Using Multimedia to Reduce Bullying and Victimization in Third-Grade Urban Schools

By McLaughlin, Laura; Laux, John M. et al. | Professional School Counseling, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Using Multimedia to Reduce Bullying and Victimization in Third-Grade Urban Schools


McLaughlin, Laura, Laux, John M., Pescara-Kovach, Lisa, Professional School Counseling


This study investigated the effects of increasing levels of multimedia interventions (cognitive behavioral treatment, videotapes, and CD-R OM modules) on self-reported bullying and victimization among urban third graders. Students' self-ratings were assessed using Reynolds' Bully Victimization Scale (Reynolds, 2003). The results indicated that the interventions did produce statistically significant reductions in bullying and victimization scores; however, these reductions were not universally associated with multimedia intervention type. Implications for school counselors and future researchers are offered.

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Bullying is a cross-cultural phenomenon (Carney & Merrell, 2001). Once considered a normal process of growing up (Lipman, 2003), officials now recognize the costs of such a tolerant view. Bullying is not a momentary trauma but a continual stressor for many children (Lane, 1989; Newman, Holden, & Delville, 2005; Schwartz, Gorman, Nakamoto, & Toblin, 2005; Theriot, Dulmus, Sowers, & Johnson, 2005). For example, the U.S. Secret Service reported that in its examination of 37 school shootings, the majority of shooters suffered extreme and longstanding bullying and harassment (Lumsden, 2002; Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002). A 2001 survey by the World Health Organization, in the United States, found that 30 percent of students in a survey of 15,000 6th through 10th graders bullied others, were bullied by others, or both. Approximately 160,000 students avoid school each day in order to escape being bullied (Lees, 1993).

Researchers and theorists have identified several roles involved in the bullying process: bully, victim, and bystander (e.g., Fekkes, Pijpers, & Verloove-Vanhorick, 2005; Lane, 1989). This article will highlight each role. Finding a universally acceptable definition of bullying is challenging. The literature supports a wide variety of definitions. However, Olweus (1993) was the first to describe both the physical and mental aspects of bullying. Olweus characterized bullying to occur when one or more students intentionally inflict or repeatedly attempt to inflict injury or discomfort on another student.

Regardless of one's operational definition, being a bully carries the potential for serious lifelong consequences. Physical bullies are at greater risk than their peers for criminal conviction and recidivist crime (Kumpulainen & Rasanen, 2000). For example, data from the U.S. Department of Justice (2001) suggest that 60% of sixth- to ninth-grade bullies will be convicted of a crime as an adult, compared to 23% of children who are not classified as bullies. Bullying is linked to delinquency, substance abuse, sexual harassment, and dating aggression (Craig & Pepler, 2003). Carney and Merrell (2001) reported that bullies' aggressive behavior is often directed to parents and teachers. In addition to behavioral problems, bullies may experience psychological sequelae such as depression and suicidal behavior (Rigby, 2003). Perpetration of aggressive behavior is the most common reason for referral to psychiatric services for adolescents (Griffin & Gross, 2004).

The short- and long-term consequences of being bullied also are deleterious for the victims. Compared to nonvictims, victims of bullying are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, suicide, truancy, school refusal, headaches, stomachaches, bedwetting, and poor sleep (Newcomb, Bukowski, & Pattee, 1993; Vosk, Forehand, Parker, & Rickard, 1982; Rigby, 2003; Wilkins-Shurmer et al., 2003). Negative academic consequences are linked to being victimized as well (Gladden, 2002). It is understood that bullying, in all of its forms, results in negative consequences. Whether overt or covert forms are utilized, the victim does not emerge from the experience unscathed.

Until recently, most of the focus on bullying was directed toward the easily identified bully-victim dyad. …

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