Committee on the Biological and Psychosocial Effects of Peer Victimization: Lessons for Bullying Prevention

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Children and Families, Education, Global Health
Board: Board on Children, Youth, and Families

Activity Description

The Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council (NRC), in conjunction with the NRC’s Committee on Law and Justice, will convene a committee of experts to conduct a consensus study that will produce a comprehensive report on the state of the science on: 1) the biological and psychosocial consequences of peer victimization and 2) the risk and protective factors that either increase or decrease peer victimization behavior and consequences. Given the limited research on bullying specifically and potential to learn from other areas of victimization, the study committee will review the relevant research and practice-based literatures on peer victimization—including physical, verbal, relational, and cyber, from early childhood through adolescence. The committee can also draw upon research in other areas of victimization to inform the core questions of this study. A particular focus on children who are most at risk of peer victimization—i.e., those with high risk factors in combination with few protective factors— such as children with disabilities, poly-victims, LGBT youth, and children living in poverty will be included in the study. The work of the committee will build on the workshop, Building Capacity to Reduce Bullying, as appropriate. The following questions are of particular interest: 

• What is known about the physiological and psychosocial consequences of peer victimization for both the perpetrator and target? Specifically, what is the state of research on the neurobiological and mental and behavioral health effects of peer victimization?
• How are individual and other characteristics (e.g., cognitive and social skills and affective dispositions) related to the dynamic between perpetrator and target, and the subsequent initial signs and long-term outcomes for both? 
• What factors contribute to resilient outcomes of youth exposed to, and engaged in peer victimization (e.g., safe and supportive school climate; relationships with adults and peers)? 

Based on currently available evidence, the committee will address the questions above and provide findings, conclusions, and recommendations that can inform future policy, (e.g., state legislatures, school districts), practice (e.g., school safety, disciplinary actions, health care provision, law enforcement), and future research on promising approaches to reduce peer victimization, particularly for vulnerable populations and those most at-risk of experiencing peer victimization. The committee will also identify 3-5 key research gaps, that if filled would significantly inform the knowledge base about how to reduce peer victimization.

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