Parenting Style Can Put Teenagers at Risk of Bullying

There is new evidence from recent research suggesting that adolescent bullying and victimization may have origins in the home and that many bullies have parents who are hostile, punitive and rejecting. 

According to, bullying is a major health issue and the side-effects can be both immediate and long-lasting. In the most tragic of cases, bullying has had fatal consequences. Children and adolescents who are involved in bullying (either as an aggressor, as a victim, or both) put themselves at risk for a number of emotional and behavioural problems, now and in the future, and require support to learn how to develop healthy relationships.

Issues of concern that affect children or teenagers who are bullied can include

Likewise, children or teenagers who bully others are at risk of issues such as :

  • Not knowing the difference between right and wrong.
  • Delinquency and substance use.
  • Academic problems and increased school drop out rate.
  • Aggression.
  • Sexual harassment and dating aggression.
  • Gang involvement and criminal adulthood.
  • Difficulties in their relationships with others.
  • Being bullied at the hands of others

Derisive Parenting Linked to Bullying Tendencies and Victimization in Teenagers

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Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and Uppsala University in Sweden, have identified another type of parenting that contributes to peer difficulties which put teenagers at risk of bullies or victims of bullying. The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, emphasizes the emotional underpinnings of peer difficulties.

According to the researchers, derisive parents use demeaning or belittling expressions that humiliate and frustrate the child, without any obvious provocation from the child. These parents respond to child engagement with criticism, sarcasm, put-downs and hostility, and rely on emotional and physical coercion to obtain compliance.

Their findings show that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically result in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression, and hostility. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization, and for becoming bully-victims (bullies who also are victimized by other bullies).

The researchers followed 1,409 children for three consecutive years from grades 7 to 9 (ages 13-15 years). Their study suggests that derisive behavior is a unique form of parenting that increases the risks that adolescent children will adopt inappropriate anger management strategies that increases their risk for peer difficulties.

“Inappropriate interpersonal responses appear to spread from parents to children, where they spawn peer difficulties. Specifically, derisive parenting precipitates a cycle of negative affect and anger between parents and adolescents, which ultimately leads to greater adolescent bullying and victimization,” said Brett Laursen, Ph.D., co-author and a professor of psychology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Parents Must Be Reminded of Their Influence on Teenagers

Identification of the family-specific origins of bully-victim status may be a key step in limiting or preventing such poor outcomes. Laursen pointed out that the study is important because it provides a more complete understanding of how parents’ belittling and critical interactions with adolescents thwart their ability to maintain positive relationships with peers.”

Daniel J. Dickson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology at Concordia University, who is the senior author of the study added that, “implications from our study are far-reaching: practitioners and parents should be informed of the potential long-term costs of sometimes seemingly harmless parenting behaviors such as belittlement and sarcasm.” He further advised that parents must be reminded of their influence on adolescents’ emotions and should take steps to ensure that adolescents do not feel ridiculed at home.



Science Daily 

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