Bullying: Massachusetts study links bullying, family violence
A new study underscores something researchers have known for some time with regard to bullying: that kids involved with it are more likely to display risk factors such as poor grades and drug and alcohol use.
They’re also more likely to have witnessed or been directly involved in violence within their families, researchers reported -- a link that previously had been established only in smaller studies.
The bullying report was published Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It was based on the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey, an anonymous survey of nearly 6,000 public middle and high school students conducted in January 2009.
In addition to a panel of questions about their grades, health, drug use and violence in their families and more, the Massachusetts students were asked two questions about bullying -- were they perpetrators of bullying and were they victims of bullying? Based on their answers, kids were divided into four groups: bullies (perpetrators only), bully-victims (those who inflicted and received abuse), victims and “neither” (kids who weren’t involved with bullying at all.)
The survey found that 43.9% of middle school respondents were affected by bullying and 30.5% of high school respondents. The odds for most of the risk factors for bullying considered by the survey (such as drinking, or mental health problems) were “significantly elevated” for bullies, victims and bully-victims. Bully-victims in middle and high school were more than three times as likely to report seriously considering suicide, intentionally injuring themselves, being physically hurt by a family member and witnessing violence in their family. They were more likely to have been exposed to family violence than bullies, who in turn were more likely to have been exposed than victims, who in turn were more likely to have been exposed than kids who were neither bullies nor victims, the survey reported.
The authors urged states to continue their work on bullying prevention.
Click here for the full report from the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The Centers for Disease Control has its own anti-bullying initiative: STRYVE, or Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere.
President Obama hosted a bullying conference at the White House last month. Here’s a Booster Shots report on that conference.
The Los Angeles Times reports on a study linking aggressive behavior and popularity and on efforts by state legislators to protect adults from bullying in the workplace.