So it seems that being harsh toward others can actually be bad for the bully themselves. Bullying and school disciplinary problems were all associated with higher scores on a measure of sleep related breathing disorders in children according to a new study reported on this week. Now does the bully not sleep because they are mean, or are they mean because they can't sleep? Bullying has potential negative consequences for both the aggressor and the victim, but possibly the bullying may stem from the lack of sleep the study also claims.
Parents of 341 children completed validated screening assessments for conduct problems, bullying behavior, and sleep-disordered breathing. Teachers provided assessments of conduct problems, behavior, and disciplinary problems in school. Overall, 32% of the children were classified by a parent or teacher as having a conduct problem, 12% were classified as demonstrating bullying behavior, and 17% received at least two disciplinary referrals from teachers.
Almost a quarter of the misbehaving children snored more than half the time, which is suggestive of sleep-disordered breathing or potential sleep apnea. Aggressive schoolchildren simply appear to be more likely to have sleep-disordered breathing than their more mild-mannered counterparts, a cross-sectional study showed conducted by the University of Michigan.
Louise O'Brien, PhD comments:
"Our study was cross-sectional and cannot prove causality, but dose-response findings were consistent with the hypothesis that sleep-disordered breathing, and sleepiness in particular, could contribute to conduct problems in schoolchildren. Although previous literature has reported aggressive behavior as a possible symptom of sleep-disordered breathing, we now suggest more broadly that common and frequently unrecognized daytime sleepiness, related perhaps in some but not all cases to sleep-disordered breathing, could underlie a sizable portion of aggressive behaviors within urban public schools. The findings raise the possibility that addressing the underpinnings of childhood sleepiness may offer a largely untapped opportunity to reduce the common problem of aggressive behavior in schoolchildren."
Bullies are at risk for psychiatric problems, delinquency, substance abuse, antisocial behavior, violence, and criminal activity, whereas victims are at risk for damaged self-image, depression, and decreased quality of life, according to the researchers.
Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on its receiving end. Yet because parents, teachers, and other adults don't always see it, they may not understand how extreme bullying can get.
Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing.
Two of the main reasons people are bullied are because of appearance and social status. Bullies pick on the people they think don't fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act (for example, kids who are shy and withdrawn), their race or religion, or because the bullies think their target may be gay or lesbian.
Some bullies attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting, or even sexual assault. Others use psychological control or verbal insults to put themselves in charge. For example, people in popular groups or cliques often bully people they categorize as different by excluding them or gossiping about them (psychological bullying). They may also taunt or tease their targets (verbal bullying).
Verbal bullying can also involve sending cruel instant or email messages or even posting insults about a person on a website, or practices that are known now as cyber bullying.
The authors of the research highlight some limitations, including possible selection bias stemming from the low recruitment rate, the use of a questionnaire to assess sleep-disordered breathing, and the inconsistency between parent and teacher reports of behavior.
Sources: Science Direct and The Nemours Foundation
Written by Sy Kraft