School Bullying: a Challenging Behaviour in a Primary Classroom Setting

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2472 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 2472|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Every individual behaves differently. The way a person behaves is considered personal because of the many factors affecting one's behaviours which can be the numerous experiences, as well as the diverse background of the individual. This essay will look further on one of the emerging challenging behaviour in the primary classroom, which is bullying, and the factors that lies within; and find out how do teachers and the school respond to them, as well as look into the theories and approaches used by teachers and the school. In addition, we will discuss and analyse the effectivity of some of the theories and approaches to be able to establish and reflect which are useful and applicable in addressing such behaviours.

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As generally defined, behaviour refers to a child's conduct which means it is their actions, reactions, and functioning to respond to their environment and the happenings around them. Consistent with the Department of Education and Training in Victoria, children's behaviour may be their way of seeking and trying to satisfy neediness or to express their wants. It may also be a sign of their interests not being met. Similarly, Linda’s Book and Theory (1996) presented four goals of misbehaviour, which are attention, power, revenge, and avoidance of failure, believing that children purposely misbehave for gratification. This, then, adds to the challenging behaviour of a child. A behaviour is only identified as challenging when it interferes with the child's daily life and the rights of others, when it harms the child and everyone around, or when it damages the physical surrounding, which interrupts the children's learning and their relationships with one another. Other indications of challenging behaviour can be the shyness, withdrawal, or indifference of a child.

Commonly, bullying is one of the challenging behaviours in schools. There are several types and specific forms of bullying identified by the Department of Education in Victoria (2019) found on their website on 'Bully Stoppers', despite that, there is a new-found definition of bullying developed and approved by all Australian schools. In summary, bullying is an ongoing, intentional, and repetitive misuse of power in a superior-inferior relationship. It can be done verbally, physically, or socially, that causes harm to one or more persons. It can also happen through various platforms that can be obvious or hidden. Thus, bullying may occur and arise at home, in the classroom or school, or even online. Moreover, bullying remains a significant concern during middle childhood. A recent report by Pole (2019), the Chief Review Officer of the Education Review Office (ERO) in New Zealand stated that 46% of primary-age students reported having been bullied at their current school and 61% of primary-age students reported being a bystander or witness to bullying (as cited by Swit, 2019). Similar conducts and behaviours manifest in everyone, however, teachers are becoming more aware of the bullying behaviours in primary school settings.

Since bullying itself is extremely broad, let us focus on physical bullying in particular. Swit (2019) outlined examples of physical bullying such as being pushed to do something against their will, having your personal things being taken or being destroyed, and being hit, pushed, kicked, punched, etc. This type of bullying may also include threats of violence, hence it can be easily detected and observed as there is physical evidence being exhibited. Awareness and observation of such bullying behaviours of a child in the classroom, yard, or home play a significant role in keeping the safety of everyone, as well as the prevention of possible harm.

A case study of a nine-year-old student was presented by Jodie Lodge (2014), a researcher at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. In the study, Lodge (2014) reports that 'the child lives with his mom and sees his father only on special occasions. The father is known to have a history of antisocial behaviour and alcohol abuse. The work of the mother affects the consistency and quality of the child's after-school care. The child's mother often recounts that she is having a problem with the behaviour of her child at home that often results in physical punishments. Because of relocations, the child has been enrolled in three different schools where he has been troublesome and known for physical aggression with injuries, which resulted in contempt and indifference of the child towards others' rights and feelings. The mother has been unreceptive when contacted and claims that the school is held responsible for his child's behaviours.” It is clear that the child had disturbing experiences from home that is a potential cause for the challenging behaviour being displayed by the child in his school. The child intimidates other children and people around him by using violence or physical aggression.

In the case study, Lodge, J. (2014) identified the risk factors which were the following: family (inconsistent parenting and childrearing, history of antisocial behaviour and substance abuse, less family support and relationship); insufficient guidance at home and in the neighbourhood which leads to exposure to media violence; and severe physical punishments used to forcibly control the child. These factors led to the child experiencing school failure due to having impulse control issues which consistently shows early behavioural problems. Shields & Cicchetti (2001), as cited by Lodge (2014), explained that the child's experiences of abuse and violence at home is related to having a higher probability of bullying. In fact, parenting is one of the considerations of the bullying behaviour of the child. While Bowers, et. al. (1994) & Stevens, et. al. (2002) indicated that those who bully can possibly originate from several family conditions, which includes poor cohesion, expressiveness, social orientation, and the like; Bonds & Stoker (2000) also listed some of the family aspects that contributes to the bullying behaviours in children. Some of these factors in their list are rejection and negative response of parents, poor care and support system by the family, the weak relationship of the child and parent, physical punishment, inconsistent discipline when parents are irritable, and social isolation.

Whereas the multiple family factors are the main influences in the case, it is notable that not everyone who bully is influenced by their family or parents. Many others actually come from a nurturing, supportive, and happy families (Ball et al., 2008). Wattle Grove Primary School (2020) suggested other factors such as friendship breakdown, high achievement in academics or other extracurriculars, differences in physical appearance, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and being a newbie in a group. A few children display bullying behaviour as an offset of their bad experiences and their feelings of powerlessness, which can be driven by feeling powerful and in authority achieved by bullying others. The presence of family and other contributing factors implies that the risk of violence and destructive behaviours or continuing psychological and behavioural problems are remarkably high. Hence, further assessment is suggested to establish and verify the bullying behaviour and the risks related to it.

Since bullying is identified as a concern in schools and bullying is being reported in schools from time to time, it can also be a family matter because these kinds of challenging behaviour are often influenced by families, the interactions and relationships with them, as well as the environment at home. Lodge (2014) asserted that there is a need to work with families to intervene immediately and prevent the escalation of school bullying into crime-related issues.

In the incident, the school made an effort and worked hand in hand with the family of the child who bullies. To intervene, they used a specific approach and enumerated the steps to manage the bullying of the child. The child's and family's needs should be recognised and defined in the management program used to intervene and address the bullying behaviour of the child. There are four steps listed by Jodie Lodge (2014); firstly, work with the family to be aware of the child's problems and the risk factors, secondly, assess the risk and protective factors, its effects and the ability of the family to lessen the risks; thirdly, establish the main concerns from the most important to the least and create a risk reduction management program; and lastly, give it a try and utilize the plan to be able to cope with the existing challenging behaviour. This explains why there is a need for evaluation and assessment of the child and the way he behaves to be able to intervene in a better and more appropriate way. In-depth assessment of the child and his behaviour requires knowing his background and identity; hence the teacher-parent relationship is vital in planning and creating a plan or program to deal with the bullying behaviour of the child. It also shows here that the change of behaviour in children who bully will need more care and encouraging support which uses selective and targeted approaches resulting to positive solutions.

In addition to having a positive solution to stop bullying from recurring, restoring relationships is also one of the aims of every Australian schools to respond to bullying as identified in one of the government websites. Restoring relationships can be achieved using some of the methods of intervention. 'Bully Stoppers' mentioned the six methods of intervention by Professor Ken Rigby (2010). These are the Traditional Disciplinary Approach, Strengthening the Target, Mediation, Support Group Method, Restorative Practice, and Method of Shared Concern. Since every bullying behaviour is not one and the same, these approaches can be used to support and help teachers and schools to deal with the bullying behaviour. One or two approaches may be effective, and the others may not be. Nonetheless, in the incident presented earlier, Mediation and Method of Shared Concern were applied in the approach used to intervene and address the physical bullying of the child. The Traditional Disciplinary Approach is not suitable to address and intervene in this incident because it entails physical punishment and we can see that the child is already physically aggressive and is living through and suffering from his horrible experiences at home. The Royal Children's Hospital (2018) acknowledged that using physical discipline or punishment to a child can be detrimental. This is also backed by Marshall (2019), in his article entitled, 'How to Discipline without Stress, Punishment, or Rewards,' stating that the traditional approaches in student discipline are no longer successful compared to the past generations because children enter school having a various background, characters, and perspectives. The other methods such as the support group method, restorative practice, etc. can be used, as well, but it is always situational because every single method has its own strong and weak points. Other methods may work in a specific situation while another might not.

Further, the NSW Department of Education (2019) developed an anti-bullying whole-school approach that includes five evidence-based elements which are founded on the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework. The aim of this approach is to give assistance to schools in carrying it out and applying it to foster positive relationships and keep students safe and happy, not to emphasize the negativity of the bullying behaviour or demean the bullies in the school. The five essential elements of the whole-school approach to encourage and foster positive behaviour are leadership of the principals and school leaders, inclusive environment that welcomes and values diversity, student voice in decision-making, collaborative partnerships with parents and the community, and positive reinforcement and support for everyone involved. It is very evident that in this approach, there is a group effort since the collaborative partnership with the parents is one of the main keys in tackling the bullying behaviour of the child. As mentioned by Lodge (2014), it is good to discuss with the parents and involve them in the school bullying policy and programs being constructed by the school. Bonds & Stoker (2000) and Olweus (1993) pointed out that engaging the parents of victims and bullies encourages direct participation from both parties and people involved (as cited by Lodge, 2014). Another comprehensive whole-school approach in New Zealand is called Positive Behaviour for Learning, this clearly educates primary students in having a positive behaviour and rapport with one another (Swit, 2020). Hence, the whole-school approach and school-based anti-bullying are believed to be successful with the active participation and consistent partnership of all parties involved. Swit (2020) attested that it will be most effective to prevent bullying behaviours and promote respectful relationships when there is staff training, bullying prevention curricula, and inclusive school culture.

On the child's and teacher's part, Barbara Coloroso's Inner Discipline Theory applied in the classroom can also help the children reflect on their own behaviours and how it impacts others. Hardin (2012), as cited by Chambers (n.d.), explained that it teaches the students problem-solving skills as it builds their inner discipline to critically think about their own actions and behaviours and to be able to predict the outcomes of their actions. This theory encourages children to be actively involved in classroom management from deciding the rules to its application and practice in the classroom and throughout the school. It does not only emphasize the negative behaviours, but it promotes positive behaviours in the classroom as the children are aware of their actions and its results. This one should be considered in classroom management to prevent bullying and other challenging behaviours in the class. The results of Australian research studies, (Whole School Approaches, n.d.) has pinpointed useful means to cultivate positive student behaviour as well as reliable, inclusive, solution-centred, and non-punishing disciplinary techniques. Thus, all teachers take a crucial part in the intervention of the bullying behaviour and the minimising of bullying incidents happening in schools as evidenced by research.

Ultimately, using a variety of approaches will help teachers and schools tackle bullying behaviours that may arise in schools. Positive relationships established at home and in school, as discussed in this essay, may reduce and prevent the bullying behaviours taken into account in the incident presented. Whole School Approaches (n.d.) identified that a combination of approaches can build positive behaviours and discourage bullying through engaging activities with the students, family, and staff members, alongside with the professional development for teachers in the school. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2017) determined in their research that better and equipped teachers can handle and cope with the ever increasing bullying behaviours happening around the classrooms and in schools in Australia because of the continuing support and the various professional learning being offered.

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The incident of physical bullying posed as a challenging behaviour in this essay underlines that there are many contributing factors leading to the child's actions or conduct and that assessment is important to intervene and address specifically the behaviour of the child. Through a joint effort and collaboration of the school leaders, teachers, family members, and the child, there will be a multifaceted approach to foster positive behaviours and to face the concerns of bullying in the primary schools.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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School Bullying: A Challenging Behaviour in a Primary Classroom Setting. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“School Bullying: A Challenging Behaviour in a Primary Classroom Setting.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
School Bullying: A Challenging Behaviour in a Primary Classroom Setting. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
School Bullying: A Challenging Behaviour in a Primary Classroom Setting [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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