Psychological Effects of Bullying on Children

1 January 2017

Those four categories are “verbal, rumors and ostracism, cyberbullying, and physical” (Dell’Antonia). These four categories start occurring as early as five years old. Some children seem to think that physical aggression will increase their social status, but as stated by CNN, “there is no evidence that overall aggression increases social status”. Therefore, bullying has no effect on social status, contrary to children’s beliefs. The study done by Developmental Psychology has three goals. The primary goal is to examine interventional affects on bullying and bystander behavior on playgrounds.

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The first goal of the study was to reduce bullying and decrease the destructive behavior of bystanders. The second goal was to increase prosocial beliefs related to bullying. The third goal was to increase social-emotional skills. The secondary goal was to examine the effects of bullying on grade, gender, and behavior at the beginning of the school year. The first goal, reducing bullying and destructive bystander behavior was evaluated by playground behavior and student’s self-reports. The intervention group was predicted to have decreases in observed playground bullying compared to the control group, or the group who had no intervention.

Since people were observing the children on the playground, it was predicted that children standing by would be less encouraging of the bullying activity. The experimenters separated bullying and non-bullying aggression, though they had no prior hypothesis regarding non-bullying aggression. Goal two of the study, increasing prosocial beliefs related to bullying, was measured by self reports by the students, stating that they accepted the bullying and aggression, they were interested in watching it happen, and whether or not they thought they had to intervene when a bullying incident was taking place.

Goal number three was increasing social-emotional skills. This aspect was evaluated by teacher reports as well as observation. They were watching to observe both agreeable as well as argumentative social interactions. The children in the control group were predicted to have greater skills in the respect of agreeable social interactions, compared to the control group with no interventions whatsoever. The secondary goal was to examine the effects of bullying on grade, gender, and behavior at the beginning of the school year.

The study included measures of physical and verbal bullying, social exclusion, and malicious gossip in order to avoid false gender differences. Using a similar observation system formed in 1995, they found that girls bully just as frequently as boys, although boys report higher levels of bullying than do girls, reaching physical levels far more often. Both students and teachers were asked to participate in this study. Six elementary schools in the Pacific Northwest were asked to participate in this study. Two suburban schools were matched for ethnic breakdown and size.

Students in grades three to six were asked to participate, however they needed parental consent to do so. Teachers in 36 experimental classrooms and 36 control classrooms were asked to file a consent form. The majority of the teachers were females. All teachers agreed to participate in any and all study measures, and received monetary compensation. The program, Steps to Respect was designed to increase teacher and staff awareness and their response to bullying. Also, it was designed to make clear to students their responsibility to react.

They also aimed to teach children how to avoid or counter bullying and form healthy relationships with their peers. They also wanted to promote conflict resolution for the children. The student curriculum combines skill and literature-based lessons presented by third to sixth grade teachers over 12 to 14 weeks. Level 1 is taught at Grade 3 or Grade 4, Level 2 at Grade 4 or Grade 5, and Level 3 at Grade 5 or Grade 6. Ten somewhat scripted skill lessons focus on social-emotional skills for positive relations with their peers, emotional management, and recognizing, refusing, and reporting of behavior regarding bullying.

The topics of these lessons include being a responsible bystander and not a spectator, joining groups, distinguishing reporting from tattling, and so on. The study procedure was simple. The students were surveyed over a two week period in fall, around the middle of November, and in the spring, late in April to early May. The teachers also rated the children’s intrapersonal skills on a scale from one to four, one being poor and four being great. The children were also observed for five minutes a day over a ten week period.

Though, a lot of their data was incomplete because of children moving schools or missing recess. They also interviewed the students about their bullying beliefs. The results showed no difference in withholding between pretest and posttest. Although the students did show less acceptance of bullying and more intention of intervening when bullying was witnessed. The perceived difficulty of intervening was lower in fifth and sixth graders than with grades four and lower. Bullying greatly affects a child’s self esteem.

Though some say it makes people better in the long run, that almost sounds like justification for the act of bullying. Children deserve to have happy childhoods, and even though bullies and victims are one in the same, the bullies should not make other children miserable because they are miserable at home. When bullied, children feel inferior and worthless, especially if the bullying goes on long enough. Nothing good comes of bullying, and it needs to be stopped. In conclusion, bullying is a significant issue in today’s society, and younger children are too often victimized.

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Psychological Effects of Bullying on Children. (2017, Jan 19). Retrieved February 24, 2019, from
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