Parenting Styles vs. Mass Media: What Has a Bigger Impact on Children’s Bullying Behavior?


In today’s society, children are often bullies and instigators of anti-social behavior. This research will explore the reasons why children bully. We used the dataset, Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC), 2009-2010. The school-based survey data were gathered by self-completion questionnaires administered in the classroom. The main questions in the study provided information on violence and bullying, age and state of maturation, social relations provided by family, and life satisfaction. The target population sample for this study consisted of 7,722 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age. Our findings revealed that the higher the level of parental support and higher the level of satisfaction with parent parent/guardian relationships, the lower the levels of bullying. The greater the amount of time spent on video/computer games, the greater the chances of being a bully. Bullying was also associated with being male, Black/ African American, and American Indians/Alaskan Natives.

Table of Contents: 


    In today’s society, aggressive children are often looked at as a bully or instigator of anti-social behavior. We rarely stop to ask about the issues that lead the child to engage in these antisocial behaviors. This study will investigate how children themselves view violence and whether corporal punishment and violent videogames over-stimulate children to violence. Throughout the course of this study, and through content analysis, we predict that children will use Bandura’s learned behavior in seeing acts of violence on TV. At the end of this research, it will show that generations have been desensitized by traditional forms of punishment, and while many advocates believe that the use is momentary, the reality is that it travels into adulthood and generations to come. The goal of this study is to bring awareness to the fact that media violence can corrupt children’s behavior if parents do not intervene.

    Take a moment to think back on what it was like growing up as a young adolescent. Was it an easy time for you? Were you the popular and outgoing type? Perhaps you were shy and kept to your studies. Or is it possible that you were the outcast and made fun of on a daily basis? Now flash forward a couple years and think about how you felt as a teenager. Were there suppressed feelings of hate? Did you have inner conflicts going on with yourself? Or were you still the popular one? We ask these questions because we have examples throughout history that showcase child violence, which illustrate that such actions are correlated with deviant child behavior. In today’s society, we see cases of such violence quite often.

    Most of us can remember the Columbine school shootings. If not, the Colorado movie theater shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings are a little more recent and can be more easily recalled. What causes such anger and aggression to be unleashed on innocent human beings by such young individuals?

    Most studies, whether through television or books, focus primarily on the attackers. They are either painted as insane or appear emotionally lost. Detectives, psychologists, sociologists, and many researchers dive into their pasts to determine a starting factor. They want answers. Who wouldn’t? But is it possible that they overlook key elements? Do they overlook the fact that maybe their parents’ parenting styles affected them, or corporal punishment, or maybe even mass media? Statistical data shows that this information can be revealed by analyzing the delinquent’s parents’ parenting styles, as parenting styles are passed on from generation to generation. Some believe that acts of anger upon children could result in an individual acting out suppressed memories through criminal activity.

    We live in a time where the media covers everything. Some could look at it as the media glorifying such horrific events and making the perpetrators famous. Media gives them fame, which is the last thing that they need. If the delinquent did not receive adequate attention at home by his or her guardian, then it is possible that the negative public attention could be translated into positive, even special, attention from society.

    The social problem on which we focus most particularly is finding out what influences a young adolescent’s behavior in terms of violence. It seems as though there are increasing reports on the news that cite cases of child violence–specifically with the child being the violent one. It was not that long ago that a report appeared about a young elementary boy bringing a pocketknife to school and threatening to use it. The teacher had to verbally tell him numerous times to put it away before he followed instruction. Granted, the child did not use the knife to harm anyone, but the thought that it was okay to bring a pocket knife to school and willingly take it out, shows their thought process. The question becomes, how is it that a child could be prone to such violent behavior? Are the parents and their parenting style to blame, perhaps whether or not they used corporal punishment, or does the problem reside in the media and its effects? What ultimately affects a child’s behavior more?

    There are hundreds of case studies, books, and articles that deal with child violence and what gives way to it. Sociologists want to study children in order to discover more about the behavior of children. Being able to study children through their growing years gives sociologists viable information for research studies. They could link the information found in such a study to other broad areas of research such as crime, community, and family. The information found has endless possibilities to help individuals live in a more safe society.

    If we take a step back, children today, are going to grow up and be the leaders of our country later in life. We need to ask ourselves, do we want leaders who believe violence is the answer, or do we want leaders who believe in consequences and punishment? If we do not get to the bottom of this now, the children now will teach their kids, who in return teach their kids, their same behavior patterns. It will continue to be a revolving cycle.

    It is never easy to talk about children. There is always going to be altering opinions on what is right and what is wrong. In today’s society we believe the attention is focused on the children being the bully and becoming violent and not enough attention is given to reasons as to why that happens. What are the starting factors that lead to such behavior? That is something not well understood. We do not know how children view violence themselves. If children cannot separate shooting someone in a movie with shooting someone in real life, how does that affect them? We want to further understand how they view movies and reality and separate the two. If ethical studies are done on troublesome children at an early age, then the problem could be corrected before adulthood. As a result, deviant behaviors by school aged children could be decreased. Another idea not well understood is how children view parenting styles and punishment. It is not just that this is how the child is raised, and this is what was done to them. It is important to understand how the child views these two together. The child’s view is important to understand, but is rarely studied.

    We examine the following key questions. First, we would like to examine if corporal punishment and violent videogames over-stimulate children to violence? In today’s society, we believe that children are over-stimulated to violence on a daily basis. Parents often experience overwhelming emotions when a child’s behavior conflicts with their own expectations, but the question remains if acting on poor behavior is resolved through corporal punishment? In the modern age of technology, videogames are popular among the younger people. Since most games involve violence, how does this affect the child’s life? Is corporal punishment a form of discipline on top of violence in videogames that children are continuously exposed to?

    The second question we are exploring is how do children view violence? Not all children show obvious symptoms of harm; therefore, it is easy to overlook the damage psychologically caused by violence in mass media, home life, and at school. Cartoons that are set aside for children’s entertainment show depictions such as shoving, robbery, and shooting. Is this exposure to violence affecting children before they fully understand what the term violence means? It is crucial for authority figures in the child’s life to understand how their child views violence and understands what it means to them.

    In this study, three themes were seen relevant: parenting styles, corporal punishment, and mass media.  One theme though, doesn’t hold greater impact over the child’s learned behavior. Together, they combine to affect the child as one. Whether that behavior is positive or negative, the outcome relies on three themes found throughout the literature review.

    During the literature review multiple methods displayed how such results appear; whether it is surveys, content analysis, focus groups, meta-analysis, or multi variant analysis. Each method showed their own contribution. Much like the themes, not one method provided better results than the others. Each and every one had its strengths and insights.

    Literature Review

    Parenting Styles

    One of the areas that became a primary focus was that of parenting styles. We expected to find how different types of styles affected adolescent children, but what we did not expect to find was how parenting styles can be generalized to children of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Not just that, but the psychological make-up of the parent also affects how the child turns out. As Laukkanen and her colleagues (2014) point out, “Parenthood is said to be the most important and demanding task in adult life,” (312).

    Nigerian Parenting Styles. Parenting styles have similarities but also differences within different cultures and ethnicities. We will illustrate with examples of how children and parenting are viewed in Finnish, Nigerian, and American culture. “A good [Nigerian] child is believed to be one who does not say anything to an adult until he/she is told to do so. They are not to initiate conversation with an adult or call attention to themselves in social gatherings. Thus, the Nigerian family tends to be traditional, emphasizing conformity to values and social norms, especially discipline and respect for parents,” (Odubote 2008, 85). If we think about this in comparison to American children, there are common similarities. A norm we grow up either learning or hearing about is the respect for elders. While the Nigerian family approach seems a little harsh when it comes to not drawing attention in social gatherings, there are lines of commonality. Even with different cultures, we find the some of the same ways to parent children. This strict parenting style in the Nigerian culture is enforced because the children are seen to “represent the continuity of life” (Odubote 2008). Children are the future in that specific society. So how is that any different than what we see in America or anywhere else for that matter? Children in Nigeria, and anywhere else in the world are going to grow up to be the leaders and role models. The parents of these children now, especially in Nigeria see it as their way to shape them.

    Finnish parenting styles. In comparison to Nigerian parents and children, Finnish parents take a more feminine approach. In masculine societies such as the USA and China, “achievement and success are highly emphasized, in more feminine societies, such as in Finland, dominant values include caring for others and quality of life rather than achievements” is priority (Laukkanen et al. 2014, 320). The parenting styles of Finnish children can be seen more permissive than anything else. Finnish parents furthermore see achievement as “disturbing and, thus, a devalued characteristic” (Laukkanen et al. 2014, 320). We cannot judge on this though because the children are no more delinquent than children raised in a masculine approach, which begs the question, is one parenting style really better than the other?

    Mental state of parents. Another significant subtheme that was found was the mental state of the parents and how that further affects the children and how they are raised. If a parent’s mental state is questionable, the outcome rolls over onto the children. For instance, when “parents are in [a] good mood and positive mental condition, they rear their children properly while overburdened parent would not been able to do so” (Joshi and Shukla 2013, 213). It is not just that one can physically have children; parent’s mental state has to be in the right condition as well. Children are physically and psychologically draining if you are not prepared. We can link this back to parenthood being a demanding task. Furthermore, the mental state of the parent has much significance on who the child grows up to be. It has been said that “only a mature adult who enjoys an adequate degree of well-being is able to adopt a nurturing orientation in parenting and provide growth-promoting care” (Laukkanen et al. 2014, 314). Adults, parents, whoever is the caregiver have to have their life straight before having children. Otherwise, you are taking away from the child. A child “with a difficult temperament have been suggested to be especially at risk of having a dysfunctional mother–child relationship” (Laukkanen et al. 2014, 314). The mental state of the parent matters. Research has shown this.

    Parenting styles and gender. Parenting styles also tend to differ between genders of children. First, the different types of styles should be noted. These styles are (1) authoritarian (low support and high control), (2) authoritative (high support and high control), (3) permissive (high support and low control), and (4) neglecting (low support and low control). For example, an authoritarian style is characterized by low levels of warmth and affection and high levels of punishment, restriction and supervision (Hoeve et al. 2009). Parents choose any style they want that they feel is suitable to them but also their child. But yet, research shows that the authoritative approach is the most successful when raising children, but yet so many parents in today’s society choose the permissive approach. It is almost as if the child is in control of parent versus the other way around. Not just that, but it has been shown the “authoritative style had positive effects on child adaptation, whereas the remaining styles place the child at risk for negative child outcomes” (Hoeve et al. 2009, 751). The question that arises then is the authoritative style really that bad, or are parents just ashamed to punish their children?

    Difference in gender authority. When it comes to parents and the gender of their children, there is a difference in the authority and caregiving shown. Females and males “tend to have different views on their mothers and fathers parenting….Daughters report close relationships with their mothers, while they view their fathers as authoritarian” (Hoeve et al. 2011, 815). As expected, mothers are seen as more nurturing, while the male parent figure has more control and authority. It we look at that with the authoritative style, we can see it as the mother being high support while the fathers being high control, the perfect balance of one another.

    Authoritative parenting style. The “authoritative parenting style continues to influence children's development in positive ways beyond childhood and also adolescence. Conceptually, the authoritative style parents have both responsive and demanding dimensions. Their children have fewer behavioral problems and a high rate of academic achievement in school” (Alizadeh et al. 2011). Having the loving, nurturing side to the parent accompanied by the punishment, authoritative side gives the child the best outcome in life. In retrospect to the permissive style, these parents are “responsive but they are not demanding. So their children tend to get passive and be unresponsive in their interaction with others, become dependent and lack social responsibility” (Alizadeh et al. 2011). When we take that parenting style and contrast it with the authoritarian, we see that “parents are only demanding but they are unresponsive. They utilize the punishment for their own children. Hence, being too strict in childhood may result in children's behavior problems” (Alizadeh et al. 2011).

    Corporal Punishment. Today, more than ever, the use of corporal punishment has become more of a moral argument than a legal issue. In the legal sense, corporal punishment is physical, bodily harm, not an emotional harm. There are arguments for and against the use of corporal punishment in addition to the effects of the use of corporal punishment (Scarre 2003). Whether or not parents use corporal punishment with their children can have lasting effects on development. The extent to which parents use corporal punishment is hard to measure; however, the basic definition many of the studies covered agreed that physical harm to children is the basis of corporal punishment. Holden (2002) mentions that the use of physical harm to a child can have several negative effects on a child’s development. Some parents spank in a loving manner while others spank in a more abusive, aggressive manner. The manner to which parents spank can also affect the outcome of the child’s view of the punishment (Gershoff 2010). Children see mothers in a more negative sense when they use corporal punishment that a father who uses corporal punishment (Straus and Paschall 2009).When parents spank in a more loving manner, children are more likely to view the punishment as a temporary effect; however, when parents spank in a more aggressive manner children view the punishment more harshly and are more likely to be more violent when they lash out. Many of the studies covered mentioned that corporal punishment does not have positive effects the majority of the time. The possible effects of the punishment are not considered before before the punishment occurs. Most parents experience feelings of regret once the punishment has occurred (Holden 2002). Many parents who were relayed to child protective services for physical abuse of a child state that their original intent was to use corporal punishment to correct an undesirable behavior. The more often a parent uses corporal punishment, the more likely they are to abuse their child (Gershoff 2010).

    Corporal punishment does not mean that parents are abusive or neglectful although that is the way some individuals view it. With corporal punishment, the original punishment could start to become abusive. The harshness of the punishment is what makes the difference between abuse and punishment (Paolucci and Violato 2004). With the use of corporal punishment, children are noticeably less likely to repeat the behavior for which they were receiving the punishment. In Holden’s (2002) study, he discovered that children exposed to corporal punishment were more antisocial in nature, more aggressive, and more likely to get involved in criminal behavior. There were regularly small side effects to the use of corporal punishment. If there were any signs of effects from the use of corporal punishment, they were very noticeable and made apparent very early. Not only did children act out in more violent ways but they also showed cognitive signs of abuse (Holden 2002). In most cases, boys show more signs of not behaving in morally appropriate ways if they have been exposed to corporal punishment, while girls do not show as noticeable signs. More antisocial behavior in children has been noticed more with children experiencing the more severe forms of corporal punishment (Gershoff 2010).

    Corporal Punishment: Aggression. Holden (2002) mentions that while children become more aggressive when exposed to corporal punishment, there could possibly be no correlation between the use of corporal punishment and more aggressive behavior because the majority of children in America are spanked. Punishment has been shown to be ineffective in changing behavior in a long term view because of the negativity correlated with the physical punishment and the emotions attached to the action. The degree of the physical punishment is rarely enough to completely stop the undesirable behavior. From the child’s point of view, they view the act of corporal punishment as an assault and it can often be “deeply traumatic” (Holden 2002). When children act more aggressive and parents use corporal punishment as a means to correct that behavior, children are more likely to become more aggressive still and more antisocial in nature. It is as if the use of corporal punishment starts a cycle of aggression but it cannot be stopped. Some studies have proposed that the more corporal punishment was used, the more aggressive nature the child becomes (Gershoff 2010). Children mold themselves after their parents, so the more corporal punishment is used, the more aggression children will develop (Grogan-Kaylor 2004).

    Corporal Punishment: Antisocial Behavior. In addition to a more aggressive nature, children exposed to corporal punishment are more likely to develop depression or a heightened level of anxiety than children not exposed to corporal punishment. Stress build up is more noticeable in children who are corporally punished. Individuals who have been exposed to corporal punishment as children are more likely to be more aggressive in nature into adulthood. They also become more likely to act more aggressively with their own children in the future (Gershoff 2010). In recent longitudinal studies, many children show an increase in more antisocial behavior later on. The age of the child had some kind of effect on the degree of antisocial behavior. With an increase in antisocial behavior in a child, the frequency that parents used corporal punishment on the child also increased. Both low and high levels of corporal punishment lead to signs of antisocial behavior in a child (Grogan-Kaylor 2004).

    Some children have shown signs that the relationship they have with their parents may change in a negative way when corporal punishment is used. Children feel “estranged” from the parent or parents that have used corporal punishment on them (Gershoff 2010). Parents who use corporal punishment become less involved with their children than parents who do not use corporal punishment. The model children have of their parent’s changes when the parent uses corporal punishment on the child. Children mold themselves after their parents, so with more corporal punishment being used, the more aggression children will develop (Grogan-Kaylor 2004). When parents do not lash out in a physical manner they lash out in a verbal ways. Some children describe verbal violence in the same negative manner as physical violence in some cases. The use of verbal violence has many cognitive effects on children. It can be said that many of the effects children experience from physical corporal punishment are similar to verbal punishment, although corporal punishment has more serious effects (Evans, L. G. Simons, and R. L. Simons 2012). When the mother of a child is more prone to using corporal punishment, the child is more likely to have later socioeconomic issues (Straus and Paschall 2009). In different ethnic groups, children of different ethnic groups react to corporal punishment in different ways. Their behavior changes in different ways (Grogan-Kaylor 2004).

    Media Violence

    For years researchers have explored the connection between media violence and real life aggression in adolescents. Many scholarly articles have been published on media influences on adolescent’s behavior. The journal of the National Medical Association argues that by the age of eighteen, a one child will have witnessed 100,000 acts of violence on the television, although television shows do not generally show the grief caused by such acts of violence. A study done by K. A. Earles et al. (2002) examined three groups of children that were shown a film with aggressive behavior. Group one showed a man who portrayed violent behavior getting rewarded, while group two saw the end without reward or punishment, and group three saw the actor receive a verbal reprimand. The study showed that group one and two behaved more aggressively than group three. This shows that children will imitate the things they see from the media. To help fix this social problem, caretakers should become familiar with the parental advisory settings, and rating systems.

    On the other hand Strasburger (2006) has a different view of media influence. His studies show a strong correlation between sexual content in all media and the onset of sexual activity among teens. A two-year longitudinal study was conducted in the effort to capture the transition from foreplay sexual activity to intercourse. They found that teenagers believed media influences everybody but themselves. The solution found from the study was much like the solution founded by Earles et al. (2002) Pediatricians, parents, and teachers all need to share the responsibility in helping teens delay sexual intercourse (Strasburger 2006).

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (2001) has a growing concern about the amount of time children spend viewing television. They found that 32 percent aged 8 to 18 years old have a television in their bedrooms. Much like Earles et al. (2002) and Strasburger (2006), the American Academy of Pediatrics (2001) understood the negative health effects caused by violence in the media. Reports showed that as much as 10 to 20% of real life violence comes from the onset of media violence. This article also agreed with Earles et al. (2002) and Strasburger (2006) on the theory that nearly two-thirds of all programming contains violence, that children’s shows contain the most violence, and that portrayals of violence are glamorized. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2001) also did a longitudinal study that found a positive correlation between television and music video viewing and alcohol consumption among teens. This showed that teens and children both were influenced by what they saw and heard through media. The solution proposed was the same as Strasburger, proclaiming that television rating systems and v-clip tools can help protect children.

    Strasburger (2006) has a view on media advertising that differs from Earles et al. (2002), Strasburger, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (2001). They have the same central goal as the others which is to help protect children, but they differ in their strategy for prevention. They believe parents should educate children and teenagers about the effects of advertising and media instead of supervising the children. This will give the children more freedom to learn what is appropriate and inappropriate to watch on television without their parents influence (American Academy of Pediatrics 2001).

    O’Keeffe (2011) covers other health issues among teens and adolescents caused by social media, issues such as internet addiction and sleep deprivation. These doctors explore how the parents cannot keep up with their digitally savvy youngsters, making it hard for caregivers to look after their children. They discuss how children can become overwhelmed by the mass amounts of information readily available via the internet. The most common risks are peer to peer inappropriate content, lack of understanding of privacy issues, and outside influences of third- party advertising groups.

    Morrow and Downey (2013) take a closer look into media violence and examine cyber-bullying. Internet and phone based bullying may have contributed to youth suicides. Morrow and Downey (2013) took a sample of 163 college students with 52 male and 111 female participants. The participants completed a written survey which assessed prior experiences with victimization. The findings indicated that most students have had some experience of being victimized through some kind of media outlet. This shows that victimization over the media can also affect adults as well as adolescents.

    Methodological Review

    Laukkanen et al. (2014) focused on Finnish children in their research. The research was conducted over three years. In those three years, 334 participants were contacted. These 334 participants were from three medium sized towns located throughout Finland. Of the 334 participants, 166 teachers agreed to participate. Within those teachers’ classrooms, one random child was selected. If the child’s parents did not want to participate in the survey, then the next random child was selected. Of the 166 children selected, a fairly representative sample of the Finnish population was produced. Fifty-two percent of the mothers completed high school or more, 47% had completed at least a junior high, and 1.0% had completed less than junior high school In terms of marital status. In terms of family structure, 67%were nuclear families where parents were married; 11%, cohabiting nuclear family parents; 12%, blended families; and 10%, single-parents. The mothers of the children were sent a survey that contained questions about symptoms of depression, self-esteem, parenting styles, and children’s temperament in first grade. The returned surveys gave the information needed to suggest such findings.

    Surveys are an easy and affordable method used to collect reliable, useable data. It is easy to take this information and turn into statistical software such as SPSS to relay other information and find new answers to common sociological questions such as our topic.

    Content Analysis 

    Earles et al. (2002), Strasburger (2006), O’Keeffe et al. (2011), and Gershoff (2010) gathered information using content analysis. Strasburger (2006) analyzed television programs. He documented the way television programs showed large quantities of cigarettes, illicit drugs, and alcohol, as well as bombarding young children with sexual images. After analyzing these programs, the author concluded that more parents should be knowledgeable about programs, especially those their children are watching; limit media time of children; and support the Children’s Television Act.

    It would be beneficial to use content analysis because knowledge gained from it adds insight and reveals the symbolic meaning of the research.

    Focus Groups

    One of our articles used focus groups to conduct their research. In the article entitled Corporal Punishment, the authors used the two states of Georgia and Iowa. Two waves of data were collected. The first wave consisted of 806 African American children, including 400 boys and 467 girls. Of those, 462 resided in Iowa, and 405 resided in Georgia. In the second wave, 738 of the same children from the first wave were interviewed again, including 361 boys and 418 girls. During this study, the researcher read a series of questions. Participants were told to respond by entering their answers on a keypad. The researcher measured the participants’ responses to questions about delinquency, corporal punishment, verbal abuse, low self-esteem, hostile views of relationships, parental warmth, parental monitoring, and anger and frustration.

    Focus groups would be a bit hard to put together in our limited time frame, but focus groups allow collection of stories about personal experiences and emotions as well as information on meaning.


    Paolucci and Violato used meta-analysis to identify major research findings on the affective, cognitive, and behavioral effects of corporal punishment over a 40 year period from 1961 to 2000. After the search, 157 accessible journal articles were found. Each study was evaluated against inclusion criteria, and afterwards, 70 studies were left.

    This is an effective method for identifying and summarizing information across a large number of studies. The more robust the findings, the more likely they are to be found in repeated studies, thus allowing us to separate generalizable findings from idiosyncratic ones.

    Multi-Variant Analysis

    Our last article gathered information by this specific method. In the article,Straus and Paschall (2009) used this specific technique to gather information. The relationship by two certain variables was tested. One sample studied children aged 2-9. While the other sample was done with all NLSY (National Longitudinal Study of Youth). The researchers tested a number of variables, some of which were the number of children in home, mother’s education, and child’s birth weight. The author wanted to further measure how children reacted to corporal punishment in terms of cognitive ability and emotional support.

    This method would be quite helpful in our study over child violence. If we could compare children of different parenting styles, those who have received corporal punishment, along with those who are exposed to a great deal of media violence, we could sort out the effects of the different variables individually and in combination. It would allow us to draw our own conclusions based on our own data and compare our findings to those of previous researchers.  


    Data Sources

    For this research project, we worked exclusively with the dataset, Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC), 2009-2010. The school-based survey data were gathered by self-completion questionnaires administered in the classroom. Survey questions covered a broad range of indicators of behavior as well as life styles of young adolescents. The main questions in the study provided information on violence and bullying, age and state of maturation, social relations provided by family, and life satisfaction. The target population sample for this study consisted of 7,722 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age.

    Data Variables

    The first variable we examined was the variable for bullying. This was also our dependent variable in the study. This variable was constructed as an index using seven different items. The alpha score for the index was .901. This alpha was used to test whether or not the measure was reliable. Fortunately, since the alpha was above .7, we were able to use the index. The seven combined questions to constitute the dependent variable were based on how often children bullied. The seven questions asked whether the children bullied through name calling/teasing, leaving others out of things , hitting/kicking/pushing others, telling lies about another, bullying because of one’s race/color, bullying  another because of religion, and making sexual jokes. Each of these indicators was based on a summative score. It is important to keep in mind we were testing why children become the bullies themselves. Specifically what factors influence the bullying through our themes.

    Key Independent Variables

    The first of our independent variables was parental support. This variable was constructed as an index using eight different items. Those indexes were based on the parent/guardian support by asking the respondents if they agreed or disagreed that their parents helped them iiin the following items: (1) helping as much as you need, (2) letting you do things you like, (3) being loving, 4) understanding your problems, (5) likes you to make your own decisions, (6) tries to control everything you do, (7) treats you like a baby, and (8) makes you feel better when you are upset. The scale ranged from one to four, with one being low support, while 4 being high support.

    The second independent variable was measured was based on how many hours were devoted to video/computer games during weekdays. The scale for this one was set at 1-5 hours every weekday. The third independent variable measured was based on corporal punishment; more specifically whether or not the relationship with the parent/guardian was viewed as positive or negative by the child. The scale for this variable was set at 1-10, with 1 being a very negative relationship, while 10 was seen as the positive relationship.

    Control Variables

    The control variables measured were gender, age, grade in school, and race/ethnicity

    (Black/African American, White, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander). For the variable of gender, a dummy variable was created and females were chosen as the references group (1 = Male, 0 = Female). Age was measure with 7 categories, ranging from 12 years to 18 years. Grade in school was an ordinal measurement: Eighth grade = 0, ninth grade = 1, tenth grade = 2, eleventh grade = 3, and twelfth grade = 4. Four dummy variables were created for race/ethnicity: Black/African American, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. White was chosen as reference group.


    Descriptive Statistics

    The descriptive statistics for our study are reported in Table 1. On average, U.S. adolescents have 1.4 points on an index of bullying ranging from 0-28, with a standard deviation of 3.6. Respondents on average have 3.2 points on the index of parental support ranging from 1-4, with a standard deviation of .28. Respondents averaged 2.7 points on the index devoted to hours played on video/computer games on ranging from 1-9, with a standard deviation of 1.6. The index of parental satisfaction had an average of 7.6 points ranging from 0-10, with a standard deviation of 2.4.

    On average, respondents are 13.8 years old with a standard deviation of 1.2. The lowest age tested was 10 years old, while the highest age was 17. Most of the respondents in the study were in the eighth grade, with a standard deviation of 1.1. The grades tested started with fifth grade and went up to tenth grade.

    With the control variable of race/ethnicity, our sample size consisted of Black/African Americans, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Black/African Americans represented 20% of the sample. The Asian race and American Indian/Alaska Native race both constituted 5% of our sample. The Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander race was 2% of our sample. Last, gender revealed that males and females were almost the same.

    Multi-Variate Analysis

    Within our study, we used the OLS regression to analyze results. We had two models that we looked at and compared. Our first model used independent variables, while with the second model, control variables were also introduced. Based on our R2 of the two models, our second model had more explanatory power than the first model. R2 of the second model is .030, which is .07 points greater than the first model. Because of this reason, the second model is our best fit model. Based on the results of the second model, we can say 3% of reasons of bullying are explained by independent and control variables.

    Our results showed that there is a statistically significant and a negative relationship between parental support and bullying (p ≤ 0.001.) On average, each unit increase in parental support leads to decrease in bullying by .597 points, all else equals (b = -.597).

    A statistically significant and positive relationship between hours devoted to video/computer games and bullying (p ≤ 0.001) was shown in our results (p ≤ 0.001). On average, each unit increase in hours devoted to video/computer games leads to an increase in bullying by .176 points, all else equals (b = .176). The variable of parental satisfaction showed a statistically significant and negative relationship (p ≤ 0.001). On average, each unit increase in parental satisfaction leads to decrease in bullying by .106 points, all else equals (b = -.106).

    When it comes to age, a statistically significant and positive relationship is observed (p ≤ 0.001). On average, each unit increase in age leads to increase in bullying by .083 points, all else being equal (b = .083). Grade in school showed a statistically significant and negative relationship when it came to bullying (p ≤ 0.001). On average, each unit increase in grade leads to a decrease in bullying by .102 points, all else being equal (b = -.102).

    There was a statistically significant relationship between gender and bullying. On average, males reported .462 points higher on the index of bullying compared to females (b = .462). Blacks/African Americans had a statistically significant relationship to bullying (p ≤ 0.001). Black/African Americans, on average, scored .448 points higher on the index of bullying compared to Whites (b = .448). Asians compared to Whites showed a statistically significant, negative relationship to bullying (p ≤ 0.001). On average, Asians reported .152 less points on the index of bullying (b = -.152). In addition, American Natives/Alaskan Natives compared to Whites had a statistically significant and positive relationship with bullying (p ≤ 0.001). On average in comparison to Whites, American Natives/Alaskan Natives reported .092 higher score on the index of bullying (b=.092). There was a statistically significant relationship between being Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and bullying (p ≤ 0.001). On average, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders scored .286 less points on the index of bullying (b = .286).


    Our findings revealed that the higher the level of parental support and higher the level of satisfaction with parent parent/guardian relationships, the lower the levels of bullying. However, as hypothesized, higher amounts of time spent on video/computer games, raises the child’s chances of engaging in bullying. Males were more likely to bully than females. Blacks/African Americans and American Indians/Alaskan Natives as well as the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander were more likely to bully than Whites and Asian Americans. All other variables showed no correlation to to bullying in this specific study.


    This study provides the basics for future research. We have only found some causes as to why children bully. This present study leads the way for others to discover other alternatives. Different independent variables could be tested to possibly get different results. Many more variables could be tested to determine if they affect whether children become bullies or not.  

    Another limitation, shown from OLS Regression Model (Table 2), is that the r2 was very low because only 3% of the variance in bullying was explained from the data sample. That is, we are unaware of 97% of the reason for bullying. That is a large amount of variance that could further be studied.

    For these reasons, further research should be conducted to find additional reasons as to why children become bullies. Finding additional predictive factors could help us address this important societal problem.  


    We can conclude that the likelihood of being a bully is affected by the amount of time devoted to video/computer games. The data supports that other characteristics of a bully include being male, African American, aged 13, and being in the eighth grade. We can conclude that the amount of time devoted to video/computer games could possibly introduce the adolescent to the negative effects of mass media. The negative actions portrayed in the games include fighting, beating, and killing. These actions then could represent ways to deal with real life situations to the young teenagers. It could be hypothesized that large amounts of time devoted to video/computer games, leads children to believe these are appropriate behaviors to display and act upon with other adolescents.


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    Table 1: Means, Standard Deviations (S.D.), Range of Variables Used in the Analysis, Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC), 2009-2010, N=7,722

    Table 2: Estimates of OLS Regression Models Predicting the Effect of Bulling on Parental Support, Mass Media, and Corporal Punishment, US Adults, in 2012, (N=7,722)

    Note: B (SE)=unstandardized estimate of the regression coefficient ( and its standard error). Beta=standardized estimate of the regression coefficient.

    ***p≤ 0.001,**p≤ 0.01,*p≤ 0.05 (two-tailed tests)