child laughingBullying is a huge topic among parents and schools with aggressive efforts being made across the United States to eliminate bullying in the educational setting. According to researchers at the University of Warwick, bullying may be associated with poor parenting practices, including overprotective parenting. The results of the study were published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.

Based on information collected by researchers, poor parenting increased the risk of children being a bully-victim. The term bully-victim was used to describe a child who acted as a bully and suffered victimization from other bullies. Chances of children suffering from solely bullying were lower than those of becoming a bully-victim.

Specific aspects of parenting investigated by researchers involved with the study included neglect, abuse and overprotection, which they deemed negative parenting. Warmth, support and affection were all deemed positive parenting. Positive parenting results in lesser chances of children bullying, being bullied or bullying others and being bullied – bully-victim.

Children require support from parents as part of the positive parenting profile, but being too protective (deemed overprotective) has an inverse effect on children. Parents need to find the fine line between positive parenting and overprotection and maintain a stance on the positive side of that line to reduce the risk of childhood bullying. Positive parents should allow children to experience conflict with peers and work through situations with guidance and support, but they should not aim to protect children from all negative experience or they risk increasing the chance their child will be bullied.

Researchers noted that though the focus on bullying prevention is on schools, the effects of bullying can reach far beyond school years. Bully victims are at increased risk of suicide, self-harm, depression, anxiety and physical health problems. Often, children who are bullied in school develop difficulties interacting with others for fear of future bullying or fear of not being accepted in peer groups. This fear can alter adult choices in education, lifestyle and parenting style.

Source: Suzet Tanya Lereya, Muthanna Samara, Dieter Wolke. Parenting behavior and the risk of becoming a victim and a bully/victim: A meta-analysis study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.03.001