Poor problem-solving skills increase risk for bullying

August 1, 2010

Between 10% and 30% of children and youth are involved in bullying, according to research.

Research indicates that between 10% and 30% of children and youth are involved in bullying. According to a study published in the June issue of School Psychology Quarterly, children and adolescents who lack social problem-solving skills are more at risk of becoming bullies, victims, or both.

Researchers looked at 153 studies in the United States and Europe from the last 30 years to examine factors that predict bullying and victimization in childhood and adolescents. Sample sizes for the studies examined ranged from 44 to 26,430, with participants ranging in age from 3 to 18 years old.

Although the emphasis in earlier research had been on individual-level predictors, researchers examined bullying in a social context.

Researchers found that age played a role in how much bullies and victims acted out their aggressions or internalized their feelings. Younger bullies were more defiant, aggressive, and disruptive, whereas older bullies were more withdrawn, depressed, and anxious. Younger bullies were not as bothered by rejection and being unpopular as were older bullies. Older victims suffered from depression and anxiousness more than younger victims.

Most programs use strategies to prevent bullying that favor removing the bully from the environment.The more promising interventions target the behaviors and the environments that are putting these young people at risk of becoming bullies and/or victims.