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Bullying and the size of schools

By By PAT BAILEY

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - Harassment is common in schools across the country, but the victims don't always have the same thing in common, according to one college professor.

SUNYIT Associate Professor of Sociology Ronni Tichenor says the size of a community sets a blueprint for the type of bullying that occurs.

"If you're in a larger school district or a larger community, you have more options for people to try to fit in and find your group, if you're talking about a child in school," Tichenor said.

According to Tichenor, any student who sticks out for whatever reason, be it race, weight, gender or economic status can become a target of bullying or harassment.

That is the case in Cooperstown - a village that's not very diverse. According to the 2000 census, figures show the village to be 96% white, with different income scales.

"Bullying along racial lines is certainly a problem, because you still have so many school districts that are all white, you don't have the opportunity to do that," Tichenor said. "So they pick on someone for some other reason."

Bullying or harassment occurs when there is a power in numbers, and it is for that reason why many kids don't stand up to bullies.

"When someone else is being targeted, you can be fairly certain you're not going to be the one who will be chosen next to be thrown out of the social group," Tichenor said.

Will there ever be a role reversal? Will the once picked on become the bully?

Tichenor said that is only likely if enough of a one-time minority band together and create a power in numbers. However, she said that does not always happen.

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