By: Tom Jacobs
Family conflict resolutions that were perceived as fair were associated lower frequencies of bullying.istockphoto.com
A new study links bullying behavior by adolescents to the perception they are not treated fairly by their parents.
How are bullies born? The issue has been the subject of intense study, particularly in the decade since two students who had been bullied went on a violent rampage at Columbine High School. Much of the resultant research includes the term “cycle of violence,” which has become a shorthand way of acknowledging that a youngster who is a victim of physical abuse in the home is more likely to become a perpetrator.
Now, a research team led by Michael Brubacher of DePaul University has found a more subtle connection between inadequate parenting and adolescent bullying. In a paper just published in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, the academics coin the term “cycle of dominance.”
The phrase reflects their finding that, in transmitting bad behavior from one generation to the next, the issue isn’t strictly the use of physical force. It’s also a matter of whether the youngster grows up with a sense that conflicts can be resolved in a just, fair way.
In short, if a kid feels he’s being punished arbitrarily at home, he is more likely to engage in arbitrary punishment on the streets or in the schoolyard.
The researchers examined a survey of 1,910 sixth- through eighth-graders from five states. They were asked to describe a recent disagreement with one or both of their parents or guardians. The youngsters (with an average age of just over 12 and one-half) when they asked whether they felt they were treated fairly as the issue was resolved. They were instructed to rate the accuracy of such statements as “Your parents treated you with respect” and “Your parents were equally fair to everyone involved.” Full story.