Bullying in Poland

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During the past couple of years Poland schools have been implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The Program is named after Dan Olweus, a Norwegian researcher who has spent decades studying this phenomena, and is credited with defining the term in the mid-1970s.

Bullying in Poland has been brought to the forefront more in recent years, and the Olweus program is one of several initiatives in the country to stem the tide of bullying. There is also cyberbullying in Poland, which is the use of the Internet for Internet bullying or Facebook bullying.

There was a report out of Warsaw in 1999 where a student killed himself, and said bullying by his teacher led him to it. At the time it created controversy as to whether bullying was really the cause.

Polish education officials say about 17 percent of students are bullied. That is about the average for European nations, but some feel it can be improved.

A middle school principal, Greg Cuthbertson, said he believed the numbers should be higher, because he says he sees it every day in the schools. He also said often social media is used, which is cyberbullying, and that spills over into the schools.

The Olweus program starts with t-shirts and a video, but then it gets more serious. Students are put into groups and have monthly meetings with counselors to discuss bullying. Students are shown various scenarios and talk about how to deal with bullying. Students are also encouraged to intervene when they see bullying happening. A big part of the Olweus program is for other students to say something and confront the bully. Often this helps, or at least discourages bullying.

As in many developed nations, cyberbullying is becoming a much larger issue in Poland. The Cyberbullying Research Center estimates 24 percent of students are victims of cyberbullying. As the world turns high-tech, all kinds of social media have increased the bullying in Poland.

This particular study also said 52 percent of Polish internet users had been bullied via their mobile phone.

A study commissioned by the European Union gave similar figures, and it showed about 40 percent of parents are concerned that their children might be bullied or cyberbullied. This study also showed that 50 percent do not allow children to create an online profile, while 35 percent do.

This study recommended raising cyberbullying awareness and empowering kids with information on how to handle it. They were also trying to work out a way for students to report cyberbullying with the clicking of a link or button.

Bullying of any kind is defined as aggressive behavior that is threatening or demeaning to another person. It is further defined as a repetitive action. Most of the time it is middle school bullying, but there is also high school bullying. Most experts agree most bullying happens between the ages of 11 and 14, and that is where bulling awareness is needed most. There is also high school bullying as it continues into the teen years.

Polish governmental authorities have created cyberbullying laws, as well as cyber stalking laws as facts about cyberbullying emerge. It creates the idea that stalking is stalking, whether done physically or electronically. The Polish law makes it illegal to bully someone even one time, even though the legal definition is repeated behavior. It makes it illegal to make a threat, or make a person feel threatened by use of any electronic device.

There have also been reports of teen suicide as a result of being bullied. The Polish law gives authorities the ability to charge a person who bullied someone who committed suicide and they could be sent to jail for 10 years.

The law also makes it a major crime for an adult to stalk or send sexually suggestive messages to a teenager under the age of 15.

Whether it is cyberbullying, or face to face bullying, it seems to be an issue that Europeans are taking seriously.

Even so, a later study showed 20 percent of students were involved in frequent bullying, and 10 percent admitted to having bullied others.Bullying statistics and bullying information show it increasing even with information on how to handle bullying. About two percent were both at the same time. One interesting aspect in Poland is that bulling decreases as kids get older, but the amount of victimization increases with age. This has led some to believe that often students bully others that are younger.

Boys were more likely than girls to use physical bullying, while girls were more likely to use verbal or Internet type bullying. This study also found that regular use of tobacco or marijuana also increased a person’s chances of being bullied.

Other studies have shown long term effects of bullying. Often children are bullied in middle school, but it ends. When students are bullied both at middle school and at high school, it is seen as “chronic” bullying. This study showed those students have a higher risk of mental illness and academic problems.

This study also showed that lower economic status and problems at home was also a predictor of whether a person might become a victim of bullying in Poland. It suggested there should be more research into the role of the victim and their families to reduce the chances of being bullied becoming chronic.

Bullying may also relate to a person’s social skills and emotional awareness.

Those who were bullies were less likely to follow social rules. Both bullies and victims were less aware of the physical reactions of their emotions – emotional awareness – than those who were not involved in bullying at all. Both bullies and victims were also seen as less likable than those students who had no involvement. The study did note that social skills may be even more important than emotional awareness. It concluded that working to improve social and emotional skills could help as a means of intervention for both bullies and victims.

Often those that become bullies, and those that become victims, tend to stay that way throughout their life. Those that are bullies and those that are victims generally are the same as adults as they were as children. This leads to workplace bullying and office bullying in Poland.

A recent book called “Workplace Abuse, Incivility and Bullying,” said bullying is a problem for adults in the work place, and that measure to handle it have not been sufficient.

Many of the countries that are in a post-Communist era, such as Poland, report lower levels of adult bullying, or mobbing. Poland had about half the number that the rest of Europe had. Like many post-Communist countries, Poland has had major economic changes over the years, and that may influence the amount of bullying, and the attitudes people have about mobbing.

More than 25 percent of Polish workers felt that bullying in the workplace was acceptable behavior, which was the highest in Europe, according to the book.

There have been some efforts to raise awareness of adult bullying, and some efforts to help people on how to deal with bullying. There are no laws yet concerning bullying or cyberbullying in the work place, but harming someone physically is still against the law and if bullying gets to that point, it could be prosecuted.

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