Monday, October 29, 2012

Bullying And International Adopted Children: New Research Results

The stereotype that older adopted children are more likely to be
bullies is not true, but unfortunately, children adopted
internationally are more at risk to be bullied. Obviously, this
is a study and does not answer for every child adopted
internationally from institutionalized care. Yet, as parents of
an internationally adopted child, be aware of the data and keep
an eye out to protect your child.

Enjoy this article by Dawn at Creating a Family

Adopted Kids: More Likely to Bully or be Bullied?

I love the International Adoption Project at the University of
Minnesota. They've been conducting longitudinal research on the
issues that adoptive families really care about since 1999, and
their findings are often applicable not only to internationally
adopted kids, but also to those adopted from foster care and
often to those adopted domestically as infants. And the icing on
the cake for me is that they publish their ongoing results in a
readily accessiblenewsletterrather than just in academic journals
that are only available to subscribers for a hefty fee. One of my
pet peeves is that research findings are so darn hard to
disseminate to the folks who really need the knowledge-adoptive
parents and professionals. (One of the things on my perpetual
to-do list is to find a grant source to help Creating a Family
spread research findings to our extensive network of families and
professionals. If you have suggestions, let me know PLEASE.)

One issue the International Adoption Project is researching right
now is peer relations for international adopted children. All
parents know how important peers are in the emotional development
of children. Some kids with rough starts in life struggle in
finding and keeping friends. There has been little research to
help parents understand the basics of how adoption might affect
friendships and whether their children are more likely to be the
bully or the bullied.

Specifically the University of Minnesota researchers are paying
attention to two types of bullying:

Overt aggression, such as hitting, pushing and name calling
,andRelational aggression, such as threatening to exclude a child
from the group, making up nasty stories about a child or in other
ways ruining their relationships. (The classic "you're not
invited to my birthday party" type of meanness.)

Researchers studied 575 children between the ages of 9- to
14-years from 24 different countries, who were adopted between
1.5 and 86 months of age (approximately 7 years), and had been in
their families for at least six years. They were specifically
looking at whether age at adoption and time spent in an
institution would be related to peer bullying and victimization.

When they just looked at the adopted kids within the study they
found that the children who had spent longer periods in
institutional care were more likely to engage in overt
aggression, but not more relational aggression. The researchers
think that relational aggression may require a more sophisticated
understanding of relationships that might elude children with
greater histories of deprivation prior to adoption, so it is not
surprising that these kids would not be as effective at this type
of bullying. I suppose this is not considered a major surprise
and might even fit the stereotype of kids raised in orphanages as
being aggressive. However, when researchers compared this group
of adopted children to a matched group of non-adopted kids, they
found that the adopted children were not more aggressive. Thus,
they concluded that being a bully does not seem to be a big risk
for children with a history of institutional care.

Sadly, however, they found that internationally adopted kids with
a history of institutional care were more often the victim of
bullies for both overt aggression and relation victimization.
Interestingly, this was the case despite reports that their
children were no less positive in their social behavior towards
peers. Not surprisingly, the children who were being bullied
suffered from more anxiety and depression.

Doesn't this just break your heart?!? I can't say the results
really surprise me. I'm not sure what the researchers meant when
they said that the adopted children were equally "positive in
their social behavior towards peers". Sometimes children who
spend much time in institutions are awkward in their
relationships. I would think this would contribute to being
picked on. Being slightly different may make you a great
interesting adult, but often sets you up for torment in
childhood. Sigh!

Adoption Services International unites loving US families with
Ukrainian children. We provide a unique combination of western
quality service (including a maximum guaranteed adoption fee),
personal adoption experience, affordable local cost and 20 years
Ukrainian experience.

If you or someone you love would like to expand your family,
provide a permanent home for a needy orphaned child, welcome a
sibling for an existing child or discover an alternative for
infertility treatments - contact us to learn more about Ukrainian
adoption, Adoption Services International can help.


Upcoming Events:

Ukrainian Adoption 101:

Conversation On International Adoption: Opportunity, Process,
Concerns and Questions

Monday, November 12, 2012 6:00-7:00PM

Location: Califon Book Store: 72 Main Street, Califon, New Jersey

Ukrainian Adoption Information Meeting

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:00-8:00PM

Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey

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