Startling Facts About Bullying Make Some Parents Worry More

Julie Ryan Evans

bullyingOne of my greatest fears as a parent is that someone will bully my children ... or perhaps worse, my children will bully someone else. So any insight into what causes kids to do this to one another is welcome. Two recent reports show some surprising facts about just who bullies are.

In the first study, researchers found that it's mean boys rather than mean girls who take to the Internet to harass others more often. The study of British teens found that 70 percent of boys admitted to being victims of cyberbullying and nearly 50 percent admitted to cyberbullying. When it came to girls, however, just 33 percent said they had cyber-bullied someone else, and 49 percent said they'd been bullied by someone else.

Stereotypically, I think of male bullies putting kids in lockers and dunking their heads toilets, and girls being sneakier and resorting to think like the Internet. So while not welcome news that boys are posting embarrassing pictures and information about others online too, it's important to know that they do so in such large numbers.

Another study found that when it comes to birth order, middle children are the most likely to become bullies. While you might expect it to the be the oldest child who wields the power, they found it's actually the middle children -- perhaps competing for attention -- who bully their siblings more often.

As researcher Alexandra Skew explained to the Daily Mail:

There is an assumption that the eldest child is most likely the strongest and biggest in the sibling group and will do most of the bullying. In reality it is the middle children who are competing for their parents' attention and for use of games and toys with both their elder and younger siblings that display a greater propensity to bully their brothers and sisters.

Those children who are involved in bullying at home, are then more likely to be involved in bullying at school. So it spreads.

All of which is interesting to note, but the problem is how do we stop bullying -- both in the home and in our schools? Perhaps we can't. It's not like it's a new phenomenon; children have tormented one another since the beginning of time. It does, however, seem to be particularly malicious in recent years with the help of the Internet and media, and we need to figure out  something to help our children.

Do these studies on bullying surprise you? What do you think needs to be done to stop bullying?

Image via EddieS/Flickr
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