Why do middle school students bully

Little school tyrants also harass their siblings

28.01.2010

Children who bully others at school also bully their siblings at home. This is the result of an Italian study ...

Dr. Ersilia Menesini from the University of Florence and her Italian colleagues investigated to what extent gender and age in the sibling series have an influence on whether a child becomes a victim of bullying or whether it is itself a perpetrator. They also tracked whether there is a connection between a child's behavior at school and at home. It showed that little tyrants at school were also at home with them. Likewise, children who were teased at school also tended to be victims of their siblings at home. The researchers could not explain where this behavior originated, but they suspect that the children's home is the decisive factor. Children with older brothers were the most likely to be bullied. Boys reported much more often than girls that they bullied their - mostly younger - siblings. According to the researchers, older children struggle to maintain their dominant role. In the case of sisters, it was the quality of the relationship that determined whether or not they bullied each other rather than the order of siblings. The more conflictual the relationship between sisters was and the less compassion they felt for one another, the more likely a sister was bullied.

Dr. Menesini observed 195 children aged 10 to 12 years. All children had siblings who were no more than four years older or younger than themselves. The children used questionnaires to provide information about whether they are a victim of bullying at home or in school, or whether they are harassing their schoolmates or siblings themselves.

The conclusion of the study is that parents should already intervene in conflicting sibling relationships, especially if they have older sons, so that the roles cannot solidify at an early age. If teachers understand the connection between school and home, it may also be easier for them to stop a petty tyrant's “attack” on the school. Bullying can begin with small children and the Italian scientists are therefore of the opinion that greater efforts are necessary to nip bullying in the bud.