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Bullying: What We Know Now Stephen Erath, Ph.D. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University.

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Presentation on theme: "Bullying: What We Know Now Stephen Erath, Ph.D. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bullying: What We Know Now Stephen Erath, Ph.D. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University

2 Bullying: What we know now Description and prevalence of bullying Correlates of bullying and victimization Coping with peer victimization Why children bully Evidence-based intervention programs What parents can do

3 What is bullying? A subset of aggression intended to harm, and characterized by repetition and imbalance of power Types of aggression Verbal (say mean things or make fun) Relational (ignore, exclude, lies, rumors) Physical (hit, push, kick, shove) Electronic (humiliate with computer/cell phone) Types of power imbalance Physical, social, emotional

4 Prevalence of bullying Often victimized: 10% Often bully: 10% Both: 5% Varies by context Peaks around middle school Boys slightly more involved than girls Occurs around peers, not adults

5 Correlates of peer victimization Predictors Disliked by peers, few friends Withdrawn, anxious, easily upset, submissive or reactively aggressive Different (behaviors, interests, appearance) Possible outcomes Loneliness, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, suicidal ideation School avoidance, poor academic performance

6 Coping with peer victimization Worse Aggressive/retaliatory strategies Submissive/emotionally reactive strategies Better Behavior change Ignoring/nonchalance Seeking social support and advice

7 Correlates of bullying Predictors Bullying: Proactive aggression, status concerns, social-cognitive biases, social intelligence? Involvement in bullying and victimization: Reactive aggression, poor social skills, internalizing problems, disliked by peers Possible outcomes Depression, academic problems, delinquent behavior

8 Why do children bully? Individual model: children involved in bullying and victimization exhibit skill deficits or differences that set the stage for bullying Social skills training can remediate social skill deficits Evidence for reductions in bullying and victimization is mixed

9 Why do children bully? Peer group/ behavioral reinforcement model: bullying is met with more rewards than negative consequences Consequences Adult intervention Rewards Responses of victimized children Peer group reinforcement

10 Participant roles (Salmivalli, 1999) Victimized ( 12%) Bullying (8%) Assistants (7%) – join bullying Reinforcers (20%) – encourage bullying Onlookers (24%) – watch bullying Defenders (17%) – try to stop bullying No clear role (13%)

11 Defending Peers (and adults) defend in only about 10-30% of bullying incidents, despite... Prevailing views against bullying Effectiveness of defending Social status of defenders

12 Why is defending uncommon? (Salmivalli, 2010) Diffusion of responsibility Pluralistic ignorance Brief/mild appearance of some bullying incidents Fear of children who bully Negative perceptions of children who are victimized

13 Exemplary Programs (Kärnä et al., 2010) KiVa (against bullying) program Decrease in assisting and reinforcing 30% reduction in self-reported victimization 17% reduction in self-reported bullying Some key features of KiVa Raise awareness of participant roles Increase empathy toward victimized children Promote strategies for supporting victimized children Prosocial, high-status peers help lead defending efforts

14 Exemplary Programs (Olweus et al., 1999) Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Up to 50% reduction in bullying and victimization School level components Raise awareness among students and teachers Broad-based participation Increased adult supervision Classroom level components Classroom rules Parent involvement Individual level components Talks with children involved in bullying/victimization Consistent rewards and consequences

15 Summary of evidence Meta-analyses School-based programs tend to produce modest positive effects on bullying and victimization Programs are more likely to influence knowledge and attitudes than bullying behaviors Review of 48 studies (Craig et al., 2010) 48% resulted in reductions in bullying 33% resulted in reductions in victimization

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17 Evidence-based practices Remediate social-emotional skills deficits Raise awareness of bullying and understanding of participant roles Increase adult monitoring Provide training and reinforcement for prosocial, anti-bullying behavior Provide consistent consequences for bullying behavior Comprehensive, including all school staff, students, and parents Sustained, lasting years rather than days or months Evaluated, including implementation and effects

18 What can parents do? (Kazdin & Rotella, 2009) Open lines of communication, provide support Problem-solve Identify the problem as specifically as possible Generate a range of solutions Discuss the pros and cons of various solutions Make a plan to implement Encourage broader efforts

19 References Craig, W. M., Pepler, D. J., Murphy, A., McCuaig-Edge, H. (2010). What works in prevention? In E. M. Vernberg & B. K. Biggs (Eds.), Preventing and treating bullying and victimization (pp ). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Hawker, D. S. J., & Boulton, M. J. (2000). Twenty years’ research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: A meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D. J., & Craig, W. M. (2001). Naturalistic observations of peer interventions in bullying. Social Development, 10, Hodges, E. V. E., Boivin, M., Vitaro, F., & Bukowski, W. (1999). The power of friendship: Protection against an escalating cycle of peer victimization. Developmental Psychology, 35, Kärnä, A., Voeten, M., Little, T., Poskiparta, E., Kaljonen, A., & Salmivalli, C. (in press). A large-scale evaluation of the KiVa anti-bullying program. Child Development. Kazdin, A. E., & Rotella, C. (2009). Bullies: They can be stopped, but it takes a village. Slate, Available online, Kochenderfer, B. J., & Ladd, G. W. (1997). Victimized children’s responses to peers’ aggression: Behaviors associated with reduced versus continued victimization. Development and Psychopathology, 9,

20 References Merrell, K., Gueldner, B. A., Ross, S. W., Isava, D. M. (2008). How effective are school anti-bullying programs? A meta-analysis of intervention research. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, Olweus, D., Limber, S. & Mihalic, S.F. (1999). Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Book Nine: Bullying Prevention Program. Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. See also: Nansel, T. R., Overbeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simon-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, Nishina, A., & Juvonen, J. (2005). Daily Reports of Witnessing and Experiencing Peer Harassment in Middle School. Child Development, 76, Salmivalli, C. (1999). Participant role approach to school bullying: Implications for interventions. Journal of Adolescence, 22, Salmivalli, C. (2010). Bullying and the peer group: A review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15, Smith, J. D., Schneider, B. H., Smith, P. K., Ananiadou, K. (2004). The effectiveness of whole-school anti-bullying programs: A synthesis of evaluation research. School Psychology Review, 33,


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