Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Incidence of Bullying and Victimisation among Adolescents in New Zealand

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Incidence of Bullying and Victimisation among Adolescents in New Zealand

Article excerpt

Bullying and victimisation are highly prevalent among young people, and both bullies and victims exhibit negative outcomes (Stassen Berger, 2007). Adolescents are greatly involved in bullying and experience particularly adverse outcomes in comparison with children (Kim & Leventhal, 2008; Simon-Davies, 2011). Furthermore bullying phenomena are under-researched in New Zealand samples. This paper aims to describe the nature of bullying and victimisation in a large sample of New Zealand adolescents and compare the findings to results from international samples. Four types of bullying will be assessed: traditional bullying inside the school, traditional bullying outside the school, cyber bullying via text message and cyber bullying via the internet. The same four types of victimisation will also be assessed.

An indication of the world-wide prevalence of bullying and victimisation can be drawn from a number of large community-based studies. For example, Craig et al. (2009) used the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey to measure self-reported bullying and victimisation in children aged 11, 13 and 15 years in 40 countries worldwide (N = 202,056). New Zealand did not take part in this survey. Respondents were asked how often they had bullied others or had been bullied by others in the past two months. Response options included 'never', 'once or twice', '2 or 3 times a month', 'about once a week', or 'several times a week'. Those who reported being bullied at least '2 or 3 times a month' and did not report bullying others at least '2 or 3 times a month' were considered victims. Those who reported bullying others at least '2 or 3 times a month' and did not report being victimized by others at least '2 or 3 times a month' were considered bullied. If individuals reported being both bullied and victimised '2 or 3 times a month' or more they were classified as bully/victims. Collectively, 10.7 % of the sample reported bullying others, 12.6 % were victims and 3.6 % were bully/victims. The prevalence of being involved in bullying (as a bully, victim or bully/victim) varied greatly between the countries surveyed with estimates ranging from 8.6% to 45.2% in boys, and 4.8% to 35.8% in girls (Craig et al., 2009). The lowest rates of involvement in bullying for both boys and girls were reported from Sweden, and the highest rates of involvement for both boys and girls were reported from Lithuania (Craig et al., 2009).

Prevalence data based on large samples of school students have reported consistent rates of bullying and victimisation, despite the use of different response options. Nansel, Overpeck, Pilla, Ruan, Simons-Morton & Scheidt (2001) surveyed 11-16 year old students in the US (N=15,686) and found that in the past school term 8.8% of students reporting bullying others at least 'once a week', 10.6% reported bullying others 'sometimes' and 25% reported bullying others 'once or twice'. In terms of victimisation, 8.4% of students reported being victimised at least 'once a week', 8.5% reported being bullied by others 'sometimes' and 24.2% reported being bullied by others 'once or twice'. Fleming and Jacobsen (2009) used the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) to explore the prevalence of victimization of 13-15 year olds from 19 low-middle income countries (N=104,614). They found that 34.2% of respondents reported being victimised on at least one day in the past month. Of that group, 55.6% had been victimized 1 or 2 days and 19.7% had been victimised 3-5 days in the past month. Similar results were found in Venezuela with 37.0% of males and 27.0% of female adolescents reported having been the victims of bullying at least once within the past 30 days (Muula, Herring, Siziya & Rudatsikira, 2009).

When broader definitions are used, prevalence rates are higher. For example, in a sample of 25 schools from around the UK that included 4700 children, 75% reported being victims of bullying at some stage during the school year (Glover, Gough, Johnson, & Cartwright, 2000). …

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