A press release by the American Psychological Association highlights recently published research by Clayton Cook, PhD and colleagues examining predictors for those at risk becoming bullies, victims, or both. The major finding of the study was that both the bullies and victims shared deficits in problem solving abilities and often had academic difficulties. Second, the authors found that age effected how much bullies and victims acted out their aggressions or internalized their feelings. Overall they found that younger bullies tend to be more defiant, aggressive and disruptive, whereas older bullies were more withdrawn, depressed and anxious. Moreover, older bullies were more bothered by rejection and being unpopular. In looking at the characteristics of victims, the researchers found that older victims suffered from depression and anxiety more than younger victims.
The authors advocate that that it may be more promising to develop interventions that target the behaviors and the environments that are putting these young people at risk of becoming bullies and/or victims. In particular, Cook suggests: “Intervene with the parents, peers and schools simultaneously. Behavioral parent training could be used in the home while building good peer relationship and problem-solving skills could be offered in the schools, along with academic help for those having troubling in this area.”
If you are interested in learning more about this area, the following Schubert Center faculty associates conduct research on similar topics: