60-Second Mind

Who Teens Blame for Bullying

A recent Swedish study finds that teenagers put most of the blame for bullying behavior on the bully or the victim, and not on their peers or the school environment. Christie Nicholson reports

Bullying has been making headlines lately, with the case of Tyler Clementi, the gay college student who committed suicide after falling victim to Internet harassment. And feds have declared bullying to be a national problem, organizing the “Bullying Prevention Summit” this past August.


Well a recent Swedish study published in the journal Child & Youth Care Forum decided to look at how teens view tormenting behavior and specifically asking them to reveal who or what they think is the cause.


They surveyed 176 15 and 16-year-old high school students. And found that 69 percent attributed the cause of bullying to the actual bully, blaming his or her insecurity, low self-esteem, and need for control. But 42 percent blamed the victims, attributing the bullying to the fact that the victim deviates from the norm and is characterized as “different” or “odd.”


Interestingly, 21 percent attributed the bullying to their peer group and only seven percent attributed it to the school environment.


Of course human perception can be misleading, and we do tend to shoot the messenger as it were, but the authors note that teens’ conception of bullying needs to be taken into account when setting up any anti-bullying campaign.


—Christie Nicholson

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