Friday, January 21, 2011

Fathers Make A Difference

New research suggests children who feel they don't spend enough time with their parents are likely to become bullies. This seems true if fathers work long hours but the same doesn't hold true for lack of time with mothers.

Mothers being primary caregivers spend more time with children while fathers will plan to spend time with children. Schools would help reduce bullying by urging fathers to spend more time with their children.
In the '60s and '70s, as women were starting to enter the labor force we worried, “would our children become delinquent? "Now, 30, 40 years later, we revisit the question and find it's not true."

A study from Brunel University in London found that adolescents who witness bullying are more likely than victims to develop anxiety, depression and physical symptoms of stress, and that they're more likely to use drugs or alcohol. Researchers concluded bystanders were traumatized by repeated exposure to bullying behavior and to their inability to help their peers.

Binghamton University in New York found that girls who were bullied had sex earlier and with more partners than those who weren't, but the effect was reversed with boys. It may be that bullied boys have lower social status, which made them less attractive to the opposite sex, the authors speculated, while bullied girls may suffer low self-esteem that left them more vulnerable to sexual pressure.
A UCLA study suggested that parents wield more clout than they might think, exercising as much influence over their children's social behavior as peers and provides an "untapped resource" in the fight against bullying.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reduce playground gossip

Is malicious gossip an inevitable part of the playground? Maybe not, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Washington.

The scientists taught gossipy Seattle grade-school kids empathy and other life skills in a three-month anti-bullying program -- and found that the kids in their sample bad-mouthed fellow students about 70 percent less than before they went through the program. The research was recently published in the School Psychology Review. (Children who did not spread malicious gossip before the program continued on as good sports after the anti-bullying lessons.)

The study may bring hope to school administrators underEducation Secretary Arne Duncan's directive to "eliminate" bullying in the nation's schools.

Researchers, observing the third- to sixth-graders on the playground, entered instances of gossip into PDAs, including: "Is the cootie girl in your class?" and "Did you hear Dan cheated on the exam?" They saw children standing in a group and conspicuously pointing and laughing at another student, as well as more covert instances of what the study calls "relational aggression." Girls were more often the source and target of gossip, and the behavior spiked in sixth grade.

Karin Frey of the University of Washington, who led the study, helped develop the anti-bullying program Steps to Respect, which was implemented at the Seattle schools during the study. Frey decided to study the program's effects on gossip because kids report that it is as painful as physical aggression, and it can lead to physical bullying.

"In its own right [gossip] can be very harmful," Frey told The Lookout. "The intent of gossip is to harm someone's relationship to other people or to harm their reputations. Sometimes this could escalate to more physical types of aggression."

Teachers and parents often underestimate gossip's harm, she says. The study showed that teachers who intervened when they saw students gossiping dramatically reduced instances of aggression. Teachers also receive training in the anti-bullying program.

Another thing the study shows: Kids who believe they should fight back when bullied tend to be victimized more than those who don't. This may be because their lack of self-control attracts more negative attention.

"The kids who lose it are often the ones who are seen as entertaining kids to bully," Frey says.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bullies Pick On Unpopular Kids.

Bullies pick on unpopular kids.

Who'd have guessed? Bullies target kids who are unpopular and less likely to be defended by their peers, a new study finds.
In elementary school, which this study focused on, kids are only interested in what their same-sex peers think. Boys will target classmates who are not well-liked by other boys, regardless of what the girls think. The same went for girl bullies. In that way the bullies could gain status by dominating other kids while also staying in the good graces of the in-group.

While the findings are a no-brainer, they do paint a picture of a young, strategic, bully who goes out of his or her way to ensure success when taunting, hitting, making fun of and other bully behaviors.

"Bullies do it so strategically that if there is not a good program at the school nothing will change. They won't change their behavior by themselves, because it gives them a lot of advantages," said lead researcher René Veenstra, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen. "You really need a good program that changes the attitude of all the kids in the classroom that makes clear to children that if they want the bully to stop they all have to be part, in taking action."