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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

UF study shows that bullies act on assumptions

Bully see, bully do.

A UF study shows that the more bullies think their peers are harassing others, the more likely they are to tease others.

The experiment, which surveyed nearly 10,700 anonymous middle school students from 2006 to 2008, was designed to monitor bullying behaviors. About 20 middle schools from New Jersey and New York participated in the study.

The research found that 66 percent of students said they’ve been the victim of bullying more than once in the last month.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed avoided recess, class and lunch to keep clear of trouble. Eight percent of the teenagers also reported that they skipped school for the same reason.

Jason Grindstaff, who works at UF’s counseling center and deals with student depression and anxiety, said menacing students were often ridiculed and ostracized, so they tend to join “jock” groups to appear popular and exert power, he said.

David W. Craig, one of the researchers, said easily influenced students usually become quarrelsome and troubled, which is why they tend to pick on others. He said people think bullying happens much more than it actually does.

“We’ve been looking at the frequency between behavior and the perceived behavior for two years,” he said. “The higher the grade level, the less influenced students are to becoming bullies.”  

The study also found that the classroom, lunchroom and hallways at schools were the places where victimization was most prevalent. Craig also said bullying is down about 15 percent since the study at the schools where students were surveyed.

Researchers from Hobart and William Smith colleges and Harvard University also participated in the study.

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