A new article published in Child Abuse & Neglect explores the link between childhood bullying and parenting. It found that both victims and bully/victims (those who bully and are victims of bullying) were more likely to be exposed to negative parenting behaviour, including abuse and neglect. The effects were generally small-to-moderate for victims but moderate for bully/victims. Although parental involvement, support, and high supervision decrease the chances of children being involved in bullying behaviour, for victims, overprotection increased the risk.
A number of possible explanations are given. Some mistreated and abused children may be submissive at home to maintain their safety, or they may learn that they are powerless, have less confidence, and become less able to assert themselves. On the other hand, some mistreated children display heightened levels of aggression, which suggests that they may be more inclined to bully. Most studies did not differentiate cause and effect, so it could be that a bullied child may be difficult and this might lead to poor parenting.
Seventy studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis, with a final sample of over 200,000 children and young people aged 4–25. The authors’ recommendations include intervention programmes that target children who are exposed to harsh or abusive parenting, and parental training programmes to strengthen supportive involvement and warm and affectionate parenting.
Source: Parenting Behavior and the Risk of Becoming a Victim and a Bully/Victim: A Meta-analysis Study (2013), Child Abuse & Neglect