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Family Risk Factors

The home is the most violent place in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of violence directed at young children in the home comes from the mother and older siblings. There are three primary predictive family factors:

1) a lack of solid bonding or attachment with the youngchild

2) poor supervision and neglect of the child’s needs

3) acceptance and modeling of aggressive or bullying behaviors by parents or oldersiblings

Parental Characteristics

In a synthesis of research on family characteristics of bullies, bully-victims, and victims, psychologist Renae Duncan found that bullies typically come from families with low cohesion, little warmth, absent fathers, high power needs, permit aggressive behavior, physical abuse, poor family functioning, and authoritarian parenting. Bully-victims come from families with physical abuse, domestic violence, hostile mothers, powerless mothers, uninvolved parents, neglect, low warmth, inconsistent discipline, and negative environment. Male victims had mothers who were overprotective, controlling, restrictive, coddling, overinvolved, and warm while their fathers were distant, critical, absent, uncaring, neglectful, and controlling. Female victims had mothers who were hostile, rejecting, withdrawing love, threatening, and controlling, while their fathers were uncaring and controlling.

Family Discord

Being in a family where parents fight and use drugs and alcohol, and who are physically or sexually abusive, is a predictive factor of both bully perpetration and victimization. Adolescents who bully others consistently report family conflict and poor parental monitoring.