Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 943–955 | Cite as

A Longitudinal Multilevel Study of Individual Characteristics and Classroom Norms in Explaining Bullying Behaviors

  • Miranda SentseEmail author
  • René Veenstra
  • Noona Kiuru
  • Christina Salmivalli


This three-wave longitudinal study was set out to examine the interplay between individual characteristics (social standing in the classroom) and descriptive and injunctive classroom norms (behavior and attitudes, respectively) in explaining subsequent bullying behavior, defined as initiating, assisting, or reinforcing bullying. The target sample contained fourth- to sixth-grade students (n = 2,051) who attended the control schools in the Finnish evaluation of the KiVa antibullying program. Random slope multilevel analyses revealed that, over time, higher popularity or rejection, or lower acceptance were associated with increases in bullying behaviors, especially in classrooms with a high descriptive bullying norm. In contrast, the injunctive norm did not moderate the associations between social standing and engagement in bullying, except for children high on popularity. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.


Bullying Bystander behavior Multilevel analyses Longitudinal Classroom norms 



This research was funded by the Academy of Finland project Bullying Networks across School Classes (project 255584 awarded to Christina Salmivalli) as part of the European Collaborative Research Project ‘Social Influence in Dynamic Networks’.

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miranda Sentse
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • René Veenstra
    • 3
  • Noona Kiuru
    • 4
  • Christina Salmivalli
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Pedagogical SciencesErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenthe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  5. 5.Edith Cowan UniversityPerthAustralia

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