Effects of image on teens
Supported by Bupa Ireland

From: irishhealth.com Wed 28/07/04
by Deborah Condon

Health News Image

Adolescents who have a poor self-image tend to shy away from interactions with their peers. However this behaviour draws negative feedback from other students, leading them to be even more withdrawn and making them an easier target for teasing or bullying, the results of a new study indicate.

A team of researchers studied the progress of 605 adolescents at three different time periods. They particularly looked at peer groups and how the young people influenced each other.

All of the participants were asked about self-views and experiences of stress in peer relationships. Their teachers were also questioned about their behaviour.

The study found that those who think little of themselves tended to shy away from their peers, leading to negative feedback and in turn, more withdrawal. This made them an easier target for bullies and also left them with fewer chances of having close friends.

"Our findings have important implications for understanding how both youth and their social worlds influence the course of children's relationships", said Professor Karen Rudolph of the University of Illinois.

Dr Rudolph said that unfortunately, these young people may enter into 'self-perpetuating cycles that result in a downward spiral of relationship difficulties'.

"Intervening in these downward spirals and improving youths' relationships will require both helping young people to change their perceptions of their social abilities and worth, as well as helping schools to change the peer environments that permit social isolation, peer conflict and victimisation", she added.

Details of this study are published in the medical journal, Child Development.