Loss of the Safety Signal in Childhood and Adolescent Trauma

  • Thomas W. Miller
  • Allan Beane


Bullying experiences in the schools is something most children encounter in one form or another during school age, but too many children are persistently mistreated for extended periods of time and find it devastating (Miller and Beane 1997). Children struggle with being called names, being picked upon, and with being rejected or excluded among peers and in the school environment. Even though bullying has been around since time began, little attention has been given to the long-term effects of bullying behavior on both the victim and the perpetrator. Research studies, mostly conducted in European countries, including England, Ireland, and Sweden, are beginning to address the long-range consequences of bullying behavior on children.

Bullying behavior is a form of hurtful behavior toward another child that is disruptive to the physical and emotional well-being of the victim. Olweus (1992) suggests that there are three main features present when bullying occurs: (1) deliberate aggression; (2) an asymmetric power relationship; and (3) the aggression results in pain and distress and loss of a safety signal in the school environment. The safety signal is a critical ingredient in understanding the implications of threatening-type experiences that are realized at every level in our lives.


Safety Signal Bully Behavior Young Offender Adult Supervision Aggressive Family 
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The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Jill Livingston M.L.S., Kayla Snow, Tag Heister M.L.S., Deborah Kessler M.L.S., and Katrina Scott, Library Services; and Lane J. Veltkamp M.S.W., Robert F. Kraus M.D., Richard Welsh M.S.W., Department of Psychiatry, University of Kentucky, and Linda Brown, Amy Farmer, Brenda Frommer for their contributions to the completion of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas W. Miller
    • 1
  • Allan Beane
  1. 1.University of Kentucky, College of MedicineLexingtonUSA

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