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The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention



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.
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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
b University of Nebraska
c University of Nebraska–Lincoln
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:
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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-
havior. 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) 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
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@
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
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.
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
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Wang, Berry, Swearer The Critical Role of School Climate in Effective Bullying Prevention
adults and students” at school (Kuperminc, Lead-
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
(NSCC, 2012; Stewart, 2003). In this article,
we define school climate as the milieu created
by interactions among and between adults and
students and individuals’ beliefs and attitudes
(e.g., feelings about school, approval/disapproval
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
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-
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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
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
assess two additional constructs: leadership and
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–
school relationships, academic self-efficacy,
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,
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.,
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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).
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Emerging Issues in School Bullying Research and Prevention Science
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
rules instead of ignoring/minimizing bullying
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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... This result is consistent with a number of older studies that came to similar conclusions (e.g. Gibb & Hanley, 2010;Wang et al., 2013). Externalizing behavior among fifth graders was found to predict bullying and being bullied in sixth grade (Farmer et al., 2015). ...
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Previous research suggests that students with emotional and behavioral difficulties (EBD) are more vulnerable to becoming directly involved in bullying dynamics. To date, no study has tested the role of teachers' emotional support and positive teacher-student relationship climates in EBD students' bullying involvement. This study tests whether the relationships between students' EBD and students' bullying involvement is mediated by teachers' emotional support and the quality of the teacher-student relationship climate. Results indicate that only teachers' collaborative efforts to improve school relationship climates are important mechanisms for explaining EBD students' bullying involvement. Bullying in schools is an internationally recognized public health problem that severely impacts students' and teachers' mental and physical health (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Devel-opment/OECD, 2019). Even though recipients of bullying are generally perceived as suffering the most, empirical research suggests that bullying behavior negatively impacts the health of everyone directly or indirectly involved, including those in the bullying (Stuart & Jose, 2014) and bystander roles (Rivers et al., 2009), as well as students' and teachers' families (Benatov, 2019; Harcourt et al., 2015). Students with emotional and behavioral difficulties (EBD) are involved in bullying dynamics to a higher degree than their peers without EBD (Halabi et al., 2018; Kokkinos & Panayiotou, 2004; Swearer et al., 2012). However, there is a research gap on the processes that can explain this higher vulnerability to bullying of EBD students. Given the importance of positive relationships for children's psychosocial development, this study investigates the role of teachers' individual and collective support as mediators of the relationship between students' emotional and behavioral difficulties and their direct bullying involvement. The results guide future research and practice in how to reduce the direct bullying involvement of some of the most vulnerable students.
... School personnel, students, and families are integral to creating a positive school climate. Although several social-emotional learning programs have been shown to be effective at improving school climate (Wang, Berry, & Swearer, 2013), programs alone will not reduce bullying behaviors. A comprehensive, coordinated system of assessment, reporting, and programming will lead to the development and maintenance of healthy relationships and reductions in bullying. ...
... Because the bulk of children's daily peer interactions occur during school hours, schools set the stage for peer group dynamics and exclusionary norms to develop. Higher levels of bullying victimization have been found in schools where there is a more negative climate, such as one characterized by poor teacher-student relationships, inconsistent disciplinary practices, a lack of teacher support, and poor engagement in school activities (Marsh et al. 2012;Wang, Berry, and Swearer 2013;Mandira and Stoltz 2021;Turanovic and Siennick 2022). Alternatively, children within primary schools and classrooms in which there is greater respect for diversity and student differences (e.g., racial diversity), and where students feel supported by adults, tend to have lower risks for bullying victimization (Gage, Prykanowski, and Larson 2014). ...
... (Cohen et al., 2009, p. 182). School climate encompasses the social atmosphere of a learning environment in which students have different experiences and includes all aspects of the school experience, including teaching and learning quality, school community relationships, school organization, and the institutional and structural features of the school environment (Wang et al., 2013). ...
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There is a lack of studies analyzing if universal school-based Social and Emotional Learning programs can reduce social withdrawal and social anxiety. This study analyzed the effectiveness of one such program on those variables, and the role of individual school climate perceptions. In this nationwide study, 704 seventh to eighth-grade Portuguese students (Mage = 12.96, SD = 1.09, 48% girls), of which 215 (30.6%) in the comparison group, were assessed at pretest, post-test, and follow-up seven months later. Analyses showed positive intervention results in self- and teacher-reported social withdrawal and social anxiety. Regarding school climate, intervention group students with more positive teacher-student relationships benefitted more from program participation in social anxiety. These results support the program’s effectiveness for addressing social withdrawal and social anxiety.
... Recurring questions in this area to date have been concerned with, for example, what knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about bullying teachers have (Bauman & Del Rio, 2005;Craig et al., 2011;Kochenderfer-Ladd & Pelletier, 2008;Mazzone et al., 2021;Nicolaides et al., 2002;, which actions teachers classify as bullying (Boulton, 1997;Craig et al., 2000a;Hazler et al., 2001), and how teachers intend to respond to bullying (Bauman et al., 2008;Burger et al., 2015;Dake et al., 2003;Dudziak et al., 2017;Özdemir et al., 2021;Yoon et al., 2011Yoon et al., , 2016. Other areas relevant to bullying research include how relevant the quality of the relationship between teachers and students is (e.g., Bouchard & Smith, 2017;Jungert et al., 2016;Longobardi et al., 2018;ten Bokkel et al., 2022;van Aalst et al., 2021;Wang et al., 2015) and what influence teachers have on the school climate (e.g., Kartal & Bilgin, 2009;Mucherah et al., 2018;Wang et al., 2013). ...
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This qualitative study explores how teachers assess a bullying scenario and what considerations guide their assessment. Thirty-eight secondary school teachers from across Austria participated in an online survey with open-ended questions based on two vignette: one depicting an incident of verbal and social bullying and the other a non-bullying incident of physical violence. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Although participating teachers did not know that bullying was the study focus, they still showed sensitivity toward bullying, in terms of recognizing and labelling the incident. However, the teachers’ answers also showed that their assessment only partly coincides with those criteria that are central in the scientific discussion of bullying. While the aspects of doing (intentional) harm and imbalance of power were relevant to teachers’ assessments, the criterion of repetition was not. The results further suggest that participants’ awareness and interventions are closely related to situational aspects, personal and professional experiences, beliefs, and attitudes and only to a small extent to knowledge or training. Implications for teachers’ education and research are discussed.
... Worryingly, studies have consistently shown that a portion of PSTs (i.e., one-fifth of the PSTs in the study by Li, 2008) are not interested in gaining more knowledge about cyberbullying, which shows that they may value learning outcomes more than the relationships among students (Li, 2008). In addition, these findings might indicate that PSTs should be educated about the importance of healthy peer relationships and of a good classroom climate to foster school achievement (Wang et al., 2013). Additionally, teachers should be better educated about the implications of bullying and cyberbullying on students' wellbeing. ...
... Bullying behavioral aggression has been studied most in school contexts where the influence of positive or negative climate, on the frequency of bullying and victimizing behavior (Gendron et al., 2011;Marsh et al., 2012;Richard et al., 2012;Wang et al., 2013), teacher responses (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), poor/precarious teacher-student relationships (Bacchini et al., 2009;Doll et al., 2004;Richard et al., 2012), lack of teacher support and involvement in school activities (Barboza et al., 2009). Students are also distrustful and do not report bullying if they view their climate as negative (Unnever & Cornell, 2004). ...
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Bullying is a recognised serious public problem affecting many students worldwide. Despite the well-established empirical evidence for the negative consequences of bullying on adolescents' mental and physical health and educational outcomes, little is known about the link between bullying victimisation and adolescents' subjective well-being. Moreover, empirical studies using comparative large-scale survey data are particularly scarce. This study explores this question using nationally-representative data from 329,015 adolescents across 64 high and middle-income countries and economies from the 2018 PISA survey. Two measures of subjective well-being were considered: overall life satisfaction and positive affect. Multilevel regressions were estimated at three levels (student, school, and country). Results showed that bullying victimisation was negatively and significantly related to overall life satisfaction and positive affect after controlling for a wide set of factors affecting subjective well-being. Moreover, this negative relationship was more pronounced for top performer students. Locally adapted intervention programmes are needed to tackle the issue of school bullying and foster positive school climate. Practical and policy implications are discussed in detail.
School-based day treatment is an intensive mental health service for children with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. Research on day treatment is scarce and descriptions of program models are lacking. We used stimulated recall interviews to explore the moment-to-moment processes and strategies of classroom staff in a day treatment program for children in kindergarten and Grade 1. Several processes and strategies used by staff emerged from the thematic analysis of the interviews. These included a process of individualized intervention, characterized by a continual and cyclical process of attunement, responsiveness, assessment, and evaluation, using a team-based approach, noticing positives about children, a climate of positive relationships, staff regulating their own emotions, being flexible while also being firm and consistent, and seeing children from a developmental perspective. More specific strategies used by staff (e.g., token economy) also emerged from the interviews. Implications for future research and teacher training are discussed.
Background: The National Academy of Sciences has recognized bullying as a serious public health issue, with the outcomes of bullying immediate and long-term. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between 7 selected positive childhood experiences, such as having a mentor, and bullying victimization, and bullying perpetration. Methods: We used cross sectional data from the 2019-2020 National Survey of Children's Health, children ages 6 to 17 (n = 43,999). Bivariate analyses were used, with p < .05 deemed significant. To examine the association between experiences and bullying victimization or perpetration, multivariable regression models were used. Results: Children who experienced any of the following positive childhood experiences had a lower odds of perpetration of bullying victimization: resilient family; safe neighborhood; supportive neighborhood; or connected caregiver. The following covariates had a lower odds of perpetrating bullying, across all models: race other than white, female sex, age of 13 or older, primary language not English, and a guardian education of a high school diploma or less. Implications for school health policy, practice, and equity: Schools can play a formative role in promoting positive childhood experiences identified herein. Conclusions: Findings from this study may be beneficial for educators, policy makers, and child advocacy stakeholders as they design and implement school or community-based youth development programs.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.