Monday, July 9, 2012

Highlighting Resources: Bullying Research by Jaana Juvonen at UCLA

I had the opportunity to hear Professor Juvonen speak about her research, and this excellent article covers some fascinating aspects of bullying!

There's the stunning take-away of how she discovered that the cool kids WERE the bullies, and how

The bully-coolness virtually nonexistent in elementary school and suddenly appears in the sixth grade, the first year of middle school. 


"...bullying is not a problem of specific individuals. Bullying is a collective problem. We need to address the social dynamics."


"Bullies can stop being bullies, and victims can stop being victims," Juvonen said. "What we’ve learned is that these are temporary social roles, not permanent personality characteristics."
It's well worth reading, and includes some great to-dos, including

Think if there might be another way to provide them with a sense of control and power other than being mean to others," she suggested. "I’ve seen some very clever teachers do that. When they see a kid who’s constantly on the case of other kids, these clever teachers give this kid a special role" that channels the bully’s energies more positively.


For lonely kids with a propensity for becoming victims, having just one friend may be enough to protect them.
"We have to start thinking about meaningful buddy programs that connect them with somebody," Juvonen said, "to make sure that there’s somebody at the school who says ‘Hi!’ in the morning rather than punching them." 

Lots of inspiration in this!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This research doesn't surprise me. I don't think her hypothesis about bullying being associated with the start of class-switching holds water, though--because in my school, the worst bullying also started in 6th grade, but that wasn't the year we changed schools or switched classes. Maybe it's just the onset of puberty that triggers it.

As for the adult attitudes: when I was a kid, I saw some adults (teachers, bus drivers) join in with kid-on-kid bullying. Most of the other adults at least tolerated it or stayed out of it. A few did try to help, but it's in the post-Columbine age that I've seen the biggest changes in society's attitudes toward bullying. Finally we're questioning whether bullying really needs to be. Yes, non-human primate societies operate under dominance hierarchies where every member takes out his aggression on the troop members below him, but can't we raise ourselves above the level of chimpanzees and baboons?