Date of this Version
Bieber, Kristin E. (2013). Do students understand what researchers mean by bullying? PhD dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.
The definition of bullying most often used by researchers incorporates three key elements: repetition, intent to harm, and a power imbalance (Olweus, 2010). Past studies have found that students may not understand how this definition of bullying is different from general peer aggression, and that they may report their involvement in instances of aggression that occur only once, or happen among individuals of equal power, when they are asked about their involvement in bullying (Monks & Smith, 2006).
This dissertation examined: a) grade differences in students’ abilities to accurately apply the definition of bullying when determining if a behavior is or is not bullying; (b) differences in students’ accurate identification of bullying as a result of grade, gender, and type of bullying; and (c) the relationship between students’ accurate identification of bullying and their self-reported status as a victim of bullying. Participants included 112 second through eighth grade students in a small, mid-western city. Data collected included students’ self-reported involvement in bullying and their accurate identification of bullying in cartoon scenarios. Cartoon scenarios depicted children engaged in aggressive behaviors that varied the presence of repetition, power imbalance, and intent to harm. Within-subjects, repeated measures analysis of variance and t-tests were used to examine relations between grade, gender, and type of bullying and students’ accurate identification of bullying. Pearson correlations were conducted to examine the relationship between accurate identification of bullying and frequency of victimization. Results showed that older students were significantly more accurate than younger students in identifying bullying when both repetition and power imbalance were present. There were no significant differences in students’ accurate identification of cartoon scenarios that did not depict both repetition and power imbalance as not bullying as a result of student grade, gender, and type of bullying. Results also showed a significant, negative correlation between students’ accurate identification of bullying and reported frequency of victimization. Future research and implications for practice are discussed.
Advisor: Beth Doll