Act Against Bullying is a set of monologues I researched in 2000 and first published in 2002. It was the reason for me setting up Act Against Bullying as a charity. They’ve been used in schools as a means of discussing the awkward situations which can lead on to serious bullying. Recently I’ve updated them to include cyberbullying, sexting and parental abuse. I’ve researched, written broadcast on bullying for a range of media as listed on my site.
During school years, bullying is one of the most common expressions of violence in the peer context. The common definition is ‘aggressive, intentional acts carried out by a group or an individual repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him- or herself’. The relevant criteria are (1) repetition (2) intentionality and (3) an imbalance of power. Or systematic abuse of power by peers. Imbalance of power can be derived from physical strength, social status in the group, or from group size (e.g. a group targeting a single person). Or knowing and exploiting a person’s vulnerabilities (e.g. appearance, learning problem, family situation) to harm him or her. It is recognised globally as a complex and serious problem which is why I wrote the Act Against Bullying monologues.
Friendships are either unilateral (one-sided )or reciprocal or somewhere in between the two categories. Recent studies show loneliness increases as friendship quality decreases. (i.e the adolescent received a friendship nomination but did not reciprocate that nomination) and/or a lower quality of best friendship. These findings (a) indicate that loneliness is negatively related to the number of friends adolescents have, as perceived by themselves and their peers and (b) suggest that, once a friendship is established, lonely adolescents may interpret the friendship quality less positively compared to their friends. In Act Against Bullying, many of the monologues centre on that feeling of loneliness and this is often related to peer-based group bullying.
Before I wrote Act Against Bullying, I did my own research. I mostly spoke with children aged between 7 and 13. Bullying peaks during middle school years (i.e. 12–15 years), and tends to decrease by the end of high school. Boys and girls bully in different ways. Between boys, it is more likely to be physical. Bullying among girls is more relational, such as manipulating friendships and extending feuds.
Bullying research started more than forty years ago when it was recognised as a major problem. The focus on anti-bullying interventions is significant and shows programmes are often effective, reaching an average decrease of 20–23% for bullying others and of 17–20% for being bullied. It seems peer witnesses’ responses are crucial to either inhibit or fuel bullying. So some of the highly effective programmes are focused on enhancing bystanders’ awareness, empathy and self-efficacy to support victimised peers, instead of reinforcing the bullies’ behaviour. This is where programmes using the Act Against Bullying monologues are so useful.