Washington D.C, Aug 1: Recent studies have found that students who feel a greater sense of belonging with their peers, family and school community are less likely to become bullies. Research has shown that despite efforts, one in three children continue to experience bullying in school.
However, research has also indicated that environmental and psychological factors might play an important role in minimising bullying behaviours. Researchers analysed responses of a survey conducted on over 900 middle school students from rural schools throughout the U.S. The survey addressed their sense of belonging among peers, family and school community as well as bullying behaviour. For example, they were asked if they upset others for the fun of it or if they spread rumours. School Bullying Increases Chances of Mental Health Issues.
The results indicated that the more a student feels like they belong among their peers and family, the more likely they will feel like they belong at school. In addition, the more they feel like they belong within their school community, the less likely they were to report bullying behaviour.
This indicated that parents might be able to play a proactive role in increasing their child's sense of belonging at school by focusing on improving family belongingness.
Christopher Slaten, one of the researchers of the study, suggested that one of the ways parents can increase a child's sense of family belonging is to organise activities that cater to every child's interests.
"If you have children with varying interests, it might be beneficial to suggest the whole family get together to attend each other's events and activities, even if it doesn't please the whole crowd every time. By encouraging siblings to support each other, parents can help their children feel like their interests are accepted and that they fit within the family unit," Slaten said in the study published in the journal of Emotional & Child Psychology.
Chad Rose, one of the researchers of the study, added that teachers and school leaders should also consider techniques and programs that create a supportive environment for students. Some examples include starting clubs for students with various interests, offering to lend an ear to students who need someone to talk to and consider community-building events.
"What we have found is that students' perception of how supportive and accepting their school environment is has the power to alter bullying behaviour. This means that even acts of simple compassion and efforts to create an accepting and supportive space for students can help prevent bullying in schools. This is empowering news for teachers, students, and their families," Rose concluded.