Family, School Support May Help Stop Bullies in Their Tracks


FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2018 — Children with strong family ties and school support are more likely to try to stop bullying when they see it, new research suggests.

The study included 450 sixth-graders and 446 ninth-graders who were asked about their relationships with their family, friends and teachers.

The students were then presented with six scenarios of specific aggressive acts: physical aggression; cyberbullying; social exclusion/rejection by a group; intimate partner violence; social aggression, such as teasing or harmful gossip; and exclusion by a former friend.

The investigators then asked the students to rate the acceptability of intervening in these situations.

“We found that family is very important,” said study co-author Secil Gonultas, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University.

“The stronger a student’s reported ‘good family management,’ or positive family relationships, the more likely a student was to deem aggressive behaviors and retaliation unacceptable, and the more likely they were to intervene in either case,” Gonultas said in a university news release.

And according to study lead author Kelly Lynn Mulvey, “sixth-graders were more likely than ninth-graders to find aggressive behaviors unacceptable and to intervene.” Mulvey is an assistant professor of psychology at N.C. State.

“That suggests it’s important to maintain anti-bullying efforts into high school — which many places are already doing,” she added.

The researchers also found that students who felt excluded or discriminated against by peers or teachers were less likely to stand up for victims of bullying.

“The study tells us that both home and school factors are important for recognizing bullying behavior as inappropriate, and taking steps to intervene,” Mulvey said.

“It highlights the value of positive school environments and good teachers, and the importance of family support, when it comes to addressing bullying,” she concluded.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on bullying.

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Posted: December 2018