Why is Bullying Difficult to Change? (page 2)

By — Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Feb 11, 2009


Bullying and victimization have system-wide negative consequences. The natural tendency of a social group is to perpetuate itself. There are hidden forces in the peer group that make bullies stay bullies and victims stay victims. Intervention has to overcome these forces. Interventions with one bully or one victim will not be successful if the rest of the group is left untouched. It is also necessary to address the reward value of bullying. This may be the biggest challenge, because society at large often reinforces aggressive and controversial tactics as means to become dominant and successful.

Author Information:

Antonius Cillessen is professor and chair of developmental psychology at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and senior research scientist at the University of Connecticut. His research focuses on peer relationships, aggression, and research methods for developmental psychology. Correspondence may be addressed to Antonius H. N. Cillessen, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands, or electronically to or


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  3. Paul, J. J., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2003). Dynamics of peer victimization in early adolescence: Results from a four-year longitudinal study. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19, 25-43.
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  8. Cillessen, A. H. N. (1991). The self-perpetuating nature of children’s peer relationships. Kampen, The Netherlands: Mondis.
  9. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Bellmore, A. D. (2002). Social skills and interpersonal perception in early and middle childhood. In P. K. Smith & C. H. Hart (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of childhood social development (pp. 355-374). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
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  11. Bellmore, A. D., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2006). Reciprocal influences of victimization, perceived social preference, and self-concept in adolescence. Self and Identity, 5, 209-229.
  12. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Mayeux, L. (2007). Expectations and perceptions at school transitions: The role of peer status and aggression. Journal of School Psychology, 45, 567-586.
  13. Swearer, S. M., Haye, K. M., Cary, P. T., Brey, K., & Frazier-Koontz, M. (2002, November). The ecology of peer victimization in middle-school youth: An examination of the transitional years and internalizing difficulties. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Reno, NV.
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