Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Bullied children can often display — and become tolerant of — negative behavior, but a new study determined that a mother’s warmth can prevent aggression and antisocial behavior in some kids, especially girls.
The study analyzed data collected from more than 1,000 children, over the age of 8, on whether they had been bullied; about 68 percent reported having been bullied within the last month. Researchers also visited the families at home to evaluate family conflicts and how a mother acted toward her children — if she was warm and showed pride/pleasure, or if she was cold and harsh. (For this particular study, fathers were not included.)
Girls who received affection and who communicated well with their moms were less likely to internalize the bullying and feel like a victim. But even if boys received maternal warmth, they still absorbed the negative effects of bullying, and antisocial behavior actually increased over five years.
However, mothers also reported less communication with their sons, making the case that increased conversations may lessen the negative impact of bullying on boys.
“Children who develop hostile and distrustful relationships with their parents due to low parental warmth and responsiveness may adopt similar patterns of negative expectations when engaging with peers, as a result of their greater fear and anxiety,” said Grace Yang, lead author of the study.
Researchers even speculated that boys’ behavior might improve with a stronger and supportive network of friends, versus girls who “depended on the parent and family dynamics.”
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Bullied boy via Shutterstock
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New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now
Friday, February 7th, 2014
“Friday Night Tykes,” a new reality television show set at a youth football league in Texas, is igniting a debate about the fine line between motivation and bullying when it comes to coaches. An essay on Time.com outlines the issue and cites recent research that studies the ways coaches’ attitudes and behaviors can influence kids:
[On "Friday Night Tykes,"] one weeping child is told by his coach: “I don’t care how much pain you’re in! You don’t quit.” Another coach chides a player, “Don’t give me that soft crap,” while smacking him on the head. Two coaches featured on the show, where all of the athletes are 8- or 9-years-old, were suspended last week.
Such conduct by an adult can have serious ramifications for a child. “It can impair social and emotional development and cause substantial harm to mental health,” Nancy Swigonski, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, wrote last month in a piece in the journal Pediatrics. “When the bullying occurs in an athletic setting, those harmful effects are augmented by the stress kids often feel as a result of athletic competition.”
Swigonski’s article opens with the scene of a parent walking into basketball practice at her daughter’s high school, only to find “the head coach screaming at the team that they lacked intelligence and were lazy because they had not executed a play properly.”
This kind of behavior is hardly uncommon. Swigonski cited one study of more than 800 American children in which 45% said their coaches called them names, insulted them or verbally abused them during play. In another study from the United Kingdom, 6,000 young adults were asked about their experiences in youth sports, and 75% said they suffered “emotional harm” at least once, and one-third of that group said their coach was to blame.
But what often gets lost in these stories is the flip side of the equation: A “true coach”—to use the term favored by Morgan Wootten, the first high school coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame—can also make a lifelong difference for a young person, only in a deeply positive way.
This isn’t to say that coaches should be soft or easy. But there’s a clear line between expecting a lot from kids and being abusive. “It’s good to be tough,” Swigonski said. “It’s just not OK to be a bully.”
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Teenagers–especially heterosexual teens–who are either bullied or who are both bullies and victims of bullying are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors, a new Boston University study has found. More from Reuters:
“Some previous research has found that aggression and sexual risk-taking are related, so it was not entirely surprising that bullies and bully-victims reported more sexual risk-taking than their peers,” Melissa K. Holt said.
What’s more, some research has found that kids and teens cope with being bullied by using drugs or alcohol, for instance. Acting out sexually may be another way young people respond to bullying, Holt told Reuters Health.
She led the research at the Boston University School of Education.
The study included almost 9,000 high school students from 24 schools who completed a survey about bullying and sexual behavior. “Risky sex” was defined as casual sex and sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About 80 percent of the students said they had not bullied other kids or been bullied themselves.
Seven percent of those teens reported ever having casual sex with someone they had just met or didn’t know very well. And 12 percent said they had had sex under the influence.
The numbers were similar for students who said they had been bullied, but hadn’t bullied others.
But among the six percent of kids who claimed to have acted as bullies, one quarter had engaged in casual sex and just over a third said they’d had sex while drunk or high.
Another six percent of students said they had both acted as bullies and been the victims of bulling. Of those teens, 20 percent had had casual sex and 23 percent reported having sex under the influence.
The researchers accounted for other childhood experiences that might lead to sexual risk-taking, but the link to bullying remained.
Image: Bully, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, New Research, Parenting News
Monday, October 14th, 2013
Programs meant to deter bullies and empower kids to speak out against bullying may actually have a negative impact on the big picture of bullying in schools, a new study by researchers at the University of Texas in Arlington has found. Anti-bullying programs are especially common in October, which is National Bullying Prevention Month. More from The Huffington Post:
Released in September by the University of Texas in Arlington, the study found that unintended consequences may result from campaigns designed to educate students about the harms of physical and emotional harassment. According to researchers’ findings, bullying prevention programs in schools generally increase incidences of physical and emotional attacks among students by teaching kids about the ins and outs of bulling.
The study’s findings challenge commonly held beliefs about the benefits of bullying prevention programs.
“The schools with interventions say, ‘You shouldn’t do this,’ or ‘you shouldn’t do that.’ But through the programs, the students become highly exposed to what a bully is and they know what to do or say when questioned by parents or teachers,” lead study author Dr. Seokjin Jeong said in a statement released by the university.
Using data from an earlier national study that looked at the well-being of adolescents, researchers found that students in schools with anti-bullying programs are more likely to be victimized. Specifically, they found that male students were more likely to be victims of physical harassment, while girls were more likely to face emotional harassment.
“This study raises an alarm,” Jeong told CBS Dallas. “Usually people expect an anti-bullying program to have some impact — some positive impact.”
Image: Anti-bullying message, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
Kids with serious food allergies live with the fear they may come into contact with a triggering food. But a new study out this week suggests that they may also face a social challenge because of their allergy: bullies could wield allergens in attempts to intimidate and terrorize allergic kids. More from CNN.com:
A study released last week suggests that almost half of children who have food allergies have been bullied — sometimes by having food thrown at them.
“Clearly, it’s an issue for these school-aged children in terms of how they interact with their peers,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. “Immediately, when there’s a diagnosis of food allergy, there’s a little bit of a stigma.”
The new study furthers the mounting evidence that many kids with food allergies may endure social ostracism while also trying to eat safely.
A 2010 study in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology said that 35% of kids over age 5 with food allergies have endured bullying, teasing or harassment. Parents of children with food allergies reported in the study that these incidents — both physical and verbal — happened because of food allergies.
Food allergy is a growing problem in young people. As many as 8% of children in the United States have at least one food allergy, according to research data.
There is no cure for food allergies. The only way to stop a life-threatening reaction, called anaphylaxis, is an epinephrine auto-injector, which allergists recommend that everyone with severe food allergies should carry.
Image: Peanuts, via Shutterstock
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