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In a 2010 poll, it was discovered that bullying was the most common reason students sought out counseling services. This result was alarming enough to call for extensive research on bullying behaviors. However, initial studies made the mistake of focusing only on victims rather than bullies themselves. Shifting this focus will hopefully provide methods that can be used to decrease bullying.
Recent studies have shown that bullies often suffer from depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and hold a negative self-concept. Also, many of them have been victims of bullying in the past. Therefore, to avoid being victimized in the future, they become bullies themselves. We must recognize there are several factors that play into these scenarios. Attention must be given to individual characteristics, family and peer relations, and the school environment.
Understanding what skills to teach
Individual factors have shown that victimization was associated with being male, having low social skills, and having appearance-related stress. This implies bullies target those who have a hard time socializing with peers and who have a lower confidence in their appearance. It should be noted that gender plays a part in what kind of bullying behavior is done. Males engage in more aggressive forms of verbal and physical bullying, while females use tactics like social isolation.
Low teacher support also had a significant impact on bullying. In other words, lower support from faculty and staff meant a higher likelihood of bullying. Interestingly enough, the data indicates peer support did not appear to have significant impact on bullying behaviors. Not surprisingly, parental discord and/or less parental supervision also led to higher displays of bullying.
It is imperative that we understand the relationship between all these factors. We must take in the whole picture because only then can we develop programs that will succeed in preventing bullying in schools and bullying-related suicides.