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IU-led Research Reveals Bullying In Popular Kids' Television Shows

Last updated on Sunday, October 14, 2012

(BLOOMINGTON) - A study led by telecommunications assistant professor Nicole Martins found social bullying to be as prevalent as physical aggression in 50 of the nation’s most popular children’s television shows.

IDS reports, Martin's work is believed to be one of the first studies to analyze children's exposure to social bullying, which includes gossip and verbal aggression, according to a press release.

Insults accounted for 52 percent of the acts of aggression observed between television characters.

"Social aggression was more likely to be enacted by an attractive perpetrator, to be featured in a humorous context and neither rewarded or punished," Martins said in the press release. "In these ways, social aggression on television poses more of a risk for imitation and learning than do portrayals of physical aggression."

The study, titled "Mean on the Screen: Social Aggression in Problems Popular with Children", was published in the Journal of Communication.

University of Illinois professor of communication Barbara Wilson contributed to the research.

"These findings should help parents and educators recognize that there are socially aggressive behaviors on programs children watch," Martins said in the press release. "Parents should not assume that a program is okay for their child to watch simply because it does not contain physical violence."

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