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By on September 10, 2012

New research: Does bullying lead to dating aggression?

Bullying: a stepping stone towards dating aggression?” examines the ways in which the risk factors and  bullying and dating aggression are similar and ways in which a young person could exhibit both acts of power and control over the course of the youth and adolescence. The  article describes the shared key fundamental elements and roots causes of both behaviors such creating a power differential within interpersonal relationships and what Albert Bandura calls “moral disengagement”. Moral disengagement is defined as, “a lack of self regulation regarding moral conduct”. While there is not a direct causal link between bullying and dating aggression later in life, researchers point out that:

…young adolescents who perpetrate bullying become involved in romantic relationships earlier than those who do not bully, and are more likely to report verbal and physical aggression in their earliest intimate relationships. (Josephson and Pepler, 2012)

Additionally, the authors site five features that bullying and dating agression prevention programs should share: focus on relationships, emphasis on skill building, focus on peer contexts, a comprehensive approach, and focus on the issue of power.

There is still much research to be done to further explain the relationship between these two forms of abuse but this article sheds light on shared risk factors and potential mediators and moderators, helping to inform the work of preventionists.

To learn more: 

Bullying: a stepping stone to dating aggression?

Josephson WL, Pepler D., International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. 2011 Nov 29;24(1):37-47.

Abstract

Bullying is the use of power and aggression to control and distress another. In this paper, we review research to explore whether the lessons learned in bullying provide a stepping stone to aggressive behavior in dating relationships. We start by considering definitions and a relationship framework with which to understand both bullying and dating aggression. We consider bullying from a developmental-contextual perspective and consider risk factors associated with the typical developmental patterns for bullying and dating aggression, including developmental and sociodemographic, individual attributes, and family, peer group, community, and societal relationship contexts that might lead some children and youths to follow developmental pathways that lead to bullying and dating aggression. We conclude by discussing implications for intervention with a review of evidence-based interventions.

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