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The Lifecycle of Bullying: Why Kids Bully and What We can Do to Help them Stop?. Debra Pepler Melissa Institute - Scientific Board York University & The Hospital for Sick Children. Objectives. Highlight emerging research on the development and desistence in bullying.

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the lifecycle of bullying why kids bully and what we can do to help them stop
The Lifecycle of Bullying:Why Kids Bully and What We can Do to Help them Stop?

Debra Pepler

Melissa Institute - Scientific Board

York University &

The Hospital for Sick Children

objectives
Objectives

Highlight emerging research on the development and desistence in bullying.

Discuss what we as adults can do to promote healthy relationships and healthy development for children and youth who are involved in bullying their peers.

what is bullying
What is Bullying?

Bullying is a relationship problem that requires

relationship solutions:

  • Those who bully are learning to use power aggressively to control and distress others
  • Those who are victimized become trapped in an abusive relationship.
girls and boys bullying trajectories
Girls’ and Boys’ Bullying Trajectories

Pepler, Jiang, Craig, & Connolly, 2008, Child Development

individual risk factors for bullying in late elementary high school
Individual Risk Factors for Bullying in Late Elementary & High School

Children who bully exhibit problems with:

  • Moral disengagement
  • Physical aggression
  • Relational aggression
relationship risk factors for bullying in late elementary high school
Relationship Risk Factors for Bullying in Late Elementary & High School

Children who bully have problems in their relationships with parents and friends:

  • Parental trust
  • Parental monitoring
  • Parental conflict
  • Friends who also bully
  • Conflict with peers
  • Susceptibility to peer pressure
what happens for those youth who desist in bullying
What Happens for Those Youth who Desist in Bullying?

These youth have accomplished the developmental tasks for social competence and social responsibility.

They are no longer:

  • Morally disengaged
  • Physically aggressive
  • Relationally aggressive
what happens for those youth who desist in bullying1
What Happens for Those Youth who Desist in Bullying?

These youth have developed better relationships with parents and are no longer different than the non-bullying youth:

  • Trust with parents
  • Parental monitoring
  • Parental conflict
what happens for those youth who desist in bullying2
What Happens for Those Youth who Desist in Bullying?

These youth have also developed better relationships with their friends:

They no longer are high on:

  • Friends who also bully
  • Conflict with peers

However, they are still somewhat high on:

  • Susceptibility to peer pressure
what has happened for those youth who desist in bullying
What has Happened for Those Youth who Desist in Bullying?

They have developed relationship skills that are essential for healthy relationships:

  • Physical
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Behavioural
  • Cognitive
  • Moral

Their relationships have also improved:

-- a bi-directional process

slide13

Developmental Pathways of

Power and Aggression

in Relationships

Elder

Abuse

Child

Abuse

Marital

Abuse

Gang/ Delinquency

Aggression

Dating

Aggression

Workplace

Harassment

Sexual

Harassment

BULLYING

nature and nurture
Nature and Nurture!

Some children are born with biological challenges….

These work together with the environments in which they grow up (i.e., their relationships) to shape their development.

healthy development depends on healthy relationships
Healthy Development depends on Healthy Relationships

Emerging research on:

  • Epigenetics: changes in gene expression
  • Brain architecture and activity
  • Family, peer, and other relationships
  • Societal factors
relationships matter for gene expression
Relationships Matter for Gene Expression

The “operating system” for genes is built over time through:

  • Positive experiences, such as exposure to rich learning opportunities.. or
  • Negative experiences, such as stressful life circumstances

Experiences leave a chemical “signature” on genes, which can be temporary or permanent

  • These experiences affect how easily the genes are switched on or off.
relationships matter for the brain through genes and experiences
Relationships Matter for the Brain through Genes and Experiences

The brain adapts to the experiences that a child has..

If the child has positive experiences, the brain adapts positively for learning, memory, and regulation

If the child has stressful experiences, the brain adapts negatively, with too much or too little response to any stress.

As the brain develops, the gene expression adapts as well, leading to further

positive or negative

brain development

what does this have to do with the role of adults
What Does This Have To Do With The Role Of Adults?

Children experience their world as an environment of relationships.

  • Relationships are important throughout development
  • Relationships affect all aspects of development – intellectual, social, emotional, physical, behavioral, and moral.

Adults are responsible for

the quality of children’s

relationships

slide20

Relationships are the “active ingredients” of the environment’s influence on healthy human development.Relationships engage children in the human community in ways that help them define who they are, what they can become, and how and why they are important to other people.

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

Working paper #1. Young children develop in the environment of relationships

other relationships are important too
Other Relationships are Important Too!

The relative importance of relationships with parents, other caregivers, other adults, and peers changes with development.

All these relationships are central to children’s development of social competence and social responsibility.

slide22
Growth-promoting relationships are based on the child’s continuous give-and-take with a human partner who provides what nothing else in the world can offer – experiences that:
  • are individualized to the child’s unique personality style
  • build on his or her own interests, capabilities, and initiative
  • shape self-awareness
  • stimulate the growth of his or her heart and mind.

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

Working paper #1. Young children develop in the environment of relationships

slide24

Bullying is a Relationship Problem that Requires Relationship Solutions

Child’s or youth’s relationships

with family,

peers, adults, & community

Child or youth’s needs, strengths,

challenges

© Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network, 2007

back to the brain for a moment
Back to the Brain for a Moment

Research on the brain activity of children referred and treated for aggressive behaviour problems

James Stieben and colleagues

Marc Lewis and colleagues

developmental perspective
Developmental Perspective

What relationship skills is this girl lacking?

relationship perspective
Relationship Perspective
  • How do this girl’s peers relate to her?
  • How do adults relate to her?
  • What do you imagine her family life might be like?
slide29

What might we do to promote healthy development for this girl through adolescence and into adulthood?

developmental perspective intervening to support a girl s needs strengths challenges
Developmental Perspective Intervening to support a girl’s needs, strengths, challenges

Scaffolding

  • Metaphor to describe adults’ role in anticipating and providing ever-changing, individualized supports to allow children to rise about their normal level of performance (tailored coaching).
  • Can be programmatic, such as social skills training, or moment-to-moment.
slide31
Relationship Perspective Intervening to promote positive and discourage negative relationship experiences

Social Architecture

  • Metaphor to describe how as adults, we are responsible for creating safe and inclusive contexts for children and youth and discouraging negative relationship dynamics.
slide32

What SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE could you create for the girl in the video to ensure she is in healthy relationships and not engaged in unhealthy relationships?

strategies for building healthy relationships
Strategies for Building Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships strategies require:

  • Awareness of potential problems
  • Catch problem EARLY; ongoing support
  • Communication among adults, between students and adults, between home and school, etc.
  • Support for the most vulnerable children and youth.
  • Systems Change, Social Architecture, Scaffolding, and

Self-Awareness

it takes a village to raise a child
It Takes a Village to Raise A Child

Bullying is a relationship problem that requires relationship solutions in all of the places where children live, learn, play and work.

partnerships for social responsibility
Partnerships for Social Responsibility

Counselors and school leaders can partner with teachers, parents, community organizations, and police to:

  • Put necessary developmental supports in place (scaffolding)
  • Organize peer experiences to reduce bullying and other antisocial behaviours (social architecture)
  • Develop community-wide prevention programs
  • Divert youth from troubled pathways
slide37

THANK YOU!

For Helping Us Bridge Research and Practiceto Promote Healthy Relationships for All Children and Youth

www.prevnet.ca

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