Research Matters

Research Matters

Bullying and School Nurse Visits

Research headed by Eric Vernberg has shed light on a new method for detecting peer aggression ‹ repeated visits to the school nurse.

Episode #97

2 minutes (3.7 MB) | Download mp3


A new study shows that frequent school nurse visits may be a telltale sign of bullying. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I’m Brendan Lynch.

School bullying, or what experts call “peer aggression,” harms both victims and perpetrators, sometimes even ending with tragic results that make news nationally. Now, research headed by Eric Vernberg, professor with the Clinical Child Psychology Program and director of the Child and Family Services Clinic at KU, has shed light on a new method for detecting peer aggression — repeated visits to the school nurse.

Vernberg: In this study, there is a connection between how often kids report being the target or victims of aggression, and how often they visit the school nurse over the course of the year.

Vernberg, whose results were published recently in the journal Pediatrics, said bullying ranges from gossip to physical aggression, and typically follows certain patterns.

Vernberg: actions taken by one person with the intention of causing harm to another person. We also look for an imbalance of power between the two people, so that the person who is the target of bullying isn’t able to effectively stand up for themselves or to fight back effectively. The third thing we look for is an ongoing relationship between people, so it’s something that happens over time and is repeated rather than a single incident.

The KU researcher found that both victims of bullying and aggressors make more visits to the nurse. Vernberg compared nursing logs with questionnaires completed by students who could nominate classmates for showing hostile behavior toward others.

Vernberg: We also found this to be true in terms of how often a kid was nominated as being aggressive with their peers. That those kids, the more they were nominated, the more likely they were to have higher number of visits to the school nurse.”

For more on bullying and school nurse visits, log on to Research Matters dot KU dot EDU. For the University of Kansas, I’m Brendan Lynch.

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