Developing New Approaches

Our research is focused on understanding better the anatomy of bullying and developing actionable education approaches that make a lasting difference in how classes develop as a social group.

In analyzing the data we collected in the school year 2015-2016 from 1,477 participants in 58 classrooms, we built a 3-level generalized linear mixed model in order to assess levels of bullying behaviour in the participating schools, to put any policy recommendations made to the schools on an empirical basis, and to inform the content and design of the specific modules that comprised each participating school's individualized anti-bullying programme.

The results reveal that 20% of students state they have had the feeling in the school year they were asked that they are being bullied, and 4% admit to having recently bullied others. Being a target did not differ between schools, and only slightly across classes within schools. Younger classes experienced more bullying, especially among girls.

Behavioural experiences contributing to the feeling of being bullied were identified, especially intimidation and being goaded on the basis of personal characteristics.

Being a witness differed between classes within schools: a class climate variable (the proportion of classmates feeling bullied) predicted the probability of a student witnessing bullying.

An interesting pattern emerged in regard to reporting behaviour (prevalence 19.7%): in younger classes, more of those who themselves felt bullied reported bullying, whereas in older classes, progressively more witnesses reported bullying than the targets themselves.

The findings are interesting if we look at emerging patterns of role definition within a fluctuating bullying cycle, particularly in younger class groups. They offer us insights that will help substantiate development of an active ‘cycle breaker’ model that can be used by class teachers to design and implement effective interventions.

Exploring Relationships

  • Does the feeling of being bullied differ between schools and specific classes in a school, and does it vary systematically depending on class, gender and/or the interaction of class and gender?
  • Which behaviour causes the experience of being bullied, i.e. which type of behavioural experience most likely predicts the feeling of being bullied?
  • Does the number of witnesses differ between schools and/or specific classes in a school, and does it depend on class and gender? Is there a relationship between being a witness and having felt bullied?
  • Does reporting bullying behaviour differ between schools and/or specific classes in a school; does it depend on class and gender; is reporting related to being a witness and/or of having felt bullied oneself?
  • Does confessing to having bullied others differ between schools and/or specific classes in a school? Does it depend on class and gender, and is it related to being a witness and/or a target of bullying behaviours?



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