Researchers began to study bullying and victimization just over 30 years ago (Roland, 2000). Recent studies have linked victimization to school-related homicidal acts by students (Anderson et al., 2001; Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002). In a case study of school violence incidents conducted by the United States Secret Service, the majority of school assailants reported being bullied (Vossekuil et al., 2002). In addition, both mental (depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety) (Juvonen, Graham, & Schuster, 2003; Bosworth, Espelage, & Simon, 1999; Espelage, Bosworth, & Simon, 2001; Prinstein, Boerg
ers, & Vernberg, 2001; van der Waal, de Wit, & Hirasing, 2003; Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001; Haynie et al., 2001; Salmon, James, & Smith, 1998; Hodges & Perry, 1999; Olweus, 1993b) and physical (e.g., headaches, sleeping problems) (Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Rantanen, & Rimpela, 2000; Rigby, 1998; Forero, McLellan, Rissel, & Bauman, 1999; Wolke, Woods, Stanford, & Schultz, 2001; Williams, Chambers, Logan, & Robinson, 1996; Rigby, 1999) health problems are associated with both bullying and victimization.
Bullying represents a form of aggression (Olweus, 1993a; Arora, 1996; Wolke, Woods, Bloomfield, & Karstadt, 2000; Kalliotis, 2000) and can be classified as either direct or indirect (Olweus, 1991; Olweus, 1993a; Baldry & Farrington, 1999). Direct or overt bullying is defined as both verbal (e.g., name-calling, teasing) and physical (e.g., hitting) incidents; and indirect or relational bullying includes spreading rumors and excluding others from activities (Prinstein et al., 2001; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Crick & Bigbee, 1998; Crick, 1996; Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, & Kaukiainen, 1992; Mynard & Joseph, 2000). According to Olweus, true bullying reflects an unequal balance of power and is both frequent and intentional on the part of the bully (Olweus, 1991; Olweus, 1993a).
Bullying and victimization represent a growing problem among middle and high school youth in the United States: a nationally representative study estimates 6% to 13% of students report moderate or frequent involvement in these experiences (Nansel et al., 2001). Regarding gender differences, researchers from the U.S., Europe, and Australia consistently find that males report both bullying and victimization more often than do females (Haynie et al., 2001; Juvonen et al., 2003; Nansel et al., 2001; Espelage & Holt, 2001; Forero et al., 1999; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Marttunen, Rimpela, & Rantanen, 1999; Rigby, 2000; Rigby, 1999; Whitney & Smith, 1993; Boulton & Underwood, 1992; Borg, 1999; Gofin, Palti, & Gordon, 2002; Roland, 2002; Grills & Ollendick, 2002; Demaray & Malecki, 2003; Rigby, 1998; Rigby & Slee, 1991). Bully-victims (those who are both bullied by others and bully others) are also more likely to be male (Juvonen et al., 2003; Rigby, 1998). Regarding specific types of bullying and victimization, physical bullying and victimization (e.g., hitting, fighting) predominantly occur among males (Rigby & Slee, 1991; Rigby, 1998; Rigby, 2000; Whitney & Smith, 1993; Borg, 1999; Prinstein et al., 2001). The pattern for relational types of bullying and victimization, however, is inconsistent: some studies report these behaviors more often for girls (Whitney & Smith, 1993; Borg, 1999), while others do not report any gender differences (Prinstein et al., 2001). Moreover, gender differences for verbal types of bullying and victimization are inconsistent in the literature (Borg, 1999; Rigby & Slee, 1991; Rigby, 1998).
In terms of school grade level or age differences, the majority of studies indicate a decreasing prevalence of bullying and victimization (and bully-victims) with increasing age (Nansel et al., 2001; Rigby, Cox, & Black, 1997; Rigby, 1997; Whitney & Smith, 1993; Boulton & Underwood, 1992; Gofin et al. …