Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

The Clustering of Bullying and Cyberbullying Behaviour within Australian Schools

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Education

The Clustering of Bullying and Cyberbullying Behaviour within Australian Schools

Article excerpt

Introduction

Bullying is defined as aggressive behaviour repeated over a period of time, characterised by a real or perceived imbalance of power perpetrated with the intent to harm the target (Olweus, 1996). Bullying between students at school can seriously affect the social, physical and psychological well-being--as well as the academic achievement--of both the perpetrators and those who are victimised (Arseneault, Bowes & Shakoor, 2010; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Marttunen, Rimpela & Rantanen, 1999; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Rantanen & Rimpela, 2000; Nansel et al., 2001; Wolke, Woods, Bloomfield & Karstadt, 2001). The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study found that just over one quarter (27%) of Australian school students aged 8 to 14 years reported being frequently bullied, and 9% reported frequently bullying others (every few weeks or more often) (Cross et al., 2009). Approximately 7% of students in Years 4 to 9 reported being cyberbullied every few weeks or more often in their last term at school (Cross et al., 2009). While cyberbullying occurs with less frequency than traditional bullying, its prevalence is still appreciable and possibly increasing in Australia, as elsewhere in the world (Smith & Slonje, 2009). The high prevalence of school bullying and its significant detrimental effects have prompted, especially in recent years, much research to better understand this behaviour and to intervene to reduce the harm associated with bullying (Farrington & Ttofi, 2009).

Research on behavioural phenomena amongst school students, such as bullying, must take account of the clustering of students within schools. This is due not only to the study designs used but also to the contextual influences on the variables of interest. Firstly, cluster sampling designs, where schools are selected in the first stage of sampling and individuals in the second, are often used in studies of young people, as schools facilitate access to the target population and survey administration (Carlin & Hocking, 1999; Heeringa, West & Berglund, 2010). Secondly, students' experiences of bullying at school or within other contexts depend on the behaviour and norms within the particular group: for example, a number of students in a school may be victimised by the same perpetrator. Additionally, young people's behaviour (and particularly problem behaviour) may be influenced by their peers (Dishion & Owen, 2002; Kiesner, Dishion & Poulin, 2001). Furthermore, in intervention research, wide use is made of grouprandomised trials, in which whole groups, such as schools, are randomised to conditions and interdependence of outcomes exist, particularly if the interventions have a whole-of-school focus.

The consequences of these clustering factors are that students within a particular school will be more alike with regard to bullying behaviour than students from different schools. This homogeneity within schools is measured by the intraclass correlation (ICC). In a two-level design with students nested within schools, the ICC can be interpreted as the extent to which students from the same school are more similar than students from different schools. The ICC is calculated as the ratio of the variation between schools relative to the total variation (at school and individual level) in the variable of interest such as bullying between students. ICC values vary between zero and one. Greater variation or differences between schools implies greater similarities within schools and hence a higher ICC value (Twisk, 2006). An ICC of zero would imply no variation between schools; that is, the variation in bullying outcomes of students aggregated within schools is equal to the variation among students across all schools. At the other extreme, an ICC of one (an unlikely value) would mean that all of the variation between students is due to school differences; that is, there are no differences within schools. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.