Washington: Recent studies have found that students who feel a greater sense of belonging to their peers, family, and school community are less likely to become bullies.
Research has shown that despite efforts, one in three children continue to be bullied at school. However, research has also indicated that environmental and psychological factors may play an important role in reducing bullying behavior.
Researchers analyzed responses from a survey of more than 900 middle school students from rural schools across the United States. The survey focused on their sense of belonging among peers, their family and the school community as well as on bullying behavior. For example, they were asked if they bothered others for fun or if they spread rumours.
The results indicated that the more a student feels they belong to their peers and family, the more likely they are to feel they belong at school. Also, the more they feel they belong in their school community, the less likely they are to report bullying behavior.
This indicates that parents may be able to take a proactive role in increasing their child’s sense of belonging at school by focusing on improving family belonging.
Christopher Slaten, one of the study’s researchers, suggested that one of the ways parents can increase a child’s sense of family belonging is to organize activities that meet each child’s interests.
“If you have children with varying interests, it can be beneficial to suggest that the whole family get together to attend each other’s events and activities, even if it doesn’t appeal to everyone every time. By encouraging siblings to support each other, parents can help their children feel that their interests are accepted and that they fit into the family unit,” Slaten said in the study published in the journal Emotional. & Child Psychology.
Chad Rose, one of the study’s researchers, added that teachers and school leaders should also consider techniques and programs that create a supportive environment for students. Some examples include starter clubs for students with diverse interests, offering to lend an ear to students who need someone to talk to, and considering community-building events.
“What we have found is that students’ perception of support and acceptance of their school environment has the power to modify bullying behavior. This means that even acts of simple compassion and “Efforts to create a space of acceptance and support for students can help prevent bullying in schools. This is exciting news for teachers, students, and their families,” concluded Rose.