MONDAY, May 3, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Parents can play an important role in preventing their children from becoming bullies by helping them with homework and getting to know their friends, a new study suggests.
"Improving parent-child communication and parental involvement with their children could have a substantial impact on child bullying," said study author Dr. Rashmi Shetgiri, a pediatrician and researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center in Dallas.
Shetgiri and colleagues analyzed a 2007 national survey of 45,897 parents with children aged 10 to 17.
Among other things, the survey asked whether the children were bullies. About 15 percent of children were identified as bullies.
The researchers then tried to figure out whether some kids were more likely to be bullies. Black and Hispanic kids had a higher risk of being bullies than white kids, as did those whose mothers reported mental health issues.
Children who were less likely to be bullies included older kids, those who lived in a home where the primary language wasn't English, and those who did their homework consistently.
Parents who met their children's friends and talked with their kids were less likely to have children who bullied others, the study authors noted.
"Parents can also work with health care providers to make sure any emotional or behavioral concerns they have about their child, as well as their own mental health, are addressed," Shetgiri said. "Lastly, parents can take advantage of parenting programs that can help them become aware of and manage negative feelings, such as anger, and respond to their child in a non-aggressive manner."
The study is scheduled for presentation Monday at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created a Web site for kids about bullying.