Children and teens that do not have social problem-solving skills face the prospect of becoming a bully, a victim, or both, states new research on the subject.
But those who are also having academic troubles are even likelier to become bullies, says the study.
"This is the first time we've overviewed the research to see what individual and environmental characteristics predict the likelihood of becoming a bully, victim or both," said lead author Clayton R. Cook, of Louisiana State University.
"These groups share certain characteristics, but they also have unique traits. We hope this knowledge will help us better understand the conditions under which bullying occurs and the consequences it may have for individuals and the other people in the same settings. Ultimately, we want to develop better prevention and intervention strategies to stop the cycle before it begins," Cook added.
Cook and co-authors from the University of California at Riverside examined 153 studies from the last 30 years.
They found that boys bully more than girls, and bullies and victims both have poor social problem-solving skills. More than anything else, poor academic performance predicts those who will bully.
"A typical bully has trouble resolving problems with others and also has trouble academically. He or she usually has negative attitudes and beliefs about others, feels negatively toward himself/herself, comes from a family environment characterized by conflict and poor parenting, perceives school as negative and is negatively influenced by peers," said Cook.
"A typical victim is likely to be aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, experience difficulties in solving social problems, come from negative family, school and community environments and be noticeably rejected and isolated by peers," Cook added.
The typical bully-victim (someone who bullies and is bullied) also has negative attitudes and beliefs about himself or herself and others, the study found.
He or she has trouble with social interaction, does not have good social problem-solving skills, performs poorly academically and is not only rejected and isolated by peers but is also negatively influenced by the peers with whom he or she interacts, according to the study.
The study has been published by the American Psychological Association.