A separate line of research from parenting involves the study of bullying and victimization in adolescents. This work is conducted in collobration Wendy Craig and the Queen's University Bullying Lab. Bullying and victimization is a serious problem that affects up 5%-40% of adolescents!(depending on how it is quantified). To study bullying in adolescents, we examined a World Health Organization-drawn sample of over 1,000 Canadian adolescents. We found that there are different risk factors associated with different types of bullying. For example, physical victimization is associated with young boys, whereas racial victimization shows no age trends, whereas sexual or verbal victimization are relatively more common in girls. For some forms of victimization, alcohol use is important (e.g., sexual), whereas it is not for others it is not (e.g., physical). By examining the risk factors associated with each type of victimization, we hope to encourage the development of more focused, and effective, anti-bullying strategies.
As a member of PREVNet, we are currently looking at three aspects of bullying and victimization:
1- Sports and Bullying
Our preliminary data suggests that adolescent girls who are in competitive sports face significantly greater risks of being a bully AND/OR being bullied! We are currently replicating the results of this study, as well as expanding it to include boys and adolescents outside of competitive sports. Given that sports are supposed to be a positive, safe, and character-building activity for youth, our findings are of great concern. Thanks to the participation of hundreds of youth from local sport and extracurricular clubs, we are finding out more about the links between sports and bullying. We have not yet fully analyzed our results, but it appears from preliminary findings that fathers play a particularly important role in sports bullying, serving as both models as well as emotional supporters.
2- Parents, Temperament, and Bullying
We believe that parents can play a crucial role in preventing bullying and in helping victims of bullying. However, to do so, we need to understand that different children had different temperaments- different, internal ways of approaching the world. Some children respond well to empathy, others reward, others to challenges. Along with my colleagues Angela Book, Andrew Dane, and Zopito Marini, we are looking at how targeted, specific intervention strategies may boost the impact of parental interventions.
If you are interested in learning more about the adolescent-parent relationships, or adolescents in general, or in participating in one of our studies, please feel free to contact the lab.
Created November 2010