Research on School Bullying and Victimization: What Have We Learned and Where Do We Go from Here?

Article excerpt

Abstract. This special issue on bullying and victimization in School Psychology Review highlights current research efforts in American schools on bullying and peer victimization, and how this research can inform prevention and intervention planning. This introductory article provides a brief overview of several major insights gained over the last decade from research on bullying in school-aged youth and sets the stage for the special issue. Research on psychosocial correlates in bullying behaviors is reviewed and four insights that provide directions for future research are derived. The contributing authors in the special issue augment these insights by examining the influence of the peer ecology on bullying (Rodkin & Hodges, 2003), using longitudinal and multivariate methodologies in bullying research (Long & Pellegrini, 2003), assessing the climates within the school where bullying typically occurs (Leff, Power, Costigan, & Manz, 2003), exploring implementation issues of school-wide bullying prevention programming (Orpinas, Horne, & Staniszewski, 2003), reviewing laws and policies to address bullying (Limber & Small, 2003), and challenging researchers to reach a consensus on bullying research (Furlong, Morrison, & Greif, 2003).

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School bullying among children and adolescents has been the focus of many international studies over the last 30 years. In his seminal research, Norwegian scholar Daniel Olweus (1972) coined bullying as "mobbing," and defined it as an individual or a group of individuals harassing, teasing, or pestering another person. However, it was not until 1982 that school officials in Norway turned their attention to school bullying, and did so only after three ld-year-old boys committed suicide as a result of extreme harassment from classmates (Olweus, 1993). Following these events, the Ministry of Education in Norway launched a national campaign against bullying in which a prevention program was implemented in every primary and secondary school. Indeed, many other countries have recognized bullying as a serious concern, including England, Italy, Canada, Japan, the United States, and Australia, to name a few.

Recent events in the United States raise some issues about the transportability of international findings to the culture of American schools. For example, the recent concern over school shootings in the United States has led to many schools to adopt "zero-tolerance" policies for aggressive behavior, including bullying. However, what happens to these youth who are suspended or expelled for aggressive behavior? Compulsory education mandates that these students receive a "free and appropriate education." Thus, these students return to school. The United States has a history of legislative mandates that affect education for all students in this country. Additionally, the U.S. government has influenced educational policies and practices (i.e., DARE campaign). In fall 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is launching a multiyear national bullying public awareness and prevention campaign. What might be the effect of this public awareness campaign on antibullying policies in American schools?

Rationale for this Special Issue

In the past 3 years several special issues devoted to research on bullying have been published in national and international journals (Elias & Zins, Eds., Journal of Applied School Psychology, 2003; School Psychology International, 2000; Geffner & Loring, Eds., Journal of Emotional Abuse, 2001; and Smith & Brian, Eds., Aggressive Behavior, 2000). It is surprising that only four special issues have been devoted to this topic when schools are increasingly being mandated to develop antibullying policies. Therefore, given the dearth of articles on bullying and victimization in the journal that has one of the largest school personnel readerships, it is timely for a special issue on research on bullying and victimization to appear in School Psychology Review. …