Bullying: The Family Connection

Posted on Sun, Jan 24, 2010 @ 04:06 PM

The origins of antisocial behavior
No Bullying

In the last post we saw examples of intergenerational relationships that reduced bullying behaviors. But bullying behaviors can be perpetuated from one generation to another as well.

In "The Bully in the Family: Family Influences on Bullying," from Bullying: Implications for the Classroom, James R. Holmes examines the existing research into this antisocial behavior, explaining that many factors contribute to producing it. However, most of these factors have their origins in the family. Whether genetic components are considered: which would include temperament, intelligence (or lack thereof) and attention problems; or environmental components such as family influences, behaviors that occur between parents and children, and family management skills; a child's central relationships are most likely to affect whether or not he or she will bully others.

According to the studies reviewed by Holmes, "Bullying is associated with families in which people do not treat each other with respect or families in which children are not taught to respect the rights of others."

He also notes that "[British Criminologist David P.] Farrington assessed intergenerational transmission of bullying behavior specifically and found that there was a relationship. In other words, boys who bullied others as adolescents were more likely in their 30's to have children who were bullies."

But it isn't only parents who have a strong influence in this regard. Says Holmes, "The intergenerational effects of poor family management and discipline can also extend to grandparents. Having antisocial parents and grandparents is even more predictive of antisocial behavior in adolescence."

How important are positive family relationships to a safe and successful community? As we continue to discover, everything we can hope to be as human beings begins and ends with the effort we put into family relationships.

Tags: family relationships, antisocial behavior, bullying, intergenerational behavior