Parenting practices, children’s peer relationships and being bullied at school.


Being bullied at school has serious mental health consequences for children. Whole school interventions have made only modest reductions in bullying. Particular parenting behaviors have been associated with an increased likelihood of individual children being targeting for bullying at school. There is also evidence that parenting impacts on the development of child social competence, emotional control and friendships, which have all been found to affect a child’s risk of being targeted for bullying. This study explores the relationship between facilitative parenting (defined as parenting which supports the development of children’s social skills and relationships with peers), children’s peer relationships, and being bullied at school. We examine whether facilitative parenting and a child’s social relationships with peers discriminate between children who are bullied at school or not bullied, according to teachers. 215 children aged 5-12 years and their parents completed measures of children’s social behavior and peer relationships and facilitative parenting. The results showed that facilitative parenting discriminated between children who were bullied or not by peers. Bullied children had poorer peer relationships and endorsed more reactive aggression in response to hypothetical situations of peer provocation than their non-bullied peers. We discuss the implications for the development and trialing of family interventions for children bullied by peers.