Wearing Glasses Linked With Bullying
25 January 2005
New research from the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s project suggests that wearing glasses is linked with an increased risk of being bullied.
This study covered over 6,500 children, who underwent detailed eye examinations at the age of seven. At eight, they were assessed by trained psychologists for involvement in bullying behaviour, either as a victim or a bully.
8.9% of the children wore glasses and 3.5% had received eye-patch treatment for amblyopia (“lazy eye”). 2.1% had some degree of strabismus (“eyes pointing in different directions”).
Wearing glasses or eye patches or having a high degree of strabismus was linked with an increased the risk of overt bullying - such as hitting or kicking - of around 35%. However, there was very little increase in “relational” bullying, which covers social behaviour such as refusing to play with a child, spreading lies or withdrawing friendship.
“This is an interesting finding,” says lead researcher Jeremy Horwood. “It may be that wearing glasses or an eye-patch implies physical weakness and this provokes an increase in overt, physical bullying as opposed to social bullying.”
The more often children wore glasses and/or the more pronounced their strabismus, the more vulnerable they appeared to be.
The researchers found no gender difference. Girls were no more likely to be bullied as a result of wearing glasses than boys.
“More research is needed to discover whether wearing glasses actually causes bullying, or if other factors are at work,” says Jeremy Horwood. “Understanding the reasons can help teachers and researchers to build on existing intervention strategies and provide better support for the victims of bullying.”
Academic paper reference
Horwood J, Waylen A, Herrick D, Williams C, Wolke D, ALSPAC Study Team. Common visual defects and peer victimisation in children. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 46: 1177-1181. doi 10.1167/iovs.04-0597
ALSPAC The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (also known as Children of the 90s) is a unique ongoing research project based in the University of Bristol. It enrolled 14,000 mothers during pregnancy in 1991-2 and has followed most of the children and parents in minute detail ever since.