Where does aggression come from? What creates a bully?
Listen to world renowned child development and population health researcher, Dr. Clyde Hertzman, re-frame “bullying”.
The negative impacts of bullying among children and youth has received considerable attention over the past decade. It is well-known that children and youth who are bullied have poorer outcomes in the areas of mental and physical health. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs in schools has been disappointing. Anti-bullying approaches are proactive responses (on behalf of the bullied) to make potential bullies aware that mistreating another person is not acceptable. This is in contrast to social and emotional learning efforts that aim to boost the capacity of individuals to deal with conflict, strong emotions and confusing relationships using prosocial and interpersonal tools. A recent meta-analysis found that anti-bullying programs in high school have been ineffective and programs for younger children have only been modestly effective.
What is becoming obvious is that bullying is not, solely, a school-based issue but rather an interplay between the family environment, the school environment, social identity, and problem-solving skills. Children who are victimized report poorer family relations, less encouragement from parents and teachers, less effective problem-solving skills and lower social status. These findings speak to the needs for more effort at the family, school and community levels in supporting children to build social and emotional skills rather than focusing on bullying behaviour.
A "meta analysis" uses a statistical approach to combine the results from multiple studies in an effort to:
- identify patterns among many study results
- increase the power of the conclusions (over individual studies)
- resolve uncertainty when research results disagree
A meta-analysis of research on anti-bullying programs found that:
- Bullying appears to be effectively prevented in 7th grade and below.
- In 8th grade there is a sharp drop in efficacy to an average of zero.
- There was a "reversal in efficacy through the high school years, such that programs, if anything, cause harm."
Study by Yeager, Fong, Lee and Espelage in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (January 2015).
461 children between the ages of 11 and 15 were surveyed to find the links between victimization, gender, family situation, social identity and problem solving style.