School life can be pretty merciless. Kids have an astonishing repertoire of nasty things they inflict on other kids. But what factors play a role in which kids are the victims and which the perpetrators? Why do some wind up on the receiving end of the nastiness, and others become the ones meting it out?
Psychologists working with Germany's Dieter Wolke at the University of Warwick in Great Britain have analyzed the extent to which parenting styles influence kids’ behavior at school (Child Abuse & Neglect, online). The researchers evaluated 70 studies from recent years in which over 200,000 children had taken part. And according to the results, children with overprotective parents have a higher chance of being bullied.
School bullying is a global problem, the authors stress. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study published in 2012, about one-third of all children fall victim to the aggressive behavior of their peers. Wolke says that can have long-term consequences for terrorized children that can persist into adulthood.
Children who are bullied often later develop body-image problems, and also have a higher risk as adults of suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological problems.
The ability of children to get along with other kids their age at school without being bullied, or to defend themselves if they are bullied, is influenced by the way they are parented.
Don't get too cozy
According to the psychologists’ data, children with particularly strict parents, authoritarian parents, or parents who give them too much negative feedback show somewhat higher risk of being the victims of bullying.
The risk is similarly higher for the children of overprotective parents – a surprising result, Wolke says. But it would seem that children from a particularly cozy nest may lack the armor to deal with bullies, the psychologist says. Keeping children away from negative experiences is thus presumably a way to make them particularly vulnerable.
The data from the meta-analysis also reveals that if children are bullied at home by their siblings, the chances are higher that they will be bullied in school.
The kids least susceptible to chronic hectoring and physical bullying, according to Wolke, are those whose parents set clear behavioral rules that must be respected, but who also display emotional warmth and impart a sense of security.
Parents like this also let their kids work out conflicts with peers without immediately getting into the act, Wolke says. This enables children to figure out strategies and develop self-confidence that makes them less vulnerable to bullies.
Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.
SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.
The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.
It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.
Seoul housing prices top London and New York
In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.
According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.
Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.
One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.
According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.
Playing the stock market
At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.
A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."
In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.
42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s
Game of survival
In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.
But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.
This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.
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