Factors that lead to bullying

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Factors that lead to bullying

When we think of what are those characteristics of a bully, we know that there’s different types of bullies. So there are bullies that are physically aggressive. There is others that engage in verbal rumor spreading. But when we think about these bullies, we know that they may have difficulty regulating their emotions, they may be prone to anger. In some cases they may come from homes in which they were being bullied themselves by a sibling. They also may have a real high need for control and dominance and that they want to be the leader of the group and unfortunately, sometimes in the early adolescence the way in which they establish being the leader of the group is to engage in bullying and once they’ve engaged in bullying, it seems to work for them, it reinforces their behavior. So we do know that when we have conversations with bullies about regulating their emotions, their anger and the benefits that they see to bullying, then we have a shift and decreases in bullying over time if we are able to allow them to use their – what we call very influential skills – as social influential leaders, if we give them opportunities to not bully other kids, but be the leader in a pro social way, then we may change their behavior over time.

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Expert Bio

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Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Child Development

Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She is a University Scholar and has fellow status in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. As a result, she presents regularly at regional, national, and international conferences and is author on over 90 professional publications.  She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. She has presented thousands of workshops and in-service training seminars for teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers across the U.S.  Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming.  She is currently funded by the CDC for a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011. She is also funded by National Science Foundation to develop better methods to assess bullying among adolescents and CDC and NIJ are funding a longitudinal study of predictors of bullying and dating violence among adolescents. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson, Anderson 360 and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Her dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate students are committed to the dissemination of the research through various mechanisms.

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