The findings run counter to the common perception that bullying prevention programs can help protect kids from repeated harassment or physical and emotional attacks.
Lead author Seokjin Jeong, an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at University of Texas, Arlington, said that one possible reason for this is that the students who are victimizing their peers have learned the language from these anti-bullying campaigns and programs.
The study suggested that future direction should focus on more sophisticated strategies rather than just implementation of bullying prevention programs along with school security measures such as guards, bag and locker searches or metal detectors.
For their study, Jeong and his co-author, Byung Hyun Lee, a doctoral student in criminology at Michigan State University, analyzed data from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) 2005-2006 U.S. study.
They found that older students were less likely to be victims of bullying than younger students, with serious problems of bullying occurring among sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The most pervasive bullying occurred at the high school level.
Boys were more likely than girls to be victims of physical bullying, but girls were more likely to be victims of emotional bullying. A lack of involvement and support from parents and teachers was likely to increase the risk of bullying victimization. These findings are all consistent with prior studies.
The study has been published in the Journal of Criminology.