Shelley Hymel, a professor in Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education, on the impact of school bullying
What is the impact that bullying can have on a child?
Short-term, bullying victimization is associated with skipping school and with mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. A lot of kids do normalize. But it’s not a rite of passage that makes you tougher. It’s actually quite awful. Conversely, some believe the best defence is a good offence and they become bullies themselves. Years ago, research in Norway showed that of the children who are identified as bullies in grades six to nine, 60 per cent ended up having a criminal conviction by age 24. Thirty to 40 per cent had three or more criminal convictions.
How can bullying be prevented or stopped?
There is no single measure, or single program that will address how to stop bullying. Schools need a much bigger toolbox to address the bigger issue related to bullying which is the need for schools to foster social and emotional development in the school curriculum.
You say one example of why kids bully includes those with psychopathic tendencies. How dangerous is this group of students?
A small number of bullies, less than three per cent, exhibit psychopathic tendencies. Research in the UK has shown the majority of psychopaths are actually functioning members of society, not people who shoot and kill others. A lot of psychopaths become CEOS, lawyers and even clergy. They like power and taking risks. If a child is a budding psychopath, they need early identification and intervention.