Anti-bullying policy must focus on all of society

Policy to reduce bullying in the schoolyard needs to span all levels of society, say researchers from the University of Warwick, who warn that socioeconomic status is not a reliable indicator of whether a child is likely to become a bully.

Up to one third of children are involved in bullying, and a growing body of evidence has shown that bullying is a significant public health concern, which can cause long lasting health and .

The new review, published in the American Journal of Public Health, advises that should be wary of assuming that bullies are more likely to come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

In analysing 28 studies that reported an association between socioeconomic status and bullying, and adjusting for bias, the review showed that bullies were not more likely to come from low , and were only marginally less likely to come from the highest socioeconomic levels (2% less likely).

Professor Dieter Wolke said, "We can see that bullies come from all social backgrounds and bullies are found in all neighbourhoods. Some have previously suggested that bullies may be often operating in socially deprived areas – this is not the case!"

The likelihood of being a victim, or both a and victim, was seen to be slightly higher within lower socio economic classes.

Professor Wolke explained, "Bullying is about gaining access to resources and can be used to achieve elevated status within social groups. They are often the ring leaders that are not always detected by teachers .

Bullies are considered to reap social benefits from their actions due to the hierarchical nature of the schoolyard, where the most adept bullies become popular figures amongst their peers.

Neil Tippett, lead author of the review, added, "This hierarchy is familiar to us all from our own school days. In my view, so long as the rewards exist for bullies in the form of social status, it is difficult to make bullies to change their behaviours as there is little incentive for them to do so."

"We need to think of ways to channel the abilities of bullies into prosocial activities where they can use their popularity and leadership qualities to benefit themselves and others "

This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to explore the association between and involvement in childhood bullying.

More information: Paper: ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/… 105/AJPH.2014.301960

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bullies and victims face mental health risks

Jan 14, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Young teenage bullies and their victims face increased risks of developing mental health and substance use problems later in adolescence, a University of Queensland study has found.

Recommended for you

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

Could there be a bright side to depression?

Nov 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A group of researchers studying the roots of depression has developed a test that leads them closer to the idea that depression may actually be an adaptation meant to help people cope with ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.