Latest Canadian Bullying Research Finds that 10 Percent of Kids Bully Persistently
The kids have been back in school for a few weeks now -- plenty of time for bullying to start rearing its ugly head once again.
Whether bullying gets expressed as a body slam in the hallways, a shove that ends a classmate tumbling off the balance beam during gym class, or a nasty rumor that gets started in math class and ends up all over Facebook by the end of the day, bullying can make life a misery for the child being bullied –- and the fallout can be experienced for a lifetime.
Bullying shouldn't be brushed off as a normal childhood rite of passage -- not when there's a huge and growing body of research to demonstrate that allowing kids to battle things out à la The Lord of The Flies can result in real-life tragedies. Parents, teachers, and other adults have an important role to play in teaching kids healthier ways to sort out conflicts and manage feelings of aggression at home, at school, and in the community.
The bullying problem is more widespread and the fallout of bullying is far more serious than most people realize. Consider the latest study conducted by a team of researchers at York University and Queen's University ("Developmental Trajectories of Bullying and Associated Factors" -- slated for publication in the March/April issue of Child Development). The lead author of this study is Debra Pepler, a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University and Senior Associate Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children. Queen’s University Professor Wendy Craig, York University Professor Jennifer Connolly, and statistician Dr. Depeng Jiang coauthored the study.
The researchers studied 871 Canadian children, ages 10 through 18. They found that about 10 percent of children bully other children on an persistent basis.
Treating this type of persistent bullying requires a two-pronged approach, the researchers concluded:
(1) interventions that focus on the child’s behaviour and problem-solving skills; and
(2) interventions that focus on the child's relationships with parents and peers.
Ultimately, the researchers would like to find a way of identifying those kids who are at high risk of developing bullying behaviors so that they can break the bullying cycle before it becomes well established. That would mean providing the potential bully with intensive support before the child at risk of bullying embarks on what Pepler refers to as a "career path" of bullying – a path that can lead to a series of serious relationship problems throughout life. (In addition to being aggressive, children who bully are morally disengaged: they lack compassion for those whom they victimize or guilt for their actions.)
The researchers recommend that future research in this area examine the links between bullying and other forms of relationship aggression such as dating aggression and sexual harassment.
Rick Mercer's Rant on Bullying
Now over to you:
What do you think of the results of this latest study? Has bullying been an issue for you or other members of your family? Is your child's school involved in anti-bullying initiatives? Have you witnessed bullying in other areas of your life? What seems to be most effective, based on your own experience, in dealing with bullying?