(Re)generating Bullying Among the Young (and Not So Young)

Tom Jacobs, blogging for Miller-McCune magazine, reports on a study linking adolescent bullying to inadequate parenting:

Now, a research team led by Michael Brubacher of DePaul University has found a more subtle connection between inadequate parenting and adolescent bullying. In a paper just published in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, the academics coin the term “cycle of dominance.”

The phrase reflects their finding that, in transmitting bad behavior from one generation to the next, the issue isn’t strictly the use of physical force. It’s also a matter of whether the youngster grows up with a sense that conflicts can be resolved in a just, fair way.

In short, if a kid feels he’s being punished arbitrarily at home, he is more likely to engage in arbitrary punishment on the streets or in the schoolyard.

This “cycle of dominance” is not unlike what communications professor and workplace bullying researcher Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik calls the “communicative generation and regeneration of employee emotional abuse.”  According to Lutgen-Sandvik, when workplace bullying is left unaddressed by an organization, targets become more motivated to engage in retaliation, and the likelihood of further aggression or violence increases.  (See Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, “The Communicative Cycle of Employee Emotional Abuse: Generation and Regeneration of Workplace Mistreatment,” Management Communication Quarterly (2003).)

In sum, for both kids and adults, preventing situations that lead to perceptions of injustice and mistreatment is one of the best ways of stopping these behaviors from being inflicted upon others.

For Jacobs’s full post, “How to Turn Your Kid Into a Bully”: http://www.miller-mccune.com/news/how-to-turn-your-kid-into-a-bully-1494?utm_source=Newsletter76&utm_medium=email&utm_content=0929&utm_campaign=newsletters

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