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|Developmental Trajectories of Bullying and Associated Factors||| Print ||
|Behaviour and Mental Health Problems|
Many children who frequently bully others are set on a path that can continue into adulthood. Early interventions that target their aggression, their deficits in understanding other’s behavior, and their ability to solve problems with others could reduce their aggression and social problems as they get older. Many of these children also have difficult relationships with their parents and their peers, and interventions with their families plus help and support could positively affect many of their problems.
The Issue: Children and adolescents who bully appear to have problems understanding how to establish and maintain relationships with other people. They learn to control and hurt others with their aggressive behavior. Many children who are not commonly aggressive will bully others on occasion. There is another group, however, who seem to have a chronic problem with bullying that persists over a long period of time. Understanding how chronic bullying develops would be helpful in preventing or intervening to stop it.
The Research: This was part of a long-term study of children who were 10 to 14 years old at the start of the project. Over a period of 8 years, 871 children (466 girls and 405 boys) took part. They were tested twice in the first year and then once a year for each of the following seven years. The children were asked about the frequency and severity of their bullying behavior, whether they were mean or cruel to others, weren’t trustworthy, tricked others into doing things, and lacked any guilt when doing so. Measures of aggression included descriptions of behavior, like pushing or shoving, throwing things, hitting or punching someone and how often this happened. “Relational” aggression, described as spreading rumours or lies about someone, keeping someone out of a group, or ignoring them when angry was measured as well. Family relationships were assessed based on reports of parental monitoring, parental trust, and conflict with parents. The nature of peer relationships was assessed by asking about associations with peers who bully others, conflict with peers, and how susceptible participants were to peer pressure.
The Results: The children’s likelihood of chronic bullying was determined by their scores on yearly testing done between ages 10 and 17. Four groups of children were identified: approximately 10% who engaged in chronic, high levels of bullying; 35% who reported a consistent pattern of moderate level bullying, and about 42% who reported they never bullied others.
The children identified as bullying others frequently seem to be establishing a way of interacting with others that could well carry over into adulthood. They use aggression and power as a means of getting what they want and to control others. They are far more likely to be in conflict with their parents, to have peers who bully, have higher susceptibility to peer pressure, and to lack any remorse for hurting others.
The preceding is a summary of: Pepler D, Jian D, Craig W, Connolly J. Developmental trajectories of bullying and associated factors. Child Development. 2008; 79(2): 325-338.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 February 2009 13:01|