Who Is Likely to Become a Bully, a Victim, or Both?
Children and adolescents who lack social problem-solving skills are more at risk of becoming bullies, victims, or both than those who don’t have these difficulties, says new research published by the American Psychological Association. But those who are also having academic troubles are even likelier to become bullies.
Lead author Clayton R. Cook, PhD, of Louisiana State University, and coauthors from the University of California at Riverside examined 153 studies from the last 30 years. They found that boys bully more than girls, and bullies and victims both have poor social problem-solving skills. More than anything else, poor academic performance predicts those who will bully.
“A typical bully has trouble resolving problems with others and also has trouble academically,” says Cook. “He or she usually has negative attitudes and beliefs about others, feels negatively toward himself/herself, comes from a family environment characterized by conflict and poor parenting, perceives school as negative and is negatively influenced by peers.
“A typical victim is likely to be aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, experience difficulties in solving social problems, come from negative family, school and community environments and be noticeably rejected and isolated by peers,” Cook adds.
The typical bully-victim (someone who bullies and is bullied) also has negative attitudes and beliefs about himself or herself and others, the study found. He or she has trouble with social interaction, does not have good social problem-solving skills, performs poorly academically and is not only rejected and isolated by peers but is also negatively influenced by the peers with whom he or she interacts, according to the study.
Sample sizes for the studies examined ranged from 44 to 26,430. Ages ranged from 3 to 18. The participants were from the United States and Europe. Researchers used self-, peer, teacher, and parent reports to measure the extent of bullying, aggression, and victimization; externalizing behavior (defiant, aggressive, or disruptive responses); internalizing behaviors (withdrawal, depression, anxious, and avoidant responses); social competence; beliefs, feelings, and thoughts; academic performance; family and home environment; school environment; community life; peer status; and influence.
According to the authors, most programs use strategies to prevent bullying that favor removing the bully from the environment, such as enforced anti-bullying rules and peer-reporting of bullying incidents in schools. The more promising interventions target the behaviors and the environments that are putting these young people at risk of becoming bullies and/or victims.
— Source: American Psychological Association