Bullying has been on the mind of parents for the past few years. With the recent rise in cyber-bullying bringing the phenomenon home from school, many are worried that bullied children could have no escape. These fears could be stoked by the recent discovery that even popular children are bullied by their peers.
Schools struggling with bullying problems have implemented many rules and policies to help stamp out bullying, but a new study shows that these efforts may not be enough.
The study, published in the journal Annual Review of Psychology, found that the measures many schools take to combat bullying often don't have significant effects. Solutions such as school assemblies and announcements do little to curb bullying. And though comprehensive anti-bullying initiatives were found to be a bit more effective, these types of programs require large commitments and monetary resources to implement.
"Band-Aid solutions, such as holding one assembly a year that discourages bullying, do not work," said Jaana Juvonen, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology at UCLA. "We are trying to figure out the right balance between comprehensive programs that are costly and require a lot of staff training versus programs that require fewer school resources."
The study reviewed more than 140 other studies covering bullying throughout the U.S., Europe, and Australia. The study's authors are also currently conducting a new study following 6,000 California teens for eight years.
In addition to the poor review school programs got in the study, the research also provided evidence for some of the factors commonly assumed about bullying. More specifically, gay and lesbian students and overweight students were found to be more likely to be bullied.
"Starting in elementary school, kids with characteristics that make them stand out are much more likely to get bullied," said Juvonen. "They are prime targets for bullies because they are more likely to be friendless, and when they have nobody to defend them, the bullying often escalates."