Written by Bishop Noble
Adolescent bullying in schools is a complex problem that is coming more and more into public consciousness. As a result, many adults have pressured school officials to increase both the penalties for adolescent bullying in schools, as well as the police presence in schools across the nation (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). However, will the increased punishment and police presence decrease the bullying epidemic? According to Patchin and Hinduja (2016), students are, in fact, deterred more by their parents and school officials, such as teachers and principals, than they are by a police presence. Deterrence theory and the perceived punishment of students should be considered when looking at the nation’s bullying dilemma.
What is Deterrence Theory, and How Does it Affect Adolescents?
Deterrence theory posits that individuals are rational and will avoid criminal behaviors if the punishments are greater than the perceived benefits (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). The root of this theory comes from the pleasure/pain principle (i.e., individuals want to maximize their pleasure and minimize their pain; Nagin, 1998). Deterrence theory relates to adolescent bullying because students may weigh the pleasures of engaging in bullying at school against the expected pains associated with the threats of punishment by parents, school officials, or police officers; the decision (whether or not to transgress) is dependent upon the student and his/her relationship with these authority figures (Nagin, 1998). However, adolescents view punishments that are administered by parents or school officials as the least favorable, and these sources of punishment are the best at deterring adolescents from engaging in school bullying behaviors (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016).
How Does Perceived Punishment Influence Students’ Bullying Behaviors?
The punishment that an adolescent perceives as severe largely determines what s/he will do in any given situation: if the perceived punishment is lenient, s/he may opt to engage in bullying behavior; if the perceived punishment is harsh, s/he will likely decide against using bullying behaviors (Jackson, 2002). A study has shown that an increased police presence on campuses or in schools may lead to a distrust of officers and induce more delinquent behavior (Theriot, 2009). The reason behind this distrust may be because the increased police presence fosters an adversarial relationship in which the students see the officers as rivals, and this may lead to increased disorder in schools (Theriot, 2009). Parents and school officials who convey to the students that deviant behavior, such as bullying, will not be tolerated and that the behaviors will be punished seem to play a stronger role in deterring students from bullying behaviors. Additionally, it is noteworthy to mention that punishment by parents and school officials must be supportive and nurturing, as well as punitive, in nature (Hoeve et al., 2009). These elements are important because the child must feel love and support from the individuals s/he loves and looks up to even though s/he is being punished for his/her behavior.
Findings from Patchin and Hinduja’s (2016) Study
Patchin and Hinduja (2016) examined the amount of bullying that students experienced in their schools; bullying at school was experienced by 26.6% of the students, compared to online bullying, which was experienced by 5.8% of the students. They also examined how perceived punishment from different sources would affect deterrence from bullying (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). The sample included 1,096 students in grades 5-8 attending public schools located in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Results revealed that even informal efforts, such as discussing the problems of bullying, by parents and school officials have the potential for greater impact in deterring students from bullying than the utilization of police officers (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). Additionally, school punishment appears to have greater impact in deterring school bullying, while parental punishment is more effective in deterring cyberbullying (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016). Punishment by the police for both school bullying and cyberbullying were perceived less often than punishment by parents or schools (Patchin & Hinduja, 2016).
In conclusion, deterrence theory has been shown to have some relevance to students and their perceptions of punishment regarding bullying. The increased police presence in many schools may not be the best way for our nation to decrease bullying behavior within schools. Having parents and school officials become more involved in students’ lives may be the factor that is missing in reducing bullying. It is important that parents, teachers, principals, and counselors all understand how their students’ perceptions operate so that they will be able to reduce this persistent bullying problem that is present across the nation.
Hoeve, M., Dubas, J. S., Eichelsheim, V. I., Van der Laan, P. H., Smeenk, W., & Gerris, J. R. (2009). The relationship between parenting and delinquency: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychology, 37, 749-775.
Jackson, A. (2002). Police-school resource officers’ and students’ perception of the police and offending. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 25, 631-650.
Nagin, D. S. (1998). Criminal deterrence research at the outset of the Twenty-First Century. Crime and Justice, 23, 1-42.
Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2016). Deterring teen bullying: Assessing the impact of perceived Punishment from police, schools, and parents. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1-18.
Theriot, M. T. (2009). School resource officers and the criminalization of student behavior. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37, 280-287.
Written by Makeela J. Wells
In today’s society, more adolescents are opening up about their sexual orientation and identity. However, an unfortunate consequence of this action has been resulting experiences of homophobic and transphobic bullying. The purpose of this blog is to help the reader understand instances of homophobic and transphobic bullying in K-12 educational institutions. First, we define homophobic and transphobic bullying. Second, we will discuss the consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying. Lastly, we will explore how school-based strategies can help adolescents cope with and combat homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
What is homophobic and transphobic bullying?
Homophobic and transphobic bullying is a form of bias-based victimization against individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). It can include derogatory language, verbal harassment, and physical violence (Day, Snapp, & Russell, 2016). Additionally, homophobic and transphobic bullying can occur through electronic means, including text messages, e-mails, and social media sites (Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, & Coulter, 2012). Research on homophobic and transphobic bullying has received little attention; however, it is not just a regional phenomenon. Homophobic and transphobic bullying is being experienced all over the world. For example, in 2010, a South African study revealed that close to 70% of gay men and roughly 40% of lesbians reported that they experienced hate speech at school (Cornu, 2016). In the same year, a U.S. study showed that 84% of students who identified as either gay, lesbian, or bisexual were called names or threatened by other students (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2010). Additionally, close to 20% reported experiencing physical assaults (Kosciw et al., 2010). Among transgender students, 90% stated that they experienced name-calling or threats, and about 50% experienced physical assaults (Kosciw et al., 2010).
Consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying
Several negative consequences associated with homophobic and transphobic bullying have been identified. Adolescents who experience homophobic and transphobic bullying are more likely to miss classes, have lower academic performances, and have difficulty concentrating (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015; Day et al., 2016). Those who experience these negative effects often leave school before completion. Failing to complete school influences future employment prospects of adolescents who are subjected to homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Socially, homophobic and transphobic bullying victims are more likely to report feeling left out or isolated while attending school (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015). They also are more likely to have difficulties establishing and maintaining friendships and other interpersonal relationships (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015). Negative emotional and psychological consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying include low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Victims of homophobic and transphobic bullying are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and greater rates of attempted and actual suicides (Antonio & Moleiro, 2015; Day et al., 2016).
Strategies for combating homophobic and transphobic bullying in K-12 educational institutions
Two types of school-based practices have been implemented in schools in an attempt to prevent and eliminate homophobic and transphobic bullying. Supportive practices are initiatives taken by school officials to facilitate both school connectedness and bullying prevention. Examples of supportive practices include adequate counseling and support services for students, providing confidential support and referral services to students, and identifying sanctions for bullying violations on a case-by-case basis (Day et al., 2016). Punitive practices refer to strict, zero-tolerance approaches to dissuade future bullying and include suspension and even expulsion for participation in bullying behaviors (Day et al., 2016). Research by Day and colleagues (2016) revealed that supportive practices were more beneficial in reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying than punitive practices. Schools utilizing supportive practices reported that students were less likely to experience homophobic bullying. Furthermore, supportive practices promoted school connectedness through which adolescents develop positive relationships in school.
Sexual and gender diversity are no longer taboo. Adolescents now, more than ever, are willing to express their true identities. It is imperative that these adolescents feel comfortable with themselves, especially within schools. Schools serve as a place where adolescents are provided with educational opportunities that greatly impact their future life chances (e.g., employment). When adolescents are bullied for their perceived or actual sexual identity, it makes it more difficult for them to obtain a sufficient education. In the end, parents, school officials, and other educational stakeholders must work to prevent and, eventually, eliminate homophobic and transphobic bullying.
For more information of homophobic and transphobic bullying, visit the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Education sector responses to homophobic bullying.
Antonio, R., & Moleiro, C. (2015). Social and parental support as moderators of the effects of homophobic bullying on psychological distress in youth. Psychology in the Schools, 52(8), 729-742. doi: 10.1002/pits.21856.
Cornu, C. (2016). Preventing and addressing homophobic and transphobic bullying in education: A human rights-based approach using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(1), 6-17. doi: 10.1080/19361653.2015.1087932
Day, J.K., Snapp, S.D., & Russell, S.T. (2016). Supportive, not punitive, practices reduce homophobic bullying and improve school connectedness. Journal of Social Orientation and Gender Diversity, 3(4), 416-425. doi: 10.1037/sgd0000195
Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E.A., Diaz, E.M., & Bartkiewicz, M.J. (2010). The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York, NY: GLSEN. Retrieved from https://www.glsen.org/download/file/NDIyMw==.
Schneider, S.K., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., Coulter, R.W.S. (2012). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health, 102(1), 171-177. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011
Written by Jamal Tillman
Victims of Bullying
Bullying (the act of intimidating others) has been a hot topic issue for the past two decades (Wang, Iannotti, Nansel, 2009). It appears in our current society, we are playing catch-up with mitigating an uncontrollable fire within the social parameters of our K-12 schools. Bullying is a problem. However, there seems to be another branch on the proverbial tree: sexual violence. Discussions are occurring regarding a potential connection between bullying and sexual violence; researchers are attempting to find a link between bullying behavior (i.e., relational, cyber, or physical) and increased perpetuation of sexual violence (Basile, Espelage, Rivers, McMahon, & Simon, 2009). Regarding the bullying problem, one can see that certain elements can be overtly sexist and/or homophobic in nature (Daley, Solomon, Newman, & Mishna, 2007). Bullying, in this regard, may be connected to sexual violence (Basile et al., 2009).
Prevalence of Bullying and Sexual Harassment
Basile and colleagues (2009) state that bullying perpetration by both girls and boys occurs more frequently than sexual harassment perpetration; additionally, no significant difference exists between girls and boys regarding sexual harassment perpetration in the form of bullying (i.e., inappropriate verbal abuse, derogatory terms or slander, or forced inappropriate contact; Basile et al., 2009). However, students who identify as gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender report higher instances of sexual harassment and bullying victimization (Basile et al., 2009). The study by Basile and colleagues (2009) mentions that there are several factors that bullying and sexual violence perpetration have in common: avoidant attachment styles, rape myth beliefs, gender biases and conformity to gender-based roles/stereotype. However, the article (Basile et al., 2009) also points out that even though these factors are shared by both bullying and sexual violence perpetration, this does not mean that the factors are congruent regarding both bullying and sexual violence perpetration.
Some of those factors previously mentioned can be related to sexism and toxic masculinity (i.e., a critique of the way society has created men to be dominant, aggressive (sexually and otherwise), and unemotional, both collectively and as individuals); toxic masculinity can create unhealthy societal standards for boys and men, as well as plant the seeds of misogyny and overtly sexist ideals (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). If we believe that bullying can lead to sexual violence in males, then can we also assume that the root behavior itself (bullying) has connections to perceived masculinity? It is no secret that the victims of bullying are often those who are seen to be at the lower ends of the social hierarchy. The usual targets are often racial and ethnic minorities, females, “unpopular” kids, and those who fail to conform to society’s ideals of sexuality (Vervoort, Scholte, & Overbeek, 2010) and gender conformity. Bullying behavior is a unified combination of negative attitudes and the power that the bully has over the victims. Further inquiries could bring eye-opening results and provide the general population with additional insight into the bullying epidemic, as well as provide possible solutions that could help us mitigate such behavior and potentially create safer environments in our schools.
Basile, K. C., Espelage, D. L., Rivers, I., McMahon, P. M., & Simon, T. R. (2009). The theoretical and empirical links between bullying behavior and male sexual violence perpetration. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 336-347. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2009.06.001
Daley, A., Solomon, S., Newman, P., & Mishna, F. (2007). Traversing the Margins: Intersectionalities in the Bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 19(3-4), 9-29.
Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School Bullying Among Adolescents in the United States: Physical, Verbal, Relational, and Cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45, 368–375.
Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity rethinking the concept. Gender & society, 19(6), 829-859.
Vervoort, M. H., Scholte, R. H., & Overbeek, G. (2010). Bullying and victimization among adolescents: The role of ethnicity and ethnic composition of school class. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(1), 1-11.
Written by Bishop Noble
Bullying is an aspect of growing up that many individuals either experience themselves or witness at some point in time. Typically, the victim is left to fend off the bully, with no help from other individuals. According to Amelia Kohm (2015), witnesses to bullying only defend the victims between 12% and 25% of the time, regardless of how they feel about the actual bullying victimization experiences or the victims themselves. Social dilemmas often stand in the way of bully bystanders from coming to the aid of the victim. (Kohm, 2015). Even cliques into which individuals group can come into play. In this blog, the purpose is to discuss bullying bystanders and examine how social dilemmas and cliques can keep them from defending victims of bullying.
What are social dilemmas, and how do they affect the bystander?
Social dilemmas occur when individuals make decisions with only themselves in mind; they are based in the belief that individuals do not have the confidence that others will join them in their cause to support a belief or an individual. (Kohm, 2015). A good example of a social dilemma is the public goods dilemma, in which an individual will not assist in a public service if she/he believes others will refuse to contribute or if the individual believes assistance will be a waste of his/her time (Kollock, 1998). This concept shows that many individuals believe that any act defending victims may lead to their own victimization. In other words, if they defend victims, then they too may be victimized (Adler & Adler, 1995).
How do cliques influence a bystander?
Cliques are usually highly influential on those who witness bullying victimization. For instance, most individuals will only side with the popular clique (Kohm, 2015). The bully usually falls on the popular side of the two groups while the victim is on the other side with the unpopular individuals (Kohm, 2015). Pro-bullying behavior is related more closely to popular groups, in general, when it comes to defending behaviors (Kohm, 2015). Individuals will naturally side with popular groups before they try to defend victims. Individuals who are less popular may even begin to harass other less popular individuals in order to boost their own statuses and become a part of popular cliques.
Findings from Kohm’s (2015) Study
Kohm (2015) examined how attitudes, group norms, and social dilemmas influence individual behavior in bullying situations. The sample included 292 participants between the ages of 11 and 14 who attended a private residential school in the United States. Results revealed that both individual (e.g., protecting the victim and withdrawing from the bullying event) and group factors (e.g., encouraging bullying and trying to stop the bulling) were associated with behaviors in bullying situations. Additionally, anti-bullying attitudes were good predictors of behaviors in bullying situations. As anti-bullying behaviors increased, pro-bullying behaviors and support for the bullying decreased (Kohm, 2015). Social dilemmas were only found to predict behavior in bullying situations at the group level.
In conclusion, social dilemmas and cliques both can influence individuals of all ages, from kindergarten to high school. Social dilemmas and cliques both include strong social factors and group influences. In order to understand bystander behavior, they must both be taken into account. In the Kohm (2015) article, her research, which used student surveys, was able to show that individual (social dilemmas) and group factors (cliques) both influence individual behavior in bullying situations. It is important that we learn to understand how social dilemmas and cliques influence bystander behavior among individuals within schools so that teachers, parents, school counselors, and even principals may be able to counsel individuals who are having to deal with these bullying behaviors on a daily basis.
Adler, P., & Adler, P. (1995). Dynamics of inclusion and exclusion of preadolescent cliques. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58(3), 145-162.
Kohm, A. (2015). Childhood bullying and social dilemmas. Aggressive Behavior, 41(2), 97-108.
Kollock, P. (1998). Social dilemmas: The anatomy of cooperation. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 183-194.
Written by Makeela Wells
Cliques are structures found in school settings that organize and influence the social world of students. The purpose of this blog post is to provide a brief overview of the impact of cliques in a school setting. First, the blog post will discuss the components of a clique. Second, the post will explore the techniques of inclusion and exclusion that are used by cliques. Lastly, the post will examine the role of cliques in influencing the relationship between an individual’s social status, aggression, and prosocial behavior.
What is a clique?
Cliques can be defined as circles of power whereby leaders rely on various mechanisms to attain, maintain, and influence followers, both by building them up and cutting them down. Leaders draw followers into their circles, “allowing them to bask in the glow of popularity and acceptance” (Adler & Adler, 1995, p. 145). Leaders then subject followers to a position of dependence within the group. The way that students create feelings about themselves, establish friendships, and participate in certain activities (i.e., sports) is influenced by the organization of cliques. For example, jocks, or those who engage in sports, are more likely to align and establish relationships with others who also participate in sports. A distinguishing feature of cliques is that they tend to have a hierarchical structure that is dominated by one or more leaders. Cliques are also exclusive; only a few of the individuals who desire membership are accepted (Adler & Adler, 1995).
Research shows that cliques thrive more in certain schools than others. McFarland and colleagues (2014) analyzed both classroom-level and school-level data about friendships and found that a school’s network ecology, or the organizational setting within the school, influences whether or not a clique thrives within the school setting. They found that schools that offered students more choice, such as more elective courses and more freedom in seat selection, were more likely to establish cliques and that these cliques were more likely to thrive. Cliques were less prevalent in schools where choice was limited and formats of interaction were prescribed (McFarland, Moody, Diehl, Smith, & Thomas, 2014). Smaller schools were also less likely to have thriving cliques because the choice range of friends was smaller and the cost associated with excluding an individual from a group was greater.
The Inclusion and Exclusion Processes of Cliques
Cliques rely on the techniques of including and excluding individuals from that particular group. The process of inclusion involves recruitment, which occurs when one is solicited by clique members to become a part of the group, with leaders having the most influence over the recruitment process (Adler & Adler, 1995). Leaders decide if they like or dislike potential members, and the group members follow the leader’s decision. Potential members are granted a probationary period of acceptance into the group. If accepted during this period, potential members remain in the group. If rejected, they are required to leave the group (Adler & Adler, 1995). A second method of gaining entry into a clique is through the process known as application, whereby students actively seek entry into a group. Application for clique entry is easier to accomplish for a single individual than for a group (Adler & Adler, 1995). Successful applicants receive a great deal of immediate popularity due to their entry requiring approval from clique leaders.
Once accepted into the clique, new members align with others in the group. Those who are close friends with the leaders are more popular than those who are not. Members often work hard to maintain and improve their position within the group (Adler & Adler, 1995). Certain members experience a realignment of friendship within the clique, with some members abandoning friendships with certain clique members and establishing new friendships with other clique members. Members are more susceptible to being wooed by those in the group who are more popular than themselves (Adler & Adler, 1995). Due to the hierarchical structure, friendship loyalty tends to be less reliable in cliques than in other groups.
The techniques utilized in the exclusion process allow clique members to enhance the status of the group while, at the same time, maintaining hierarchy inside and outside of the clique. Those people who are not members of the group are subjected to rejection and ridicule, which provide entertainment for clique members (Adler & Adler, 1995). Leaders of cliques tend to treat outsiders badly and convince clique members to engage in similar behavior. A defining feature of the exclusion process is the use of gossip, which clique members use to spread rumors about particular outsiders. This process is used to ensure that clique entry by an outsider is highly unlikely (Adler & Adler, 1995). Engaging in gossip and the rejection and ridicule of outsiders solidifies the unity of the clique and displays the power that the clique has within the school setting.
How Do Cliques Influence Adolescent Social Status, Aggression, and Prosocial Behavior?
Pattiselanno and colleagues (2015) explored the role of clique hierarchy in influencing adolescent social status, aggression and prosocial behavior. The sample for the study included approximately 2,700 adolescents from over 120 Dutch schools (Pattiselanno, Dijkstra, Steglich, Vollebergh, & Veenstra, 2015). Cliques in this study were divided into girls only, boys only, and mixed-gender. Results revealed that aggression was strongly related to individual social status in girls’ cliques where there were more high status adolescents in the clique than low status adolescents. Boys’ cliques tended to be physically aggressive, while girls’ cliques tended to be relationally aggressive. Clique status, which refers to the popularity of the clique within the school, was positively related to physical aggression in all of the three types of cliques. However, clique status was only positively related to relational aggression in mixed-gender cliques (Pattiselanno et al., 2015). Higher status within the clique was associated with a greater level of aggression within the clique. Prosocial behavior was found to have a significant relationship with individual social status, with boys in mixed-gender cliques providing less emotional support than girls in similar cliques. Additionally, the relationship between clique status and emotional support was positive for girls’ clique (Pattiselanno et al., 2015). Higher status within a girl’s clique was associated with more emotional support given by the girls in that clique.
In conclusion, cliques can be found in elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States. Cliques have the potential to shape a student’s outlook on life, and the processes that are used to include and exclude certain individuals can be found in many of the major institutions in U.S. society (e.g., government, politics, and religion). It is imperative to understand the dynamics surrounding the formation and maintenance of cliques within schools so that parents, legal guardians, and school officials are better capable of assisting students in handling situations that may arise from school-based cliques.
For more information on cliques in schools, visit Teaching Tolerance at http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/cliques-schools.
Adler, P., & Adler, P. (1995). Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion of Preadolescent Cliques. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58(3), 145-162.
McFarland, D.A., Moody, J., Diehl, D., Smith, J.A., & Thomas, R.J. (2014). Network Ecology and Adolescent Social Structure. American Sociological Review, 79(6), 1088-1121.
Pattiselanno, K., Dijkstra, J.K., Steglich, C., Vollebergh, W., & Veenstra, R. (2015). Structure Matters: The Role of Clique Hierarchy in the Relationship Between Adolescent Social Status and Aggression and Prosociality. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44, 2257-2274.
Written by Makeela Wells
“I won’t show anyone.” These words are usually the next message one would send to encourage another to send inappropriate or sexually suggestive photos. Sexting has gained substantial public and media attention; however, scientific research on sexting behavior has been limited. The purpose of this blog is to understand sexting behaviors among adolescents. The blog will define what behaviors constitute sexting and will examine the consequences of sexting. Lastly, the blog will provide resources for those who have been victimized by sexting.
As society has experienced advances in communication technology, text messaging has become the most popular form of electronic communication among adolescents. A consequence of this easy and exciting form of communication is sexting. Sexting can be defined as behaviors whereby one person sends and/or receives sexually explicit text or photo messages via cellphones (Judge, 2012; Rice, Gibbs, Winetrobe, Rhoades, Plant, Montoya, & Kordic, 2014). Sexting behavior can be voluntary, coercive, and involuntary. Voluntary sexting behavior occurs when one sends sexually explicit messages without being pressured to do so, while coercive sexting behavior takes place through pressure or duress (Judge, 2012). An example of sexting coercion would be an adolescent being persuaded to send sexually suggestive photos to please a significant other or maintain a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sexting can also be involuntary, whereby sexually suggestive photos are taken without the consent or knowledge of the individual (Pelayo, 2016). The rates of sexting, both receiving and sending sexts, vary, with high school students being more likely to send sexts than middle school students (Rice et al., 2014). The reasons why one engages in sexting may vary. Some individuals view sexting as a way of flirting with significant others. Some may engage in sexting as a way to impress someone he or she may be interested in dating. Individuals may also engage in sexting without their knowledge, due to the fact that they may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Judge, 2012).
Consequences of Sexting
The consequences of sexting can range from minor to severe. Social consequences of sexting among adolescents include social isolation from peers. When one’s peers know that he or she has engaged in such behavior, they may resort to ridicule as a way to punish one for his or her behavior (Judge, 2012). Legal consequences may also emerge as a result of sexting. Many adolescents do not know and/or do not understand state laws relating to adolescent sexting (Judge, 2012). Sending and receiving sexually explicit images of a minor can be considered child pornography, regardless of if the perpetrator is an adult or a minor. Additionally, consequences of sexting include depression, absence from school, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and, in severe cases, suicide (Judge, 2012).
Sexting has been linked to adolescents engaging in early sexual behavior. A study conducted by Rice and colleagues (2014) found that 20% of Californian middle school students had received a sext, while 5% had sent a sext. Students who texted roughly 100 times a day were more likely to receive and send sexts. They also found that those who sent a sext were approximately 3 times more likely to be sexually active, and those who received sexts were 7 times more likely to engage in sexual activity (Rice et al., 2014). Early sexual behavior has been linked to both higher rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.
In conclusion, it is important for both adolescents and parents to understand what behavior constitutes sexting and the consequences associated with such behavior. Sexting is behavior described as sending explicit images and messages to others. It can be either voluntary, coercive, or involuntary and has been found to have negative impacts on the lives of adolescents. Educating individuals on sexting has the potential to decrease sexting behavior among adolescents.
The following is a link for an article published by The Washington Post, detailing a teen’s experience with sexting: “And everyone saw it” by Jessica Contrera.
For more information, see State Sexting Laws and Tips for Dealing with Teen Sexting.
Judge, A.M. (2012). “Sexting” among U.S. adolescents: Psychological and Legal Perspectives. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 20(2), 86-96.
Pelayo, A. (2016). Sexting: what it is, who it affects, and how it affects them. High School Insider, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://highschool.latimes.com/st-genevieve-high-school/sexting-what-it-is-who-it-affects-and-how-it-affects-them/.
Rice, E., Gibbs, J., Winetrobe, H., Rhoades, H., Plant, A., Montoya, J., & Kordic, T. (2014). Sexting and sexual behavior among middle school students. Pediatrics, 134(1), 21-28.
Written by Luke Herald
“Die Jock Die” is the phrase of the Columbine High School shooters. Many people find themselves asking why someone would go to such extreme measures (Gaertner, Iuzzini, & O’Mara, 2008). Studies have shown that acts of aggression, such as school shootings, with multiple victims can be tied to the idea of “perceived groupness” (Gaertner, Iuzzini, & O’Mara, 2008). “Die jock die” was said because the shooters felt the “jocks” were the ones who deserved to be punished for their actions.
What is perceived groupness?
Perceived groupness is the idea that others see an individual as belonging to a certain social group, such as athletes, cool kids, geeks, and punks, even if the individual does not belong to this group. Perceived groupness leads people to attribute personal characteristics, such as beliefs, attitudes, and actions, to an entire group, rather than to the individual who displays the characteristics. For example, a person on the football team may have treated a student in a way that made him feel excluded. Because he perceived the football player to be in a group (e.g., jocks), he may attribute the actions of and his feelings towards the football player to the entire team instead of to the person who actually took part in the actions. Misplaced attributions may cause misplaced aggression, such as disliking all jocks, rather than the one football player who mistreated him.
On the other hand, “nerds” can be bullied for no reason other than their perceived group. Perceived groupness causes misplaced aggression in both victims and aggressors. Perceived groupness affects us all. In the Social Relations Lab, we asked students to identify perceived social groups in their schools. In our research on bullying, we found that fifty-five percent of bullied students felt they were bullied due to their perceived membership in a group. Sixty-five percent of bullied students perceived themselves as being targeted by a specific group.
When does perceived groupness trigger aggression?
Perceived groupness can trigger aggression in many different ways and in more places than just schools. The idea of perceived groupness can be applied to any sort of grouping, such as race, sex, and age. Labels that place people in their respective groups affect society, regardless of the setting. In 2013 two Islamic extremists brutally murdered Lee Rigby, a British Soldier, in southeast London. They later put a video on the internet saying that they killed him because Muslims are being killed by British soldiers every day, and this act was retribution for those murders (Sjöström & Gollwitzer, 2015). Lee Rigby may have had nothing to do with these Islamic deaths, yet he paid what these extremists believed to be the price for the sins of his perceived group. This murder is also an example of the caregiving system in which a person is motivated to help someone who is perceived to be in his/her own group (Buffone & Poulin, 2014).
How can we use this knowledge to help?
If we understand that perceived groupness and rejection are two key factors in multiple-victim incidents of aggression, we can take steps to intervene. Counselors and practitioners can focus on assisting people and helping them cope with their views and experiences with rejection. They can also help people understand that although they were rejected or mistreated by a person, the opinions and actions of the particular aggressor should not be attributed to everyone with whom the aggressor associates (Gaertner, Iuzzini, & O’Mara, 2008). Recently, intervention programs have been created that could drastically help with these dangerous misperceptions by teaching people to alter their ideas of perceived groupness and view people as individuals, rather than as members of a group, which may result in a decreased likeliness of mass aggression (Aronson, 2001).
Gaertner, L., Iuzzini, J., & O’Mara, E. M. (2008). When rejection by one fosters aggression against many: Multiple-victim aggression as a consequence of social rejection and perceived groupness. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 44(4), 958-970.
Sjöström, A., & Gollwitzer, M. (2015). Displaced revenge: Can revenge taste “sweet” if it aims at a different target? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56, 191-202.
Buffone, A. E., & Poulin, M. J. (2014). Empathy, target distress, and neurohormone genes interact to predict aggression for others–even without provocation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(11), 1406-1422.
Aronson, E. (2001). Nobody left to hate. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Written by Taylor Ritchey
A recent study conducted by Diane Felmlee and Robert Faris examined the overlap of friendship and dating networks with cyber victimization among high school students in New York. In this study, 788 high school students were given surveys asking them to identify ten of their closest friends and eight past or current dating partners (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). Students were also asked to identify up to eight students who “picked on them or were mean to them” and who “they picked on or were mean to” in the previous week (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). Students were then asked to indicate if these incidences occurred through text message or over the Internet and to provide a brief description of the event (Felmlee & Faris, 2016).
Where does cyber bullying occur?
Regarding the incidences of cyber bullying that were described, 41% of them occurred on Facebook and included hurtful comments, humiliating photos, and nasty rumors being publicly displayed (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). Bullying via text messaging was almost as prevalent, with 38% of reported cyber bullying including “texting vulgarities and personal threats” (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). Instant messaging (12%) and different types of media, such as online games where players can harass and exclude other players (9%), made up the remaining cases (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). The victims of these cyber bullying incidences reported that their self-esteem “was destroyed” and that they felt “hurt,” “depressed,” and “lonely” (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). One student even transferred to a different school due to students repeatedly bullying her about her alleged sexual conduct (Felmlee & Faris, 2016).
Who bullies who?
Felmlee and Faris found that electronic and Internet threats are not sent by strangers; they are sent by close friends and romantic partners, both past and present (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). One explanation supporting this finding is that well-connected people have more information about their friends that they could use against them (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). Another explanation is that friends often find themselves in direct competition with each other for different clubs and organizations (Schaefer et al., 2011) or even romantic partners. They also found that LGBTQ+ youth are far more likely to be the victims of cyber bullying than heterosexual youth. One incident reported in this study included “a girl whose cellphone was taken by a boy who sent a mass message to her contacts saying ‘I am gay,’ causing the girl to ‘tear up,’ and nobody said anything” (Felmlee & Faris, 2016, p.15).
What can we do to address these concerns?
Cyber bullying, and bullying in general, can have serious lasting effects on a person’s emotional well-being. Here are some ways that we can use to combat cyber bullying:
• Be Nice! – Being careful of what you post on Facebook or send in a text message is important. Make sure that what you say is kind. Be nice to people, and they will be more likely to be nice back.
• Be a Friend! – If you know someone is being bullied, comfort them and encourage them to speak with an adult. Be friendly and listen to them if they need to talk. Sometimes, being a shoulder to lean on is exactly what someone needs.
• If You See Something, Say Something! – If you see an instance of bullying, say something to someone. Tell a teacher, parent or guardian, or stand up for the person being bullied. Don’t be a bystander!
For more information on cyber bullying, check out this infograph.
Felmlee, D., & Faris, R. (2016). Toxic Ties Networks of Friendship, Dating, and Cyber Victimization. Social Psychology Quarterly, 1-20. doi: 0190272516656585
Schaefer, D. R., Simpkins, S. D., Vest, A. E., & Price, C. D. (2011). The Contribution of Extracurricular Activities to Adolescent Friendships: New Insights through Social Network Analysis. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1141–1152.
Written by Makeela Wells
Bullying can have a significant impact on one’s daily life, including his or her attitude or behavior. Antisocial behavior is both a cause and a consequence of bullying. First, a purpose of the blog is to define antisocial behavior. Second, it will discuss the causes and characteristics that are associated with antisocial behavior. Lastly, the blog will examine change and stability in antisocial behavior, in the form of delinquency, from adolescence to early adulthood.
What is antisocial behavior?
Antisocial behavior can be described as acts that are disruptive and tend to be negative in their consequences (Trembley, 2000; Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2003). It has also been associated with the lack of prosocial behavior (Trembley, 2000). Antisocial behavior can either be covert or overt. Covert antisocial behavior usually is hidden from others and includes acts, such as lying, while overt forms of antisocial behavior are visible to others, such as responding aggressively in a physical way (Trembley, 2000). Most children possess both prosocial and antisocial behavior. Levels of antisocial behavior can increase as children reach adolescence (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2003).
What are the characteristics and causes of antisocial behavior?
Several factors have been linked to children and adolescents engaging in antisocial behavior. Familial factors related to antisocial behavior include marriage instability among parents (e.g., constant arguing), inconsistent and/or harsh parental disciplinary actions, and child abuse and neglect (Tremblay, 2000). An additional familial factor that is associated with antisocial behavior is an unstable home, in which children and adolescents frequently move from one place to the next, or a parent, such as a father, has an infrequent presence in the home (Tremblay, 2000). Individual factors relating to antisocial behavior may include learning or cognitive disabilities or health problems (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2003). Lastly, bullying is also a cause of antisocial behavior. Those who experience bullying within school tend to develop antisocial behaviors or reactions as a way of coping with the stress and frustration that results from being bullied (Zuckerman, 2016). Antisocial behavior that results from bullying can include increased aggression and anger. Additionally, the same individuals who are being bullied may turn to bullying themselves as a way to cope (Zuckerman, 2016).
Does antisocial behavior change or remain the same over the life course?
Cernkovich and Giordano (2001) conducted a research project in order to examine the relationship between age and antisocial behavior (measured as delinquency). They wanted to explore whether or not levels of antisocial behavior change as one moves from adolescence to early adulthood. The sample included participants who had engaged in varying levels of delinquency as adolescents. Participants in the study were interviewed at 2 time periods, as an adolescent and as a young adult (a span of 10 years). Findings from this study showed that antisocial behavior remained stable for those who were serious delinquent offenders, while antisocial behavior changed for less serious and non-typical delinquent offenders (Cernkovich & Giordano, 2001). In other words, as serious offenders grew older, their level of antisocial behavior did not change.
Cernkovich, S.A., & Giordano, P.C. (2001). Stability and change in antisocial behavior: The transition from adolescence to early adulthood. Criminology, 39(2), 371-410.
Tremblay, R.E. (2000). The development of aggressive behavior during childhood: What have we learned in the past century? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24, 129-141.
Walker, H.M., Ramsey E., & Gresham, F.M. (2003). Heading off disruptive behavior. A Union of Professionals. Retrieved from: http://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/winter-2003-2004/heading-disruptive-behavior.
Zuckerman, D. (2016). Bullying harms victims and perpetrators of all ages. Health Progress. Retrieved from: https://www.chausa.org/docs/default-source/health-progress/bullying-harms-victims-and-perpetrators-of-all-ages.pdf?sfvrsn=2.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor