A Stereotype Threat Account of Boys’ Academic Underachievement

By Bonny L. Hartley

Three studies examined the role of stereotype threat in boys’ academic underachievement. Study 1 (children aged 4–10, =238) showed that girls from age 4 years and boys from age 7 years believed, and thought adults believed, that boys are academically inferior to girls. Study 2 manipulated stereotype threat, informing children aged 7–8 years (=162) that boys tend to do worse than girls at school. This manipulation hindered boys’ performance on a reading, writing, and math test, but did not affect girls’ performance. Study 3 counteracted stereotype threat, informing children aged 6–9 years (=184) that boys and girls were expected to perform similarly. This improved the performance of boys and did not affect that of girls.

Read more: Hartley, B. L., & Sutton, R. M. (2013). A stereotype threat account of boys’ academic underachievement. Child development84(5), 1716-1733. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12079

Moral Reasoning about Aggressive Behavior in Relation to Type of Aggression, Age and Gender in South Korean Pupils

By Seung-Ha Lee, Peter K. Smith and Claire P. Monks

Studies of moral reasoning in relation to aggressive behaviors have paid limited attention to different types of aggression, and have mainly been conducted in Western societies. We describe findings from a study of 157 children, aged 6 or 11 years, from two schools in South Korea. Using a cartoon scenario methodology, we assessed moral reasoning about eight types of aggression: verbal, physical individual, physical group, social exclusion, rumor spreading, breaking one’s belongings, sending a nasty text via mobile phone, and sending a nasty message/email via computer. Four aspects of moral reasoning were assessed: moral judgment, harmfulness, reason for judgment, and causal responsibility. Many significant differences by type of aggression were found, especially for social exclusion (seen as less wrong and harmful, and more the victim’s responsibility), physical group aggression (seen as more wrong or harmful, and a matter of fairness, especially in older children and boys), and cyber aggression (seen more as the aggressor’s responsibility). Older children gave more reasons based on welfare, and fewer “don’t know” responses for reasons and attributions. Gender differences were relatively few, but girls did make more use of welfare in the moral reasoning domain. Findings are discussed in relation to previous research and the cultural context in South Korea.

Read full text:

Lee, S. H., Smith, P. K., & Monks, C. P. (2021). Moral reasoning about aggressive behavior in relation to type of aggression, age and gender in South Korean pupils. International journal of environmental research and public health18(5), 2288. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052288

Perceptions of Bullying amongst Spanish Preschool and Primary School Children with the Use of Comic Strips: Practical and Theoretical Implications

by Pedro Miguel González Moreno, Héctor del Castillo and Daniel Abril-López 

Bullying research among preschoolers and the early grades of primary school is still scarce. With the aid of a set of cartoons representing prototypical bullying scenes, we interview 120 schoolchildren (50% girls) from kindergarten to third grade (age range: 5.44–9.58) from three mainstream public schools located in the eastern Community of Madrid, in order to analyse their perceptions regarding this phenomenon. Results show that 94.2% (n = 113) of schoolchildren are able to recognize when a partner is victimized. Nevertheless, significant differences were found by grade (p = 0.017), with kindergarteners giving more responses classified as one-off aggressions. Most students (n = 102) empathize with the victims´ emotions and condemn the bullies’ behavior, regardless of their gender (p = 0.637) or grade (p = 0.578). A total of 53.9% (n = 64) of students think these bullying situations are partly caused by previous conflicts; girls are inclined to think this more often than boys (p = 0.003). Furthermore, 53.8% (n = 64) of the students would request help from their schoolteachers if they were bullied, with no statistically significant differences by gender (p = 0.254) or by grade (p = 0.133). These results serve as a rationale to develop bullying prevention programs from a very early school age to provide information regarding its causation and coping strategies, among others.

Read more : González Moreno, P. M., del Castillo, H., & Abril-López, D. (2021). Perceptions of Bullying amongst Spanish Preschool and Primary Schoolchildren with the Use of Comic Strips: Practical and Theoretical Implications. Social Sciences10(6), 223. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10060223

The importance of trust for refugee children and families in resettlement

Ryan Essex, Erika Kalocsanyiova, Nataliya Rumyantseva, Jill Jameson

The adverse, often protracted, and liminal nature of the refugee journey mean that trust has particular relevance for refugee populations and particularly refugee children and families. Trust can be broadly described as an “accepted vulnerability to another’s possible but not expected ill will (or lack of good will)”. In other words, trust is based on the expectation that we will not be exploited, harmed, or taken advantage of by other individuals, organisations, or institutions. Throughout the refugee journey, it will often be unclear who or what can be trusted, distrust may serve as a means to survive and many may have little choice but to trust those who are otherwise untrustworthy. In resettlement, even in ideal circumstances, many will continue to face uncertainty, navigating a new culture and language, new systems, and institutions. Many will face ongoing difficulties within their own communities and discrimination from society more generally and at the hands of government policy.

In a recent systematic review, we found that trust was critical in resettlement of refugee children and families. Trust shaped resettlement experiences and in turn was shaped by the resettlement process itself. Trust was often a precursor to re-establishing relationships, to health and social wellbeing and more generally managing the resettlement process, all of which have a significant impact on how refugee children and families coped and adjusted in resettlement. A number of studies within our review set out specifically to explore the experiences of unaccompanied minors. Many detailed a generalised and pervasive distrust. Níraghallaigh (2014), for example, set out to explore the predictors of trust or mistrust amongst a sample of unaccompanied minors resettled in Ireland. This study suggested that amongst unaccompanied minors resettled in Ireland, a number felt they could not trust or be trusted, that is, they felt suspicion from the Irish public and institutions; unfamiliarity with people in Ireland; and concerns about truth telling, that is, for some, lying occurred because of a lack of trust: for example, they felt unable to tell their true reasons for leaving their countries of origin because of fears of repercussions. Studies also suggested that trust shapes a number of other encounters. For example, trust in healthcare professionals and in the healthcare system influenced whether children sought help. Majumder et al. (2015), for example, found that amongst a number of unaccompanied refugee minors resettled in the UK, there was a general mistrust of healthcare services. Many saw health professionals as representatives of the state and were fearful of deportation.

In beginning to build trust, there is no one size fits all approach. Our review re-enforces the idea that trust is first and foremost a relational concept. That is, trust is “created, negotiated, sustained, confirmed or disconfirmed” amongst individuals, groups, or other social entities. This means that what trust means for each person, between different individuals and groups, will vary substantially. Furthermore, how we negotiate and maintain trust over time can shift substantially. Trust is not static and exists along a number of continuums. That is, over time, trust could be built in one area, and eroded in another. With time, we may expect children to trust more; however, this is not always the case and is dependent on a number of factors; trust can be damaged more easily than it is built and the actions of other trustworthy and well-meaning individuals may negatively impact trust. Finally, trust is also contextual. Our review provided insight into how a country’s policies may substantially impact the temporal trajectory of trust and set the bounds of how trust is approached between individuals and groups. In short, refugee children are resettled in vastly different countries, which offer vastly different resettlement experiences.

The literature on trust in this field paints a complex picture, but it does not leave us without direction. Generally, supportive individuals and institutions are important foundations for trust. This can be achieved through simple, often routine steps; consistency of care, taking the time to listen, communicate effectively, and understand experiences, acting transparently and, more generally, treating refugee children with respect and dignity. Trust also requires cultural awareness and broader awareness of the impact of resettlement, including how broader social and political forces may negatively impact trust.

To read our full systematic review (which is open access):

Essex, R. Kalocsányiová, E. Rumyantseva, N. & Jameson, J. (2021). Trust Amongst Refugees in Resettlement Settings: A Systematic Scoping Review and Thematic Analysis of the Literature. Journal of International Migration and Integration. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12134-021-00850-0

A Qualitative Exploration of Practitioners’ Understanding of and Response to Child-to-Parent Aggression

By Sarah E O’Toole, Stella Tsermentseli, Athanasia Papastergiou, Claire P Monks

There has been limited research and policy directed toward defining and understanding child-to-parent aggression (CPA), resulting in inconsistent definitions, understandings, and responses, which has a detrimental impact on families. In particular, there have been limited qualitative studies of those working on the frontline of CPA, hindering the development of effective policy. The present qualitative study therefore aimed to explore practitioner perspectives of CPA. Twenty-five practitioners from diverse fields (e.g., youth justice, police, charities) participated in four focus groups relating to their experiences of working with CPA in the United Kingdom. Thematic analysis of focus groups revealed three key themes: definitions of CPA, understanding of CPA risk factors, and responding to CPA. Practitioners understood CPA to be a broad use of aggression to intimidate and control parents and highlighted a range of individual (e.g., mental health, substance abuse) and social (e.g., parenting, gangs) risk factors for CPA. Further, practitioners felt that current methods of reporting CPA were ineffective and may have a detrimental impact on families. The findings of this study have implications for CPA policy and support the need for a multiagency and coordinated strategy for responding to CPA.

Read full article on: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0886260520967142

Online Peer Engagement in Adolescence: Positive and Negative Aspects of Online Social Interaction

Edited by Nejra van Zalk and Claire P. Monks

This book provides an in-depth insight into what is currently known and relatively unknown about youths’ online peer engagement. It delivers state-of-the-art current reviews of the literature in the field, with a strong coverage of methodological issues in studying online friendships and an emphasis on moving towards a new, less dichotomic, view of online peer interaction in adolescence. With a focus on what spending time with online-exclusive peers entails – in terms of both potential positive as well as negative consequences for friendship quality, intimacy, and well-being – this book offers a more nuanced commentary on youths’ online peer engagement. Including coverage of the evolution of online friendships, cyberbullying, cyberdating, sexting, online abuse, smartphones, social networks, as well as their impact on adolescent social interaction online, Van Zalk and Monks consider implications for future research directions and practical applications.

Find out more:


Perceived stress as mediator for longitudinal effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on wellbeing of parents and children

Michelle AchterbergSimone DobbelaarOlga D. Boer & Eveline A. Crone 

Dealing with a COVID-19 lockdown may have negative effects on children, but at the same time might facilitate parent–child bonding. Perceived stress may influence the direction of these effects. Using a longitudinal twin design, we investigated how perceived stress influenced lockdown induced changes in wellbeing of parents and children. A total of 106 parents and 151 children (10–13-year-olds) filled in questionnaires during lockdown and data were combined with data of previous years. We report a significant increase in parental negative feelings (anxiety, depression, hostility and interpersonal sensitivity). Longitudinal child measures showed a gradual decrease in internalizing and externalizing behavior, which seemed decelerated by the COVID-19 lockdown. Changes in parental negative feelings and children’s externalizing behavior were mediated by perceived stress: higher scores prior to the lockdown were related to more stress during the lockdown, which in turn was associated with an increase in parental negative feelings and children’s’ externalizing behavior. Perceived stress in parents and children was associated with negative coping strategies. Additionally, children’s stress levels were influenced by prior and current parental overreactivity. These results suggest that children in families with negative coping strategies and (a history of) parental overreactivity might be at risk for negative consequences of the lockdown.

Full article:

Achterberg, M., Dobbelaar, S., Boer, O. D., & Crone, E. A. (2021). Perceived stress as mediator for longitudinal effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on wellbeing of parents and children. Scientific reports11(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-81720-8

Parenting in lockdown: Coronavirus and the effects on work-life balance

Office for National Statistics

Parents in Great Britain who have been able to work through the coronavirus lockdown have adapted their working patterns around caring for their children. There were some clear trends in how that childcare was delivered.

Lockdown in the UK has presented challenges for families whose day-to-day lives were transformed virtually overnight.

At the start of the lockdown (23 March 2020), many people had to rapidly adjust to a ‘new normal’, with school closures, parents furloughed or working from home, and support from outside the home no longer available.

For millions of parents (or those in a parenting role), this included having to care for their children, including homeschooling them, while continuing to work.

Key insights:

·       Parents have changed their weekday working patterns because of childcare commitments

·       Parents working from home delivered most childcare in the afternoon

·       During lockdown, parents spent more time on developmental childcare

·       Women spent more time on childcare than men, with much of this focused on non-developmental childcare and supervising children

·       Women spent much more time on childcare than men when the child was aged under five

·       Parents found developmental childcare more enjoyable

·       Women spent more time on unpaid work and less time on paid work than men

Read more: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/parentinginlockdowncoronavirusandtheeffectsonworklifebalance/2020-07-22

Peer Victimisation in Early Childhood; Observations of Participant Roles and Sex Differences

By Claire P. Monks, Peter K. Smith and Kat J. Kucaba

During middle childhood and adolescence, victimisation appears to be a group process involving different participant roles. However, peer reports with younger children (four to six years old) have failed to identify the participant roles of assistant (to the bully) reinforcers or defenders with much reliability. This may be because peer victimisation is a more dyadic process among younger children (behavioural reality), or because of limitations in young children’s cognitive capacity to identify these behaviours (cognitive limitations). The findings of an observational study which examined the group nature of peer victimisation among young children are presented. Observations were made of 56 children aged four and five years using time sampling during free play at school (totalling 43.5 h of observation). Records were made of their behaviour when an onlooker witnessed aggression by others, and also of others’ behaviour when they were being aggressive or being victimised. Although children other than the aggressor and target were present in nearly two thirds of the episodes of peer victimisation observed, few exhibited behavioural responses in line with the assistant, reinforcer or defender roles. This supports the behavioural reality rather than the cognitive limitations explanation. Sex differences were observed in types of aggression displayed by children, with boys more likely than girls to be physically aggressive. Children were less likely to be aggressive to other-sex peers and were most likely to be victimised by children of the same sex as them. There were also sex differences in children’s onlooker behaviour. The implications for our understanding of the development of peer victimisation and bullying in children are discussed.

Full text available freely online:

Monks, Claire P.; Smith, Peter K.; Kucaba, Kat. 2021. “Peer Victimisation in Early Childhood; Observations of Participant Roles and Sex Differences” Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, no. 2: 415. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020415

How To Dismantle the English State Education System in 10 Easy Steps


‘A sharp and incisive account of how state education has been dismantled into a system of competing Multi-Academy Trusts. We were told ‘choice’ would deliver higher standards. It didn’t. It made the system more chaotic, wasteful and segregated. This book explains how it was done.’ Alasdair Smith, National Secretary, Anti Academies Alliance

New book by Terry Edwards and Carl Parsons tells the story of the takeover of England’s schools by the super-efficient, modernising, academising machine, which, in collaboration with a dynamic, forward-looking government is recasting the educational landscape. 

England’s school system is turbo-charged into a new era and will be the envy of the world, led by Chief Executives of Multi Academy Trusts on bankers’ salaries, imposing a slim curriculum, the soundest of discipline regimes and ensuring that highest standards will be achieved even if at the expense of teacher morale, poor service to special needs, off-rolling of students and despite an absolute lack of evidence that this privatised system works.

If you want to know more about the book you can listen to the podcast on Liam Davis Show:

Terry Edwards is a retired teacher who spent the last 38 years of his 41-year career in a ‘challenging’ comprehensive in East London. He was an examiner/moderator for A.Q.A. for 43 years and in this role visited hundreds of state and private schools throughout London and the South East. Since retirement he volunteers with Beanstalk in a local primary school in Greenwich, which his two sons attended in the 1980s, where he helps and encourages pupils to read. Terry has always campaigned for, and believed passionately in, comprehensive and co-educational secondary education and is now involved with CASE (Campaign for State Education). He is based in London, UK.

Prof Carl Parsons is a Visiting Professor of Social Inclusion Studies at the University of Greenwich. He was previously Professor of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University and Head of the Department of Educational Research until August 2009. His background is in research into exclusions, poverty and attainment and other equality issues in education. He is an experienced evaluator and social research methodologist.  Carl’s major professional preoccupation in recent years has been on strategies, structures, roles and practices to manage the continued education of children and young people who are excluded from school, at risk of disconnecting from education or are disadvantaged. In this, he makes the case for ecological thinking, whereby the school is one force for children’s care and development but cannot do the job alone. He is also examining the deleterious effects of the quasi-privatisation of education and the rise of ‘edubusiness’.