Parent-child communication and involvement may be key protective factors to help lessen bullying in the United States, finds a new study published online ahead of print on Oct. 18 in the American Journal of Public Health.

According to the study, African American and Latino children,  children living in poverty and those who had emotional, developmental or behavioral problems had higher odds of bullying. Compared with non-bullies, bullies were less likely to complete  their homework. Children with parents who were actively involved in their children’s lives had significantly lower odds of bullying.

In this national study, researchers used the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health to examine associations among child, parent and community factors and bullying perpetration among children aged 10 to 17 years. This included a study sample of 44,848 adolescents. The researchers discovered that the prevalence of bullying was 14.9 percent among children aged 10 to 17 years.

“This study included the largest US sample, to our knowledge, to be analyzed for sociodemographic, child, family, and community-level risk and protective factors for bullying perpetration,” the study’s authors commented.

“The findings suggest that parents’ perception of anger with their child, that their child bothers them a lot, and that their child is harder to care for than other children and suboptimal maternal mental health are associated with higher odds of child bullying perpetration, whereas high parental involvement and communication with children are associated with lower odds of bullying perpetration,” stated the study’s authors.

“Evaluations of school-based programs that engage parents have suggested that parental involvement may be an essential component of effective interventions but that it is often difficult to implement,” the study’s authors concluded.

For further resources on the topic of childhood bullying prevention, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Positive Parenting Tips in addition to “Helping Kids Deal with Bullies” published by Kids Health from Nemours.

In related media coverage, see the CBS article as well as the HealthDay News article about this recent study.