The Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) has published a paper that draws together evidence from a rapid review of the literature in relation to bullying and offending, especially violent offending, to support practitioners in their understanding of this area.
Once regarded as an inevitable part of childhood development, research and policy attention has been directed in recent years towards bullying and the impact it can have on everyone involved. Understanding and addressing bullying behaviours is especially pertinent for practitioners working in youth justice and related fields, as there is growing evidence that portrays an association between bullying behaviours in childhood and later involvement in offending.
Written by CYCJ’s Research Lead Nina Vaswani, ‘Bullying Behaviours: adverse experiences for all involved?’ also presents empirical evidence on bullying drawn from analysis of risk formulation records about young people at risk of serious harm to themselves and others. This includes analysis of some of the factors that may be implicated in bullying either as a precursor to bullying, or as a result of bullying behaviours, such as peer rejection and social exclusion.
Crucially, as most studies explore the relationship between bullying and later offending rather than victimisation and offending, this paper presents evidence on regarding bullies, victims and bully-victims.
Nina Vaswani says:
“Although the phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ is one many of us will recall from our own childhoods, bullying – especially if it is sustained – can have an extremely detrimental impact on mental health and life outcomes. With awareness growing across Scotland about the long-term effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), it is important that we recognise bullying as on a par with some of these experiences, and it should never be considered a ‘normal’ part of childhood.
“Scotland may have a holistic framework for those working with children and young people to address all aspects of bullying, yet there is much work still to be done in understanding and addressing bullying behaviours. Although universal prevention is key, bullying is also of particular relevance to youth justice practitioners and the purpose of this paper is to help practitioners understand the underlying issues, the impact on those who are involved and the relationship with offending behaviour. Ultimately, the long term impact of bullying is something that affects us all as a society – and bullying is something that we can all challenge.”