April 2, 2013
Thousands of children are bullied each day, but new University of Virginia research shows that they are not necessarily disliked by their classmates.
Findings in the study suggest that victims of bullying may have interpersonal and behavioral difficulties, but they’re also not disliked by the majority of students.
However, students who identified as bullies strongly disliked their victims.
The study was done by Christopher Hafen, a research scientist at UVa.’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), who worked with Florida Atlantic University and Finland’s University of Jyväskylä.
“This is the first study to go beyond the typical assumption that adolescents who are victims of bullying are disliked, and look to understand where this dislike originates,” Hafen said.
The study included 359 boys and 340 girls enrolled in 10th grade in 13 public schools in Finland.
During the study, the students were asked how often they bullied others, how often they had been bullied, and their problem behavior. In addition, students nominated three same-grade schoolmates with whom “you least like to spend your time,” which helped researchers understand disliking.
Hafen said the results found in Finland likely were applicable in the U.S.
Possible solutions in Finland and the U.S., Hafen said, might include pairing the victims with children who have well-developed social skills to provide opportunities to boost self-worth, ease interpersonal concerns and increase motivation to maintain peer relationships.
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