Bullies and Victims Face Other Forms of Victimization
> 10/17/2007 2:42:02 PM

Whether it takes the form of name-calling, teasing, or fighting, bullying has become one if the biggest concerns for our schools, and research continues to illustrate how bullying affects bullies as well as their victims. A recent study shows that the effects of bullying extend beyond school and into students' homes and communities, where bullies and their victims are at risk for other forms of victimization.

In 2005, researchers, led by Melissa Holt of the University of New Hampshire, interviewed 689 fifth-graders who attended school in a low-income, urban school district in the Northeast. The researchers classified the students as bullies (14.4%), victims (12%), and bully-victims, those who bully and are bullied (7.8%). The remaining students were identified as having no status (65.7%). Those who were involved with bullying, as either a bully, victim, or bully-victim, were more likely to be the victim of a crime outside of school, and bully-victims had the highest overall rate of victimization. The researchers included various forms of victimization, including assault, neglect, witnessing domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Of those who experienced conventional crime, which the researchers described as assault or burglary, 70% were bullies, 66% were victims, 84% were bully-victims, and 42% were not involved in bullying. There were some limitations to their research. Notably, the area studied had a greater than average incidence of crime. Still, the study indicates an association between school bullying and victimization at home and in the community.

An estimated one third of American students are involved in bullying, either as bullies, victims, or bully-victims, and these students struggle with innumerable problems in and out of school. Bullied children are more likely to have low self-esteem, be absent at school, drop out of school, and have thoughts of suicide. In the study, almost half of the students who were identified as victims were referred to their school counsellor because of suicidal thoughts. Schools recognize the dangers of bullying and have taken measures to prevent it, especially in recent years. Thirty-two states have passed laws prohibiting bullying in schools, most since the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, and this year nine states have passed laws or expanded existing laws concerning internet bullying.

As schools continue to grapple with the problem of bullying, we must continue to increase our understanding of why bullying occurs and who is most affected by it. This study has shown that to help bullies and their victims we must address other forms of victimization as well, and further research should point the way to even more effective ways of coping with and preventing school bullying.

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