Young people can help prevent bullying

5 May 2014

Media Release: University of Auckland

Young people have an important role in bullying prevention in schools, according to research from the University of Auckland.

Bullying rates were lower at schools where students take action against bullying, says study leader, Associate Professor Simon Denny.

“Bullying usually takes place in social settings; it’s not just about the bully and the victim as there are often bystanders who can take action to stop the bullying. Our findings suggest that encouraging students to take action to stop bullying of their peers may decrease the prevalence of bullying in schools,” says Dr Denny.

“This requires leadership and support from teachers alongside interventions that develop young people’s empathy, problem solving skills and support positive relationships between peers.”

The study investigated bystander intervention, bullying and victimisation in New Zealand high schools and the results were recently published in the international ‘Journal of School Violence’.

Researchers examined the association between schools and student bullying behaviours and victimisation among a national sample of more than 9000 New Zealand high school students.

The study sought to explore the role of school characteristics and culture with respect to bystander behaviour, (while controlling for individual student factors related to victimisation and bullying behaviours).

“Results indicated that six per cent of students report being bullied weekly or more often, and five per cent of students reported bullying other students at least weekly,” says Dr Denny. “The schools where students take action to stop bullying had less victimisation and less reported bullying among students.”

In contrast, in schools where students reported teachers taking action to stop bullying, there was no decline in victimisation or bullying.

“Overall these findings support whole school approaches that aid students to take action to stop bullying,” says Dr Denny.

It was also found that structural aspects of schools, such as size, type and socio-economic composition were not significant in the reported rates of bullying.

In terms of students bullying others, school type was found to play a small, but significant role with state and integrated schools, reporting lower rates of students bullying others, compared to private schools.

ENDS

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