Students’ perceptions of the nature and prevalence of bullying and how the problem was being addressed were investigated in a convenience sample of 1688 students in years 5–10 attending Australian government schools. Comparisons were made between students who reported that they had been bullied during the previous 12 months and others. Rankings of the frequencies of the kinds of bullying perceived as occurring at the school were highly similar for the two groups. However, bullied students estimated significantly higher frequency of bullying. Further, bullied students were more inclined to view the social environment as less safe, bystanders to be less helpful, informing students after being bullied less frequent, classroom activities to address bullying less common and less helpful, and teachers less committed to help. In general, students perceived more students being bullied at their school than was indicated in reports of their experiences. The implications of these findings for addressing bullying in schools are discussed.
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This article is based upon research funded by the Australian Department of Education and Training and undertaken through the School of Education at the University of South Australia.
Appendix 1: Items employed to assess the prevalence of nine kinds of bullying
Ignored, left out on purpose or not allowed to join in.
Hit, kicked or pushed around.
Lies or nasty stories told to make other kids not like them.
Made afraid of getting hurt.
Made fun of and teased in a mean and hurtful way.
Sent harassing texts or emails.
Cruel things said online or on social networks such as Facebook.
Sexual harassment by another student.
Harassing students because of their race.
The response categories were: never, sometimes, quite often and very often.
Appendix 2: Items employed to assess teachers’ actions to counter bullying
Here is a list of things that teachers may do in class at your school. Please indicate what is true at your school. Response categories: never, sometimes, often.
Then say how helpful it is in stopping bullying at your school. Response categories: Not at all, A bit helpful, helpful, very helpful.
Teachers encourage us to respect one another.
Teachers expect us to include other kids who are different from ourselves.
Teachers discuss with us how we can help students who are having a hard time.
Teachers explain how we should behave towards others when we are using cyber technology, such as when texting or sending online messages to other students.
Teachers ask us to work with other students to solve problems.
Teachers teach us how to keep safe online.
Teachers talk with us about what we can do if we see someone being bullied.
Teachers help us to understand how people might feel when bad things happen to them.
Teachers make time for us to talk to each other in a group about things that interest us and any problems we have at school.
Teachers suggest ways in which arguments can be settled peacefully.
Teachers advise us on what to do if we are bullied by someone.
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Rigby, K. Bullying in Australian schools: the perceptions of victims and other students. Soc Psychol Educ 20, 589–600 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-017-9372-3
- Australian schools
- Social perception