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# The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention

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## Abstract

Research has shown a negative association between positive school climate and bullying behavior. This article reviews research on school climate and bullying behavior and proposes that an unhealthy and unsupportive school climate (e.g., negative relationship between teachers and students, positive attitudes towards bullying) provides a social context that allows bullying behavior to occur. We provide information on how to evaluate the school climate and intervene to promote a more positive school climate and to reduce bullying behavior. Although there has been an increased interest among school personnel, parents, and students to reduce bullying behavior, the issue of how to assess the myriad of factors that may cause and maintain bullying behaviors, and to select evidence-based prevention and intervention programs, remains a challenge for many educators. This article seeks to address these two issues by highlighting the importance of school climate in bullying prevention and reviewing some school climate evaluations and intervention programs.
On: 28 August 2015, At: 18:32
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Theory Into Practice
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The Critical Role of School Climate in
Effective Bullying Prevention
Cixin Wang a , Brandi Berry b & Susan M. Swearer c
a University of California Riverside
Published online: 04 Oct 2013.
To cite this article: Cixin Wang , Brandi Berry & Susan M. Swearer (2013) The Critical Role
of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention, Theory Into Practice, 52:4, 296-302, DOI:
10.1080/00405841.2013.829735
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Theory Into Practice, 52:296–302, 2013
Copyright © The College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University
ISSN: 0040-5841 print/1543-0421 online
DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2013.829735
Cixin Wang
Brandi Berry
Susan M. Swearer
The Critical Role of School Climate
in Effective Bullying Prevention
Research has shown a negative association be-
tween positive school climate and bullying be-
climate and bullying behavior and proposes that
an unhealthy and unsupportive school climate
(e.g., negative relationship between teachers and
students, positive attitudes towards bullying) pro-
vides a social context that allows bullying be-
havior to occur. We provide information on how
to evaluate the school climate and intervene to
promote a more positive school climate and to re-
duce bullying behavior. Although there has been
an increased interest among school personnel,
Cixin Wang is an assistant professor at the University
of California Riverside; Brandi Berry is a doctoral
candidate at the University of Nebraska; Susan M.
Swearer is a professor at the University of Nebraska
Lincoln.
Correspondence should be addressed to Susan
M. Swearer, 40 Teachers College Hall, Department
of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska–
Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0345. E-mail: sswearer@
unl.edu.
parents, and students to reduce bullying behavior,
the issue of how to assess the myriad of factors
that may cause and maintain bullying behav-
iors, and to select evidence-based prevention and
intervention programs, remains a challenge for
these two issues by highlighting the importance
of school climate in bullying prevention and
reviewing some school climate evaluations and
intervention programs.
Relationship Between Bullying and
School Climate
ALTHO UG H T HE RE HA S B EE N an increased
interest in studying school climate, its def-
inition is still murky among researchers and
educators. Among the researchers who deﬁned
school climate in their studies, Emmons’s (1993)
deﬁnition of school climate as “the quality and
frequency of interactions among and between
296
Wang, Berry, Swearer The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention
beater, Emmons, & Blatt, 1997, p. 77) has been
accepted as an important component of school
climate. Similarly, the National School Climate
Council (NSCC, 2012) referred to school climate
as “the quality and character of school life”
and “is based on patterns of students’, parents’,
and school personnel’s experience of school life
and reﬂects norms, goals, values, interpersonal
relationships, teaching and learning practices,
and organizational structures” (How do we deﬁne
school climate section, para. 1). How to measure
school climate is also unclear. Researchers have
identiﬁed multiple dimensions of school climate,
such as school organizational structure and ex-
ternal environment (e.g., class and school size,
utilization of resources, and physical surround-
ings), social milieu (background characteristics
of the students, teachers, and staff, and physical
location of the school), cultural variables (e.g.,
beliefs, values, attitudes, rules, and whether staff
are caring, supportive, and fair), and relationships
we deﬁne school climate as the milieu created
by interactions among and between adults and
students and individuals’ beliefs and attitudes
of bullying). Using this deﬁnition, we discuss the
links between bullying prevention programs and
the aforementioned elements of school climate
(e.g., relationship, beliefs, and attitudes) and
speciﬁc programs to improve school climate and
prevent bullying.
Two social theories can be used to conceptual-
ize the relationship between bullying and school
climate. Social disorganization theory (Shaw &
McKay, 1942) suggests that youths acquire delin-
quent behaviors (e.g., bullying) because the eco-
nomic difﬁculties and social environment limit
the community’s (e.g., parents’, school’s) ability
to control or supervise adolescent behavior (Es-
pelage & Swearer, 2009). Social control theory
(Hirschi, 1969) suggests that “delinquent acts
occur when an individual’s bond to society is
weak or broken” (p. 16), meaning that weak
bonds with important people and institutions in
adolescents’ lives put them at-risk for engaging in
delinquent behaviors (Friedman & Rosenbaum,
1998). According to these theories, bullying be-
haviors are discouraged when social organization
and control are present in a school. Thus, these
theories support the need to improve school
climate in order to effectively prevent bullying
behaviors.
Research has shown that students are more
likely to participate in bullying when the school
climate is unhealthy. For example, when students
perceive their school environment as high in
conﬂict, unfair, unfriendly, and nonsupportive
(Gendron, Williams, & Guerra, 2011) and when
positive attitudes supporting aggression and bul-
lying become the norm at school (Unnever &
Cornell, 2003). On the other hand, students are
more likely to have a positive attitude toward
help-seeking behavior for bullying when they
perceive the school staff and teachers as support-
ive and caring (Eliot, Cornell, Gregory, & Fan,
2010). It is likely that when students perceive
their school as unfriendly and nonsupportive,
their bond to school is weak or broken, and, as a
result, they are less likely to follow school rules
(e.g., rules against bullying). In addition, when
students perceive bullying behavior as normally
approved by peers and teachers, they tend to be-
lieve that school’s ability to control or supervise
their behavior is diminished, and they are more
likely to engage in bullying behavior and less
likely to engage in helpful bystanding behavior.
In general, these ﬁndings suggest that an un-
healthy school climate (e.g., negative relationship
between teachers and students, positive attitude
towards bullying) provides a social context that
allows bullying behavior to occur. Thus, it is
critical to evaluate school climate and, in cases in
which the school climate is negative, effectively
improve the school climate as an important strat-
egy to preventing bullying behaviors.
School Climate Evaluation
A key ﬁrst step toward improving school
climate is to assess the school climate (Cohen,
2006). Although many measures of school cli-
mate have been developed, only a few (e.g., The
Comprehensive School Climate Inventory, Co-
297
Emerging Issues in School Bullying Research and Prevention Science
hen, 2006; The ClassMaps Survey or CMS, Doll
& Spies, 2007) have proven to be scientiﬁcally
sound and seek to gain information from stu-
dents, staff members, and parents to yield a more
comprehensive picture of the school/classroom
climate.
The Comprehensive School Climate Inventory
(CSCI; Center for Social and Emotional Edu-
cation, 2003) assesses students’, parents’, and
school staff members’ perceptions of various as-
pects of school climate. Speciﬁcally, it measures
four constructs: safety (i.e., rules and norms,
sense of physical security, and sense of social-
emotional security), teaching and learning (i.e.,
support for learners and social and civic learn-
ing), interpersonal relationships (i.e., respect for
diversity, social support from adults, and social
support for students), and institutional environ-
ment (i.e., school connectedness/engagement and
physical surroundings; Haggerty, Elgin, & Wool-
ley, 2010). Additionally, school staff members
professional relationships. There are four ver-
sions of the student survey: lower elementary, up-
per elementary, middle, and high school versions.
All items are positively worded and students
answer each statement on a 5-point Likert scale
where 1 means strongly disagree and 5 means
strongly agree. The CSCI can be completed via
paper survey or online and results can be con-
solidated for school improvement purposes. The
CSCI has shown strong internal consistency and
good construct validity across the various stu-
dent, parent, and school personnel forms (Guo,
Choe, & Higgins-D’Alessandro, 2011).
The CMS (Doll & Spies, 2007) is an
assessment that queries students about teacher–
student relationships, peer friendships, peer
conﬂicts, worries about peer aggression, home–
self-determination, and behavioral self-control.
Together, these subscales yield a wealth of infor-
mation on students’ perceptions of the classroom
and are meant to shed light on classroom supports
for students’ autonomy and interpersonal
relationships (Doll, Spies, LeClair, Kurien, &
Foley, 2010). Each subscale contains ﬁve to eight
items with the full survey of 47 items. Students
respond to each item using a 4-point Likert scale
where 0 means never and 3 means always. The
CMS has been studied using samples of upper
elementary and middle school students, and has
been found to be psychometrically sound in
terms of factor structure, internal consistency,
and construct validity (Doll et al., 2010).
School Climate and
Bullying Interventions
To improve school climate, researchers have
suggested that it is important to incorporate inter-
ventions into the school curriculum, involve the
entire school community in the intervention, and
focus on building positive relationships among
everyone in the school community (Cohen &
Geier, 2010). For example, schools can improve
relationships by reducing school size, build-
ing smaller learning communities within larger
schools, and implementing schoolwide violence-
prevention programs (e.g., Cotton, 2001; Loukas,
2007). In addition, providing students with a
social, emotional, ethical, and academic educa-
tion, as well as safe, caring school environments,
helps to build a positive school climate (Cohen,
2006).
During the past 2 decades, several programs
have been developed to shift the school climate
from less supportive to warm/caring in an ef-
fort to decrease school bullying. Research has
shown some evidence for the following programs
in the United States: Bully Busters (Newman,
Horne, & Bartolomucci, 2000), Bully-Prooﬁng
Your School (BPYS; Garrity, Jens, Porter, Sager,
& Short-Camilli, 1994), Creating a Peaceful
School Learning Environment (CAPSLE; Fonagy
et al., 2009), Cooperative Learning Community
(CLC, Johnson & Johnson, 1981; 1991), Second
Step (Committee for Children, 2002), Shifting
Boundaries (Taylor, Stein, Woods, & Mumford,
2011), and Steps to Respect (Committee for
Children, 2001). Most of those programs (e.g.,
CAPSLE) theorize that all individuals within a
school, including teachers, students, and other
staff members, played a role in causing and/or
maintaining bullying behaviors (Fonagy et al.,
298
Wang, Berry, Swearer The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention
2009). Thus, by helping individuals to empathize
with others and involving all members of the
school community in changing the school cli-
mate, students are less prone to bullying and/or to
support bullying. The aforementioned programs
share similar common elements, including (a) de-
veloping a caring school climate by fostering
empathy and kindness among students; (b) pro-
moting students’ and staff’s awareness and
knowledge of bullying; (c) using consistent
language to enforce school wide rules and
consequence for bullying; (d) increasing su-
pervision; (e) providing training to promote
skills/competences for students (e.g., conﬂict
resolution, self-regulation, problem solving) and
teachers (e.g., how to handle bullying behavior);
(f) increasing adults’ role modeling of appropri-
ate and prosocial behavior; and (g) encouraging
bystanders to intervene in bullying situations.
Some programs also include a parent training
component and group work that can be tailored
to classwork. Those elements are consistent with
the important elements of bullying interventions
identiﬁed by Ttoﬁ and Farrington in their meta-
analysis study (2011), including parent train-
ing/meetings, playground supervision, intensity
and duration of the program for both children
and teachers, classroom management, teacher
training, classroom rules, whole-school policy,
school conferences, information for parents, and
cooperative group work.
Research has shown that these programs have
been successful in several key areas. First, several
programs decrease bullying and other aggressive
behaviors at school (Bully Busters, Newman-
Carlson & Horne, 2004; BPYS, Epstein, Plog,
& Porter, 2002; CAPSLE, Fonagy et al., 2009;
Second Step, Taub, 2001; Shifting Boundaries,
Taylor et al., 2011; Steps to Respect, Frey,
Hirschstein, Edstrom, & Snell, 2009). Second,
many of the programs promote positive school
climate (e.g., perception of school safety, de-
creased acceptance of bull ying, perceived respon-
sibility to intervene in bullying situations, and
positive teacher-student relationship) including
Bully Busters, Bell, Raczynski, & Horne, 2010;
BPYS, Menard, Grotpeter, Gianola, & O’Neal,
2008; CAPSLE, Twemlow, Fonagy, & Sacco,
2001; CLC, Johnson & Johnson, 1983; Second
Step, Cooke et al., 2007; Shifting Boundaries,
Taylor et al., 2011; Steps to Respect, Frey
et al., 2005). Finally, several programs address
students’ and teachers’ knowledge and skills
in handling bullying situations (Bully Busters,
Newman-Carlson & Horne, 2004; Second Step,
Cooke et al., 2007; Shifting Boundaries, Taylor
et al., 2011).
Following the Positive Behavior Interventions
and Supports (PBiS) framework, school person-
nel can create primary (schoolwide), secondary
(classroom or group level), and tertiary (indi-
vidual) systems of support to improve school
safety and prevent bullying behavior by mak-
ing bullying behaviors less effective, efﬁcient,
and relevant, and making prosocial behavior
more rewarding (Sugai, Horner, & Algozzine,
2011). Taking a prevention and responsive-
to-intervention approach, Sugai and colleagues
(2011) suggested that Tier I (primary level,
schoolwide prevention) programs should focus
on teaching and encouraging appropriate behav-
iors, positive social skills, and prosocial traits
among all students. Almost all students respond
to the Tier I supports, impacting close to 80% of a
typical student body. Tier II supports (secondary
level, small group prevention and intervention)
are directed toward the 15% of students who do
not respond to Tier I supports (possibly due to
other risk factors), such as more speciﬁc social
skills training, more adult supervision and posi-
tive attention, and speciﬁc behavioral feedback.
Tier III supports (tertiary, individual intervention)
are directed toward the approximate 5% of stu-
dents who do not respond to Tier I and Tier II
supports. Tier III supports include individualized
behavior intervention planning, mental health
supports, and other comprehensive, individual-
ized interventions. While implementing PBiS for
bullying prevention and school climate, it is
important for school personnel to collect data and
make decisions based on their data, implement
the program with high ﬁdelity, monitor the on-
going progress, and receive on-going training
and support from the school systems in order
to make the bullying prevention more effective
(Sugai et al., 2011).
299
Emerging Issues in School Bullying Research and Prevention Science
Summary
A positive school climate is necessary to ef-
fectively prevent bullying behaviors. Therefore, it
is critical that educators (a) understand what con-
stitutes a positive school climate, (b) use reliable
measures to evaluate school climates, and (c) use
effective prevention and intervention programs
to improve the climates in schools. Positive
relationships among students and teachers, and
negative attitudes toward inappropriate behavior
(e.g., bullying), are two key elements of a positive
school climate. In addition to evaluating school
climate and implementing evidence-based pre-
vention and intervention programs (such as the
ones mentioned above), a positive school com-
munity exists only when all the students, parents,
and school staff members work collaboratively to
improve school climate (Lodge & Frydenberg,
2005). To promote a positive relationship, teach-
ers and other adults (e.g., supportive staff, vol-
unteers) need to promote and model appropriate
attitudes and behaviors, such as caring, empathy,
and appropriate interactions among and between
teachers and students. To foster attitudes against
bullying, in addition to promoting knowledge
and awareness of bullying, teachers need to take
reports of any bullying incident seriously and
intervene consistently according to school wide
behavior.
Adult behavior is a critical foundation for
healthy school climate. Adults should refrain
from bullying students and other adults (i.e., col-
leagues, parents) at school (Graham & Bellmore,
2007). In addition, teachers also need to incorpo-
rate school climate interventions into the regular
curriculum and use teachable moments to openly
discuss difﬁcult topics (e.g., popularity, power,
social ostracism) related to bullying (Cohen &
Geier, 2010; Graham & Bellmore, 2007). Last but
not least, bullying is not only a behavior problem,
but also a mental health problem. Research has
shown that students involved in bullying expe-
rience more mental health difﬁculties (such as
depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation) and display
higher levels of cognitive distortions (Swearer,
Wang, Collins, Strawhun, & Fluke, in press).
Thus, it is important for educators to seek pro-
fessional help from psychologists, mental health
practitioners, and counselors for students who
are involved in bullying and experiencing mental
health difﬁculties.
Future Directions
Future research should rigorously examine the
relationship between school climate and bullying
behaviors, given that a positive school climate
may be a necessary, but not sufﬁcient, factor
for effective bullying prevention and intervention.
Other factors like positive leadership, healthy
teacher functioning, school-based mental health
programs, and effective home-school communi-
cation are all factors that contribute to a healthy
school climate. Therefore, future research should
include component studies where the different
elements of school climate and bullying preven-
tion and intervention programs are tested to better
understand which elements are robust and affect
positive, lasting change.
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... Parents, teachers and learners (victims and bullies) must be involved in the establishment and implementation of anti-bullying programmes. Preprofessional and continuing education is needed to improve teacher knowledge about classroom-based bullying prevention activities (Dake, Price, Telljohann, & Frank, 2003;Rapee et al., 2020), and the school climate can be improved by incorporating interventions into the school curriculum, involving the entire school community, and focusing on building positive relationships (Wang, Barry, & Swearer, 2013;Tzani-Pepelasi et al., 2019). Veenstra et al. (2014) conducted a study in Finnish and Swedish schools which revealed that teachers (4%) intervened in bullying incidents on the playground, and classroom (18%) and the discrepancy may be because teachers were not visible. ...
... Reinforcement of rules and regulations is important, but not all learners comply with the school rules. The findings are in line with Farrington and Ttofi (2009) and Wang et al. (2013), where whole school policy was the most used strategy in minimising the incidence of bullying. Kalman (2010) and Tzani-Pepelasi et al. (2019) found that helping a bully minimise bullying behaviour helps both the bully and the victim. ...
... Holding regular discussions was an effective method to assist learners to take ownership in bullying prevention and intervention. The findings illustrate that involving learners plays a role in minimising bullying (Wang et al., 2013;Clarkson et al., 2016) Teachers reported that student representatives (Student Leadership) are available to help victims and often step in as substitute teachers when teachers are busy. Tzani-Pepelasi et al. (2019) discuss the functions of peer supporters as: challenging bullying behaviour, modelling socially acceptable behaviour, monitoring social interaction during breaks when teachers are unavailable, providing victims with emotional support, and, if necessary, supporting victims by reporting abusive behaviour. ...
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Learners are often vulnerable when amongst peers who bully each other, and bullying behaviour in schools is a complex issue worldwide with research revealing that this behaviour problem varies globally. Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological systems theory views children as part of a complicated network of systems, and is key to understanding behavioural patterns, so bullying behaviour is viewed as part of this complex network. A descriptive research design was used to discuss intervention strategies teachers employed in kwaDlangezwa high schools to reduce bullying behaviour. A qualitative technique was used to gain information from two groups of stakeholders (teachers [N=17] and learners). [N=20]). A sample of thirty-seven participants were randomly drawn. Respondents were asked open-ended questions to determine intervention strategies to prevent bullying behaviour and the data was analysed using content analysis. The findings indicated that teachers are trying to minimize bullying behaviour in schools using different strategies including: reporting procedures, discipline, advocacy and supervision of learners. Obstacles were reported during the intervention process: gender related issues, lack of reporting of bullying behaviour and bullying outside school. Learners suggested ideal strategies that teachers could use in the future to improve the interventions of bullying behaviour: role-playing, segregation of learners and strict security measures.
... ization. Previous research suggests that students in private schools (Harris et al., 2019) and schools located in more rural locations (Bradshaw et al., 2009) suffer from greater amounts of bullying victimization. Additionally, a positive school climate is a significant protective factor against school bullying victimization (Hong & Espelage, 2012;C. Wang et al., 2013;Yang et al., 2018), reinforced by teacher support and enforcement (Rigby, 2020). Therefore, we account for school ownership (public vs. private; PISA code: SC013Q01TA), community location (code: SC001Q01TA), and disciplinary climate (code: DISCLIMA) in our models. ...
... We confirm some previous findings, including that a positive school climate reduces bullying victimization (C. Wang et al., 2013;Yang et al., 2018), the importance of student cooperation and teacher support (Bradshaw et al., 2014;Chen et al., 2020;Yang et al., 2018), that older students have a somewhat diminished probability of being bullied (Craig et al., 2009;Merrill & Hanson, 2016;J. Wang et al., 2009), a higher incidence of bullying victimization among immigrants (Stevens et al., 2020), and that negative affective/psychological states correspond with higher rates of bullying victimization (Low & Van Ryzin, 2014). ...
Article
The present study examines cross-national variation in school-based bullying victimization. Specifically, we address whether decommodification, a concept implicated in Institutional Anomie Theory that measures the degree of a society’s social welfare protection, is a protective factor against school-based bullying victimization. To test this theory, we retrieve data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) questionnaire and combine this data with other sources capturing cross-national factors hypothesized to impact bullying victimization. The sample consists of 286,871 adolescents (with an average age of 15 years) attending 14,192 schools nested within 55 high-and-middle-income countries. We estimate multilevel regression models with three levels of analysis (student, school, and country), finding that countries with a greater degree of decommodification have lower rates of school-based bullying. Overall, our findings illustrate that the national level of social welfare protection, which had been previously neglected in this research literature, is a robust predictor of bullying victimization.
... School climate can be defined as the "quality and character of school life" that includes "norms, values, and expectations that support people feeling socially, emotionally, and physically safe" (Cohen et al., 2009, p. 182). School climate represents every aspect of the school experience: the quality of teaching and learning, school-community relationships, school organization, and the school environment's institutional and structural features (Wang et al., 2013). ...
... Thus, bullying negatively affects the well-being of many children and adolescents (Hymel & Swearer, 2015), and it has been linked with mental health problems (e.g., Forrest et al., 2013). Bullying also negatively affects the school climate (Cross et al., 2018;Wang et al., 2013) and has been associated with fear of attending schools (Wang et al., 2014). ...
Article
This study analyses how perceived school climate variables (teacher–student relationships, student–student relationships, fairness of rules, school safety, and liking of school) influenced bullying and victimization behaviors during middle school transition in Portugal (fourth to fifth grade). A total of 671 middle school students participated in the study, of which 52.2% were boys. Bullying and victimization behaviors were assessed in three different time points (twice before middle school transition and once after) and perceptions of school climate were assessed twice (before and after middle school transition). Results showed that a more positive trajectory in students’ perceptions of teacher-student relationships, student-student relationships, school safety, and liking of school between fourth and fifth grade was associated with a more positive trajectory in victimization behaviors, and a more positive trajectory in students’ perceptions of fairness of rules in the same period was associated with a more positive trajectory in bullying behaviors. Additionally, regarding gender, boys showed a larger increase in victimization behaviors, but there were no differences due to classroom size. These results highlighted the importance of creating a positive school climate in middle school to reduce bullying and victimization behaviors during middle school transition.
... For example, Dietrich and Cohen (2021) argued that bullying prevention for adolescents should focus more strongly on relationship-building efforts, and Newman et al. (2005) advocated for broad efforts to reduce social isolation rather than an exclusive focus on victimization. In addition, Wang et al. (2013), among others, have proposed enhancing "school climate" as an effective way to reduce bullying, where school climate often refers, at least in part, to the quality of social relationships in school. As with social relationships, school climate has also been linked to key outcomes such as student mental health (Aldridge & McChesney, 2018), emphasizing the congruence between these two areas if research. ...
... We also found that stress was a more powerful predictor of key outcomes. We hypothesize that other sources of stress besides victimization were more salient, at least to the students in this sample, and, in line with others (Dietrich & Cohen, 2021;Newman et al., 2005;Wang et al., 2013), we advocate that schools focus on improving peer relations as a means to reduce both stress and victimization, which should have salutary effects on student engagement and mental health. Our findings attest that CL is uniquely positioned to support such an effort. ...
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Mental health is a significant concern among young people, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, mental health problems can significantly reduce student performance in school, including both engagement and achievement. Both mental health problems and reduced student performance often arise due to peer victimization, which can include teasing, racial- or gender-based discrimination, and/or physical assault. Stress has been proposed as one mechanism through which victimization influences mental health, and stress can also interfere with academic performance at school, including engagement and achievement. To date, however, no research has evaluated longitudinal associations between victimization and stress, and how these longitudinal patterns may impact adolescent behavior and mental health. In this study, we used data from a 2-year cluster randomized trial of cooperative learning to evaluate an etiological process model that includes (1) longitudinal reciprocal effects between victimization and stress, and (2) the effects of both victimization and stress on student mental health and academic engagement. We hypothesized that victimization and stress would have significant reciprocal effects, and that both would predict greater mental health problems and lower academic engagement. We further hypothesized that cooperative learning would have significant effects on all constructs. We found partial support for this model, whereby stress predicted greater victimization, but victimization did not predict increased stress. While both factors were linked to student outcomes, stress was a more powerful predictor. We also found significant salutary effects of cooperative learning on all constructs. The implications of these results for student behavioral and mental health are discussed.
... The effects of school safety and school discipline may however be confounded by school SES in some countries because the variables typically are correlated. The findings are in line with a large body of research, which consistently cites school safety, order and discipline as strong anti-bullying factors (Wang & Degol, 2016;Wang et al., 2013;Zych et al., 2019). In Indonesia, one possible explanation for the lack of association may be that school social norms, one of the main constituents of school climate, tolerate the majority of bullying incidences, especially verbal and indirect ones (Bowes et al., 2019). ...
Article
Bullying is a substantial problem in schools worldwide and it can have severe consequences for individuals in both short and long-term. One aim of this study was to explore the bullying prevalence among 10-year-olds in school-systems participating in TIMSS 2015. Another aim was to examine the variability in bullying prevalence across schools in the participating countries to, finally, explore how school-related factors could reduce bullying prevalence. The main method was multilevel modeling. Overall, the results showed relatively high bullying prevalence even though the variability was large among the 50 countries. Some countries had substantial school differences and these were selected for further scrutiny. While socioeconomic status did not impact on bullying prevalence in a sub-sample of countries, factors like school climate and a sense of school belonging had an effect in most of them. Implications of the results were discussed.
... Our third aim was to inform schools, designers, and policymakers about these identified factors. School organisations and supervisors in schoolyards play a key role in identifying situations where children are overwhelmed or triggered by peers or certain equipment, and avert these scenarios by taking the required precautions, and overruling the existing climate [53], for example by planning a timetable for using a popular play structure by different sub-groups of children. School organisations should also deliver extra support, customised rules, and structures suited to vulnerable children, and an inclusive school climate that values diversity and individual differences. ...
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Social participation at schoolyards is crucial for children’s development. Yet, schoolyard environments contain features that can hinder children’s social participation. In this paper, we empirically examine schoolyards to identify existing obstacles. Traditionally, this type of study requires huge amounts of detailed information about children in a given environment. Collecting such data is exceedingly difficult and expensive. In this study, we present a novel sensor data-driven approach for gathering this information and examining the effect of schoolyard environments on children's behaviours in light of schoolyard affordances and individual effectivities. Sensor data is collected from 150 children at two primary schools, using location trackers, proximity tags, and Multi-Motion receivers to measure locations, face-to-face contacts, and activities. Results show strong potential for this data-driven approach, as it allows collecting data from individuals and their interactions with schoolyard environments, examining the triad of physical, social, and cultural affordances in schoolyards, and identifying factors that significantly impact children's behaviours. Based on this approach, we further obtain better knowledge on the impact of these factors and identify limitations in schoolyard designs, which can inform schools, designers, and policymakers about current problems and practical solutions.
Article
Limited research attention has been devoted to disparate vulnerabilities to social-ecological risk factors and how these may explain group differences in bullying by race. To address this gap, the present study used data of early adolescent respondents (Mage = 11.2 years) from 36 public middle schools ( N = 2701) to assess the nexus of race, social-ecological risk factors, and bullying perpetration. Multilevel modeling was employed to quantify the racial gap in bullying as well as the race-specific effects of social-ecological risk factors. Data revealed that Black students engaged in the highest levels of bullying perpetration, relative to all other racial/ethnic subgroups. School belonging exerted an amplified protective effect on Black and Hispanic youth, relative to White youth, and diminished the Black-White bullying perpetration gap. The link between exposure to family conflict and bullying perpetration was also race-specific. Findings yielded significant implications for bullying intervention and prevention.
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Students with emotional and behavioral disabilities and / or learning disabilities are overrepresented in the Bullying-Dynamic. They are associated with bullying others and being victimized by other students more often than students without disabilities. Studies focusing on certain types of disabilities have only recently become the focus of international and national research. Additionally, school climate is dis- cussed as an influencing factor regarding the participation in the bullying dynamic. The present cross-sectional-study is focusing on the differ- ences of bullying and victimization between students with emotional and behavioral and / or learning disabilities and students without disabil- ities. N = 649 (60.9 % male) adolescents (Age 8 – 19 years; M = 13.66; SD = 2.17) answered a self-rating questionnaire regarding bullying. The questionnaire focused on bullying perpetration and victimization. Allowing to differentiate between bullies, victims, and bully-victims. 393 Students attended a regular and 265 students attended a special needs school. The results of the current study indicate a significant differ- ence between bullying and victimization between the students with and without disabilities. Students with emotional and behavioral disabili- ties are more likely to be bully as well as victim. Students who do not enjoy going to school are more frequently categorized as bullies and vic- tims than students that enjoy going to school. The results of the study are discussed considering the limitations of the study. The relevance of prevention- and intervention programs focused on students with disabilities is highlighted in the current study. Keywords: Bullying, victimization, school satisfaction, special educational needs in learning, special educational needs in emotional-social development, adolescence
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Peer victimization represents a pervasive problem, particularly for students in middle school. Although curriculum-based prevention programs have generated small to moderate effects on victimization, these effects tend to weaken beginning with the transition to middle school. In this study, we evaluated cooperative learning (CL) as a mechanism to prevent victimization, and evaluated reciprocated friendships as a mediator of these effects. Using four waves of data from a cluster randomized trial of CL (7 intervention and 8 control middle schools; N = 1,890 students, 47.1% female, 75.2% White), we found that CL significantly reduced victimization after two years, and these effects were mediated by growth in the ratio of reciprocated friendship in the first year. We conclude that CL can reduce victimization by providing a means for students to engage in extended social interactions with a wider range of peers and thus creating opportunities for students to forge stronger (i.e., reciprocated) friendships.
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Bullying is a persistent problem in schools today, with developmental and socioemotional consequences. Multi-tiered interventions, such as School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS), have been developed to decrease bullying by improving school climate. However, effects of SW-PBIS are stronger in elementary school than middle and high school, and effects are weaker for marginalized student groups. Aligning SW-PBIS with adolescent developmental needs and promoting systems change through youth participatory action research (YPAR) may improve the developmental fit of SW-PBIS for middle and high school students and strengthen its equity impact. In YPAR, youth conduct research on areas that are important to them and take data-driven action to improve their lives. In this paper, we utilize a qualitative instrumental multiple case study approach to identify similarities between YPAR and SW-PBIS and the value added of YPAR to SW-PBIS implementation. The two cases are from school districts chosen for their unique implementation of YPAR with SW-PBIS in middle and high schools. We used a general inductive approach to analyze field notes, documents, and interviews with school and district staff. We found that YPAR enhanced SW-PBIS implementation at the middle and high school level through alignment with adolescent developmental needs. Youth participatory action research also promoted equity through youth-led or youth–adult partnered assessment and data-driven decision-making, providing YPAR with the opportunity to improve the challenges SW-PBIS faces in decreasing disproportionality in academic outcomes for marginalized students. We provided examples to integrate YPAR with SW-PBIS at Tiers One through three.
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The purpose of this study was to assess the nature and extent of student attitudes toward bullying. We investigated the consistency and prevalence of student attitudes across gender, race, socioeco-nomic status, and grade level. We also assessed whether students with positive attitudes toward peer aggression and students with higher trait anger were especially prone to support a normative structure that encourages bullying. Based on a data set including 6 middle schools and over 2,400 students, our results indicate that a culture of bullying is a pervasive phenomenon among middle school students and should be an important consideration in bullying prevention efforts.
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In this study, a structural equations model representing the causal relationships among the variables researched in James Comer's School Development Program (1981, 1986, 1988) was proposed, and a modified subset of the model was estimated and tested using structural equations modeling (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1989). Developed through synthesis of the writings of Comer and his colleagues, this model postulates that school climate has a direct influence on classroom climate, social behavior, student self-concept, and student achievement. The modified model suggests that in addition to the direct paths, the influence of school climate on student achievement and social behavior is mediated by classroom climate and self-concept. Classroom climate directly affects self-concept, and behavior directly affects achievement. Data used were obtained through the Yale Child Study Center. The responses of 127 students from eleven inner-city, elementary schools in Norfolk, Virginia, were used to test the proposed structural model.^ Initial evaluation of the measurement model showed lack of construct distinction between school and classroom climate. These two variables were collapsed into one: classroom climate, because analysis of the variance composition of the climate measures showed variation of climate by class within school, but little variation across schools. Estimation and testing of the just-identified model using LISREL VII, and $\chi\sp2$ difference tests, resulted in significant paths from classroom climate to self-concept, from self-concept to behavior, and from behavior to achievement. These results suggest that the effect of classroom climate on achievement is mediated by self-concept and behavior, and that the effect of self-concept on achievement is mediated by student behavior. This three-path model accounted for about 40% of the variance in self-concept, 62% of the variance in behavior, and 22% of the variance in achievement. A Tucker-Lewis index of.97 signified a good fit of this trimmed model to the data. The hypothesized model based on Comer's School Development Program was therefore supported in part by the data, strengthening the theory that climate and self-concept influence student achievement.
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The purpose of this study was to describe the means, variability, internal consistency reliability, and structural validity evidence of the ClassMaps Survey, a measure of student perceptions of classroom learning environments. The ClassMaps Survey is a 55-item student rating scale of eight important classroom characteristics. The survey provides a brief, relevant, and conceptually simple appraisal of students' perceptions of the classroom conditions that contribute to academic engagement. Participants were 345 third- fourth-, and fifth-grade students drawn from a public school in the Midwest and a second in the Northeast. Results demonstrated that 53 of the 55 survey items loaded onto their predicted subscale, subscale alphas were at or above .75, and the survey means were relatively consistent across grade and gender. Results suggest that the ClassMaps Survey is a promising measure that captures students' perspectives of classroom environments so they can be used to plan and implement classwide interventions.
Chapter
This chapter focuses on the issue of bullying, which has grown as a significant concern among school personnel, students, and parents in the past few decades. The literature on school disciplinary procedures, social-emotional learning approaches, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and cognitive-behavioral treatment for aggressive behavior are reviewed and form the foundation for an individualized mental health assessment and treatment approach for working with students who bully others. This chapter provides a framework for bullying as a mental health issue and emphasizes the importance of schools, communities, and families working together in order to create a culture where bullying is not rewarded, supported, nor accepted. We describe the Target Bullying Intervention Program (T-BIP), which was designed to evaluate and address the mental health issues that may be underlying bullying behaviors.
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School environments vary greatly. Whereas some schools feel friendly, inviting, and supportive, others feel exclusionary, unwelcoming, and even unsafe. The feelings and attitudes that are elicited by a school's environment are referred to as school climate. Although it is difficult to provide a concise definition for school climate, most researchers agree that it is a multidimensional construct that includes physical, social, and academic dimensions. The physical dimension includes: Appearance of the school building and its classrooms; School size and ratio of students to teachers in the classroom; Order and organization of classrooms in the school; Availability of resources; and Safety and comfort. The social dimension includes: Quality of interpersonal relationships between and among students, teachers, and staff; Equitable and fair treatment of students by teachers and staff; Degree of competition and social comparison between students; and Degree to which students, teachers, and staff contribute to decision-making at the school. The academic dimension includes: Quality of instruction; Teacher expectations for student achievement; and Monitoring student progress and promptly reporting results to students and parents. Rating School Climate How students, teachers, and staff feel about their school climate underlies individual attitudes, behaviors, and group norms. Schools that feel safe, for instance, foster high-quality relationships among students and teachers while decreasing the probability of violence. However, it is important to note that the climate of a school is not necessarily experienced in the same way by all of its members. Rather, there is variability in individual perceptions of a school's climate, and researchers propose that it is the subjective perception of the environment that influences individual student outcomes. Thus, if a student feels that a teacher does not care about her, this perception will impact the student's behavior in the classroom. Moreover, individual characteristics may impact these perceptions so that students who are aggressive may perceive their school climate more negatively than those who are not. Because of the importance of individual perceptions, schools often assess how students feel about their school. A number of assessment instruments are available for examining student perceptions of school climate, including the Elementary and Middle School Climate Survey (Haynes, Emmons, & Comer, 1993), the Quality of School Life Scale (Epstein & McPartland, 1976), and the Elementary School Environment Scale (Sinclair, 1970). Schools may use these instruments as-is, but may also modify them to create their own. No instrument assesses every aspect of school climate. Nonetheless, findings from such surveys provide a glimpse into how students feel about certain dimensions of the school's climate and allow school personnel to take the initial steps to improving their quality.
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The present study examined the effectiveness of a bully prevention program counselors may use to modify teachers' knowledge/use of bullying intervention skills, teachers' self‐efficacy, and students' classroom bullying behaviors. Participants attended 3 training sessions and participated on a support team. The findings indicated that the treatment program effectively increased teachers' knowledge/use of intervention skills, teachers' personal self‐efficacy, and self‐efficacy related to working with specific types of children and reduced classroom bullying as measured by disciplinary referrals.
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This study examined factors that influence a student's willingness to seek help for a threat of violence. The sample consisted of 542 middle school students who completed an anonymous survey that asked students how likely they would be to seek help in response to being bullied or threatened. The survey also included measures of type of bullying, attitudes toward aggressive behavior, and perceptions of teacher tolerance for bullying. Stepwise multiple regression analyses indicated that willingness to seek help is lower in higher grade levels and among males. Students who hold aggressive attitudes and perceive the school climate to be tolerant of bullying were less likely to report a willingness to seek help. Implications for improving student willingness to seek help are discussed.