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Journal Article


Olweus D. J. Child Psychol. Psychiatry 1994; 35(7): 1171-1190.


Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Norway.


(Copyright © 1994, John Wiley and Sons)






VioLit Summary:

The purpose of this paper by Olweus was to review the literature that examined bullying in school.

The author reviewed both literature dealing with the incidence of bullying in schools in Norway and Sweden and the results of an evaluation of a school intervention program aimed at bullying.

The author began by defining bullying and supplying general information. He defined bullying as being when a student is "exposed repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other students" (p.1173). In one study, it was reported that in the majority of cases, the victim is harassed by a group of at least two or three students.
The author next supplied some basic facts about bully/victim problems. In a Norwegian study of 130,000 students, 15% of students in elementary and secondary/junior high school were involved in bully/victim problems on a regular basis. The studies showed that the percentage of students who reported being bullied decreased with higher grade levels. The studies also showed that bullying was carried out by older students, while victims were younger. The trend appeared to be that boys were more exposed to bullying than girls. However, girls were more exposed to indirect and more subtle forms of bullying (social isolation, etc...) than to bullying with open attack. Boys carried out a large portion of the bullying to which girls were subjected. But, in general, boys were more often both victims and perpetrators of direct bullying.
The author next looked at what the literature revealed about three common myths about bullying. The author stated that the first myth is that bullying is a consequence of large classes and schools. The literature refuted this. Next, the author reported that the second myth is that bullying is a consequence of competition and striving for grades. LISREL analysis of the data showed that this was not correct. Finally, the author examined the myth that explained victimization as caused by external deviation (physical appearance, etc...). But, once again, the author found no empirical support of this in the literature he reviewed.
In the next section of the paper, the author examined typical victim characteristics. Studies showed that typical victims were more anxious, lonely, and insecure than other students. Victims also had fewer friends. This type of victim was called a passive or submissive victim, characterized by an anxious or submissive reaction pattern combined with physical weakness. A smaller group, provocative victims, were characterized by a variety of both anxious and aggressive reaction patterns.
The studies also revealed that bullies were characterized by aggression toward both their peers and, in some cases, adults. They had more positive attitudes toward violence. They expressed impulsivity and a strong need to dominate others. Although passive bullies exist (people who participate in bullying but do not take the initiative), typical bullies were described as being very aggressive and physically strong.
The author next identified four factors that have been found to be important in terms of the upbringing and other conditions that were present that may have been conducive to the development of an aggressive reaction: basic emotional attitude of the caretaker(s) toward the child during the early years, permissiveness towards aggressive behavior by the child, use of power-assertive child rearing practices, and the general temperament of the child.
Finally, the author identified some group mechanisms that appear to be at work when bullying is done in groups: social contagion, weakening of the controls and inhibitors against aggressive tendencies, diffusion of responsibility, and gradual cognitive changes in the perceptions of bullying and the victim.
In the last section of the paper, the author described results of an evaluation of an intervention program he developed and implemented against bullying in school. The evaluation was on the effects of an intervention program based on data from 2,500 students belonging to 112 grade 4-7 classes in 42 primary and secondary/junior high schools in Norway. The data was collected four months after the introduction of the program and then one year and two years later.
The author stated the following results(1) marked reductions in levels of bully/victim problems for the time periods studied, (2) similar reductions obtained for the aggregated peer rating variables, (3) no displacement of bullying to before or after school, (4) clear reduction in general antisocial behavior, (5) improved social climate of the school, and (6) increased student satisfaction with school life in general. The author concluded that the above results were likely to be mainly a consequence of the intervention program implemented. (CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

KW - Blueprints Model Reference
KW - Bullying Prevention
KW - Bullying Intervention
KW - School Based
KW - Intervention Program
KW - Juvenile Offender
KW - Child Offender
KW - Bully Offender
KW - School Violence
KW - Norway
KW - Sweden
KW - Countries Other Than USA
KW - Bully Victim
KW - Victim Characteristics
KW - Offender Characteristics
KW - Child Victim
KW - Juvenile Victim
KW - Violence Intervention
KW - Program Evaluation
KW - Program Effectiveness
KW - Victim Characteristics
KW - Child Violence
KW - Juvenile Violence
KW - Literature Review
KW - Prevention Program
KW - Juvenile Bully
KW - Child Bully
KW - Early Adolescence
KW - Late Childhood
KW - Elementary School Student
KW - Junior High School Student
KW - Grade 4
KW - Grade 5
KW - Grade 6
KW - Grade 7

Language: en


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