utdallas.edu.
265
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Theories of Bullying and Cyberbullying
& Stavrinides, 2008), lack of emotional control
(Shields & Cicchetti, 2001), lack of empathy
(Caravita, Di Blasio, & Salmivalli, 2009), lack
of social skills (Crick & Dodge, 1994), moral
disengagement (Correia & Dalbert, 2008), large
physical size (Olweus, 1993), and interest in
dominating others (Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000).
All of these factors likely explain, at least partially, why some individuals engage in high levels
of bullying behaviors.
However, there may also be more basic developmental forces at work for all children, and
possibly adults, that may explain why some break
others’ hearts with bullying behaviors from such
early ages. Children and adolescents may engage in different forms of bullying because they
desperately want, and need, to belong. Human
beings have a fundamental need to belong, for
ongoing positive interactions with others who
provide companionship and caring (Baumeister
& Leary, 1995), which builds and is transformed
across development (Buhrmester, 1996). The fundamental need to belong may explain why social
exclusion is so distressing, and in studies with
adults, has been related to aggressive behavior
toward others (Twenge, Baumeister, Tice, &
Stucke, 2001), self-defeating behavior (Twenge,
Cantanes, & Baumeister, 2002), and even physical pain (MacDonald & Leary, 2005).
Although it may seem counterintuitive to view
such negative behaviors as bullying as deriving
from the desperate need to belong, we argue that
the need to belong may fuel bullying behaviors
in children and adolescents (and likely adults,
too, but the focus here will be youth). Children
may hit, exclude, or harass others electronically
because when their own needs for belongingness
are threatened or when they want to enhance
their own status, they lash out and hurt others
in the way they think will be most painful, by
engaging in behaviors that undermine the target’s
sense of belongingness. For reasons discussed
in the following, children and adolescents might
be especially vulnerable to desperate needs for
belongingness. Viewing bullying as motivated by
the need to belong has profound implications for
prevention and intervention programs to reduce
bullying.
266
Children and Adolescents Desperately
Want to Belong
Needs for belongingness may be particularly
strong in middle childhood and adolescence
(Buhrmester, 1996; Gottman & Mettetal, 1986;
Sullivan, 1953). Needs for belongingness may
be especially powerful for girls, whose selfconstruals rely heavily on relationships (Cross &
Madson, 1997) and who crave intimacy in close
relationships (Rose & Rudolph, 2006). Girls’
peer groups emphasize close dyadic relationships
and intimate self-disclosure (Maccoby, 1998), so
the pain of being excluded might be especially
acute for girls.
How, exactly, might the need to belong lead
some children to engage in bullying and cyberbullying? In his Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry, Sullivan (1953) proposed that individuals’
personalities and relationships are formed around
social needs, qualities people desire in their relationships with others, including warmth, companionship, acceptance, and intimacy (Buhrmester,
1996). These social needs expand with development: infants most desire tenderness from caregivers; preschool children also need play partners; children in the early elementary years need
also to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance;
preadolescents additionally desire an intimate
relationship with a same-sex peer (chumships),
and adolescents wish also for sexual involvement.
Sullivan argued that one’s character and one’s
personality difficulties result from the ways in
which one manages to meet these needs, or to defend one’s self when one cannot meet these needs
and become anxious (Buhrmester, 1996; Sullivan,
1953). When people feel anxious, they engage
in defensive attempts to avoid or ameliorate the
anxiety, called security operations. These security
operations may help individuals reduce immediate anxiety, but they can create serious problems
in relationships. For example, a preschool child
who is frequently ignored by his overwhelmed
parents might learn that he only gets his parents’
attention when he hits or kicks. Hitting and kicking are an effective security operation in the short
term because they get the parental attention the
child so desperately craves. However, hitting and
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Underwood and Ehrenreich
kicking to get adults’ attention when that same
child goes to kindergarten will likely undermine
his relationships with peers and teachers and lead
to peer rejection and serious academic difficulty
(Dodge, Coie, & Lynam, 2007).
Some forms of bullying may be security operations, behaviors that children and adolescents
engage in to reduce their anxious feelings about
being excluded. One security operation described
by Sullivan (1953) is disparagement, and this
phenomenon resembles some forms of bullying, such as social aggression. Disparagement
is speaking derogatorily about those to whom
we feel compared. According to Sullivan, when
some youth feel a strong need to be liked by
everyone and superior in every way, they cope
with the inevitable disappointment resulting from
other’s success by disparaging the other, by
maligning the other person’s personality characteristics or abilities, and by “pulling down
the social standing of others” (Sullivan, 1953,
p. 242). Many features of social aggression resemble Sullivan’s description of disparagement.
Relationship manipulation and social exclusion
disrupt others’ friendships and reduce their social
standing, and the content of gossip is often disparaging rumors: “One of the feeblest props for
an inadequate self-system is the attitude of disparaging others, which I once boiled down to the
doctrine that if you are a molehill, by God, there
shall be no mountains” (Sullivan, 1953, p. 309).
One of the most challenging features of Sullivan’s theory is that the security operations,
including but not limited to disparagement, arise
from one’s efforts to meet the social needs characteristic of developmental stages and to contain
one’s anxiety when one’s efforts are unsuccessful. Therefore, following Sullivan’s (1953) argument, security operations are both normative
and adaptive in that people engage in them
in response to frustrated efforts to meet their
developmental needs, but also maladaptive in
that they serve only to contain their immediate
anxiety and, in the long run, create persistent
difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Sullivan
proposed that some children develop tendencies
toward disparagement as a way of coping with
the disappointment of others being superior in
Bullying May Be Fueled by the Desperate Need to Belong
various ways, and disparagement provides immediate relief from the anxiety of not being as good
as someone else. However, if disparagement persists, it undermines the individual’s sense of selfworth because no accomplishments, one’s own
or those of others, can be viewed as worthwhile
and the person becomes just as disparaging of
herself as she is of others. In Sullivan’s words
(1953), “Since you have to protect your feeling of
personal worth by noting how unworthy everyone
around you is, you are not provided with any
data that are convincing evidence of your having
personal worth, so it gradually evolves into, ‘I
am not as bad as the other swine’ ” (p. 242).
The Need to Belong Might
Fuel Bullying
Bullying might be a type of security operation
that children and adolescents engage in when
their own sense of belongingness is threatened.
Youth may engage in bullying to harm others’
relationships as a way of protecting their own,
and as a way of coping with their intense feelings
of anxiety about feeling excluded. For example, a
junior high school girl who feels excluded from
a group of high-profile, affluent girls may start
shoving the girl she perceives to be the leader of
the group down the stairs daily after gym class.
An elementary school boy who loves sports and
takes pride in excelling may be threatened when
a new student who moves to town is even larger
and more athletic, and may spread the rumor
that the new student uses performance enhancing
drugs. A high school girl who is upset that a girl
one year younger has started dating a boy she has
a crush on may go on the younger girl’s Facebook
page and make insulting, vulgar comments on
every single one of her profile pictures.
All of these bullying behaviors may quell
intense feelings of anxiety about being excluded
or left out, at least in the short term. The girl who
shoves the ringleader of a group she desperately
wants to join may feel some satisfaction at having
hurt someone she believes hurt her. The boy who
spreads the rumor that a superior athlete uses
steroids may take some short-term satisfaction
267
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Theories of Bullying and Cyberbullying
in having smeared the person’s good name, in
perhaps leading people to doubt that he achieved
his academic prowess through talent and effort.
The girl who writes nasty comments on all
of a younger girl’s Facebook profile pictures
may fantasize that she will lead the boy she is
interested in to break up with the other girl, or at
least bring down her rival’s standing in the eyes
of other peers.
However, the relief provided from anxiety
about belongingness by these behaviors is likely
brief. The girl who shoves the ring leader down
the stairs every day is likely to realize that
her physical aggression makes the group she so
desperately wants to join even more likely to
exclude her. The boy who spreads the rumor that
a stronger athlete uses drugs realizes that, in the
absence of proof, his repeated claims start to
make him look petty and envious to his peers.
The girl who writes profane comments about
another girls’ appearance on Facebook profile
pictures may realize, upon reflection, that she
has gone too far, when no one likes her mean
comments or when a peer with the courage
to intervene says, “Stop it. We all know you
are writing these mean things because you are
jealous.” And, of course, all of these bullying
behaviors may lead to adult intervention, but
should that happen, it might actually be less
painful than the enduring realization that bullying
behaviors only exacerbate the perpetrator’s sense
of being excluded, and perhaps lead to looking
pathetic in the eyes of peers.
Individual differences in bullying may relate
to factors that determine the extent to which adolescents meet their own needs for belongingness
by harming others. When children and adolescents’ needs for belongingness are threated, they
have other options besides hurting others. The
girl who wants to join a peer group could look
for opportunities to engage in similar activities,
could start making friendly conversation with the
girls, and could ask them if she could sit with
them at lunch, or could even invite them to do
something with her. The boy who feels threatened
by the superior athlete could talk to him about
how he trains and what he has done to achieve
his higher level of skill, and could invite him to
268
work out together. The girl who is distressed by
the younger peer dating someone she also likes
could talk with the boy and make her interest
clear, or could make a conscious effort to direct
her romantic interests elsewhere. However, all
of these alternatives require skills in regulating
emotions and building relationships that children
and adolescents who engage in bullying may not
have. Most youth desperately want to belong, but
some may lack the skills to cope with that need in
developmentally appropriate ways, and therefore
may lash out with bullying behaviors when they
feel threatened or excluded.
The desperate need to belong may also, in
part, explain why it can be so very difficult for
most children and adolescents to stand up to
bullying behavior and to defend victims. Bullying
involves not only perpetrators and victims,
but also bystanders, reinforcers, and defenders
(Salmivalli, Lagerspetz, Björkqvist, Österman,
& Kaukiainen, 1996). Defending peers against
all types of bullying may be daunting for some,
precisely because children’s own desperate needs
to belong lead them to believe that if they challenge
the bullying behaviors, they will be the next targets.
To date, the little evidence available supports a
relation between the need to belong and bullying
behaviors. In a large study with middle and high
school students, students identified as being in
a high-involvement group for bullying reported
lower feelings of belonging than children not
involved in bullying (Goldweber, Waasdorp, &
Bradshaw, 2013). For 10- to 13-year-old boys,
engaging in antisocial bullying was related to a
desire to be accepted by other antisocial boys
and that bullying was related to peer rejection
by the larger peer group of boys (Olthof &
Goosens, 2007). Additional research is needed
to understand more precisely how the need to
belong may fuel bullying behaviors and prevent
more youth from defending victims.
Implications for Prevention
and Intervention
If bullying is driven, in part, by the need
to belong, then prevention programs could be
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Underwood and Ehrenreich
augmented by addressing this issue explicitly.
Children and adolescents could be helped to
understand that people all desperately need and
want to belong, and that it can be tempting to
be mean to other people when one’s own sense
of belongingness is threatened. Youth could be
helped to reframe some of their bullying impulses
and fantasies as motivated by the need to belong,
and encouraged to consider other, more effective
strategies for meeting these needs. Because these
needs might be easier to recognize in others than
in oneself, prevention programs could begin by
discussing examples of others, with the goal of
generating compassion for those who desperately
want to belong.
If bullying is viewed as fueled by the need to
belong, intervention programs for those already
engaging in high levels of bullying will also
need to be refined. When children and adolescents engage in high levels of bullying, it is
often appropriate for there to be consequences,
both the natural consequences of peer withdrawal and the more formal consequences imposed by authorities. However, sometimes these
consequences, especially the natural ones, outlast
the duration of the bullying behaviors. Even a
child who engages in physical aggression only
occasionally could become saddled with a peer
reputation as someone who always fights, and
even if that child’s behavior impro …
Purchase answer to see full
attachment

  

Solved by verified expert:In this second memo, describe the ways in which bullying, discrimination and youth violence is connected to multiple levels within the social ecological model, focusing specifically on the role of power and privilege.Incorporate the concepts, reading and lecture materials into your memo when possible and appropriate. Remember to include at least two class readings as references using in-text citations and a full reference page following APA standards. At a minimum, you must reference and incorporate content from the Office of Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (Ali, 2010).Explore these questions:What contributes to bullying and youth violence?How is power connected to bullying and discrimination prevention?How has my identity and related social privilege shaped the way that I understand bullying, discrimination and youth violence?
underwood2014_1_.pdf

wong_lo__2011__digital_aggression.pdf

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Expert answer:article writing about bullying and discrimination
Just from $10/Page
Order Essay

guerra_2012_can_we_make_violent_behavior_less_adaptive_for_youth_1_.pdf

Unformatted Attachment Preview

This article was downloaded by: [University of Vermont]
On: 31 January 2015, At: 07:13
Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Theory Into Practice
Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/htip20
Bullying May Be Fueled by the Desperate
Need to Belong
a
Marion K. Underwood & Samuel E. Ehrenreich
a
b
The University of Texas at Dallas
b
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas
at Dallas
Accepted author version posted online: 31 Jul 2014.Published
online: 15 Oct 2014.
Click for updates
To cite this article: Marion K. Underwood & Samuel E. Ehrenreich (2014) Bullying May
Be Fueled by the Desperate Need to Belong, Theory Into Practice, 53:4, 265-270, DOI:
10.1080/00405841.2014.947217
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2014.947217
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or
howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising
out of the use of the Content.
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/termsand-conditions
Theory Into Practice, 53:265–270, 2014
Copyright © The College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University
ISSN: 0040-5841 print/1543-0421 online
DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2014.947217
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Marion K. Underwood
Samuel E. Ehrenreich
Bullying May Be Fueled by the
Desperate Need to Belong
Human beings have a fundamental need to
belong, for ongoing positive interactions with
others who provide companionship and caring
(Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Children may hit,
exclude, or harass others electronically because
when their own needs for belongingness are
threatened, or when they want to enhance their
own status, they lash out and hurt others in the
way they think will be most painful, by engaging
in behaviors that undermine the target’s sense
of belongingness. For reasons discussed herein,
children and adolescents might be especially
vulnerable to desperate needs for belongingness.
Viewing bullying as motivated by the need to
belong has profound implications for prevention
and intervention programs to reduce bullying.
F
aggressive behaviors are characterized as bullying when they chronically occur between the
same perpetrators and victims and when there
is an imbalance of power between the aggressor
and the victim (Olweus, 1978). As children mature, online communication offers a context for
experiencing connectedness with peers, but also a
venue for engaging in bullying. Cyberbullying is
defined as “intentional behavior aimed at harming another person or persons through computers,
cell phones, and other electronic devices, and
perceived as aversive by the victim” (Schoffstall
& Cohen, 2011, p. 588).
Many theories for why children and adolescents engage in bullying focus on individual
characteristics, most of which are deficits: inadequate parental socialization (Baldry, 2003; Bauer
et al., 2006), difficult temperament (Georgiou
ROM THE TIME WHEN YOUNG children
learn to walk and talk, most (at least sometimes) hurt others physically (Tremblay et al.,
1999), by hitting, kicking, biting, and shoving;
and socially (Crick, Casas, & Moshier, 1997),
by social exclusion, friendship manipulation, and
spreading rumors. These physically and socially
Marion K. Underwood is the Ashbel Smith Professor
of Psychological Sciences at The University of Texas
at Dallas and Samuel E. Ehrenreich is a Research Scientist in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Correspondence should be addressed to Professor
Marion K. Underwood, School of Behavioral and
Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, 800
West Campbell Road, GR41, Richardson, TX 75080.
E-mail: undrwd@utdallas.edu.
265
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Theories of Bullying and Cyberbullying
& Stavrinides, 2008), lack of emotional control
(Shields & Cicchetti, 2001), lack of empathy
(Caravita, Di Blasio, & Salmivalli, 2009), lack
of social skills (Crick & Dodge, 1994), moral
disengagement (Correia & Dalbert, 2008), large
physical size (Olweus, 1993), and interest in
dominating others (Pellegrini & Bartini, 2000).
All of these factors likely explain, at least partially, why some individuals engage in high levels
of bullying behaviors.
However, there may also be more basic developmental forces at work for all children, and
possibly adults, that may explain why some break
others’ hearts with bullying behaviors from such
early ages. Children and adolescents may engage in different forms of bullying because they
desperately want, and need, to belong. Human
beings have a fundamental need to belong, for
ongoing positive interactions with others who
provide companionship and caring (Baumeister
& Leary, 1995), which builds and is transformed
across development (Buhrmester, 1996). The fundamental need to belong may explain why social
exclusion is so distressing, and in studies with
adults, has been related to aggressive behavior
toward others (Twenge, Baumeister, Tice, &
Stucke, 2001), self-defeating behavior (Twenge,
Cantanes, & Baumeister, 2002), and even physical pain (MacDonald & Leary, 2005).
Although it may seem counterintuitive to view
such negative behaviors as bullying as deriving
from the desperate need to belong, we argue that
the need to belong may fuel bullying behaviors
in children and adolescents (and likely adults,
too, but the focus here will be youth). Children
may hit, exclude, or harass others electronically
because when their own needs for belongingness
are threatened or when they want to enhance
their own status, they lash out and hurt others
in the way they think will be most painful, by
engaging in behaviors that undermine the target’s
sense of belongingness. For reasons discussed
in the following, children and adolescents might
be especially vulnerable to desperate needs for
belongingness. Viewing bullying as motivated by
the need to belong has profound implications for
prevention and intervention programs to reduce
bullying.
266
Children and Adolescents Desperately
Want to Belong
Needs for belongingness may be particularly
strong in middle childhood and adolescence
(Buhrmester, 1996; Gottman & Mettetal, 1986;
Sullivan, 1953). Needs for belongingness may
be especially powerful for girls, whose selfconstruals rely heavily on relationships (Cross &
Madson, 1997) and who crave intimacy in close
relationships (Rose & Rudolph, 2006). Girls’
peer groups emphasize close dyadic relationships
and intimate self-disclosure (Maccoby, 1998), so
the pain of being excluded might be especially
acute for girls.
How, exactly, might the need to belong lead
some children to engage in bullying and cyberbullying? In his Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry, Sullivan (1953) proposed that individuals’
personalities and relationships are formed around
social needs, qualities people desire in their relationships with others, including warmth, companionship, acceptance, and intimacy (Buhrmester,
1996). These social needs expand with development: infants most desire tenderness from caregivers; preschool children also need play partners; children in the early elementary years need
also to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance;
preadolescents additionally desire an intimate
relationship with a same-sex peer (chumships),
and adolescents wish also for sexual involvement.
Sullivan argued that one’s character and one’s
personality difficulties result from the ways in
which one manages to meet these needs, or to defend one’s self when one cannot meet these needs
and become anxious (Buhrmester, 1996; Sullivan,
1953). When people feel anxious, they engage
in defensive attempts to avoid or ameliorate the
anxiety, called security operations. These security
operations may help individuals reduce immediate anxiety, but they can create serious problems
in relationships. For example, a preschool child
who is frequently ignored by his overwhelmed
parents might learn that he only gets his parents’
attention when he hits or kicks. Hitting and kicking are an effective security operation in the short
term because they get the parental attention the
child so desperately craves. However, hitting and
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Underwood and Ehrenreich
kicking to get adults’ attention when that same
child goes to kindergarten will likely undermine
his relationships with peers and teachers and lead
to peer rejection and serious academic difficulty
(Dodge, Coie, & Lynam, 2007).
Some forms of bullying may be security operations, behaviors that children and adolescents
engage in to reduce their anxious feelings about
being excluded. One security operation described
by Sullivan (1953) is disparagement, and this
phenomenon resembles some forms of bullying, such as social aggression. Disparagement
is speaking derogatorily about those to whom
we feel compared. According to Sullivan, when
some youth feel a strong need to be liked by
everyone and superior in every way, they cope
with the inevitable disappointment resulting from
other’s success by disparaging the other, by
maligning the other person’s personality characteristics or abilities, and by “pulling down
the social standing of others” (Sullivan, 1953,
p. 242). Many features of social aggression resemble Sullivan’s description of disparagement.
Relationship manipulation and social exclusion
disrupt others’ friendships and reduce their social
standing, and the content of gossip is often disparaging rumors: “One of the feeblest props for
an inadequate self-system is the attitude of disparaging others, which I once boiled down to the
doctrine that if you are a molehill, by God, there
shall be no mountains” (Sullivan, 1953, p. 309).
One of the most challenging features of Sullivan’s theory is that the security operations,
including but not limited to disparagement, arise
from one’s efforts to meet the social needs characteristic of developmental stages and to contain
one’s anxiety when one’s efforts are unsuccessful. Therefore, following Sullivan’s (1953) argument, security operations are both normative
and adaptive in that people engage in them
in response to frustrated efforts to meet their
developmental needs, but also maladaptive in
that they serve only to contain their immediate
anxiety and, in the long run, create persistent
difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Sullivan
proposed that some children develop tendencies
toward disparagement as a way of coping with
the disappointment of others being superior in
Bullying May Be Fueled by the Desperate Need to Belong
various ways, and disparagement provides immediate relief from the anxiety of not being as good
as someone else. However, if disparagement persists, it undermines the individual’s sense of selfworth because no accomplishments, one’s own
or those of others, can be viewed as worthwhile
and the person becomes just as disparaging of
herself as she is of others. In Sullivan’s words
(1953), “Since you have to protect your feeling of
personal worth by noting how unworthy everyone
around you is, you are not provided with any
data that are convincing evidence of your having
personal worth, so it gradually evolves into, ‘I
am not as bad as the other swine’ ” (p. 242).
The Need to Belong Might
Fuel Bullying
Bullying might be a type of security operation
that children and adolescents engage in when
their own sense of belongingness is threatened.
Youth may engage in bullying to harm others’
relationships as a way of protecting their own,
and as a way of coping with their intense feelings
of anxiety about feeling excluded. For example, a
junior high school girl who feels excluded from
a group of high-profile, affluent girls may start
shoving the girl she perceives to be the leader of
the group down the stairs daily after gym class.
An elementary school boy who loves sports and
takes pride in excelling may be threatened when
a new student who moves to town is even larger
and more athletic, and may spread the rumor
that the new student uses performance enhancing
drugs. A high school girl who is upset that a girl
one year younger has started dating a boy she has
a crush on may go on the younger girl’s Facebook
page and make insulting, vulgar comments on
every single one of her profile pictures.
All of these bullying behaviors may quell
intense feelings of anxiety about being excluded
or left out, at least in the short term. The girl who
shoves the ringleader of a group she desperately
wants to join may feel some satisfaction at having
hurt someone she believes hurt her. The boy who
spreads the rumor that a superior athlete uses
steroids may take some short-term satisfaction
267
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Theories of Bullying and Cyberbullying
in having smeared the person’s good name, in
perhaps leading people to doubt that he achieved
his academic prowess through talent and effort.
The girl who writes nasty comments on all
of a younger girl’s Facebook profile pictures
may fantasize that she will lead the boy she is
interested in to break up with the other girl, or at
least bring down her rival’s standing in the eyes
of other peers.
However, the relief provided from anxiety
about belongingness by these behaviors is likely
brief. The girl who shoves the ring leader down
the stairs every day is likely to realize that
her physical aggression makes the group she so
desperately wants to join even more likely to
exclude her. The boy who spreads the rumor that
a stronger athlete uses drugs realizes that, in the
absence of proof, his repeated claims start to
make him look petty and envious to his peers.
The girl who writes profane comments about
another girls’ appearance on Facebook profile
pictures may realize, upon reflection, that she
has gone too far, when no one likes her mean
comments or when a peer with the courage
to intervene says, “Stop it. We all know you
are writing these mean things because you are
jealous.” And, of course, all of these bullying
behaviors may lead to adult intervention, but
should that happen, it might actually be less
painful than the enduring realization that bullying
behaviors only exacerbate the perpetrator’s sense
of being excluded, and perhaps lead to looking
pathetic in the eyes of peers.
Individual differences in bullying may relate
to factors that determine the extent to which adolescents meet their own needs for belongingness
by harming others. When children and adolescents’ needs for belongingness are threated, they
have other options besides hurting others. The
girl who wants to join a peer group could look
for opportunities to engage in similar activities,
could start making friendly conversation with the
girls, and could ask them if she could sit with
them at lunch, or could even invite them to do
something with her. The boy who feels threatened
by the superior athlete could talk to him about
how he trains and what he has done to achieve
his higher level of skill, and could invite him to
268
work out together. The girl who is distressed by
the younger peer dating someone she also likes
could talk with the boy and make her interest
clear, or could make a conscious effort to direct
her romantic interests elsewhere. However, all
of these alternatives require skills in regulating
emotions and building relationships that children
and adolescents who engage in bullying may not
have. Most youth desperately want to belong, but
some may lack the skills to cope with that need in
developmentally appropriate ways, and therefore
may lash out with bullying behaviors when they
feel threatened or excluded.
The desperate need to belong may also, in
part, explain why it can be so very difficult for
most children and adolescents to stand up to
bullying behavior and to defend victims. Bullying
involves not only perpetrators and victims,
but also bystanders, reinforcers, and defenders
(Salmivalli, Lagerspetz, Björkqvist, Österman,
& Kaukiainen, 1996). Defending peers against
all types of bullying may be daunting for some,
precisely because children’s own desperate needs
to belong lead them to believe that if they challenge
the bullying behaviors, they will be the next targets.
To date, the little evidence available supports a
relation between the need to belong and bullying
behaviors. In a large study with middle and high
school students, students identified as being in
a high-involvement group for bullying reported
lower feelings of belonging than children not
involved in bullying (Goldweber, Waasdorp, &
Bradshaw, 2013). For 10- to 13-year-old boys,
engaging in antisocial bullying was related to a
desire to be accepted by other antisocial boys
and that bullying was related to peer rejection
by the larger peer group of boys (Olthof &
Goosens, 2007). Additional research is needed
to understand more precisely how the need to
belong may fuel bullying behaviors and prevent
more youth from defending victims.
Implications for Prevention
and Intervention
If bullying is driven, in part, by the need
to belong, then prevention programs could be
Downloaded by [University of Vermont] at 07:13 31 January 2015
Underwood and Ehrenreich
augmented by addressing this issue explicitly.
Children and adolescents could be helped to
understand that people all desperately need and
want to belong, and that it can be tempting to
be mean to other people when one’s own sense
of belongingness is threatened. Youth could be
helped to reframe some of their bullying impulses
and fantasies as motivated by the need to belong,
and encouraged to consider other, more effective
strategies for meeting these needs. Because these
needs might be easier to recognize in others than
in oneself, prevention programs could begin by
discussing examples of others, with the goal of
generating compassion for those who desperately
want to belong.
If bullying is viewed as fueled by the need to
belong, intervention programs for those already
engaging in high levels of bullying will also
need to be refined. When children and adolescents engage in high levels of bullying, it is
often appropriate for there to be consequences,
both the natural consequences of peer withdrawal and the more formal consequences imposed by authorities. However, sometimes these
consequences, especially the natural ones, outlast
the duration of the bullying behaviors. Even a
child who engages in physical aggression only
occasionally could become saddled with a peer
reputation as someone who always fights, and
even if that child’s behavior impro …
Purchase answer to see full
attachment

Order your essay today and save 10% with the discount code ESSAYHSELP