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Bullying: Research Activities and Scientific Advances

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Institute Activities and Advances

NICHD organizational units (OUs) support and conduct research on bullying. These OUs support and conduct their own research and also collaborate with other NIH Institutes and organizations in furthering the research and understanding of bullying. The following is only a summary of some of these efforts:

Child Development & Behavior Branch​ (CDDB) research supports a number of projects related to bullying through its Social and Emotional Development/Child and Family Process Program. Some of these include:

  • Can Bullies be Popular? Developmental Insights (Philip C. Rodkin, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign)
  • Identifying Positive Aspects of Youth Internet Use: The Next Step in Prevention (Michele Ybarra, Internet Solutions for Kids, Inc.)
  • Who Aggresses Against Whom, and How? Forms and Functions of Aggressor-Victim Relations (Noel A. Card, University of Arizona)
  • Relational Aggression, Victimization, and Adjustment During Middle Childhood (Jamie M. Ostrov, State University of New York at Buffalo)
  • Social Aggression: Growth and Outcomes (Marion Underwood, University of Texas at Dallas)

The CDBB co-sponsored the Workshop on Children Exposed to Violence: Current Status, Gaps, & Research Priorities. This workshop called for research on a wide range of topics including bullying.

DIvision of Intramural Population Health Research (DIPHR) research on bullying is aimed at understanding the prevalence and patterns in bullying and how they change over time. Some of the DIPHR projects related to bullying include:

  • Examining cross-national health trends in children, including the prevalence of bullying
  • Identifying bullying and victimization factors in school-aged children
  • Characterizing the link between cyberbullying and depression in both bullies and those who are victimized by bullies

Other NICHD-supported studies include:

  • Co-occurrence of victimization for several subtypes of bullying, including physical, verbal, social exclusion, rumor spreading, and cyberbullying
  • Predictors of being bullied, such as weight status and race/ethnicity
  • Likelihood of substance use among adolescents who have been bullied

Other Activities and Advances

  • In addition to supporting and conducting studies on bullying, the NICHD collaborates with other NIH Institutes and organizations to understand bullying behavior and the effects of bullying. These activities include but are not limited to:

  • NICHD staff participated in planning the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit. Dr. Layla Esposito, director of the program on Process in Social and Emotional Development, serves on the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Steering Committee, an interagency effort that was launched in early 2010 to focus on the problem of bullying. The steering committee helped plan the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summits. She will continue to work with summit participants to coordinate and continue government efforts to end bullying.

  • The NICHD also participated in the Surgeon General's Workshop on Making Prevention of Child Maltreatment a National Priority: Implementing Innovations of a Public Health Approach. This workshop was convened to discover and elucidate effective strategies for preventing child maltreatment and promoting child well treatment by (1) advancing prevention and promotion as a national public health priority, (2) enhancing evidence-based prevention and promotion strategies, (3) integrating prevention and promotion services into all systems of care, (4) incorporating child development literacy into the national consciousness, (5) strengthening essential public-private care systems, and (6) establishing a strategic public health approach for prevention and promotion.

  • The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health, formerly the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health) External Web Site Policy, also referred to as the Add Health Study, began in 1994 under a grant from the NICHD, with co-funding from 17 other federal agencies. The Add Health study is the largest, most comprehensive survey of adolescents ever undertaken. Initially, the goals of the study focused only on adolescents. Researchers designed the study to determine how families, friends, peer groups, schools, neighborhoods, communities, and individual characteristics influence health, health behaviors, and use of health care. The study will help define what shapes the choices that young people make in their health habits, lifestyle choices, and other factors affecting long-term health and well-being. The study could provide researchers with knowledge on how adolescent experiences, such as bullying, affect adolescent health and health-associated activities later in life.

  • The NICHD started the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), formerly the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, in 1991. Working with more than 1,300 children and their families from when the children were infants until they turned 15, the researchers collected information in four phases and analyzed how different childcare arrangements related to measurements of the children's health, behavior, school performance, and other indicators of development in infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, and middle adolescence. SECCYD is the most comprehensive study of children and the many environments in which they develop.

  • In 2003, the CDBB coordinated two special issues of the journal Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review to highlight research on children exposed to violence (Sep 2003, Vol 6, Issue 3 External Web Site Policy; Dec 2003, Vol 6, Issue 4 External Web Site Policy). The issues were co-edited by the Branch's Dr. Margaret Feerick. In addition, two special issues in the same journal in 2009 highlighted research funded by the CDBB (Mar 2009, Vol 12, Issue 1 External Web Site Policy; Jun 2009, Vol 12, Issue 2 External Web Site Policy).
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