Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bullying: How do victims respond to bullies and why?

Date:
September 1, 2011
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Many wonder why bullies bully, but a new study looks at the other side of the equation: How do children respond to bullying and why? The answer, researchers say, may lead to more effective interventions to reduce the negative consequences -- and perhaps even the frequency -- of bullying.

Many wonder why bullies bully, but a new study looks at the other side of the equation: How do children respond to bullying and why? The answer, researchers say, may lead to more effective interventions to reduce the negative consequences -- and perhaps even the frequency -- of bullying.

The study appears in the journal Child Development.

"The main question we were interested in is how do children go about selecting strategies for dealing with harassment from their peers?" said University of Illinois psychology professor Karen Rudolph, who led the study. "And what we focused on was an understanding of the goals that kids develop in their social relationships."

Consciously or not, children tend to adopt one of three approaches, she said.

"Some are focused on developing their relationships. They want to improve their social skills. They want to learn how to make friends," she said.

Others are most interested in "demonstrating their competence," she said. They may try to demonstrate their competence by enhancing their status or seeking approval from their peers. "These are kids who say: 'I want to be cool. I want lots of kids to like me. I want to hang out with the popular kids.' "

Or they may try to demonstrate their competence by avoiding negative judgments. "These are the kids who say, 'I'm not going to do anything that's going to draw negative attention, that's going to make me look like a loser, that's going to embarrass me,'" Rudolph said.

A series of questionnaires administered to 373 second-graders and their teachers revealed how many of the children had been harassed (half of the children reported being the target of teasing, gossip, physical intimidation or worse at least a little bit of the time), how they responded to harassment and how each child generally thought about his or her peer relationships. The researchers then followed the children to determine if, and how, their social goals influenced how they dealt with harassment in the third grade.

They found, as they expected, that children who were most interested in developing relationships "had more positive perceptions of themselves and were more likely to say that they would cooperate and work to reduce conflict with other kids," Rudolph said. When other kids harassed them, these children were "more likely to engage in proactive strategies to solve the problem," she said. This might involve asking a teacher for advice, or getting emotional support. Students with these goals also were less likely to engage in other impulsive responses to harassment, Rudolph said.

Children who wanted to be perceived as "cool" or competent "were less likely to use those kinds of thoughtful, careful strategies" when dealing with harassment, Rudolph said. "And they were more likely to retaliate." These children also had more negative perceptions of their peers, Rudolph said.

Those who wanted to avoid negative judgments were less likely to retaliate against their peers. "But they were also more passive. They just ignored what happened," she said. This approach might be useful in some circumstances, particularly for boys who tend to be more physically aggressive and more likely to retaliate than girls, Rudolph said. But passive responses also may increase a bully's willingness to "up the ante," she said.

The researchers also discovered that children who were more bullied in the second grade "were more likely to freeze up and try to escape from the situation, or to ruminate about it, keep going over it in their mind, but not actually do something active about it," Rudolph said. They also "were less likely to show problem-solving type strategies" in the third grade, she said.

Understanding children's social goals may lead to better interventions to change the dynamic between a bully and his or her targets, Rudolph said.

"Just telling kids, 'this is what you should do' might not change their behaviors because their goals might be different from our goals," she said. "So I think understanding where the kid's coming from and why they're actually acting the way they do is going to be crucial for changing their behavior."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karen D. Rudolph, Jamie L. Abaied, Megan Flynn, Niwako Sugimura and Anna Monica Agoston. Developing Relationships, Being Cool, and Not Looking Like a Loser: Social Goal Orientation Predicts Children’s Responses to Peer Aggression. Child Development, 29 AUG 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01631.x

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Bullying: How do victims respond to bullies and why?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830082052.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2011, September 1). Bullying: How do victims respond to bullies and why?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830082052.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Bullying: How do victims respond to bullies and why?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830082052.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Youths' Social Goals Help Determine Response to Bullying

Aug. 30, 2011 This study finds that the types of goals children set in their relationships help determine how they respond to being bullied -- and whether they choose responses that are effective. For the study, ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins