If you want to cut bullying in schools, look at the 'invisible violence' in our society

If you want to cut bullying in schools, look at the 'invisible violence' in our society
Young people can learn bullying behaviour from the violence they see beyond the schoolyard. Credit: Shutterstock/Morgar

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 .

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

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 behaviors 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 behavior.

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 behavior 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 marginalized 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 behavior. Social systems and human behavior are more complex than that.

But research so far in this space suggests this kind of invisible violence legitimizes 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 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 behaviors 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 and a social narrative that underpins our society and cultural identities.


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Sep 19, 2019
Quote "If you want to cut bullying in schools, "
Stop glorifying the late night comedians who make a fantastic living bulling our leaders and anyone else that will bring them more fame.
Their bullying acts are even replayed on the prime time TV.
Our children see the way we laugh and how pleased we are with the comedians bullying and want to emulate them.

In other words we adults are to blame for the bullying in school/

Sep 19, 2019
^^^^^^^^^^^^
Shut the eff up, bitch. Yeah, that's right, go cry in the bathroom.

Sep 19, 2019
Abuse of power is the key here. That's what set me on my path long ago, when I was a teenager. It has formed much of my character. I do not tolerate bullies; that doesn't mean I confront them. I undermine them and then watch them fall.

Living well is the best revenge.

Sep 19, 2019
Abuse of power is the key here. That's what set me on my path long ago, when I was a teenager. It has formed much of my character. I do not tolerate bullies; that doesn't mean I confront them. I undermine them and then watch them fall.

Living well is the best revenge.

Yeah, hold the undermine, you on all fours with yer butt up in the air, will shurly drop them bullies fast. As for the "living well", why shouldn't you have pleasure in yer revenge, during, unlike normal people who do so, after.

Sep 20, 2019
@rderkis.
Quote "If you want to cut bullying in schools, "
Stop glorifying the late night comedians who make a fantastic living bulling our leaders and anyone else that will bring them more fame.
Their bullying acts are even replayed on the prime time TV.
Our children see the way we laugh and how pleased we are with the comedians bullying and want to emulate them.

In other words we adults are to blame for the bullying in school/
With all due respect, mate, you should really try to learn the effective difference between 'comedic satire' and 'malevolent bullying' in its many forms; so that you won't ever again be tempted to self-servingly confuse/conflate the two in order to make some pre-conceived politically motivated point which makes no sense in any sense. :)

Sep 20, 2019
Works every time. Anyone narcissistic enough to be a predator is vulnerable.

Sep 20, 2019
Works every time.

I bet it duzz, DaSchitebo, I bet it duzz. You on all fours with yer butt up in the air, shurly does the trick.

Anyone narcissistic enough to be a predator is vulnerable.

Well, what you do in yer spare time, is yer bizness. Now, if only yer was smart enough to keep it so.

Sep 21, 2019
@RealityCheck Quote
politically motivated point which makes no sense in any sense. :)


I am sorry that I hit so close to one of the things you love watching. Many peopl are in denial about their love of bullying. If I made fun of you in on national TV, at your expanse, to get a laugh from a crowd, you would call it bullying.

Now perhaps you could explain the use of the politically motivated crap you speak of.

Sep 21, 2019
@rderkis.
@RealityCheck Quote
politically motivated point which makes no sense in any sense. :)


I am sorry that I hit so close to one of the things you love watching. Many peopl are in denial about their love of bullying. If I made fun of you in on national TV, at your expanse, to get a laugh from a crowd, you would call it bullying.

Now perhaps you could explain the use of the politically motivated crap you speak of.
How can one 'bully' a politician through comedic satire? Real malevolent bullying of politicians comes from the likes of the NRA, Fossil, Religious vested interests/lobby groups who threaten to fund ads against a politician if they don't meet the demands of such bully-lobbies even though those demands go against the common good. Again, please try to inform yourself regarding who is the real bully and who is merely satirising according to the most ancient traditions of democratic free speech principles. :)

Sep 21, 2019
How can one 'bully' a politician through comedic satire? Real malevolent bullying of politicians comes from the likes of the NRA, Fossil, Religious vested interests/lobby groups who threaten to fund ads against a politician if they don't meet the demands of such bully-lobbies even though those demands go against the common good.


I am sorry but I don't ever remembering using the term pollution or any word with similar meaning. Is this you accidently trying to twist what I said, or were you intentionally twisting my words?
If you were intentionally twisting my words then you have lost all credibility.
The NRA is funded by everyday people but no one tells you that. My dad who has passed was a member, Our neighbor who we were never particularly close to, was a member along with a large number of other individuals. I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but if there is one, it's people like you that want us all to believe the NRA is just big business interests.

Sep 21, 2019
How can one 'bully' a politician through comedic satire? Real malevolent bullying of politicians comes from the likes of the NRA vested interests/lobby groups who threaten to fund ads against a politician


I am sorry but I don't ever remembering using the term politician or any word with a similar meaning. Is this you accidently trying to twist what I said, or were you intentionally twisting my words?
If you were intentionally twisting my words then you have lost all credibility.
The NRA is funded by everyday people but no one tells you that. My dad who has passed was a member, Our neighbor who we were never particularly close to, was a member along with a large number of other individual voters. It's people like you that want us all to believe the NRA is just big business interests.
First no climate change. Comedians laughed and bullied Al Gore for saying there was.
Now you say Climate Change must be stopped at all costs.
I looked at Al Gore's CO2 data and knew he was right.

Sep 21, 2019
@rderkis
How can one 'bully' a politician through comedic satire? Real malevolent bullying of politicians comes from the likes of the NRA, Fossil, Religious vested interests/lobby groups who threaten to fund ads against a politician if they don't meet the demands of such bully-lobbies even though those demands go against the common good.
I am sorry but I don't ever remembering using the term pollution or any word with similar meaning. Is this you accidently trying to twist what I said, or were you intentionally twisting my words?
I never said "pollution". Maybe you have me confused with someone else? :)

I am not much of a conspiracy theorist, but if there is one, it's people like you that want us all to believe the NRA is just big business interests.
Are you seriously pretending that the WEAPONS 'business' is NOT 'big' in the US; and/or that such 'business' is NOT for making 'big' PROFITS which more sane, reasonable gun control policies would 'dent'? Not good.

Sep 21, 2019
Are you seriously pretending that the WEAPONS 'business' is NOT 'big' in the US; and/or that such 'business' is NOT for making 'big' PROFITS which more sane, reasonable gun control policies would 'dent'? Not good.


Once again you are twisting my words, I think you are not doing it intentionally but rather you are fixated on what you want to hear. I never once said that "the WEAPONS 'business' is NOT 'big' in the US" nor even implied that. As a matter of fact I am glad it is. Who do you think democracy's protector is? It is our attitude towards guns and violence that make us a country to be reckoned with, especially when protecting our allies. We live better than 93% of the rest of the world. And no one protects us but we protect the rest of the free world. Do you think that is due to our love of teddy bears?

Sep 21, 2019
@rderkis.
Are you seriously pretending that the WEAPONS 'business' is NOT 'big' in the US; and/or that such 'business' is NOT for making 'big' PROFITS which more sane, reasonable gun control policies would 'dent'? Not good.


Once again you are twisting my words, I think you are not doing it intentionally but rather you are fixated on what you want to hear. I never once said that "the WEAPONS 'business' is NOT 'big' in the US" nor even implied that.
The context of our exchange involved the bullying by vested interests such as NRA, as I pointed out. The NRA is part of the weapons 'industry' that is closely allied to said industry that make profits by selling arms to US CIVILIANS, NOT SOLDIERS. The sales of arms for NATIONAL SECURITY is NOT what I was alluding to; hence it is you twisting my post made in context of social policies for gun controls. I did NO criticise MILITARY uses/reasons/weapons to defend against foreign enemies and protect national interests. Clear? :)

Sep 22, 2019
I did NO criticise MILITARY uses/reasons/weapons to defend against foreign enemies and protect national interests. Clear? :)


There are many countries that put money towards national defense. And there are many democracies with a standing army.
Let me try to explain it this way. A country's people as a whole has what could best be described as a personality. A personality is the sum of all the small parts. By changing just one thing you could easily change the whole personality. Example - A little more ambition or a little less could manifest itself in unimaginable ways. As could our empathy as a whole. Even a thing as trivial as humor could change us in unexpected ways. Well, our pension towards violence and personal weapons have made us in a large part what we are today.
Like I said we live better than 93% of the rest of the world. What kind of a person would want to rock the boat and take that away from our children?

Sep 22, 2019
@rderkis.
I did NO criticise MILITARY uses/reasons/weapons to defend against foreign enemies and protect national interests. Clear? :)
There are many countries that put money towards national defense. And there are many democracies with a standing army.......Well, our pension (I assume you meant to type "penchant") towards violence and personal weapons have made us in a large part what we are today.
Like I said we live better than 93% of the rest of the world. What kind of a person would want to rock the boat and take that away from our children?
Better, you say? But at what price? Mass-school shootings; do-eat-dog mentality in life, health/insurance and employment systems? Constant fear of crushing poverty due to accident of birth and/or accident/illness that costs more than your working/savings income? As for National 'standing armies', I never argued against such. As US experience shows, having an 'armed citizenry' is NOT necessary; and is DANGEROUS to its OWN citizens.

Sep 22, 2019
. As US experience shows, having an 'armed citizenry' is NOT necessary; and is DANGEROUS to its OWN citizens.


I am curious how you came to that conclusion. What Experience? We have NEVER NOT had a armed citizenry, so are you just making that up accidently or are you making things up on purpose?

Crushing poverty? All the homeless people I see (if their not on drugs) hsave shoes and are dressed reasonably warm. None are starving to death. I have been to 3rd world countries and their beggers are starving and without even shoes.

Sep 23, 2019
@rderkis.
As US experience shows, having an 'armed citizenry' is NOT necessary; and is DANGEROUS to its OWN citizens.
I am curious how you came to that conclusion. What Experience? We have NEVER NOT had a armed citizenry, so are you just making that up accidently or are you making things up on purpose? Crushing poverty? All the homeless people I see (if their not on drugs) hsave shoes and are dressed reasonably warm. None are starving to death....
The experience IS the US, since its formation: armed citizenry; dog-eat-dog mentality in social/heath/employment dynamics; entrenched 'for profit' motive/ethos into everything US citizenry experiences. Have you ever considered that hopelessness/homelessness/poverty may be exacerbated by the dog-eat-dog nature of US society; profit-based treatment of medical/social issues that fail the unlucky; and that in such a rich country there should be precious little hopelessness/homelessness/poverty of the kind/level that DOES occur in US?

Sep 23, 2019
I repeat we live better than 93% of the rest of the world! Not good enough for you, please move rather than rocking the boat and screwing it up for our kids. You only say that shit because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and have never spent time in a third world country.

Sep 23, 2019
@rderkis.
I repeat we live better than 93% of the rest of the world! Not good enough for you, please move rather than rocking the boat and screwing it up for our kids.
That is precisely why it is so obscene that there should be such a high proportion of: 'working poor' with little hope of getting out of debt; unlucky people families hit by illness/accident who go bankrupt due to 'for profit' health/insurance systems that beggars people; and the many whose life prospects in such a dod-eat-dog system leads to hopelessness, despair, drug addiction/crime etc; and those increasing numbers of juveniles who have lost faith/respect in/for political/religious/business 'leaders/betters' profiting from breaking rules/laws and getting away scot-free because they can afford the best lawyers/accountants to hide their ill-gotten gains and escape consequences. Seriously, @rderkis, you should 'get out more' into the reality around you: corrupted systems setting up future blowback from your kids.

Sep 23, 2019
article ,wot a bunch of SJW crap ,

eliminate every factor discussed and there would still be bullying , its about personality

Sep 23, 2019
That is precisely why it is so obscene that there should be such a high proportion of: 'working poor' with little hope of getting out of debt; unlucky people families hit by illness/accident who go bankrupt due to 'for profit' health/insurance systems that beggars people; and the many whose life prospects in such a dod-eat-dog system leads to hopelessness, despair, drug addiction/crime etc; and those increasing numbers of juveniles who have lost faith/respect in/for political/religious/business 'leaders/betters' profiting from breaking rules/laws and getting away scot-free because they can afford the best lawyers/accountants to hide their ill-gotten gains and escape consequences. Seriously, @rderkis, you should 'get out more' into the reality around you: corrupted systems setting up future blowback from your kids.


You are just paranoid. The reason you don't move to one of those perfect countrys you are dreaming about is because YOU live so well here. Even the homeless thrive.

Sep 23, 2019
That is precisely why it is so obscene that there should be such a high proportion of: 'working poor' with little hope of getting out of debt; unlucky people families hit by illness/accident who go bankrupt due to 'for profit' health/insurance systems that beggars people; and the many whose life prospects in such a dod-eat-dog system leads to hopelessness, despair, drug addiction/crime etc; and those increasing numbers of juveniles who have lost faith/respect in/for political/religious/business 'leaders/betters' profiting from breaking rules/laws and getting away scot-free because they can afford the best lawyers/accountants to hide their ill-gotten gains and escape consequences. Seriously,


RealityCheck, why don't you put your money where your mouth is? There is no law preventing you from giving your property and house back to the American Indians. Nor is there a law that you can't give all your non essential money to charity. At least sell your computer to feed the homeless.

Sep 28, 2019
@rderkis.
That is precisely why it is so obscene that there should be such a high proportion of: 'working poor' with little hope of getting out of debt; unlucky people families hit by illness/accident who go bankrupt due to 'for profit' health/insurance systems that beggars people; and the many whose life prospects in such a dod-eat-dog system leads to hopelessness, despair, drug addiction/crime etc; and those increasing numbers of juveniles who have lost faith/respect in/for political/religious/business 'leaders/betters' profiting from breaking rules/laws and getting away scot-free.
Nor is there a law that you can't give all your non essential money to charity.
I have assisted neighbours/local indigenous families get out of the clutches of loan sharks; paid for concrete slab and mobile home complete with utilities for a particularly unfortunate young family in indigenous community, and truck/car repairs, school gear. Total almost AU$100,000.00. How about you, @rderkis? :)

Sep 29, 2019
AU$100,000.00. How about you, @rderkis? :)

I like you can make up anything. I give billions and billions away weekly.
Now perhaps I can ask, how many meals can you feed the homeless with if you sold that computer?

Sep 29, 2019
@rderkis.
AU$100,000.00. How about you, @rderkis? :)

I like you can make up anything. I give billions and billions away weekly.
Now perhaps I can ask, how many meals can you feed the homeless with if you sold that computer?
Now you are being silly, mate. My history of helping out my neighbours and community is sprinkled here and there in past PO posts involving such matters. I even contributed almost AUS$2,000.00 to a science website whose owner was about to quit due to lack of funds for new equipment/bandwidth (longstanding PO members will recall that). Anyhow, now the question is what we can do for the planet/environment/ecosystem as a global whole. That is what climate change crisis/action is all about. What are you going to do, @rderkis: continue the same old personal/political irrelevancies; or wake up to yourself, and to the danger humanity face as a global species (at least in our tolerable/civilised way of life)? Good luck to us all. :)

Sep 29, 2019
That is what climate change crisis/action is all about. What are you going to do, @rderkis: continue the same old personal/political irrelevancies; or wake up to yourself, and to the danger humanity face as a global species (at least in our tolerable/civilised way of life)? Good luck to us all. :)


The ONLY thing that can save us from extinction due to climate change at this point is technology not even all of the human races individual's efforts in the world will stop it.
The technology that will turn climate change around is fusion or genetic enginering to signifivcantly enhance human intelligence. And both of those will happen in the near future. (your lifetime)

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