Monday, July 19, 2010

Characteristics of bullies and victims

Recent research reviewing 153 studies over the past 30 years on bullies and victims found consistent characteristics of bullies and victims.  The press release published by the American Psychological Assocation summarizes the findings from Clayton R. Cook, PhD, of Louisiana State University and co-authors from the University of California at Riverside:
“A typical bully has trouble resolving problems with others and also has trouble academically,” said 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,” said Cook.
Given these underlying issues, programs that focus on temporarily removing the bullies from the environment aren't very effective.  A better approach is recommended in the report:
“Intervene with the parents, peers and schools simultaneously,” said Cook. “Behavioral parent training could be used in the home while building good peer relationship and problem-solving skills could be offered in the schools, along with academic help for those having troubling in this area.”
While there are no easy solutions, working to address the underlying issues is in everyone's best interest.

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