Children with Overprotective Parents More Likely to be Bullied

June 13, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. buffer [BUHF-er] (v.) – to protect or shield a person or an object from harm
Example Parents usually tend to buffer their children from unpleasant situations.

2. vulnerable [VUHL-ner-uh-buh l] (adj.) – easily harmed or affected
Example: People with bad experiences are vulnerable to depression.

3. initial [ih-NISH-uh l] (adj.) – occurring at the start; the first
Example The concerned parents started the initial stages of the campaign against bullying.

4. pick on [pik on, awn] (phrasal v.) – to tease or to make fun of someone, usually in an unkind way
Example Matt went home crying after some classmates picked on him for being small.

5. coping strategy [KOH-ping STRAT-i-jee] (n. phrase) – behavior or way of thinking that helps someone deal with a difficult situation
Example Talking with friends and family was Amy’s coping strategy after being repeatedly bullied in school.


Read the text below.
A study published in the journal of Child Abuse and Neglect suggests that children who have overprotective parents are more likely to be bullied.

The researchers studied 200,000 children in European countries and in the U.S. Among all the respondents, 32% said they had been bullied over the past six months.

Professor Dieter Wolke from the University of Warwick said they found and expected that children with harsh or negative parents are most likely to be bullied. But, he was surprised to learn that children whose parents are overly protective are also at an increased risk of bullying.

Prof. Wolke agrees that children need parental involvement and support. However, he stressed that children should also learn how to solve conflicts on their own. If parents try to buffer their children from all negative experiences and situations, children may not learn how to deal with bullies.

Bullies usually target children who they think are vulnerable. When a child cries or runs away after an initial bullying attack, the bullies tend to repeatedly pick on that child for being an easy target. A child's reaction to the initial instance of bullying may therefore determine whether or not he or she will continuously be bullied.

According to Prof. Wolke, parents should be firm in setting rules about behavior while being supportive and affectionate at the same time. This measure will allow children to develop coping strategies and be less vulnerable to bullying.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the study’s claim that overprotection makes a child more vulnerable to bullying? Why or why not?
·         How can parents prevent their children from being bullied?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think some people bully or harass other people?
·         How do you think bullying can be stopped?


June 13, 2013