Childhood Victims and Bullies and Their Parents
We will now address a serious problem seen in school-age children's peer relations-the presence of bullies and victims in the neighborhood and school. Bullying was once considered to be a normal part of school-age children's play, an unpleasant experience, certainly, but of little long-range consequence. After having recently looked at the situation more closely, though, researchers now realize that bullying is a considerable problem for school-age children, harming both the bullies and the victims. Childhood bullying is defined as repeated aggression in which one or more children harm or disturb another child physically, verbally, or psychologically (Wolke, Wood, & Stanford, 2001). When children physically bully other children, they hit, kick, push, and/or take personal belongings; when they verbally bully other children, they use name calling and threatening; and when they psychologically bully other children, they exclude them or gossip about them (Nansel et al., 2001).
The Impact of Bullying and Victimization on Children's Well-Being
Although bullying sometimes allows children to achieve their immediate goal, it is a risk factor for future maladaptive behaviors. For example, Nansel, Craig, Overpeck, Saluja, and Ruan (2004) found that school-age bullies are at greater risk for becoming involved in delinquency, crime, and alcohol abuse during their teenage years. Both immediate and long-term negative consequences also have been documented for victims. When children consistently confront the humiliating experiences of bullying, such as having to hand over their lunch money or being beaten up while others watch, the effects are detrimental at the time and persist over time (Berger, 2005). The damaging effects for child victims are anxiety, depression, underachievement, low self-esteem, and loneliness (Kochenderfer-Ladd & Wardrop, 2001; Schwartz, 2000). Victimized children also tend to be more withdrawn, cautious, quiet, and insecure, as well as less outgoing (Schwartz, 2000). Moreover, child victims are lonelier and less happy at school and have fewer good friends than other children (Nansel et al., 2001; 2004). One possible reason that bullied children tend to feel lonely is because other children are likely to avoid them for fear of being bullied themselves or losing social status among their peers. A common way in which victims respond to bullying is through avoidance behavior (such as not going to school or refusing to go to certain places) (Nansel et al., 2001).
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