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Less resilient students more likely to suffer from harassment – study

Research shows that adolescents with an optimal level of wellbeing are more likely to demonstrate appropriate academic skills, have higher levels of school attendance and pro-social behavior, and be less likely to bully others.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

Students’ emotional resilience is linked to their chances of being victimized, with less resilient students more likely to suffer from harassment.

This is according to researchers at Flinders University, Australia and the University of Thessaly in Greece, who also found that female students display lower emotional resilience, along with older students.

For this study, involved were 558 students from grades 6-10. The students were given a questionnaire about their experiences with victimization and resilience.

The study defined resilience as the ability of students to easily bounce back from emotional difficulties such as bullying. It is also assumed to provide a buffer from the harmful effects of peer victimization and harassment and allow for recovery. It is believed that higher levels of resilience and wellbeing tended to go with being bullied less often, being a boy, and being younger.

Other/existing research suggests that resilient adolescents are less likely to be either victims or bullies, and to suffer less emotional damage from bullying scenarios.

“(Our) results show that bullied adolescents may develop different ways of protecting themselves from bullying, depending on their age and gender,” say researchers Flinders University’s Dr Grace Skrzypiec and visiting research fellow Dr Eleni Didaskalou.

Resilience plays a strong role in student wellbeing, which in turn has academic and social outcomes.

The research also shows that adolescents with an optimal level of wellbeing are more likely to demonstrate appropriate academic skills, have higher levels of school attendance and pro-social behavior, and be less likely to bully others, says Dr Skrzypiec, co-director of the Student Wellbeing and Prevention of Violence (SWAPv) research group at the Flinders College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.

The study similarly finds that gender and year level did not affect how often a student becomes a victim of bullying, and that boys and girls are likely to experience different types of harassment.

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“Overt physical and verbal aggression appears to be more common among boys, whereas girls are more likely to experience underhanded bullying like spreading rumors,” the researchers say. “There is some recent evidence that during adolescence, boys are more vulnerable to victimization across different contexts, whereas girls’ victimization may take place partly in their close friendships”

As recommendation, the researchers state the need for schools and policymakers to address wellbeing and harassment support to students in a manner informed by their age and gender, noting that a one-size-fits-all approach may not work.

“Resilience-based anti-bullying interventions cannot be developed in the sense of ‘an approach that suits everyone’s needs. Potential resilience-based anti-bullying interventions should take into account that adolescents’ adjustment after being victimized may be affected by their age and gender,” they say.

The researchers also call for a shift away from thinking about bullying in terms of the victims’ limits and deficits, and towards their strengths and perceived wellness.

Written by E. Andreou, C. Roussi-Vergou, E. Didaskalou and G. Skrzypiec, “School bullying, subjective well-being, and resilience” was published in Psychology in the Schools.

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