By Evie Blad
This is a cross-post from Inside School Research.
A research review has found that a reprimand from a teacher or a gesture of friendship from a fellow student can go a long way toward protecting victims from the harmful impacts of bullying. But in order to truly create a safe environment for all students, schools need to make more sweeping changes such as creating and enforcing anti-bullying policies that also address cyberharassment. Additionally, certain school characteristics—such as racial homogeneity, stand-alone middle schools, and academic tracking—are associated with higher rates of bullying.
These are just some of the findings and implications of a narrative research synthesis of more than 140 studies of bullying. The synthesis, authored by University of California Los Angeles professors Jaana Juvonen and Sandra Graham, appears in the current issue of the Annual Review of Psychology, a peer-refereed journal. The synthesis defines bullying as “targeted intimidation or humiliation,” typically by someone who is stronger or more popular than the victim. In other words, bullying does not need to be physical. In fact, physical bullying decreases with age to the point that, in high school, boys (who engage in more physical bullying throughout childhood) are just as likely as girls to turn to relational bullying such as ostracism or rumor mongering.