In 2010, the *APA published a study where researchers reviewed 153 studies on bullying over the past 30 years. What they found was that bullies and victims share similar traits. Both lack social problem-solving skills and feel awkward and uncomfortable among their peers. When you add poor academic skills to the mix, a bully, rather than a victim, is likely to emerge.
The study additionally profiled bullies with these traits:
1) Negative attitudes and beliefs about others
2) Negative self-image
3) From families with conflict and poor parenting
4) Negative school perceptions
5) Negatively influenced by peers.
The study also noted that victims are usually aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, are problematic in social skills and solving problems, isolate, are rejected by peers and come from negative family, school and community environments.
So the take away here for parents is to address these issues:
To deal with a bully:
Get behavioral parent training. Years ago, I taught such a program in the Chicago area schools. Problematic children were identified by the schools because of their acting out. I traveled to their homes, observed their interactions with their parents and trained the parents in more effective parenting skills. In addition, children and parents practiced specific ways to handle bullying and problems. Both learned better problem-solving skills, and ways to lessen family conflict.
To help the victim:
Involve other children in standing up to the bully. The technique is called The Swarm. Basically, a group of bystanders swarm the bully and tell him or her to back off. There is power in numbers and bullies will often back down when confronted with a group that pushes back on them.
*Reference: “Predictors of Bullying and Victimization in Childhood and Adolescence: A Meta-analytic Investigation,” Clayton R. Cook, PhD, Louisiana State University; Kirk R. William, PhD, Nancy G. Guerra, EdD, Tia E. Kim, PhD, and Shelly Sadek, MA, University of California, Riverside; School Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 25, No.2