Research tackles bullying

From the playground to cyberspace, bullying among children and adolescents is a hot topic. To understand the impact, and evaluate potential interventions, we need to reliably define and measure the behaviour in its various forms. This is the focus of UQ postdoctoral researcher Dr Hannah Thomas.

The psychology graduate completed her PhD on bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents with the Faculty of Medicine in 2017. Central to her recently published research, Dr Thomas developed a tool for measuring bullying – surveying more than 1200 adolescents from 10 secondary schools.

“How we study bullying and evaluate our interventions is based on how we measure and define it,” Dr Thomas explains. 

“The tool I developed seeks to aid that process and encourage young people to anonymously report the types of behaviours they experience. It’s a cornerstone for being able to study and intervene on this issue.”

The work draws on the researcher’s combined interests in psychology and mental health.

“We’ve demonstrated that being bullied uniquely contributes to the onset of depression and anxiety. If we can reduce the prevalence of bullying – building positive relationships and healthy social environments – perhaps we can reduce rates of mental illness.”

Dr Thomas and her colleagues at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research have recently had bullying included as a risk factor for depression and anxiety in the Global Burden of Disease Study. The researcher says this will promote recognition of the impacts of bullying and foster support for intervention. 

“The case for prevention has only become stronger. By having bullying established as something that unequivocally causes harm, we can inform and encourage policy-makers to take a whole-of-community approach to the issue.

“Widespread uptake of strategies that reduce bullying will improve the mental health of the community.”

To donate to mental health research, visit medicine.uq.edu.au/philanthropy.

Dr Thomas and her colleagues at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research have recently had bullying included as a risk factor for depression and anxiety in the Global Burden of Disease Study. The researcher says this will promote recognition of the impacts of bullying and foster support for intervention. 

“The case for prevention has only become stronger. By having bullying established as something that unequivocally causes harm, we can inform and encourage policy-makers to take a whole-of-community approach to the issue.Add a quote source (optional)

“Widespread uptake of strategies that reduce bullying will improve the mental health of the community.”

To donate to mental health research, visit medicine.uq.edu.au/philanthropy.

This story is featured in the Summer 2018 edition of UQMedicine Magazine. View the latest edition here. Or to listen, watch, or read more stories from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine visit our blog, MayneStream.