We’ve all read the stories about how a crowd of bystanders have not intervened or called the police for help, as someone was being bullied, attacked or beaten. It’s a horrible thought that if you need assistance, no one will respond.
When children grow up in a home that encourages standing up to bullying, they are more likely to step up to the challenge than kids who’ve been taught to stay out of it, according to a recent U.S. study.
About one in 10 children are victims of bullying, and many anti-bullying programs are focused on getting bystanders to intervene, researchers note in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. While previous research has linked certain parenting practices to higher odds that kids will be victims or perpetrators of bullying, less is known about how parents impact what children do as bystanders.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,400 fourth and fifth graders about how their classmates responded in a bullying situation. On average, the kids participating in the study were 11 years old.
They also interviewed parents at home and gave them hypothetical bullying scenarios, asking them how they would advise their children to respond.
In school, kids whose classmates said they might intervene to stop bullies and to comfort victims were more likely to have parents at home who told them getting involved was the right thing to do, the study found. At the same time, kids whose parents told them to stay out of it were both less likely to help victims and more likely to become perpetrators.
“We were surprised to find that when parents told children not to get involved, children were actually more likely to join in the bullying,” said lead study author Stevie Grassetti, a psychology researcher at the University of Delaware.
Based on the study results, it makes sense for school anti-bullying efforts to involve parents and endeavor to give children consistent messages about prevention in both settings, the authors conclude.
One limitation of the study is that during school visits; researchers didn’t define what constitutes bullying the authors noted. With home visits, researchers assumed parents gave kids the same advice about the hypothetical incidents that they would offer in real life, which might not always be the case, the researchers also point out.
Parents are role models for how children learn to respond to life’s unpredictable situations. They see and absorb everything their parents say and do. To teach your child compassion and courage, start by being a good example of both and letting them know that standing by and doing nothing to remedy the situation is not an option.
Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-children-bullying-parents-idUSK...