When it comes to childhood bullying, four key factors help with coping, study says

Sep 23, 2010

A new study from researchers at Macquarie University has identified four coping factors that can help children overcome victimisation and lessen the impact of bullying on their future happiness. The report concludes that helping children developing these characteristics can reduce depression, anxiety and behavioural problems when victimised by their peers.

Most children will experience some form of as they grow up. A study published by Cross and Colleagues (2009) suggests that as many as one in four children will be harassed by their at some stage. However, not all children suffer the same long term effects, and some recover better than others. Dr. Puneet Singh and Associate Professor Kay Bussey from Macquarie University’s Department of Psychology have identified four factors that help children cope with victimisation.

“Unfortunately, many children will get victimized during school and this can continue into adulthood,” says Dr. Singh, “so it all comes back to your personal ability to deal with it.” Their research suggests that children who have more confidence in their ability to be proactive and seek support or resolve conflicts are less likely to experience anxiety. Those with a greater ability not to blame themselves, to focus on their positive attributes, and not take victimisation personally were found to be less anxious and depressed. Finally, students who felt confident not to strike back or seek revenge exhibited fewer behavioral problems.

“They should take action, get support, and not seek revenge. Children who don’t strike back but forgive are less likely to have behavioral difficulties,” says Dr. Singh. She stresses the importance of helping children to develop confidence in their own abilities to feel more in control of a situation. “Look out for signs,” she says, and urges parents and teachers to encourage development of the identified coping factors. “It is not only what children do in response to being victimized, but also how they think about themselves that helps them overcome long-term difficulties.”

Explore further: Religious denominations friendly to same-sex marriage may protect gay youth from depression

More information: ‘Peer Victimisation and Psychological Maladjustment: The Mediating Role of Coping Self-Efficacy’ was published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence. A full copy of the report is available for download.

Provided by Macquarie University

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User comments : 2

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dirk_bruere
not rated yet Sep 23, 2010
In my case the bullying only stopped at school when I did strike back.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 25, 2010
dirk_bruere:

Pretty much the same here.

I was mostly a person who, while certainly no "angel", I tried to follow all rules. However, bullies do not follow rules and often have "enablers" built into the system, either in the rules themselves, such as "Zero tolerance" which punishes the victim as much as the bully, or in the form of a friend or relative in authority.

Then there are also forms of bullying and harrassment in which the "bully" directly uses the authority, whether teachers and principal in school, or police in the "real world", to help perpetuate their actions. This would mainly be described as the "bully" falsely accuses the victim, who gets in trouble even though they did nothing wrong.

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