What is Bullying?
Bullying can be defined as repeated systematic physical or verbal aggression that is instigated by another individual or group, and can be characterized by an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying is a growing problem that affects many children in schools throughout the country and has been associated with a range of physical and mental health symptoms (Nansel et al. 2001).
Bullying behavior can include:
- Repeated physical violence, such as hitting and kicking
- Verbal abuse, such as name calling or taunting
- Indirect, or relational aggression, involving spreading of rumors, social isolation, or exclusion
- Use of technology including computers, cell phones, and social networking sites (Beale & Scott, 2001; Meyer-Adams & Connor, 2008; Smokowski & Kopasz, 2005).
Preventive Intervention for Targets of School-Based Bullying
We have developed two curricula for groups of students who have been victimized by bullies which are designed to promote effective coping strategies and to prevent negative outcomes associated with victimization. Preliminary data suggest that this is an effective intervention.
Individualized Counseling for Bullies
The Center has developed an individually administered counseling intervention directed to students identified as school-based bullies. This intervention included an ecological participatory approach that included input from parents, teachers, counselors, and the target students at multiple stages of the intervention. Initial results suggest that this intervention has been effective.
Interviews of Students, Educators, and Other Professionals
We have led focused group interviews with students who were identified as victims of bullying (n = 102), as well as individual interviews with students of varying bullying/victim status (n = 30). Individual interviews were conducted with high school students to gain information and insight into cyberbullying (n = 40). Additionally, we completed individual interviews with teachers (n = 30) and a range of other educators to examine educators’ thoughts regarding bullying. These interviews helped to obtain perceptions of bullying, its causes, and potential school-based interventions as well as information about cyber-bullying. This has resulted in a systematic approach to interviewing that we are seeking to use to increase knowledge about bullying in a range of educational and community settings.
Our research team has developed several surveys to learn about bullying and victimization, to learn about cyber-bullying, measure students’ perceptions of self-efficacy for coping with bullying, and measure coping frequency and effectiveness, which we use to develop knowledge about bullying and to evaluate intervention efforts.