Parents and educators point to anecdotal evidence that bullying may contribute to school shootings and other forms of extreme violence. School violence is relatively uncommon, however, which makes it challenging to test these claims. A new study which aims to evaluate the connection between bullying and more severe violence has found that both bullies and those who have been bullied are more likely to carry weapons.
Bullies, Victims, and Weapons
The study evaluated data from previous research by pulling data from 45 previous studies, evaluating a total of 692,000 people aged 11 to 21. Researchers found that children who bully others and children who are bullied are more likely to carry weapons such as guns and knives than other children. Interestingly, children who were both bullies and victims of bulling were more likely to carry weapons than any other group. Previous research of school shooters supports this study’s claim, finding that shooters tend to be both victims and bullies. One Secret Service study found that 71% of school shooters had been bullied.
A Culture of Bullying
Schools are increasingly implementing anti-bullying programs, and public concern about cyberbullying has brought bullying to the fore of the public consciousness. Despite this increased attention, bullying remains a problem. According to 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly one in three children are bullied each school year. If bullying really does increase the likelihood of carrying a weapon, bullying is a serious public health crisis, and even children who play no role in bullying are endangered by its presence in their schools.
Although the study points to the importance of identifying and helping both bullies and their victims, it does not prove that being either a victim or a bully necessarily means an individual child is more likely to carry a weapon. The overwhelming majority of children who are bullied don’t carry weapons. Even among children who do carry weapons, most don’t injure or threaten another person.
- Bullying statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pacer.org/bullying/about/media-kit/stats.asp
- Cullen, D. (2012, April 28). Mean kids. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/books/review/the-bully-society-by-jessie-klein.html?_r=0
- Teen bullies, victims armed more than other kids, study says. (2014, June 9). Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/06/09/teen-bullies-victims-armed-more-than-other-kids-study-says
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