Bullying in College by Students and Teachers

Article excerpt

The problem of bullying in school is common throughout the world (Smith, Morita, Junger-Tas, Olweus, Catalano, & Slee, 1999). Olweus conducted the first systematic investigation of bullying in the early 1970s in Norway (Olweus, 1973), and has surveyed bullying behaviors in hundreds of thousands of Norwegian and Swedish primary and secondary school students over the last 30 years (Olweus, 1999). Olweus's studies show that bullying is widespread in Scandinavian schools, with an average of 7% of students acting as bullies from the 2nd through 9th grades, while the average percentage of students being bullied decreases with age, dropping from 15% in 2nd grade to 5% in 9th grade. Similar findings have been reported in studies in England and Wales (Smith, 1999), Ireland (O'Moore, Kirkham, & Smith, 1997), Spain (Ortega & Mora-Merchan, 1999), the Netherlands (Junger-Tas, 1999), Japan (Morita, Soeda, Soeda, & Taki, 1999), Australia (Rigby & Slee, 1999a), and the United States (Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton, & Scheidt, 2001; National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2001a, 2002), suggesting that bullying and being bullied in school is a common experience for children and adolescents across very different cultures.

In the United States, the problem of bullying in school did not generate much research attention until the 1990s (Harachi, Catalano, & Hawkins, 1999). As part of the 1993 National Household Education Survey (NCES, 1995a), 6,500 6th-12th graders nationwide were asked about bullying in school, and an average of 8% reported having been bullied, with victimization decreasing with age from 13% of 6th graders to 2.9% of 12th graders. In 1999, 8,400 6th-12th graders were interviewed as part of the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCES, 2001b), and 5% reported having been bullied at school during the preceding six months, with victimization decreasing with age from 10.5% of 6th graders to 1.2% of 12th graders. In a recent Indicators of School Crime and Safety survey (NCES, 2002), the percentage of students aged 12-18 years who reported having been bullied at school during the previous six months increased from the 5% in 1999 to 8% in 2001, with victimization decreasing with age from 14.3% of 6th graders to 2.4% of 12th graders (it is important to note that in the 1999 survey, "at school" meant in the school building, on the school grounds, or on a school bus, whereas in the 2001 survey, "at school" also included going to or coming from school). Finally, Nansel et al. (2001) investigated the prevalence of bullying in the United States using a nationally representative sample of 15,686 6th-10th graders, and found that an average of 13% bullied others regularly, while 10.6% reported having been bullied on a regular basis, with significantly more 6th-8th graders being bullied than 9th-10th graders.

Interest in the topic of bullying in American schools has increased dramatically in the past few years, perhaps due to the converging findings of recent studies of school killings in the United States (Anderson et al., 2001; Gaughan, Cerio, & Myers, 2001; Meloy, Hempel, Mohandie, Shiva, & Gray, 2001; O'Toole, 2000; Vossekuil, Reddy, Fein, Borum, & Modzelesky, 2000), which indicated that an important precursor to lethal school violence was the fact that many school killers had been bullied in school and sought revenge, becoming "classroom avengers" (McGee & DeBernardo, 1999). Beyond their association with the relatively rare event of school shootings in the United States, bullied students all over the world have been found to surfer many other negative consequences, including school avoidance (NCES, 1995b), low self-esteem (Olweus, 1993; O'Moore & Kirkham, 2001; Smith, 1999), and higher levels of anxiety (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelae, Rantanen, & Rimpelae, 2000; Okayasu & Takayama, 2000), depression (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001; Olweus, 1993; Salmon, James, Cassidy, & Javaloyes, 2000), and suicidality (Carney, 2000; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelae, Marttunen, Rimpelae, & Rantanen, 1999; Morita et al. …