Bullying is an inherited trait that is embedded in a someone’s genetic makeup, a new and highly controversial study has found.
The just-published Canadian study has added that the so-called inherited behaviour associated with bullying also helps teenagers build social rank and sex appeal later in life.
Already shaking a few feathers around the world, the new study spits in the face of the long suggested theory that bullies are “maladapted,” troubled people, lashing out because they had been abused or harassed themselves or at least had dysfunctional home lives.
It is believed that if the theory is accepted, it could change the way schools and parents tackle the bullying epidemic — for good.
“Humans tend to try to establish a rank hierarchy,” Jennifer Wong, the criminology professor who led the study told news.nationalpost.com. “When you’re in high school, it’s a very limited arena in which you can establish your rank, and climbing the social ladder to be on top is one of the main ways … Bullying is a tool you can use to get there.”
A group of Vancouver high school students were surveyed as part of the study. It found bullies were the least likely to be depressed, had the highest self-esteem and the greatest social status.
Ms Wong says, “Most anti-bullying programs try to change the behaviour of bullies — and they usually don’t work. That’s probably because the behaviour is biologically hard-wired, not learned.”
She recommends that, instead of trying to change how bullies think, schools should expand the range of competitive, supervised activities they can participate in — giving them a less harmful channel for their dominating tendencies.
In Australia, there is no nationally agreed definition of what constitutes bullying, but it is agreed that the behaviour includes such actions as threatening behavior, physical or verbal attacks, spreading rumors, or deliberately excluding someone from a group or activity.
According to nobullying.com, roughly one in four students (27 per cent) have reported being bullied, from primary to high school. This is lower than the 38 per cent reported in 2006.
Hurtful teasing was reported as the most common bullying behavior, closely followed by lies.
It is believed the best and most obvious way to stop bullying in schools is for parents to change the way they parent their children at home. Of course, this is much easier said than done and everyone parents their children differently.
What we do know is a lot remains to be done to control bullying in Australia.
Do you agree with this study?