The Nature and Prevalence of Bullying in Elementary Schools
A summary of a master's thesis by Noelle M. Bidwell
SSTA Research Centre Report #97-06: 63 pages, $14.
|Introduction||The purpose of this study was to acquire descriptive information about
bullying among students in elementary schools. The findings are based on a random sample
of 482 students from grades five to eight in a school division in Western Canada. In
addition, 99 teachers of students from grades five to eight in the same division completed
a questionnaire on bullying.
The results indicated that bullying was a common occurrence in the schools, and its nature was comparable with the international research literature on bullying. Approximately 11% of students were bullied on a regular basis in school, with no significant differences in its prevalence by gender or grade. Across gender, bullying was most often carried out in a verbal manner. Physical bullying and threats were more common among male students than female students. Bullies were typically male.
Teachers who perceived bullying to be a serious problem in their classrooms believed that the bullies were likely to be male, and that victims were both male and female and usually in the same grade as the bullies. Teachers offered numerous ideas on how to prevent bullying and intervene when it does happen. These ideas focused on the roles of parents, teachers, and school personnel.
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Bullying among school children is not a new phenomenon, as it has been described in fictional works for centuries (O'Moore & Hillery, 1989; MacDougall, 1993). Most adults can remember incidents of bullying in which they were the bullies or the intended victims In fact, the common perception has been that bullying is a relatively normal and harmless experience most children go through. However, within the last two decades it has become increasingly clear that bullying is, in fact, a problem needing prevention and intervention (Greenbaum, Turner, & Stephens, 1989; Wilson, 1992).
Purpose of Study
Although the literature on bullying has grown significantly over the last decade, little research has been published in this area from a North American perspective (Hoover & Hazler, 1991). The main research interest in bullying began in Scandinavia in the 1970's. Today, the bulk of the research still originates in Europe, with a large amount of work also being done in Australia. Only a few studies on the nature of bullying in Canada have been located in the literature.
The primary purpose of the present study was to acquire descriptive information about the nature and incidence of bullying in Saskatchewan schools, from the perspectives of both students and teachers.
Definition of Bullying
The most widely used definition of bullying is that coined by Olweus (1987): "A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." Negative actions are considered to be when someone purposefully inflicts, or tries to inflict, injury or discomfort on another person. Negative actions may be both verbal (eg. threatening, degrading, teasing) and non-verbal (eg. hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, vandalizing property, rude gestures, and making faces) (Olweus, 1991). Bullying may be carried out by a single person (the bully) or by a group against a single person (the victim) or a group.
It should be noted that this definition requires that negative actions must be carried out repeatedly and intentionally to be considered bullying, which excludes occasional and less serious negative action (Yates & Smith, 1988). In order to be considered bullying, there should also be an actual or perceived power imbalance; the person experiencing the negative actions has trouble defending him/herself and is helpless to some degree against the harassing person or persons (Besag, 1989; Rigby, 1993).
Another distinction that is sometimes made in defining bullying is that of direct and indirect bullying. Direct bullying is defined as open attacks on the victim, while indirect bullying consists of social isolation and exclusion from the group (Olweus, 1993). A further criterion is that bullying must be unprovoked on the part of the victim (Smith & Thompson, 1991).
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REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
History of Bullying Research
Bullying has only received research attention since the early 1970's when Dan Olweus, a Norwegian researcher, began to study this area. At that time, a strong societal interest in bully/victim problems emerged in Scandinavia, where bullying was known as "mobbing" or "mobbning." Olweus's 1978 book, Aggression in the Schools - Bullies and Whipping Boys, is considered a landmark as the first systematic study of the phenomenon of bullying.
In Scandinavia, school officials did not take serious action against bullying until a newspaper report in 1982 stated that three early adolescent boys from Norway had committed suicide because of severe bullying by peers (Olweus, 1993). This event triggered a nationwide campaign against bully/victim problems, and data was obtained from 140,000 students in 715 schools (Olweus, 1987).
The results suggested that 15%, or one out of seven children in Norwegian schools were involved in bullying "now and then" or more frequently. About 9% of the students were classified as victims while 6% were bullies. In 1989, Olweus developed the Bully/Victim Questionnaire (Olweus, 1989) with two versions - one for grades one to four, and the other for grades five to nine and higher grades.
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Nature of Bullying
Following Olweus' groundbreaking research on bullying in Scandinavia, a number of other researchers have studied the prevalence rates of bullying. In England, Stephenson and Smith (1987) found that 7% of their sample were victims of bullying, 10% were bullies, and 6% were both bullies and victims. Whitney and Smith (1993) observed that 10% were bullied at least once a week.
In Zimbabwe, Zindi (1994) reported that 16% of students were bullied now and then, and 18% were bullied weekly or more often. In Australia, Rigby and Slee (1991) asked respondents to identify what percentage of their class was being "picked on a lot" by other students. The median percent per class was 10% for girls and 11% for boys. In a more recent study, Slee (1995) noted that 26% of the sample was bullied once a week or more often.
In the United States, Perry, Kusel, and Perry (1988) observed the rate of peer victimization to be about 10% in their research. In a Canadian study completed in Toronto, 8% of respondents reported being bullied weekly or more often (Ziegler & Rosenstein-Manner, 1991).
From the perspective of those who bully, in Ireland, O'Moore and Hillery (1989) found that 43% of their sample admitted to bullying another student occasionally and 3% once a week or more. In England, Smith (1991) found that 8% of primary students and 10% of secondary students admitted bullying other students once a week or more often. From a Canadian perspective, one study found that 15% of the students admitted that they bullied other students more than once or twice during the school term (Ziegler & Rosenstein-Manner, 1991).
Gender of Bullies
In general, bullies tend to be boys, either in groups or as individuals (O'Moore & Hillery, 1989; Hazler, Hoover, & Oliver, 1991; Hoover, Oliver, & Thomson, 1993). Other research shows single boys, groups of boys, and mixed groups to be the perpetrators of bullying in about equal amounts (Ziegler & Rosenstein-Manner, 1991). However, bullying by females should not be discounted and some feel that its frequency is growing (Roberts, 1988; Galt, 1996).
Gender of Victims
The findings on gender of victims of bullying are mixed. Some report that the number of boys and girls being victimized by bullies is about the same (eg. Slee, 1994b), while others have found that more boys are bullied (eg. Rigby & Slee, 1991). For example, O'Moore and Hillery (1989) observed that 12.5% of boys and 5.6% of girls were frequently bullied. In similar research, boys were reported as victims 73% of the time, and girls 27% of the time (Hazler et al., 1991).
Age of Bullies - Older, Younger, or the Same Age
Bullies tend most often to victimize students who are the same age as they are, followed by younger students (Boulton & Underwood, 1992; Moran, Smith, Thompson & Whitney, 1993; Whitney & Smith, 1993) For example, Zindi (1994) noted that most bullies were in the same grade, as well as the same class as the victims, followed by the same grade and a different class, and lastly, in a higher grade. Bullies were generally peers of the victim - they were the same age and in the same grade or class. It can be said that bullies victimize children they spend much time with and know well.
Worst Ages for being Victimized by Bullies
The bulk of the research indicates that more younger children are bullied than older ones. Bullying generally was highest in the youngest age groups included in the sample, and declined with age (Rigby & Slee, 1991; Ziegler & Rosenstein-Manner, 1991; Boulton & Underwood, 1992; Hoover, Oliver, & Hazler, 1992; Whitney & Smith, 1993; Zindi, 1994).
Types of Bullying and the Influence of Gender
Across gender, the most frequent type of bullying reported is teasing and name calling, followed by hitting and kicking, and other threats (Stephenson & Smith, 1989; Sharp & Smith, 1991; Hoover et al., 1992; Zindi, 1994).
While verbal means of harassment are the most common forms of bullying for both boys and girls, Olweus (1991, 1994a) observed that boys are generally more violent and destructive in their bullying than girls are, making greater use of physical means of bullying. Girls tend to use more indirect and subtle forms of harassment, including rumour-spreading, malicious gossip, and manipulation of friendships (eg. depriving another girl of her best friend). Other research corroborates these findings (Yates & Smith, 1989; Whitney & Smith, 1993; Siann, Callaghan, Glissov, Lockhart, & Rawson, 1994).
Where Bullying Occurs
Various authors have noted that there is much more bullying in school than there is on the way to and from school (Olweus, 1978; Ziegler & Rosenstein-Manner, 1991; Rivers & Smith, 1994). Within the school grounds, the playground is most common setting for bullying, followed by the hallways, classrooms, lunchrooms, and washrooms (Yates & Smith, 1989; Siann et al., 1993; Whitney & Smith, 1993). In a residential school, Zindi (1994) found that the dormitory was the most common location of bullying, followed closely by the playground, with the washrooms rated third and the classroom rated last.
Characteristics Perceived to Motivate Bullying
In one study, the five items rated highest as the motivators of the bullying by boys who were bullied were "didn't fit in," "physically weak," "short tempered," "who my friends were," and "the clothes I wore." The five items rated highest by females were "didn't fit in," "facial appearance," "cried/was emotional," "overweight," and "good grades" (Hoover, Oliver, & Hazler, 1992).
Hazler, Hoover, and Oliver (1992) asked students who were bullied what they believed the reasons were for their victimization. A number of reasons were offered, including favouritism, not being part of the in-group, how they acted, what they said, who their friends were, religion, size, and academic or social shortcomings. Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner (1991) asked the students in their research why students (including themselves, if applicable) bully other students. The reason identified most often was the desire to feel powerful, followed by a desire for attention.
Other research points to familial factors as related to bullying. Bullies often come from families where parents choose more physical forms of discipline, which may be coupled with parents who are rejecting and hostile or overly permissive (Floyd, 1985; Rigby, 1994). It may be said that some bullies at school are in fact victims at home (Floyd, 1985). It has also been suggested that bullies are from families where there are child-parent relationship difficulties, family and marital difficulties, as well as financial and social problems (Oliver, Oaks, & Hoover, 1994). Thus, factors may motivate bullying that lie outside the victim, and thus beyond his/her control.
Familial factors may also predispose children to being bullied. Some victims of bullying come from highly protected backgrounds, making it harder for them to be assertive and causing them to feel more anxious and insecure in their peer group (Sharp, 1993).
Bullying and Children with Special Educational Needs
Research indicates that children with special educational needs are overrepresented as victims of bullying, especially on a frequent basis (O'Moore & Hillery, 1989; Whitney, Nabuzoka, & Smith, 1992; Llewellyn, 1995). Thompson, Whitney, and Smith (1994) reported that while 25% of their sample of mainstream students were bullied, 67% of the special needs students they studied were bullied, and those with moderate difficulties more so than those with mild difficulties. In a sample of adults who stammered as children, 59% reported that they were bullied at least once a week (Mooney & Smith, 1995). Almost all of the respondents indicated that the nature of the bullying was related to their stammering.
Profiles of the Typical Bully and his/her Victim
A consistent profile of bullying victims has emerged form the literature. Victims of bullying tend to be physically smaller, more sensitive, unhappy, cautious, anxious, quiet, and withdrawn than other children (Byrne, 1994; Marano, 1995). Most victims of bullying can be termed "passive" or "submissive" victims (Olweus, 1994b). They are generally insecure and non-assertive, and react by withdrawing and crying when attacked by other students. In this sense, they are vulnerable to being victimized, as bullies know these children will not retaliate. A less common profile, the "provocative victim", has also been described. This type of victim of bullying is a combination of both anxious and aggressive traits, and these students sometimes provoke classmates into victimizing them by their overactive and irritable behaviour (Olweus, 1994b).
Perry, Kusel, and Perry (1988) found that children's victimization scores were negatively correlated with peer acceptance and positively correlated with peer rejection. (However, this result does not indicate whether peer rejection preceded victimization, or victimization preceded peer rejection.) Pepler and Craig (1995) observed that victims of bullying tended to be victimized repeatedly over time, having 'established' themselves in the role of victim. Being bullied acts as a 'vicious cycle' in this regard. These children tend to feel bad about themselves, which predisposes them to being bullied, which makes them feel worse about themselves and thus vulnerable to even more victimization.
Less is known about the profile of the 'typical' bully. One author observed that the bully is usually popular and assertive, and not necessarily the largest child in the class Some bullies are more uncontrolled than other students, and careless of social rules. (Byrne, 1993). In a survey of teachers, this same author found that bullies were generally seen as more hostile and aggressive and showing less restraint than victims of bullying (Byrne, 1994).
Rigby (1994) discussed two possible conceptualizations of the bully. One is a child who is vicious and uncaring, the product of a dysfunctional family. This bully has an aggressive temperament, and he/she is hostile and unempathic in relations with others. The second conceptualization suggests that some bullies are in fact members of a group that builds its strength by harassing vulnerable children who are not members of their group. The bullying may or may not be malicious in intent, and the members reassure themselves that no real harm is being done. Rigby (1994) called this type of bully a "passive bully" or "follower."
Responses to Bully/Victim Problems by Students
Boulton and Underwood (1992) asked students how often other children tried to stop bullying, to which the most common response was "sometimes" (41%), followed by "almost never" (16%) and "almost always" (12%) (31% did not know). When asked what they themselves did when they saw another child being bullied, the most common response was that they try to help them in some way (49%), followed by nothing but I think I ought to try and help (29%) and nothing because it is not my business (22%). Whitney and Smith (1993) also asked participants if other pupils tried to stop bullying. Half of junior/middle pupils and 38% of secondary pupils indicated that other students intervened.
For some students, witnessing bullying episodes may encourage them to participate in such activities. For example, Craig and Pepler (1992) (cited by Pepler & Craig, 1995) reported that in 89% of the incidents where students in their sample intervened, it was in an anti-social or aggressive manner. Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner (1991) reported that 33% of the students surveyed indicated that they could join others in bullying a child they did not like. Thus, witnessing bullying may influence students to model their peers who are bullying other students.
Responses to Bully/Victim Problems by School Personnel
Hazler et al. (1991) and Hoover et al. (1992) asked participants who saw themselves as victims to rate the response of school officials to bullying. The majority of victims indicated that officials responded poorly to episodes of bullying. Zindi (1994) found that when students were asked to indicate how frequently teachers intervened to stop bullying, 49% said never, 33% said occasionally, and 18% said often/almost always. In other research, a majority of students believed that teachers either "sometimes" or "almost always" intervened in bullying (Whitney & Smith, 1993).
These results may provide some information about why some students did not report incidents of bullying to teachers or other adults in several studies (Whitney & Smith, 1993; Rivers & Smith, 1994). Not only is there concern about the possibility of retaliation, but experience may have taught them that adults are not interested or will not act upon their experiences of being bullied (Mellor, 1993; Batsche & Knoff, 1994). However, it should be noted that teachers may not be acting upon bullying because they are unaware of the extent of it. In particular, verbal and indirect forms of bullying are less obvious and are often undetected by teachers (Pepler, Craig, Ziegler, & Charach, 1994).
Teachers' Perceptions of Bullying
Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner (1991) observed that teachers were less aware of bullying than students were in terms of its prevalence. They believed that most bullying was in the form of hitting, kicking, etc. which included teasing of victims. Teachers saw most bullying taking place on the playground, followed by hallways, classrooms, and lunchrooms, which is similar to their students' perceptions. Teachers indicated that they and other teachers intervened "often/almost always" over three times more than students did.
On the other hand, Siann, Callaghan, Lockhart, and Rawson (1993) and Byrne (1994) found that teachers described the prevalence of bullying similarly to students, stating that 10% of the students in their classes were involved in bully/victim problems. The majority of bullies and victims were boys. Teachers indicated that 27% of the victims and 33% of the bullies were receiving remedial education of one form or another.
Outcomes of Bullying
The tendency to be victimized by bullies has been commonly associated with low self esteem, shyness, and feelings of isolation (Rigby & Slee, 1993; Slee & Rigby, 1993; Ziegler & Pepler, 1993; Hazler, 1994; Rigby, 1995; Slee, 1995). A relationship has also been observed between the tendency to bully and depression in both males and females (Bjorkvist, Ekman, & Lagerspetz, 1982). Increased fear and anxiety may become an everyday part of the lives of the students who are bullied, as they go to great effort to avoid bullies and the places they frequent (Greenbaum, 1987; Mooney & Smith, 1995). Other authors have observed that victims of bullying had lower scores on social acceptance, scholastic competence, and global self worth than non-bullied students (Neary & Joseph, 1994; Callaghan & Joseph, 1995).
In other research, victimized students reported "much worse than usual" health problems on all 28 items of the General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg & Williams, 1991). In terms of somatic complaints, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression, bullied students were three to four times more likely to answer in a way that suggested poorer health (Slee, 1994b).
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I) Student Questionnaire
A random sample of approximately 200 students was drawn from each of grades 5 through 8 across the participating school division (n=787). Proportionate numbers were drawn from all 33 elementary schools as well as an alternative middle school, which had students in grades 7 and 8 among its student body. The students received parent consent forms at school, along with a letter from the Superintendent of Education, and students whose parent(s) or guardian(s) returned signed consent forms were allowed to participate in the study.
The Peer Relations Questionnaire (PRQ)(1995) was developed in Australia by Ken Rigby and Philip Slee to measure bully/victim problems between school children. The PRQ is designed for use with children ten years and above in age, and consists of seven sections with a total of 40 items.
Administration was carried out in a group format. The researcher administered the questionnaire in 28 of the schools, while for the remaining six schools, three interested parties from the participating school board handled the administration. In total, 483 students completed the questionnaire.
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II) Teacher Questionnaire
All teachers of students in grades 5 through 8 in the participating school division (N=200) received information/consent forms requesting their participation in the study. Those teachers who returned signed consent forms entailed the final sample. Of the 114 teachers from whom consent forms were obtained, 100 teachers completed and returned the questionnaires.
Given that minimal research has considered teachers' perspectives, it was difficult to obtain a measure for this purpose. Thus, it was decided to use the questions posed to teachers by Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner (1991) in their Toronto study as a basis for the development of a teacher questionnaire. Once a preliminary version of the teacher questionnaire on bullying had been prepared, it was piloted amongst five teachers in a rural school, then revised a final time.
Principals of each school in the participating division distributed information/consent forms to teachers of students from grades five through eight in their schools, and the teacher questionnaires were left at the school for those teachers who completed consent forms. Participants were asked to enclose the completed questionnaire in the envelope that was attached, to ensure confidentiality. The questionnaires were then forwarded to the division office, and collected by the researcher.
I. Student Questionnaire
Of the 482 students making up the final sample, 222 were male (46.8%), and 252 were female (53.2%). There were eight participants who did not identify their gender. (One questionnaire was discarded, as the nature of the responses indicated that the student did not take the items seriously).
Approximately equal numbers of each grade were represented in the sample, which included 122 grade five students (constituting 25.3% of the research sample), 122 grade six students (25.3%), 123 grade 7 students (25.5%), and 115 grade 8 students (23.9%).
There was significant variability in the number of students from each school in the final sample. These differences were due to the large range of variance in school size amongst the 34 schools in the participating school board. The smallest number of participants from any school was 2, while the largest number was 29. The mean number of student participants per school was 14.
Analysis of the Prevalence and Nature of Bullying and the Influence of Demographic Variables
Are schools perceived as safe places for students?
In general, respondents perceived their schools to be safe places for students who find it hard to defend themselves against attack from other students. The majority of students also believed that teachers were interested in trying to stop bullying. A smaller group of students (27.5%) believed that teachers were "only sometimes" or "not really" interested in trying to stop bullying.
What is the prevalence of bullying in schools?
Bullying is a phenomenon that the vast majority of students were familiar with, with only 2.1% of students stating that it never happened at their schools. The most common setting for bullying was at recess/lunch, followed by the classroom. Bullying on the way to and from school was reported much less often.
When asked about their own experiences with bullying, about one third of students had never been bullied by any student during the present school year, with a similar number reporting that they had been bullied only once. The remaining third of students were bullied a few times (26.4%) or lots of times (11.0%) (see Tables 1 and 2). These numbers are not surprising, and are highly similar to those obtained in other studies which suggested that around 10% of students in school are bullied on an ongoing, weekly basis.
Number of Students who have been Bullied in School and how often by Gender
FREQUENCY OF BEING BULLIED
"Never" "Only "A Few "Lots of Total GENDER Once" Times" Times"
Male 65 64 65 27 221 (29.4%) (29.0%) (29.4%) (12.2%) (100.0%) (43.0%) (44.1%) (52.0%) (51.9%) (46.7%)
Female 86 81 60 25 252 (34.1%) (32.1%) (23.8%) (9.9%) (100.0%) (57.0%) (55.9%) (48.0%) (48.1%) (53.3%)
Total 151 145 125 52 473 (31.9%) (30.7%) (26.4%) (11.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%)
* Analyses based on those 473 students who completed both items.
Number of Students who have been Bullied in School and how often by Grade
FREQUENCY OF BEING BULLIED
"Never" "Only "A Few "Lots of Total GRADE Once" Times" Times"
Five 39 37 26 19 121 (32.2%) (30.6%) (21.5%) (15.7%) (100.0%) (25.2%) (25.3%) (20.6%) (35.2%) (25.2%)
Six 34 32 35 21 122 (27.9%) (26.2%) (28.7%) (17.2%) (100.0%) (21.9%) (21.9%) (25.7%) (38.9%) (25.4%)
Seven 40 42 33 8 123 (32.5%) (34.1%) (26.8%) (6.5%) (100.0%) (25.8%) (28.8%) (26.2%) (14.8%) (25.6%)
Eight 42 35 32 6 115 (36.6%) (30.4%) (27.8%) (5.2%) (100.0%) (27.9%) (24.0%) (25.4%) (11.1%) (23.9%)
Total 155 146 126 54 481 (32.2%) (30.4%) (26.2%) (11.2%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%)
* Analyses based on those 481 students who completed both items.
When frequency of bullying was looked at more specifically for those students who were bullied at least once during the present school year, the majority of these students were bullied less than once a week (59.1%). About one fourth were bullied about once or twice a week, while almost 14% were bullied most days or every day. Most of the bullying episodes were a day or two or a week or so in duration, with smaller numbers of students reporting that the longest period over which they had been bullied by the same person was several weeks, months, more than two years, a year, and two years.
How does gender or grade influence the nature of bullying?
There were no significant differences in the numbers of students who were bullied and how often by gender or grade. Essentially, there were equal numbers of boys and girls who were bullied, and the numbers of victims across grade were approximately the same. In terms of broader comparisons, most of the previous studies found that bullying decreased as the age of the sample increased. Previous findings around gender and prevalence of being bullied are more mixed, hence the present results cannot be deemed unusual.
The type of bullying most often experienced was being teased in an unpleasant way, followed by being called hurtful names, being left out of things on purpose, being hit or kicked, and being threatened with harm. It is notable that boys were as likely as girls to be left out of things on purpose, as other authors have observed this form of bullying to be more typically female. Boys were more likely than girls to be threatened with harm, and much more likely to be hit or kicked (see Table 3). These findings are in agreement with others who noted that verbal types of bullying were most common across gender, with boys being more involved than girls in physical bullying.
Types of Bullying Experienced by Male and Female Students who were Bullied
GENDER Male Female Total TYPE OF BULLYING
Being teased in 127 135 262 an unpleasant way (81.4%) (82.3%) (81.9%)
Being called 104 123 227 hurtful names (68.0%) (75.0%) (71.2%)
Being left out of 82 86 168 things on purpose (53.2%) (52.4%) (52.8%)
Being hit 89 61 150 or kicked (58.2%) (37.2%) (47.3%)
Being threatened 55 35 90 with harm (35.7%) (21.6%) (28.5%)
* Analyses for each type of bullying are based on those students who responded to each item (not every student who completed this section answered each of the items).
When students were asked to mention any other things that happened to them when they were being bullied, nearly one half of those who responded described a wide variety of physical bullying other then hitting or kicking. Some examples are pushing, hair pulling, shoving against desks and walls, being tackled to the ground, and being locked in a dark room. The next most common responses involved other types of verbal bullying, followed by rumour spreading and exclusion from the group, threats and intimidation, and lastly, theft and vandalism.
The profile of gender of bullies was as expected, in that bullies were more frequently male, particularly when the victims were also male, similar to other research findings. Female victims were much more likely to be bullied by a boy or a girl than male victims were. A single girl was the bully type least commonly reported across gender.
Feelings about Bullying
About equal numbers of students felt mostly angry after the bullying, or felt much the same afterwards. A smaller group indicated that they felt mostly sad and miserable (15%). In terms of feelings about themselves, about half of the students felt much the same afterwards, with the remainder feeling either worse (38.4%) or better about themselves (9.0%).
The majority of students had never thought of staying away from school because of bullying, or thought of doing so but never had. About 10% of students stayed away from school at least one time because of bullying.
Have students who have been bullied ever told anyone and if so, who did they tell and what effect did it have?
The majority of students had told someone about their bullying experiences. This is a positive sign which suggests that most students were not 'suffering in silence' and were able to speak to someone about what was happening to them. Participants had told a variety of people, most commonly their friends, followed closely by parents, then a teacher, the principal, and lastly, a counsellor.
For those participants who had told someone, nearly half reported that it made the situation better. About the same number reported that things did not change as a result, while 11% reported that it made the situation worse. It is uncertain what effect telling different parties may have had on the situation (ie. telling friends as opposed to telling adults). Most students indicated that they would tell someone if they were bullied everyday in school by someone stronger than them.
For those students who had never told anyone about being bullied, or had decided not to tell certain parties at certain times, the reason most frequently offered for not telling was that the bullying was not that serious. The nature of these responses suggests that most of these students may have been those who were bullied 'only once' or even 'a few times' during the year. In these cases, the bullying may in fact not have been as serious, and by definition, it was not really bullying anyway.
Next on the list of reasons are those which create greater concern over students' wellbeing - fear of retribution or that the bullying would get worse, concern over being called names for telling, and the belief that telling someone would make no difference or that no one cared. A sizeable number of responses fell under these categories (57%), which may be some cause for concern. These were not students who thought that the bullying was not a big deal, but who were concerned about making a bad situation worse and creating additional negative consequences, or effecting no change at all as a result of telling someone about the bullying.
Bullying other students in school
The majority of students believed that they were as able or more able than other students to fight back and stop other students from bullying them. Students generally responded in a similar way when asked how able they were to bully others if they wanted to do so. Hence, there was a significant portion of students who could bully others, but did not. On both items there were more boys than girls who thought they were more able than other students to bully or to defend themselves from bullying.
About three-quarters of students had felt like hurting or upsetting another student, either "sometimes" or "often." Responses were more mixed when students were asked if they thought they could join in bullying a young person whom they did not like, with one third saying yes, 20% who were unsure, and nearly half saying no.
Almost one half of the respondents had bullied another student as part of a group on some basis during the present year, with the highest percentage doing so once or twice. Nearly one fifth of students admitted to bullying another student as part of a group sometimes, about once a week, or several times a week (see Tables 4 and 5).
Number of Students who have Bullied other Students in School (on a GROUP basis) and how often by Gender
GENDER Male Female Total INCIDENCE
Never 114 139 253 (45.1%) (54.9%) (100.0%) (52.1%) (55.2%) (53.7%)
Once or Twice 54 81 135 (40.0%) (60.0%) (100.0%) (24.7%) (32.1%) (28.7%)
Sometimes 32 23 55 (58.2%) (41.8%) (100.0%) (14.6%) (9.1%) (11.7%)
Once or Twice 5 4 9 a Week (55.6%) (44.4%) (100.0%) (2.3%) (1.6%) (1.9%)
More than Once 14 5 19 or Twice a Week (73.7%) (26.3%) (100.0%) (6.4%) (2.0%) (4.0%)
Total 219 252 471 (46.5%) (53.5%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%)
* Analyses based on those 471 students who completed both items.
Number of Students who have Bullied other Students in School (on an INDIVIDUAL basis) and how often by Gender
Male Female Total INCIDENCE
Never 110 157 267 (41.2%) (58.8%) (100.0%) (50.0%) (62.8%) (56.8%)
Once or Twice 64 68 132 (48.5%) (51.5%) (100.0%) (29.1%) (27.2%) (28.3%)
Sometimes 35 17 52 (67.3%) (32.7%) (100.0%) (15.9%) (6.8%) (11.1%)
Once or Twice 6 5 11 a Week (54.5%) (45.5%) (100.0%) (2.7%) (2.0%) (2.3%)
More than Once 5 3 8 or Twice (62.5%) (37.5%) (100.0%) a Week (2.3%) (1.2%) (1.7%)
Total 220 250 470 (46.8%) (53.2%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%)
* Analyses based on those 470 students who completed both items.
It appears that there might be a group aspect significant to bullying, as there were somewhat fewer students who bullied on an individual basis (43.4%). Again, the most common frequency reported was once or twice, with 15.3% of students admitting to bullying other students by themselves sometimes, about once a week, or several times a week.
The reasons most commonly endorsed by students as legitimate reasons for bullying were because the victim annoyed them and to get even. Other reasons were given in the form of open-ended responses, the most frequent of which was retaliation because the other person had done something to them first, similar to "to get even." The next most common category is perhaps also the most disturbing, and hints at the true nature of bullying. These reasons had nothing to do with the other person instigating an attack, but simply because the other person was deemed different or unlikeable (eg. being a "geek" or "wimp," being different, clothes and hobbies were "uncool"). These reasons offered by students pinpoint a key aspect of bullying as suggested by researchers in the field - that bullying is not the result of provocation by the victim.
Other reasons suggested for bullying someone were if that person had been bullying them, to show off or because the victim had been showing off and trying to appear cool, internal factors within the bully (eg. being upset or angry), or boredom. Some students commented that they would never bully and there was no reason for ever doing so (eg. "I would never bully someone. I think that two wrongs don't make a right.").
What should be done to deal with the issue of bullying?
Most students believed that teachers and students should be concerned about stopping bullying in their schools, and that teachers themselves should try to stop bullying when it happens. There were somewhat fewer students who supported student involvement with bullying in any form, whether it was to work with teachers to stop bullying, talk about it, or stop bullying on their own. This possibility was supported by the observation that only one-third of students responded "yes" when asked if they would be interested in talking about the problem of bullying with other students to see what can be done about stopping it, with one third of students responding "no" and the other third "don't know." Opinions were more mixed when participants were asked if they themselves tried to stop bullying when they saw it happening, with a smaller majority saying "yes," followed by "don't know" and "no." Nearly half of the participants indicated that they could use some help to stop them from being bullied.
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II. Teacher Questionnaire
One teacher questionnaire was not included in the final data analysis because it had been completed by a grade three teacher. There was fairly even distribution amongst the 99 teachers included in the final sample in terms of the grade they taught.
The number of years respondents had been teaching ranged from 6 months to 30 years, with a mean of 13.88 years. The number of years respondents had been teaching at that particular school ranged from 6 months to 19 years, with a mean of 3.57 years.
The Prevalence and Nature of Bullying in the Classroom
Do Teachers perceive bullying to be a serious problem in their classrooms ?
The majority of teachers did not believe that bullying was a serious problem in their classrooms during the present year. Approximately one-third indicated that it was a serious issue for them. The grade(s) they taught, the number of years they had been teaching, and the number of years they had been teaching at that school had no bearing on their perceptions of the seriousness of bullying in their classrooms..
Who are the bullies and victims in these teachers' classrooms? In what ways and where are students being bullied? Do students and teachers intervene? What do teachers think are the reasons some students bully others?
Most teachers indicated that one or two boys, and one or two girls in their classes were being bullied. The bullying most often took the form of teasing, ridicule, degrading, and rude gestures, followed by more physical actions (ie. hitting, kicking, pushing - often including teasing), intimidation and threats, and vandalizing or stealing property (see Table 6).
How Students were Bullied
Teasing, ridicule, 89.5% degrading, rude gestures
Social Isolation and 86.8% Exclusion from the Group
Hitting, kicking, pushing - 60.5% often including teasing
Intimidation, threats 50.0%
Vandalizing or 21.1% stealing property
The playground was the most common sight for bullying, followed closely by classrooms, hallways, and lunchrooms, all of which the majority of respondents agreed with (see Table 7). A minority indicated that bullying took place on the way to school, on the way from school, and in the washrooms.
Locations of Bullying
On the way to School 36.8%
On the way from School 34.2%
The majority of teachers indicated that a single boy or a group of boys were the most common bullies of students in their classes, followed by both boys and girls and a group of girls. It should be noted, however, that these percentages were fairly similar. This suggests that teachers rated boys as bullies more often than girls, but they not did not perceive the overwhelming majority of bullies to be boys as students did. Most bullies were thought to be in the same grade as their victims.
In terms of the perceived frequency of students' intervention in bullying, most teachers believed that students occasionally intervened at school, while the majority did not know if students intervened on the way to and from school. Teachers in general were rated as intervening much more frequently than students.
Teachers' responses were more varied when they were asked to indicate more precisely how many boys and girls in their class had bullied other students. In general, more boys were rated as bullies, with the most common response being that five or more boys were bullies, followed closely by one or two and three or four boys. Most teachers thought that one or two girls in their classes were bullies, followed by three or four girls. Almost 20% of teachers were unsure about the number of female bullies, possibly pointing to the traditionally more subtle verbal nature of girls' bullying. In terms of the victims of these bullies, teachers indicated that they were both boys and girls.
When teachers were asked to speculate as to the reasons for bullying, the overwhelming majority supported the notion that students bully their peers in order to feel powerful. Low self esteem was agreed upon as a factor by over half of the respondents, while seeking attention, "other", and jealousy were also cited as possible reasons. Reasons falling under "other" included factors within the bully, such as boredom, family problems, and difficulties in school. Group acceptance was also cited as a causal factor, along with variables within the victim (eg. poor dress and hygiene).
When asked what students could do to prevent bullying, teachers did not suggest students should deal with it on their own, but overwhelmingly endorsed the idea of telling classroom teachers and parents. Other ideas offered were telling friends, talking to the bully, "other" and lastly, fighting back. Almost no one indicated that students should do nothing. "Other" solutions offered generally involved dealing with the bully in a safe and reasonable manner.
In terms of the school's role, the majority of teachers supported the idea of talking about bullying, including having the teachers talk to students about the problem, and getting the bully and victim to talk to each other. Less frequently endorsed were other means of intervention, such as breaking up fights, punishing the bully, and "other." "Other" suggestions included making bullies take responsibility and accept reasonable consequences (not punishment), implementing more preventive and educational programs (eg. conflict resolution, peer mediation, coping skills), and involving parents.
Talking to their children and talking to their teacher or principal were supported by nearly all respondents when asked what parents can do to prevent bullying, with no one indicating that parents could do nothing to prevent bullying. "Other" suggestions offered were dealing with the problem if it is already happening, teaching children self-esteem, assertiveness, and respect for others to prevent bullying, and becoming more involved with the school.
Open-ended Questions on Bullying
In terms of their comments on bullying and gender, the majority of teachers had observed bullying in a manner comparable to the research, that is, boys were more physical and overt, while girls used more verbal and indirect means of bullying. A smaller percentage of teachers indicated that there were as many female bullies as male bullies and that they bullied in the same ways. Several even commented that there were more female bullies! While the majority of teachers described the expected profile of boys' and girls' bullying, these comments suggested that there were exceptions in how bullying was manifested, according to school, grade, and even classroom.
The final open-ended question solicited any other ideas the teachers had about bullying, including its intervention. The wealth of information and range of ideas was quite large, with many categories emerging and no one idea predominating. Some responses cited the role of parents as both models that may influence a child to bully, and key figures whose support is needed if bullying is to be dealt with when it does happen. Other ideas pinpointed the role of internal factors within both the bully which need to be addressed, such as low self esteem, the need to feel in control, frustration, and low tolerance of differences. Similarly, factors within the victim were also highlighted, including self esteem, fear and hesitancy, and poor social relationships.
Another portion of responses focused on the role of the school, citing factors such as the need for more trained personnel, stricter rules, and increased supervision by teachers. Other ideas concerned dealing with the bullying behaviour that does occur through zero tolerance, making the bullies accountable, and reasoning with bullies about their actions. The causal influence of groups and peer pressure in bullying, and media and television as models of aggression were mentioned by a smaller groups of respondents.
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Overall, the results of the present study offer a profile of bullying that is quite similar to the international research in this area. Indeed, bullying appears to be a phenomenon that manifests itself more similarly than dissimilarly around the world, which in turn seems indicative of the similarity of elementary school-age students globally. In schools, there will probably always be a group of students who wield a power advantage and a group of students over whom they wield it regularly. The rest of the students are somewhere in between. Several of the students in the present study demonstrated an awareness of this likelihood through comments such as, "because no matter what you do there is always going to be bullying" and "no one could ever get away from it." This analogy can be applied readily to other settings where the systematic abuse of power by one or more people can happen.
Despite the inevitability of some degree of bullying, intervention is still important in the context of schools, as these patterns of interaction may not be as firmly entrenched among young people. Teachers offered many suggestions for intervention in school bullying, but any intervention plan is going to be affected by practical considerations such as funding and personnel. Even on an individual level, for every bully who is dealt with early on and learns a more empathic and respectful way of interacting with fellow students, there will likely be one or more victims who will be less afraid and unhappy in school as a result.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
Future research in this area could include more qualitative examination of students' perceptions and experiences of bullying. As was evidenced by responses to the open-ended items in the Peer Relations Questionnaire, students' descriptions of their experiences using their own words provided very rich and valuable material that was not captured by multiple choice type questions. Although it was suggested that a qualitative component be included as part of the present research, this suggestion was not fully developed because of time limitations, given the large scale nature of the study as it stood. The literature on bullying generally includes large samples of students who are given a standard questionnaire, and this method was also adopted for the present study, but other approaches to understanding students' experiences would be a valuable contribution.
The literature on bullying includes several definitions of bullying, and it may be helpful for future researchers to come to a consensus on this matter. A single conceptualization of bullying would enhance the comparability of findings, and ensure that different researchers are measuring the same phenomenon. On a related note, while bullying is described as an ongoing and repeated experience, the instruments used to measure it allow respondents to describe bullying they have experienced only once. Thus, the credibility of the findings may be compromised, and inflated estimates of the prevalence of bullying may be obtained. Future research could focus on refining measures of bullying to ensure that what is being measured is, in fact, bullying.
While the present study included both student and teacher perspectives on bullying and was able to compare the two, it might be valuable to learn more about parents' perspectives on bullying. This appears to be an area relatively untapped in the literature. Future research could study parents alone, or compare their experiences with those of students or teachers to provide greater understanding of how parents view their children's experiences with bullying in school. In addition, given the dearth of articles located that examined teachers' perspectives on bullying, further research in this area appears warranted.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRACTICE
In order for bullying to be successfully intervened with in schools, there are measures that can be taken both before and after the fact. In this section, preventive approaches will be discussed first, followed by those steps that can be taken once bullying has happened.
An obvious starting point will be for school personnel to make the decision that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. While this may seem to be a 'given', some still perceive bullying to be a part of childhood that kids must work out for themselves, even though research tells us that this is not the case. Silence can imply acceptance, and when bullying is not talked about, it may not be clear to everyone that it is not allowed. Once a zero-tolerance policy has been established, it should be clearly communicated to all within the school. In addition, students should be made aware that there will be consequences for compromising other students' well-being and safety at school (Olweus, 1993).
Students themselves may be able to play a role in establishing these consequences for bullying. At the start of the school year, teachers could meet with their students to discuss exactly what bullying is. A number of activities may be used to used to enhance students' empathy and understanding of what it feels like to be bullied, such as stories, films, etc. Class discussion, including the establishment of consequences for bullying, could follow the presentation of these materials (Olweus, 1993). It also may be the case that when students know what it is like to be on the receiving end of bullying, they may think twice before treating another student that way.
Another intervention that may be helpful is educating school personnel about the typical victim profile - those students who are less assertive and confident, and thus vulnerable to being bullied by others. These students can be pinpointed, watched more closely, and helped in ways that are maximally beneficial and may improve their situation. Given that these are usually quieter students, they may be less apt to talk to teachers on their own initiative and therefore would benefit from having someone notice their circumstance and offering to help. It is important for all school personnel to be aware of what is going on in their schools, and keep an eye on students. If an incident is observed, one might want to monitor those students a little more closely to try to ascertain whether this incident was an isolated one, or in fact one episode in a long-term, unhealthy relationship. The assistance of other school personnel could be enlisted during times when the teacher may not be present, such as recess and lunch, for this purpose.
For school boards that have made intervention in bullying a priority, this study could be duplicated on some scale. While the present research employed a large random sample in an urban school board, it is still unclear how the present results would compare to small rural school districts, for example. Before any interventions are put in place, personnel may want to know the specific profile of bullying in their schools, to establish priorities and make use of their resources specifically where the needs have been demonstrated. There are several brief, practical questionnaires available in books about bullying (from the Education library at the University of Saskatchewan) that are geared specifically to use by teachers or others not trained in educational research or statistics. Readers are referred to the Reference list at the end of this report, and the authors of these books are as follows: Greenbaum, Turner, and Stephens, 1989: Sharp and Smith, 1994; Hoover and Oliver, 1996. It would not be overly time-consuming or demanding to administer any of these measures to a class of students, but valuable insight may be gained.
Intervening in Bullying
In an era of cutbacks, schools can be limited in terms of personnel, resources, and time to do all they might like to for students. However, there are a number of interventions that could be put in place to deal with bullying incidents that are reasonable given these circumstances.
It may be helpful for teachers to have on hand a step-by-step description of the procedures to be followed when they become aware of incidents of bullying (Olweus, 1993). It may be the case that teachers do not know how best to proceed in these situations, for example, how to approach the students involved, or when to include the parents, principal, or other service providers such as counsellors. If school personnel can collaborate on the development of such a document, there is the assurance that everyone knows what to do and is following the same agreed-upon procedures.
When incidents arise, it is recommended that the alleged victim be talked to alone, for placing this student in a room with the bully may not be conducive to that student telling his/her story. If the student's story warrants, there should be school meetings with any combination of teachers, administrators, the students involved, and the parents to deal with the situation. Through the course of such meetings, information from multiple perspectives can be shared, and all parties can have a say in what they think is appropriate and reasonable. Hopefully, this will happen early enough that the established patterns of interaction are more easily changed. These situations do not always go away on their own, and hence call for such measures.
Interventions that could be pursued include those suggested by the teachers in the present sample.. It should be reiterated at this point that no teacher indicated that there was nothing they could do to intervene in bullying. Furthermore, teachers offered numerous suggestions on how to deal with this issue, and it is assumed that teachers offered ideas they had either tried or believed could work based on their years of experience. These suggestions could be followed up on, or suggestions could be solicited from the teachers in a given school district that is exploring how to deal with bullying.
Readers looking for more detailed information on intervention are referred to the reference section of this monograph and the writings of Dan Olweus, in particular his 1993 book Bullying - What we know and what we can do. Olweus has developed a detailed intervention program, and some of his ideas were included in this report as cited.
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PEER RELATIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (PRQ)
This questionnaire is intended to obtain your views on how students treat each other at this school.
When you answer the questions, remember that this is an anonymous questionnaire. You are not being asked to put your name on it. You are free to answer as you wish. Nobody will know who has answered each questionnaire.
But we would like you to answer all the questions and to do so carefully and honestly, as the information you give could be helpful to you, other students and the school.
For the most part, you will be asked simply to circle answers which you agree with.
Here is an example:
Do you enjoy coming to school? (Circle one of the letters)
I always do A
I usually do B
About half the time C
I usually don't D
I never do E
In this example B has been circled by a student who usually (but not always) likes coming to school. A person who never liked coming to school would circle E.
Now begin the questionnaire and do not leave any questions unanswered.
The questionnaire was prepared by
Drs. Ken Rigby and Phillip Slee from
the Universities of South Australia
and Flinders respectively.
1. What is the name of this school?
2. Are you male or female (Circle A or B)
Male A Female B
3. How old are you now? years
4. What grade are you in?
1. Now look at these pictures and circle the letter under the face which is most like you when you are at school.
A B C D E F G
2. How many good friends do you have in your class? (Circle a letter)
None at all A
I have one good friend in my class B
I have two or three good friends C
I have many good friends in my class D
3. How popular or well-liked are you by other students in your class? (Circle a letter)
I am more popular than most students A
I am about as popular as most B
I am less popular than most of them C
1. Sometimes a stronger person or group of students will deliberately pick on someone weaker than themselves, and give that person a bad time . How often would you say this happens at this school? (Circle a letter)
2. We call it Bullying when someone is deliberately and repeatedly hurting or frightening someone weaker than themselves for no good reason. This may be done in different ways: by hurtful teasing, threatening actions or gestures, name-calling or hitting or kicking.
Have you noticed bullying going on in this school in any of these places? (Circle the word giving your answer for each place)
Place: Your answer:
In the classroom Never Sometimes Often
At recess/lunch Never Sometimes Often
On the way to school Never Sometimes Often
On the way from school Never Sometimes Often
3. In your view, is this school a safe place for young people who find it hard to defend themselves from attack from other students? (Circle a letter)
Yes, it is a safe place for them A
It is usually safe for them B
It is hardly ever safe for them C
It is never safe for them D
4. Do you think that teachers at this school are interested in trying to stop bullying? (Circle a letter)
Not really A
Only sometimes B
Usually they are C
They always are D
1. Have you ever been bullied by any student this year at school? (Circle a letter)
Yes, only once B
Yes, a few times C
Yes, lots of times D
*** If answer is 'No' to this question, go to section F on page 7 (the yellow page) and do not answer any more questions in section D or in section E.
2. Did any of these things happen to you while you were being bullied this year? (Circle your answer in each case)
Being teased in an Never Sometimes Often
Being called hurtful names Never Sometimes Often
Being left out of things Never Sometimes Often
Being threatened with harm Never Sometimes Often
Being hit or kicked Never Sometimes Often
Add any other things below to describe what happened to you when you were bullied.
3. Bullying is sometimes done by an individual person, sometimes by a group. Looking back over your life at school this year (since September), were you ever bullied by: (Circle a letter in each case)
Another student yes, yes, no, often sometimes never
A B C
A group of students yes, yes, no,
often sometimes never A B C
4. In the case of an individual bully, was the student doing it: (Circle a letter)
Always a boy A
Always a girl B
Sometimes a boy, sometimes a girl C
I have only been bullied by a group of students D
5. Now we would like you to make another estimate of how often you have been bullied by other students at school this year, this time on a daily or weekly basis.
Remember that it is not bullying when two young people of about the same strength have the odd fight or quarrel.
Bullying is when a stronger person deliberately and repeatedly hurts someone who is weaker.
How often this year have you been bullied by another student or group of students? (Circle a letter)
Every Most One or two About once Less than
day days days a week a week once a week
A B C D E
6. How long have you been attending this school, counting this year? year(s)
7. Looking back over your time at this school what is the longest period over which you have been bullied by the same person or group? (Circle a letter)
For a day or two A
For a week or so B
For several weeks C
For months D
For a year E
For two years F
For more than two years G
8. After being bullied, how have you generally felt about it? (Circle a letter)
It hasn't really bothered me A
I've felt mostly angry about it B
I've felt mostly sad and miserable C
9. How have you felt about yourself after being bullied by someone? (Circle a letter)
I felt much the same afterwards A
I felt better about myself B
I felt worse about myself C
10. Have you ever stayed away from school because of bullying? (Circle a letter)
No, I've never thought of doing so A
No, but I've thought of doing so B
Yes, I have once or twice C
Yes, more than twice D
1. Have you ever told anyone you have been bullied? (Circle a letter)
2. Have you told any of the following about your being bullied? (Circle 'yes' or 'no' for each person)
Your mother Yes No
Your father Yes No
A teacher Yes No
A principal Yes No
A counsellor Yes No
A friend or friends Yes No
3. Did things generally improve after you told someone? (Circle a letter)
I never told anyone A
I told - and it got worse B
I told - and the situation didn't change C
I told - and things got better D
4. If you have been bullied and decided not to tell anyone, briefly say why you didn't.
5. If you were bullied every day by someone stronger than yourself, would you tell someone about it? (Circle a letter)
Definitely yes A
Don't know C
Definitely no E
1. How able are you to fight back and stop students of your own age from bullying you? (Circle a letter)
More able than most students A
About as able as most B
Less able than most C
2. How able are you to bully other children, if you wanted to do so? (Circle a letter)
More able than most students A
About as able as most B
Less able than most C
3. Have you ever felt like hurting or upsetting another student? (Circle a letter)
No, never A
Yes, sometimes B
Yes, often C
4. Do you think you could join in bullying a young person whom you don't like? (Circle a letter)
Yes, maybe B
I don't know C
No, I don't think so D
Definitely no F
5. How often have you been part of a group that bullied someone this year? (Circle a letter)
I haven't been part of any group bullying this year A
It has happened once or twice B
About once a week D
Several times a week E
6. How often have you, on your own, bullied another person this year? (Circle a letter)
I haven't, on my own, bullied anyone this year A
It has happened once or twice B
About once a week D
Several times a week E
7. There are various reasons people give for bullying others. What reasons do you think you would give for bullying someone, if you did it? (Circle 'yes' or 'no' for each reason)
For fun Yes No
Because they annoyed you Yes No
Because they were wimps Yes No
To get things or money from them Yes No
To show how tough you are Yes No
Because others were doing it Yes No
To get even Yes No
Mention any other reason you might have for bullying someone.
1. Do you think that teachers and students should be concerned about stopping bullying in this school? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
2. Do you think that teachers should try to stop it? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
3. Do you think that students themselves should help to stop it? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
4. Do you personally try to stop it when you see it happening? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
5. Do you think that students and teachers should work together to stop bullying? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
6. Do you think you could use some help from somebody to stop you from being bullied? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
7. Would you be interested in talking about the problem of bullying at school with other students to see what can be done about stopping it? (Circle a letter)
Don't know B
* Now please look over your answers, and make sure you have not missed any questions out. Then write today's date in the space below.
Thank you for completing this questionnaire.
Your help is very much appreciated.
* If you are being bullied by other students at school, please talk about it with your parent(s)/guardian(s) or teacher.
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The Nature and Prevalence of Bullying in Schools
Research indicates that bullying in schools (defined as repeated and unprovoked negative actions inflicted by one or more students upon another) is a widespread problem that can have serious short-term and long-term consequences for students. The present study is a descriptive one, aimed at gathering information about children's experiences of bullying in school, both as a bully and as a victim of bullying. One component of this research is learning about teachers' perspectives on bullying in their classroom. A brief survey follows, which deals with how you see bullying as related to your classroom. In order to have a consistent reference for issues around bullying, please bear in mind your class this year as you answer these questions. To ensure anonymity, please do not record your name or school anywhere on the instrument.
A. Teacher Information
1) What grade(s) do you teach? (check one)
5 8 6/7
6 4/5 7/8
2) How many years have you been teaching? years
3) How many years have you been teaching at this school?
B. Bullying in your Classroom
4) Do you think bullying is a serious problem in your classroom? (check one)
* If your answer is yes, please go to question 5 on the next page (page 2).
* If your answer is no, please go to question 14 - section C (page 3), and do not answer any more questions in section B.
5) How many students in your class have been bullied at least once a week in school this term? (check one for each category)
5 or more 5 or more
Don't know Don't know
6) In what ways are the students in your class bullied? (check as many as apply)
Social isolation and exclusion from the group
Teasing, ridicule, degrading, rude gestures
Vandalizing or stealing property
Hitting, kicking, pushing - often including teasing
Other (please specify)
7) Where are these students bullied? (check as many as apply)
Hallways On the way to school
Classrooms On the way from school
8) A. Who are these students bullied by? (check as many as apply)
A boy A group of girls
A group of boys Both boys and girls
A girl Don't know
B. What grade/class are these bullies in? (check as many as apply)
In the same class In a younger grade
Same grade, another class Don't know
In an older grade
9) How often do other students try to stop the bullying? (check one for each category)
At school: To and from school:
Almost never Almost never
Don't know Don't know
10) How often do teachers intervene in bullying? (check one)
Always Often/Almost always
Occasionally Almost never
11) How many students in your class have BULLIED other students? (check one for each category)
5 or more 5 or more
Don't know Don't know
12) A. Who are these students in your class bullying? (check as many as apply)
A boy A group of girls
A group of boys Both boys and girls
A girl Don't know
B. In what grade/class are the students who are being bullied? (check as many as apply)
In the same class In a younger grade
Same grade, another class Don't know
In an older grade
13) Why do you think these students bully their peers? (check as many as apply)
Jealousy Don't know
Want attention Other (please specify)
To feel powerful
C. Preventing Bullying
14) What should students do to prevent being bullied? (check as many as apply)
Tell parents Nothing
Tell teachers Don't know
Tell friends Other (please specify)
Talk to bully
15) What can school personnel do to prevent bullying? (check as many as apply)
Talk to the students Get bully and victim to
Break up fights talk to each other
Punish bullies Other (please specify)
16) What can parents do to prevent bullying? (check as many as apply)
Talk to their child about it Nothing
Talk to teacher or principal Don't know
Other (please specify)
D. General Information
* Please record your answers in the space below and, if necessary, on the reverse side of this page.
17) Are there gender differences that impact upon the prevalence and nature of bullying?
18) What other factors play a role in bullying and its intervention?
Thank you very much for completing this survey. (Questionnaire adapted from Ziegler and Rosenstein-Manner, 1991)
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