They wear trendy dresses, spend most of the time in front of the mirror, but contrary to conventional wisdom, teenage girls who consider themselves attractive are more likely to be the victims of emotionally damaging bullying -- including being socially ostracised or having rumours spread about them, says a new research.
University of Alberta Educational Psychology PhD student Lindsey Leenaars has completed a study that assessed what types of high school students are being indirectly victimised. This includes being involved in emotionally damaging scenarios such as receiving hurtful anonymous notes, being socially excluded, or having rumours spread about them, including threats of physical harm.
Leenaars analysed data that was collected in Ontario in 2003. More than 2,300 students aged 12-18 filled out an anonymous questionnaire asking them questions, including how they rate their attractiveness, their sexual activity, their friendships and school social problems.
Leenaars found the females who viewed themselves as attractive had a 35 percent increased chance of being indirectly victimized.
Conversely, for males who perceived themselves as good looking, their risk of being bullied decreased by 25 percent. Leenaars also found older teens (aged 16-18) were at a 35 percent increased risk of being victimised if they were sexually active.
Leenaars says this information could be used to raise awareness amongst parents, teachers and counsellors.
She adds it would also be helpful when schools are working on a variety of anti-bullying programmes to include all students, not just those who may be traditionally perceived as victims.
"The findings have important implications for the development of interventions designed to reduce peer victimisation, in that victims of indirect aggression may represent a broad group," Leenaars said.
The study is published in the journal Aggressive Behavior.