Welcome to my blog.

I am currently a graduate student working on a dissertation that will research the long term effects of bullying on the victims. Who do the victims become in adulthood and what impact did the victimization have on the choices made in adulthood. Most people can point to anecdotal examples, i.e. the skinny/obese child who became a bodybuilder/martial arts expert or the “ugly duckling” who underwent plastic surgery to become the beautiful swan, but is that the norm or outliers?

At this point in my search I haven’t found much research covering this topic or information about support for adults who were victimized as children.

It is my hope that out of my research I will be able to not only open doors to further research in this area, but also uncover replicateable interventions that can be used to help those children currently suffering from victimization and hopefully to launch support group and treatment methods for those adults who were victimized.

As I read through the different journal articles, Masters thesis’s, Doctoral dissertations, published books, and intervention programs I will post my thoughts, comments, and critiques. I welcome any constructive input from the readers, as well as any stories of your personal experiences that you don’t mind sharing. I do want to note, that while it is my hope that anyone reading this site will benefit from it, this site is in no way a replacement for therapy, is not a formal support group or therapy group, and I am in no way your therapist.

This forum offers NO CONFIDENTILITY.

If you would like further information on finding support in your area, I would be more than happy to help you look, though at this point my searches haven’t turned up a whole lot.

That all being said, it is now time for me to begin.

Thank you sincerely,

R. Brian Salinas, MA
Psy.D. (candidate)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Critic of the article: A Developmental Perspective on Bullying

Pepler, D. J., Craig, W. M., Connolly, J. A., Yuile, A., McMaster, L., Jiang, D., 2006. A Developmental Perspective on Bullying. Aggressive Behavior, Vol 32, pp 376-384

Pepler, Craig, Connolly, Yuile, McMaster, and Jiang (2006) conducted a study with the intent of researching the forms and relationship contexts of adolescent bullying. Their study was conducted using a cross-sectional data set that included grade and sex differences in self-reports of sexual harassing, bullying of peers, and dating aggression (Pepler, Craig, Connolly, Yuile, McMaster, and Jiang, 2006). The subjects were students from the 6th to 8th grade and 9th to 12th grade from schools located in a large Canadian city (Pepler, et al, 2006).

The group in the 6th to 8th grade range was comprised of 504 boys and 457 girls from seven elementary schools (Pepler, et al, 2006). Pepler, et al (2006) recruited 114 boys and 126 girls from the 6th grade, 169 boys and 130 girls from the 7th grade, in addition to 223 boys and 201 girls from the 8th grade. Pepler, et al (2006) report that the majority of the students were of Euro-Canadian decent, coming from two parent households (74.6 %), however, they authors were unable to provide the exact ethnic breakdowns due to the data not being captured for the 6th to 8th grade group. For the subjects who didn’t come from two parent households, the authors reported 4% living with both parents in joint custody, 4.7% lived in blended families (one biological parent and one step parent), 14.2% were being raised in a single parent household, and 2.4% were living in a different family configuration, such as legal guardians (Pepler, et al, 2006).

The 9th to 12th grade group was comprised of 456 boys and 479 girls attending four high schools (Pepler, et al, 2006). The study used 142 boys and 108 girls from the 9th grade, 117 boys and 129 girls from the 10th grade, 132 boys and 105 girls from the 11th grade, and 66 boys and 137 girls from the 12th grade (Pepler, et al, 2006). While the majority of the group participants were of Euro-Canadian, 5% were African Canadian, and 13.3% were Asian-Canadian (Pepler, et al, 2006). Like the 6th-8th grade group, the majority of the subjects came from households with both biological parents (72.6%). The remaining subjects came from blended families (5.5%), single-parents households (14.4%), or alternative family configurations (2.9%; Pepler, et al, 2006).

Pepler, et al, (2006) used two MANOVAs to analyze the data. Their results indicate a peak of bullying behavior around the transition from 8th grade to 9th grade and the lowest levels around the end of high school (12th grade); however boys reported more bullying and sexual harassment behavior than the girls (Pepler, et al, 2006). The authors did not find any statistically significant differences between sexes when it came to the prevalence of indirect or physical aggression with a dating partner (Pepler, et al, 2006). They did find that sexual harassment of same- and opposite-sex peers increased over the early adolescent years and then leveled off in later adolescents (Pepler, et al, 2006). Finally, Pepler, et al (2006) reported that adolescents who bullied were at elevated risk for conducting the other forms of relationship aggression.

Pepler, et al (2006) had a significantly large subject population, with n=1896; however there is no report of how the population was selected for inclusion in the study. It is unclear if these students were selected because it was the entire class for the grade or was there a different criteria used for inclusion (e.g. teacher/principle identified student as being a possible candidate). Additionally, since the population was limited to the schools in one city within Canada, it is questionable whether or not the results are applicable to other populations. A further limitation of the study is the lack of demographic data on the subject population of the 6th-8th grade group, and no indication if the family constellations for both groups (6th-8th and 9th -12th) is an appropriate representation of the family constellations for all of Canada. Another point that stands to be questioned is that Pepler, et al (2006) report that 73.8% of the fathers and 69.7% of the mothers have a college education. This seems high and the authors should have talked to this point, either explaining that it is representative to the average education level in Canada or discussing how it was higher than the average Canadian education level and why they believed this to be the case.

A different issue that stands out in the article is the fact that Pepler, et al (2006) report that for the 6th-8th grade and 9th-12th grade population, 75% and 65%, of the subjects, respectively, had parental consent. This brooks the question, did the remaining 25% and 35%, respectively, take part in the research without parental consent? The authors should have clarified this issue better.

While Pepler, et al indentify an area of research which will better help the clinical population head off possible future relationship aggression, the limitations of the study (e.g. the limited geography and ethnic data) hinder it’s applicability to other populations. Additionally, questions about the high percent of educated parents and lack of parental consent for a significant portion of the subjects, further limit the usefulness of this article.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This post is to quickly address a question that a reader posed to me recently. The reader contacted me about the examples I used in my introduction. Her concern was that I was promoting the societal misconception about what is beauty.

While I agree there is a misconception about what is considered beautiful, I do not feel the examples in my introduction were in anyway promoting that misconception. The point of those examples was to talk about some of the steps people have taken to deal with the trauma they experienced due to the peer-victimization they were subjected to.

Each person deals with their trauma in different ways. Research shows that some people who suffer from PTSD and Complex Trauma (not yet in the DSM but is under consideration for the DSM V) turn to drugs or alcohol, others sex or violence, while other still, become socially cut off. The question I am looking to research and understand is what type of reaction is seen in those who experience Peer-Victimization-Trauma (PVT). There is little research covering this; however there are tons of anecdotal stories that, unfortunately, tend to be of people who made choices that are viewed as conforming to societal norms of beauty.

I am not going to stand in judgment of the choices people have made to deal with their trauma, and I ask that others do not either. If we choose to stand in judgment, then we are no better than those who traumatized them to begin with.

If the examples I provided in my introduction have caused anyone any concerns, I apologize; however, I stand by my examples because they are based upon people I personally knew. I ask that we focus more on how to help those who are currently being victimized and worry less about an example used in an introduction. A child in Massachusetts hung himself just this month, due to being bullied. Another child hung herself in California just before the Christmas break. She too was bullied. Their reasons for being bullied were different, yet the net effect was the same. So, let us focus on how to limit the net effect and reduce the suicide and drug use associated with PVT.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Review of the Article: A Longitudinal Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Indirect and Physical Aggression: Evidence of Two factors Over time?

Vaillancourt, T।, Brendgen, M., Boivin, M., and Tremblay, R. E. (2003)

Vaillancourt, Brendgen, Boivin, Tremblay (2003) conducted a study to examine whether physical aggression was distinct from indirect aggression across the developmental periods। The study also examined the longitudinal predictive links between direct physical aggression and indirect aggression (Vaillancourt, Brendgen, Boivin, Tremblay, 2003). Vaillancourt, et al (2003) looked at 3,089 children over three different age groups (4-7 years old, 6-9 years old, and 8-11 years old); with 1540 of the participants being boys and 1549 being girls. The information about the children was obtained from the child’s mother and gathered using five questions about indirect aggressive behavior and three questions covering aggressive behavior (Vaillancourt, et al, 2003). The mothers were asked to rate the questions on a 3-point Likert scale: often/very true; sometimes/somewhat true; and never/not true Vaillancourt, et al, 2003). Vaillaincourt, et al (2003) reported that the stability rates suggested the use of aggression was persistent for both boys and girls, despite increases in social cognitive skills. This means, physically aggressive children tended to remain physically aggressive where as children engaging in indirect aggression tended to remain indirectly aggressive (Vaillancourt, et al, 2003).

The study was conducted with a strong sample size of 3,084; however, the study was only done on students in Canada and the authors provide no information concerning the ethnic or socioeconomic breakdown of the participants। The geographic limitations and the lack of ethnic and socioeconomic disclosure limits the studies applicability to the general population. Additionally, the rating of the children’s behaviors was done by the mothers, whom may not have actual knowledge of the child’s true behaviors at school. The study’s results would have been strengthened had Vailliancourt, et al (2003) included reports from school personnel, thus providing a more 360 degree of the child. A further weakness of the study is the fact that while the researchers covered a significant span, ranging from 4-11 years old, the study only covers the elementary school years and does not include children in adolescents. As such the results aren’t indicative of what can be expected when the child enters middle school.

While the study has strong heuristic value and includes a significantly large sample population, the weakness (i।e. lack of geographic diversity, reporting ethnic or socioeconomic breakdown, collecting data only from mothers, and limited time span coverage) hinder the studies usefulness. If the study were re-conducted with these weaknesses addressed, then the results would be more significant and helpful in the planning of anti-bullying intervention programs.

Vaillancourt, T., Brendgen, M., Boivin, M., and Tremblay, R. E. (2003). A Longitudinal Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Indirect and Physical Aggression: Evidence of Two factors Over time? Child Development, Vol 74, Num 1, pp 1628-1638

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review of the article: Adult recognition of school bullying situations.

Hazler, R। J., Miller, D. L., Carney, J. V., and Green, S. (2001)

Halzer, Miller, Carney, and Green (2001) conducted an empirical study of a professional’s ability to differentiate between normal conflict and bullying। The study involved 251 teachers and counselors, who were asked to judge the severity of 21 scenarios (Halzer, et al, 2001). The scenarios depicted situations that included bullying and non-bullying conflict, in addition to different scenario combinations (Halzer, et al 2001). The results of study indicate that adults view physical conflicts as bullying, even when it’s not (Halzer, et al, 2001). Additionally, Hazler, et al (2001) found that the participants in their study saw physical conflict or the threat of physical conflict as more severe than emotional/social or verbal abuse (Halzer, et al, 2001).

The 251 participants of the study were professional teachers (N=209) and counselors (N=42) who work with youth on a daily basis (Halzer, et al 2001)। The population of the study was comprised of 63 males and 188 females who were Caucasians (92%), African-American (6%), and Hispanic (2%) professionals ranging in age from 20 to 67, with a mean age of 40 (Hazler, et al, 2001). For this study, Hazler, et al (2001) created the Bullying Situations Identifications Instruments, which is comprised of 21 brief scenarios with situations ranging from repeated bullying, harm done to other, and unfair match.

The results were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science or a hand calculator (Hazler, et al 2001)। Hazler, et al (2001) used item difficulty and item discrimination as the means of statistically evaluating the results. The calculation of item difficulty was based off the basic percentage of how many participants correctly identified specific scenarios as bullying or not bullying (Hazler, et al, 2001). Hazler, et al (2001) stated, “Item discrimination was accomplished by commonly accepted statistical procedures.” Unfortunately there is no indication of which procedures they are talking about.

Based upon their findings, Hazler, et al (2001) reported that when physical threat or abuse was present the professionals were more likely to identify the situation as bullying, even thought it might not truly bullying based conflicts or non-bullying based conflicts (i।e. a conflicted between two people of equal status). It was noted in the article that physical characteristics made it harder for the professionals to judge an encounter as anything other than a bullying based scenario (Hazler, et al, 2001). When it came to identifying verbal and social/emotional abuse, the professionals were less likely to properly identify the scenario as a bullying based encounter (Hazler, et al, 2001).

While the study had a strong sample size, its lack of ethnic and gender diversity make it difficult to extrapolate the results out to the general population। Further complicating the applicability of the study is the lack of information concerning the geographic local. Additionally, no information is presented on the socioeconomic of the school districts the professionals were recruited from. As Twemlow & Sacco (2008) point out, socioeconomics can impact how the professional staff view and understand bullying behaviors.

The authors of the study created a testing tool with 21 scenarios to test the participants’ ability to recognize bullying situations। The fact that they conducted several pilot studies of the testing tool strengths the potential validity of the tool. Unfortunately, in the interpretation of the data, it is difficult to interpret or trust their results since the authors neglected to include a definitive explanation of which statistical tool they used. Without knowing which static procedures used it is impossible to establish whether or not any errors were made or if the data was appropriately interpreted.

Hazler, et al (2001) provide a heuristically interesting article, one that provides possible insight into areas of weakness in the battle against school based bullying। Unfortunately, the lack of ethnic and gender variability, lack of geographic and socioeconomic information, and the neglected information on the statistics procedures used limit the overall applicability of this article to the general populations.

Hazler, R. J., Miller, D. L., Carney, J. V., and Green, S. (2001). Adult recognition of school bullying situations. Educational Research Vol 4 No 2 pp. 133-146.

Monday, January 26, 2009

start a list of therapists

I am posting this particular page of the blog because I want to start a list of therapists (counselors, LCSW, MFT’s, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, etc.) who are experienced in working with victims of bullying.
To accomplish this I would like to ask people to post the contact information of these therapists. Please post the information in the comments session and once I have a list compiled I will post it as a blog page.
I would like to get the name of at least one therapist for most of the major cities in all the states. I understand this is a loft undertaking, but I feel it’s a worth one since as we all know, bullying isn’t going away any time soon.
In the end I would like to see more of a push toward the treatment of the victims, let them not be forgotten in our push to end the plague of victimization.
R. Brian Salinas, MA
Psy.D. Candidate

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work

By: Stuart W. Twemlow and Frank C. Sacco
Citation info:
Twemlow , S। W. & Sacco, F. C. (2008). Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield

The authors of this book set out to explain why even the best anti-bullying programs have only met with moderate success (see 12-19-08 blog post). The authors have extensive experience researching this topic, having studied schools in the United States, Jamaica, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, they have studied affluent public and private schools as well as low socioeconomic status (SES) schools.

The authors introduce a new theoretical approach, which they have dubbed “community psychoanalysis.” Twemlow and Sacco (2008) explain that Community Psychoanalysis uses psychodynamic principles in the understanding of tendencies and instances of social deviance in large groups. This theoretical approach was developed to understand the power dynamics as they occur in the larger social context (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008). They posit that in order for any changes to be sustainable, a process needs to be implemented and consistently followed over time (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008).

In their book, Twemlow & Sacco (2008) discuss thirteen fallacies around bullying. The fallacies they discuss are: (1) This school is too good or too bad; (2) School violence is someone else’s problem; (3) Zero tolerance reduces destructive decisions; (4) Size of school matters; (5) Today’s kids are no different from when we were young; (6) Eliminating the bully solves the problem; (7) More money leads to more peaceful schools; (8)Lack of physical violence means a school is safe; (9)Bullying is just a kid thing; (10) Focusing problem kids will improve school climate; (11) Quick fixes , cookbooks, and programs can solve problems; (12) One program fits all; and (13) Violence is an infection that must be eliminated (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008).

After the fallacies, Twemlow & Sacco (2008) explain the critical steps necessary for the creation of an effective violence protection program. The steps discussed were titled: (1) Buy in; (2) Feeling Safe; (3) Understanding power issues, power struggles, and power dynamics; (4) Pathological bystander; (5) Natural leadership, Mentalization, Altruism, and school change; (6) Hidden Problems: the Undiscussables; (7) Evaluation, Communication between disciplines and accountability (8) The people we work with (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008). For a detailed description of these topics please refer to their book.

To summarize the message of the book, to stop the violence in schools you need the active buy in, of not just the teachers, but students, administrators, parents, and the community. Ultimately, the issue of school violence, be it overt or covert, direct or indirect, is the responsibility of the community. Twemlow & Sacco (2008) point out that teachers can be bullied by students, parents, and administrators; and this needs to be addressed as part of the plan for creating a safe environment. If the teacher doesn’t feel safe, then how can they help the children feel safe.

At no point in this book do the authors push any particular plan over others. Their main point is that you need to work with your team to find, or create, a plan that best meets the individual needs of your school. They stress there is no short term fix, that all efforts must be done with the idea of a long term commitment, and all members of the team must work to create an atmosphere in which each team member feels free to discuss the issues at hand, no matter how undiscussable they may be.

A community created the situation, and a community will change it. Twemlow & Sacco (2008) point out that by creating an environment where coercive behavior has been reduced or eliminated, then you will find racism will significantly decline. Finally, throughout the entire book, the authors stress to create the program before something drastic and potentially fatal happens.

I would recommend this book as part of any person’s library if they are serious about helping in the fight against bullying.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Review of the article: Developmental Perspective on Peer Rejection: Mechanisms of Stability and Change

Sandstrom and Coie (1999) conducted a study to examine the factors associated with relative stability of peer rejection. The study was conducted by following 31 socially rejected elementary school children who were recruited from a larger sociometric sample of 826 students (Sandstrom and Coie, 1999). Sandstrom and Coie (1999) believed there were 5 factors that impacted whether or not a child improved their social status. Those factors were: (1) Social Characteristics, (2) Self-Perceived Peer Status, (3) Locus of Control in Relation to Peer Difficulties, (4) Participation in Peer Group Activities, and (5) Parenting Style (Sandstrom and Coie, 1999). According to their results, there appears to be a correlation between these 5 elements and improvement in initially rejected children (Sandstrom and Coie, 1999). Additionally, the results indicated there was a positive correlation between aggressive behavior and the improvement of peer status among rejected boys (Sandstrom and Coie, 1999).
While the authors explore an interesting concept, what are the factors that contribute to a child being continuously rejected, the number of participants is limited. Additionally, the group is comprised of only European Americans and African Americans and an unequal number of boys and girls; this limits its applicability of the results to the larger school population. Further limiting the study is the fact that there is no indication of the geographic location of the participants.
The authors also neglect to mention which statistical tool was used to analyze the results. Sandstrom and Coie (1999) feel their results indicate there being a correlation between aggressive-rejected children changing their social status through the use of aggression. However, while this may be an interesting result, this was not what they were testing for and as such the direct interpretation of this data should be considered circumspect. Finally, the authors only followed students from the 4 to 5 grades. Since peer-rejection happens at all grade llevels the authors should have conducted the study in a manner that included the middle and high school age levels.

Sandstrom, M. J., & Coie, J. D. (1999). A Developmental Perspective on Peer Rejection: Mechanisms of Stability and Change. Child Development , July/August Volume 70, Number 4, pg. 955-966.