When and Where Does Bullying Occur?
Bullying can and does occur everywhere, but it is most frequent in schools and similar settings. When groups of children are interacting for long periods (such as in school or child care) there are increases in bullying behavior, but it can also occur in neighborhoods, on busses, and other settings. A major contributor to bullying behavior occurrences is in areas where there is little to no adult supervision. When children are given opportunities to interact in larger spaces with less direct supervision, or places where they can conceal their activities there is usually more bullying activity that occurs.
The most common places for bullying behavior are the playground and the classroom. Even early childhood programs have instances of bullying behaviors that educators can work to document and record. Whether you use a sticky note system or a running record of behaviors, it is crucial to observe, record, and document children’s social interactions especially if you suspect bullying behaviors.
You may also notice that when your distance between the children grows larger you will see more of this behavior. You must balance the need to observe authentic interactions between children and providing appropriate supervision. Often, young children are acting impulsively when exhibiting bullying behaviors but may become especially skilled at finding ways to get away with the behavior.
These common places for bullying rely heavily on a lack of adult supervision but may also rely on a lack of peer observations. Private spaces with less people around are prime opportunities for negative behaviors to occur. Bullies are usually aware to some degree that what they are doing is wrong. They may not be able to pinpoint the details, but they are fueled by the reactions that they get from their target and these are almost always negative.
Eventually, a bully may find the negative reactions of their victims to be a positive reward for their actions. A victim’s reaction can range from giving up a toy or object to crying or yelling. For some bullies these reactions are equally fulfilling. When adults or peers cannot observe the behaviors and are not able to step in and stop the behavior, bullies get the reward that they may have been seeking all along.