The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.
The stereotypical bully usually threatens smaller classmates with physical violence, but researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia find the most common variety of bullying is actually much more subtle. Their study finds that “relational aggression” bullying is a much more common issue.
This variety of bullying usually involves socially excluding peers from group activities and or spreading harmful rumors. As one can imagine, this type of bullying can wreak havoc on a young psyche, both emotionally and socially.
“Previous studies suggest when a kid is excluded from social activities by their peers at school, the outcomes for that kid both short-term and long-term will be just as detrimental as if they got kicked, punched or slapped every day. So this study sheds light on the social exclusion youth often face,” says Chad Rose, an associate professor in the MU College of Education and Human Development and director of the Mizzou Ed Bully Prevention Lab, in a university release.
Researchers analyzed the results of a survey that had been part of a larger school climate assessment project encompassing 26 middle and high schools across five school districts in the southeastern United States. In all, over 14,000 students either agreed or disagreed with various statements connected to pro-bullying attitudes, perceived popularity, and relational aggression.
“What we found is kids that perceive themselves as socially dominant or popular endorse pro-bullying attitudes, yet they don’t perceive themselves as engaging in relational aggression,” Prof. Rose explains.
“There was another group that did not perceive themselves as socially dominant or popular, but they endorsed pro-bullying attitudes and engaged in relational aggression. So, the first group thought bullying was OK but did not see themselves as engaging in it even if they actually were excluding others. While the second group that admitted to engaging in relational aggression may have been excluding others as an attempt to jockey for the position of being more socially dominant and climb the social hierarchy.”
The study was published in Preventing School Failure Alternative Education for Children and Youth.