New Study Shows How Parents Can Help Kids Stand Up To Bullying

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For a lot of parents, one of their number one concerns is how to talk to their children about bullying, and of course, how to make sure that their child doesn’t end up being a victim of bullying. Well now a study shows that young children with good family relationships are most likely to intervene when they witness bullying or other aggressive behavior at school. And yes, these same kids will also step in and do something to help, should the victims plan on retaliating.

According to a new study by the North Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina , young people who have good relationships and an open line of communication with their parents are most likely to try and prevent bullying before it even happens. The study also states that kids who were feeling excluded or discriminated by their peers or teachers were less likely to stand up for victims who have been bullied.

The study used 450 6th graders and 446 9th graders. All of the students who participated took a survey about their relationships with family, their friends and their teachers. They were given several different scenarios and asked what they would do about physical aggression, cyberbullying, social exclusion, and so on. The survey also asked if they ever felt excluded or rejected by a group of friends and if they ever experienced teasing or mean-spirited gossip by their friends.

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Kelly Lynn Mulvey, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and lead author of a paper on the work puts it this way, “There's a lot of research on bullying, but very little on the extent to which family factors affect whether bystanders will intervene if they see bullying. This is important because research has shown that peer interventions are very effective at stopping bullying and preventing future aggressive behaviors. But these interventions are fairly rare.”

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Credit: iStock / ejwhite

Mulvey also adds that researchers worked with many families and school administrators to see just how students intervene when they have enough support or when they feel empowered enough to take a stand and say something. What’s surprising is that the group of 6th graders felt as though bullying behavior was more unacceptable than compared to what the 9th graders had to say.

Mulvey concludes that the study did show researchers that home and school factors are very important for recognizing bullying behavior. It also highlights the value of a positive school and home environment with both supportive family members and good teachers who will help identify and address the bullying and hopefully prevent it before it begins. In other words, an open line of communication and good relationships - both in and outside of the home - is the key in helping this behavioral epidemic before it spreads.

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