Bullying in schools: What can we glean from self-concept theory?

Year: 2005

Author: Parada, Robert, Marsh, Herb, Craven, Rhonda, Papworth, Brad

Type of paper: Refereed paper

There is a growing recognition that bullying, violence, aggression, victimisation, and peer-relation difficulties in schools are pervasive problems with long-term psychosocial consequences for bullies, victims, other classmates, and communities. Bullying is linked to: diminished school performance, poor mental health, delinquent behaviour and future criminality (e.g., Marsh, Parada, Craven & Finger, 2004; Nansel, et al., 2001; Olweus, 1993; 1997; Pellegrini, 2004; Rigby, 1996; Rigby & Slee, 1993; Smith & Sharp, 1994; Sullivan, 2000). Bullying also impacts upon schools and communities, leading to: unsafe schools; alienation from the school community; distrust amongst students; formation of formal and informal gangs as a means either to instigate bullying or gain protection from being bullied, low staff morale, higher occupational stress; and a poor educational climate. The present paper presents the results of a comprehensive study examining the relation of multiple dimensions of bullying and victimisation as measured by the Adolescent Peer Relations Instrument: Bully/Target (Parada, 2002) to multiple dimensions of self-concept as measured by the Self-Description Questionnaire - Short (SDQ II - S) (Marsh, Ellis, Parada et al., 2005). A 3500 high school students in NSW, Australia were assessed in relation to these constructs at three time points during one school year. Results presented include: cross-sectional analysis of the relation between bullying and self-concept; and longitudinal structural equation models of this relation over time. Implications based on the findings for intervention are also discussed.