Aggression and Victimization in Middle School

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Aggression and Victimization in Middle School A Mixed Methods Analysis of the Process and Effectiveness of Implementing a Prevention Program
Dempsey, Allison
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (165 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
School Psychology
Educational Psychology
Committee Chair:
Waldron, Nancy L.
Committee Members:
Joyce, Diana
Sindelar, Paul T.
Storch, Eric
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Adolescents ( jstor )
Bullying ( jstor )
Educational psychology ( jstor )
Focus groups ( jstor )
Human aggression ( jstor )
Middle schools ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Victim identification ( jstor )
Educational Psychology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
bullying, middle, peer, prevention, program, school, victimization
City of Gainesville ( local )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
born-digital ( sobekcm )
School Psychology thesis, Ph.D.


To address the growing public interest of school safety, many American schools implement school wide prevention programs to reduce the occurrence and associated psychosocial outcomes of peer victimization. Prevention programs targeting peer victimization in middle schools have demonstrated minimal effect sizes at reducing rates of aggression and victimization?variables affected by the actions of aggressors. However, programs are often designed to empower victims and encourage bystander interventions, highlighting the need to measure the effectiveness of such programs according to the attitudes and actions of the victims and bystanders. Goals of the study were to (a) assess the effectiveness of a previously established peer victimization prevention program, Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders curriculum, at affecting victim and bystanders' attitudes and to (b) identify factors influencing program implementation and effectiveness. Four schools participated this study. At the Model Implementation condition school (School 1), the AVB curriculum was delivered with monitored integrity and consultation support. At the Traditional Implementation condition schools (Schools 2 and 3), the curriculum was delivered, with no implementation monitoring or consultative support. Finally, at the Control condition school (School 4) the program was not delivered. Participants were 283 students (Grades 6-8) attending the four middle schools who completed surveys before and after program implementation. Surveys included measures of victim resiliency (e.g., symptoms of depression and social anxiety and self-blame for victimization), bystander empathy, overall school climate, as well as frequency of aggression and victimization. Teacher and student focus groups were also conducted to identify barriers to program implementation and effectiveness. It was hypothesized that students in the Model Implementation condition would demonstrate greater changes in response to the measures at post-implementation than students in the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. No significant differences were found for any post-implementation variable among the three conditions across grade levels. Teachers identified several factors that influenced program implementation, including teacher beliefs and buy-in, administrative support, and developmental readiness of the students. Students identified revision of school discipline policies as an important component of future prevention initiatives. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Adviser: Waldron, Nancy L.
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Statement of Responsibility:
by Allison Dempsey.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Dempsey, Allison. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2 2009 Allison G. Dempsey


3 To my parents


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank m y parents for providing constant support and encouragement and never doubting my dream. I also thank my husband, Jack, for re minding me to always focus on the positive. I would also like to acknowledge the research te am who helped me with observations and focus groups, especially Stacey Rice. I thank Pat McGlaughlin for supporting me from the school district side and for encouragi ng me through every pitfall along the way. Finally I would like to express my gratitude to my committee; especially to my a dvisor, Dr. Nancy Waldron, for her support from beginning to end.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4LIST OF TABLES ...........................................................................................................................9ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... .............10CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND LI TERATURE REVIEW .............................................................. 12Definition of Peer Victimization and Bullying .......................................................................14Forms of Peer Victimization ................................................................................................... 16Involvement in Peer Victimization ......................................................................................... 18Prevalence of Peer Victimization ........................................................................................... 21Risk Factors ............................................................................................................................26Gender ........................................................................................................................ .....26Age ........................................................................................................................... .......29Social Context .................................................................................................................31Ethnic Context .................................................................................................................32School Context ................................................................................................................ 32Psychosocial Adjustment ....................................................................................................... .33Aggression .......................................................................................................................34Self-Worth and Self-Concept ..........................................................................................36Social Adjustment ...........................................................................................................37Internalizing Disorders ....................................................................................................38Conclusion .................................................................................................................... ...40Addressing the Peer Victimization Problem in Schools ......................................................... 41Measuring Peer Victimization ......................................................................................... 42Informal observations ............................................................................................... 42Peer and teacher nominations ................................................................................... 43Rating scales .............................................................................................................44Comparison of various assessment techniques ........................................................ 44Prevention Programs ....................................................................................................... 46Responsiveness to Program Goals ..........................................................................................50Program Effectiveness .....................................................................................................50Integrity of Program Implementation .............................................................................. 53Differentiation between school and teacher level factors ........................................ 54School-level factors ..................................................................................................55Teacher-level factors ................................................................................................57Conclusions and Future Research ........................................................................................... 60


6 2 METHOD ........................................................................................................................ .......65Participants .................................................................................................................. ...........65District .............................................................................................................................65Schools ....................................................................................................................... .....65Procedure ..................................................................................................................... ...........66Curriculum .................................................................................................................... ...66Integrity Checks ...............................................................................................................66Training, Curriculum Delivery, and Consultation Support ............................................. 67Model Implementation condition ............................................................................. 67Traditional Implementation condition ...................................................................... 69Control condition ...................................................................................................... 70Assessment of Student Outcomes ................................................................................... 70Focus Groups ...................................................................................................................72Teacher groups ......................................................................................................... 72Student groups ..........................................................................................................74Measures ...................................................................................................................... ...........75Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire (RPEQ) .......................................................... 76Cyber Aggression and Victimi zation Questionnaire (CAV) ........................................... 77Relational Victimization Questionnaire (RVQ) .............................................................. 78The Centers for Epidemiological St udies Depression Scale (CES-D) .........................78Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A) .............................................................. 79Characterological Self-Bla me for Victimization ............................................................. 80Attitudes to Victims Scale ............................................................................................... 80California School Climate and Safety Survey Short Form (CSCC-SF) ....................... 813 RESULTS ....................................................................................................................... ........85Quantitative Analyses .............................................................................................................86Teacher Implementation ..................................................................................................86Student Questionnaire Data Screening ............................................................................ 86Demographics .................................................................................................................. 87Analysis of Covariance ....................................................................................................88Assumptions check ................................................................................................... 89Victimization and relational victimization ............................................................... 90Aggression ................................................................................................................90Depressive symptoms ............................................................................................... 90Social anxiety symptoms .......................................................................................... 91Self-blame for victimization ..................................................................................... 91Bystander empathy ...................................................................................................91School climate ..........................................................................................................92Grade level influences on ANCOVA results ........................................................... 92Qualitative Analyses .......................................................................................................... .....93Teacher Focus Groups .....................................................................................................93Curriculum elements: Faci litators and barriers to curriculum delivery ................... 94Curriculum delivery: Facilitators and barriers to curriculum delivery ..................... 96


7 Appropriateness of curriculum: Facilitators and barriers to curriculum delivery .... 98Teacher beliefs: Facilitators and barriers to curriculum delivery........................... 100Positive student responses: Responses to prevention program .............................. 104Positive aggressor and victim responses: Responses to prevention program ........ 104Positive bystander responses: Responses to prevention program .......................... 104Negative student responses: Responses to prevention program ............................. 105Administrative support ...........................................................................................106Curriculum: Prevention program enhancement ..................................................... 106School: Prevention program enhancement ............................................................. 108Home and community: Prevention program enhancement .................................... 109Student Groups ..............................................................................................................110Thoughts regarding the curriculum ........................................................................ 110Perceived changes in student behaviors and attitudes ............................................111Beliefs about ability to change student behaviors .................................................. 113Description of peer vi ctimization at school ............................................................114Ideas for intervention enhancement ....................................................................... 1154 DISCUSSION .................................................................................................................... ...122Key Findings .........................................................................................................................123Administrative Barrier s to Program Success ................................................................. 131Teacher-Level Barriers to Implementation ................................................................... 131Child-Level Barriers to Program Success ..................................................................... 132Limitations ................................................................................................................... .........132Study Design and Sample Population ........................................................................... 132Measurement and Analyses ........................................................................................... 135Implications for Policy and Practice ..................................................................................... 136APPENDIX A PROGRAM ADHERENCE RATING SCALE AND GUIDE LINES FOR SCORING ...... 143Program Adherence Rating Scale .........................................................................................143Objective Guidelines for Completing the Program Adherence Rating Scale (PARS) ......... 145B SAMPLE CONSENT FORMS .............................................................................................146Parental Consent for Student Assessment ............................................................................ 146Parental Consent for Student Focus Group Participation ..................................................... 148Teacher Consent for Focus Group Participation ..................................................................150Teacher Consent for Observation ......................................................................................... 151C SAMPLE FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS ........................................................................... 152Teacher Focus Groups ..........................................................................................................152Student Focus Groups ...........................................................................................................152


8 D ASSIGNMENT OF FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT NUMBERS ...................................153Teacher Focus Groups ..........................................................................................................153Student Focus Groups ...........................................................................................................153LIST OF REFERENCES .............................................................................................................154BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................165


9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Demographic characteristic s of participating schools ....................................................... 822-2 Description of treatment conditions for each school ......................................................... 832-3 Composition of student participant sample ........................................................................ 843-1 Mean teacher scores on the Program A dherence Rating Scale at observations one and two....................................................................................................................................1173-2 Means and standard deviations on student questionnaire scales by condition ................ 1183-3 Correlation matrix of pre and post implementation scale scores ..................................... 1193-4 Teacher focus group categories and subcategories .......................................................... 1203-5 Student focus group cate gories and subcategories ........................................................... 121


10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy AGGRESSION AND VICTIMIZATI ON IN MIDDLE SCHOOL: A MIXED METHODS ANALYSIS OF THE PROCESS AND EFFECTIVENESS OF IMPLEMENTING A PREVENTION PROGRAM By Allison G. Dempsey May 2009 Chair: Nancy Waldron Major: School Psychology To address the growing public interest of school safety, many American schools implement school wide prevention programs to reduce the occurrence and associated psychosocial outcomes of peer victimization. Prevention programs targeting peer victimization in middle schools have demonstrated minimal eff ect sizes at reducing rates of aggression and victimizationvariables affected by the actions of aggressors. However, programs are often designed to empower victims and encourage bysta nder interventions, highlighting the need to measure the effectiveness of such programs accordi ng to the attitudes and actions of the victims and bystanders. Goals of the study were to (a) asse ss the effectiveness of a previously established peer victimization prevention program, Aggresso rs, Victims, and Bystanders curriculum, at affecting victim and bystanders attitudes and to (b) identify factor s influencing program implementation and effectiveness. Four schools participated this study. At the Model Implementation condition school (School 1), the AVB curriculum was delivered with monitored integrity and consultation support. At the Traditional Implementation cond ition schools (Schools 2 an d 3), the curriculum was delivered, with no implementation monitori ng or consultative support. Finally, at the


11 Control condition school (School 4) the program was not delivered. Participants were 283 students (Grades 6-8) attending th e four middle schools who completed surveys before and after program implementation. Surveys included measures of victim resiliency (e.g., symptoms of depression and social anxiety and self-blame for victimiza tion), bystander empathy, overall school climate, as well as frequency of aggre ssion and victimization. Teacher and student focus groups were also conducted to identify barriers to program implementation and effectiveness. It was hypothesized that st udents in the Model Implementation condition would demonstrate greater changes in re sponse to the measures at post-implementation than students in the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. No significant differences were found for any post-implementation variab le among the three conditions across grade levels. Teachers identified several factors that influenced pr ogram implementation, including teacher beliefs and buy-in, administrative support, and developmental readiness of the student s. Students identified revision of school discipline policie s as an important component of future prevention initiatives.


12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND LI TERATURE REVIEW In Novem ber 2002 school psychology scholars, practitioners, and stude nts gathered at the Multisite Conference on the Futu res of School Psychology to defi ne school psychology practice and identify future directions for the field. Of th e topics discussed, attende es identified that a key strategy to providing mental health services to all students is through the use of a public health framework (Myers, Myers, & Grogg, 2004; Nastasi, 2004). Within this framework, concentration is directed toward preventing psychosocial problems and academic deficits before they develop by using a proact ive approach to reducing risk (Albee & Ryan-Finn, 1993). To accomplish this goal, prevention and interventi on programs are implemented at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels to reduce risk among all students. By implementing primary, school wide prevention programs, pr actitioners may be able to decr ease the necessity of direct intervention and assessment services at the seco ndary and tertiary levels (Cummings et al., 2004). The following introduction section will expa nd upon the need for school psychologists to engage in consultation and preven tion, specifically to address issues related to school safety. Additionally, the section will conclude with a di scussion of the need to focus on the prevention and intervention of peer victimization to a ddress school safety. The occurrences of several la rge-scale acts of school violence and highly publicized adolescent suicides have brought issues of school safety to the forefront of media attention and made them a top priority for parents, student s, and schools. Motives of revenge for peer victimization are repeatedly identified as risk factors associated with violent and homicidal behavior (Spivak & Prothrow-Stith, 2001) and other problems w ith psychosocial adjustment (Olweus, 2001). In addition, a report published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (O'Toole, 2000) indicated that an underlying commonality am ong many perpetrators of school shootings is


13 an alleged history of being victimized by peers. As publication of this document indicates, there is a growing political interest in the issue of peer aggression and violence in American schools. This interest is also indica ted by the drafting of legislati on mandating that schools implement programs designed to promote school safety, part icularly through the reduction of bullying and other forms of peer victimization (Srabstei n, Berkman, & Pyntikova, 2008). Indeed, one major outcome of the School Psychology Futures Conf erence was the identification of the key problems that students face, which included vi olence and peer victimization (Crockett, 2003). Due to their knowledge of psychological and social development and the operations of educational systems, school psychologists have th e opportunity to play a leading role in the development, implementation, and evaluation of prevention programs designed to promote school safety through the prevention a nd reduction of peer victimization. Attendees of the Futures Conference identifi ed the role of sch ool psychologists in addressing peer victimizati on with a focus on prevention and emphasis on school wide interventions, implementation of evidence-base d programs and the goal of reducing social and psychological barriers to learning (Dawson et al., 2003). To provide a foundation for implementing prevention programs in middle schools, the following sections will provide an introduction and overview of school peer victimization among middle school s students. This will include a description of the defi nition and involved students, pr evalence, and risk factors for involvement. To provide an argument for the ne ed for prevention and intervention, a discussion of the related psychosocial correlates and development of psychosocial problems will be presented. Next, an overview of the state of prev ention activities will be discussed. This includes a description of best practices in prevention of peer victimization, including assessment, curriculum implementation, and revision of school di scipline strategies, as well as a review of


14 the effectiveness of such programs. Following th is is an analysis of the commonly-identified barriers to implementing such programs as prescrib ed. Finally, a brief description of the current investigation will be provided. The intent of this study is to determine the effectiveness of a peer victimization prevention program at altering the attitudes and actions of students involved in peer victimization and to identify potential barriers to teacher implementation and attainment of program goals. Definition of Peer Victimization and Bullying One predominant and widely researched for m of peer victimization is bullying. Generally, peer victimization refers to any intentional inf liction of harm that occu rs between two or more students and bullying refers to repeated inflicti on of harm (Olweus, 1993). From the time that the original interest in bullying initiated in the Scandinavian countries in the late 1970s, bullying has been a widely researched topic globally (S mith & Brain, 2000). There exist many definitions of bullying in the research literature and a cons ensus on a definition has not yet been reached. Several barriers exist that prevent the reaching of a consensus definition of bullying behavior. First, different definitions of bullyi ng may be appropriate dependent on the setting and population for which they are applied, such as schools, workplaces, and prisons (Ireland & Ireland, 2003). Thus, separate definitions of bully ing may need to be developed and agreed upon dependent on the setting in which the behavior is occurring. Kalliotis (2000) explained that another barrier to developing an in ternational consensus for a defin ition is that bullying is viewed differently in varying countries. For example, in the country of Hellas, the term used for bullying refers to a person with no discipline or order. In Scandinavian countri es the word used for bullying actions has a literal interpretation of mobbing, which suggests a group activity. Olweus (2001) explained that th is term was adopted from ethol ogy literature in which mobbing refers to a collective attack by a group of animals or an animal of another species, which is


15 usually larger and a natural en emy of the group, (p. 3). An a dditional problem in reaching a consensus definition of bullying occurs when tr ying to define bullying at the national level. Teachers and other professionals who work in the schools adopt their own definitions and perceptions of bullying (Craig, Henderson, & Murphy, 2000). A final impediment to the development of a consensus definition of bullying behavior is that some scholars have initiated an argument over whether bullying behaviors fall along a continuum, and thus cannot be described with a dichotomous definition (e.g., Espelage & Swearer, 200 3). In the continuum perspective, bullying involves behaviors that occu r in different degrees from low-level, such as verbal teasing, to high-le vel behaviors, such as physical aggression. In the field of bullying research in the school system, the most widely adopted definition of bullying was set by Olweus (1993) as a student is be ing bullied or victimized when he or she is exposed repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other students (p. 9). Elinoff, Chafouleas, and Sassu (2004) argued that this definition is too narrow, in that it does not describe the fundamental components of bullying. Generally, bullying is considered to consist of four major components: 1) intentionality; 2) repeated occurren ces; 3) multiple forms; 4) imbalance of power (Garritty, Jens, Porter, & Stoker, 2002). The intentionality component states that negative actions ar e intentionally inflicted upon one student by another. Thus, a negative action is not considered bullying if it is not done with malice, such as if one student accidentally trips another student. The repeated occurrences component states that bullying is not an intentional negative action that happens in is olation; the negative actions occur repeatedly over a period of time. The multiple forms component dictates that bullying can encompass a variety of negative actions, verb al and nonverbal, direct and indi rect. Verbal negative actions may involve taunting and threatening; nonverbal may involve physical aggression, rude gestures,


16 and making faces. Direct negative actions are acts th at are performed directly to a student from one or more students and can be verbal or nonverbal; indirect negativ e actions involve an intermediary source, such as writing somethi ng about a person on a chalkboard or spreading rumors. Finally, the fourth component of bullyin g is an imbalance of power. An imbalance of poweralso referred to as an as ymmetrical power relationshipoccurs when the victims have less power than the bullies a nd are therefore unable to defe nd themselves (Olweus, 2003). The Olweus (2003) definition of bullying in cludes the repeated occurrences component, but does not make specific reference to the ot her three components. Additionally, Smith and Brain (2000) indicated that the various definiti ons of bullying traditionally only include two of the four components: repetition a nd imbalance of power. To incorpor ate all four elements into a single definition of bullying, (Elinoff et al., 2004) revised Olweus original definition of bullying as it applies to school settings: B ullying is a form of aggression that is hostile and proactive, and involves both direct and indirect behaviors that are repeatedly ta rgeted at an individual or a group perceived as weaker, (p. 888). The definition of peer victimization shares all the definitional co mponents of bullying, except the repetition component. P eer victimization can therefore be broadly defined as the experience of a hostile and proactive form of dir ect or indirect aggression from one or more students who are perceived as more powerful th an the victim. The next section will further explore the clause that peer victimization may ta ke the form of direct or indirect aggression by describing the various forms of peer victimizatio n that have been identified and investigated. Forms of Peer Victimization The m ost commonly studied form of peer victimization involves overt forms of aggression, also referred to as direct victimization. This usua lly involves either physi cal or verbal aggression.


17 Physical aggression includes be haviors such as kicking, hittin g, tripping, flicking, and pushing victims. Verbal aggression includes taunti ng, teasing, threateni ng, and intimidating. Another category of aggressive behavior i nvolves relational peer victimization, also referred to as indirect or so cial aggression. Relational victim ization involves an attack on a victims social status (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). Crick (1996) expl ained, Whereas overt aggression tends to be focused on harming others through physical means, relational aggression involves harming others through purposeful manipulation or damage to their peer relationships, (p. 2317). This is often completed through covert means, such as spreading rumors and divulging personal information shared in confidence. Rela tional victimization can also occur via direct routes to the victim, such as through the us e of eye rolling and pur poseful exclusion from activities. A final form of peer victimization is cyber victimization. Cyber vic timization involves the use of computers and cellular phones to harass victims both in and out of school. Patchin and Hinduja (2006) defined cyberbully ing as willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text, (p. 152). Therefore, cyber peer victimiza tion is the intentional infliction of harm using electronic mediums. Ag gressors use personal computers to victimize other students via email, instant messages, posts on online discussion and bulletin boards, and the formation of slanderous websites. They also utilize cellular telephones to send text messages with mean or threatening messages to victims. So me research indicates cyber victimization most frequently occurs through in stant messages (Kowalski & Li mber, 2007). Though the goals of aggressors to cause physical, mental, and social harm to victims are the same as in overt and relational victimization, cyber aggression and victimization are distinct forms of peer victimization (Dempsey, Sulkowski, Nichols, & Storch, no date). Cyber forms of peer


18 victimization may appeal to aggressors because they have the ability to remain anonymous (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004a) and be cause there is little adult superv ision in cyberspace to limit their aggressive agendas (P atchin & Hinduja, 2006). Students may be involved in any of the three forms of peer victimization in a number of different roles. The following section will provide a description of the various roles that involved students may take in peer victimization situations. Involvement in Peer Victimization W ithin peer victimization situations, there are three broad categorie s of involved people: students directly involved in the act as aggressors and victims, and students indirectly involved in the situation, bystanders. In a factor analysis of different types of involvement in bullying, Wiens and Dempsey (in press) demonstrated that these three types of involvement (aggressors, victims, and bystanders) are categorically different from one another. That is, on a measure of involvement in peer victimization, students tende d to answer questions that indicated their involvement in one group of students: aggressors, victims, or bys tanders. Bystanders witness acts of peer victimization, the aggresso rs are the students who engage in the actu al act of aggression, and victims are those that at the receiving end of these actions. Chan (2006) proposed that the categories of victims and aggressors can be furt her divided into subcategories. There are two categories of aggressors: the students that vict imize one student or only occasionally engage in aggressive acts, and the serial bullies, who vic timize multiple students and engage in repetitive and deliberate actions to inflict harm. There are also two categorie s of victims: those victimized by one student, and those targeted by multiple ag gressors (Chan, 2006). In addition to children who are only aggressors and ch ildren who are only victims, th ere is another category of individuals, the bully-victim salso referred to as provocat ive victims. Bully-victims are students that engage in aggressi ve behaviors toward peers, and are also victimized. Nearly one-


19 third of individuals that are directly involved in bullying are bully-victims (Marini, Dane, Bosacki, & Ylc, 2006). Traditionally, only students dire ctly involved in peer victimi zation, aggressors and victims, have been the focus of research and interventi ons. More recently, students that are indirectly involved as bystanders have been considered an important group on which to focus in prevention programs. Bystanders choices and actions si gnificantly influence the outcome of peer victimization situations (Stueve et al., 2006). To clarify this point, Twemlow, Fonagy, and Sacco (2004) argued that the role of the bystander is an ac tive one. They explaine d that, the bystander is propelled into the role by dint or his or her interaction with th e victim and victimizer, and the ongoing interaction can be activated in a he lpful or harmful direction, (p. 217). There are at least four potential roles of bystanders: (a) assisting the aggressors (i.e., joining in on the aggressive behavior); (b) reinforcing the aggressors (e.g., cheering for the aggressor); (c) defending the vic tim and intervening in the situation; and (d) withdrawing or ignoring the situation (Salmivalli & Voeten, 2004) Salmivalli and Voeten (2004) conducted an investigation of the individual characteristics that predicted bystander roles among a group of school-aged, Finnish children (grades four to six). First, they found that bystander actions differed by gender at all three grad e levels. Males were more likely to engage in behaviors that supported the aggressive behavior (assisting or reinforcing) and gi rls were more likely to defend the victim. However, a potential confound to these re sults is that they did not define aggressive behaviors, and thus did not specify that relational forms of aggr ession are also forms of peer victimization. Therefore, it is po ssible that gender differences in bystander actions exist only for overt forms (verbal and physical) of aggression a nd not relational or cybe r aggression. Further


20 empirical investigation is needed to determine whether gender differences exist in bystander actions when considering relational victimization situations. Another finding of the study by Salmivalli and Vo eten (2004) was that attitudes towards aggression predicted bystander roles, as did classroom contextual factors. Classroom contextual factors were assessed by asking students what th ey believed students and teachers responses and actions would be in response to five overt victimization si tuations. Classroom contextual factors more strongly predicted female bystande r roles than male bys tander roles and were stronger influences in lower grades than upper gr ades. It is important th at future studies use multi-level modeling techniques to determine whet her there are classroom-level differences in bystanders actions. The results indicated that both attitudes toward p eer victimization and classroom context may need to be targeted in sc hool-level prevention programs. Further research needs to be conducted to determine the other fa ctors that influence bys tander actions so that these may also be targeted in interventions. Though the broad categories of involvement in peer victimization have been established, it is unclear whether students tend to fill the same role over time or whether direct involvement in peer victimization is transient. To answer this question, Camodeca, Goosens, Terwogt, and Schuengel (2002) conducted a study that investigated the stability of p eer aggression and victimization. Using peer nomination techniques they identified aggressors, victims, and provocative victims from a sample of 215 school-age d children at age seven (time one). One year later (time two) they again used peer nomina tion to identify aggressors and victims among the same sample of children. Results of employed cr oss-tabulations revealed that 50% of children identified as aggressors at time two were also identified as aggressors at time one. Additionally, 27% of children identified as vic tims at time two were also victims at time one. Finally 100% of


21 children identified as provocative victims at time two were also provocative victims at time one. Overall, boys demonstrated more stability in thei r roles than did girls. The results demonstrated that aggression and victimization is moderate ly stable in middle childhood, especially for children who are aggressors and provocative victims. Fortunately, for most children, involvement in victim roles is transient. It is important for future research to determine whether the minority of children who are continuous victims have mo re negative psychosocial and academic outcomes. It is clear that there are numerous ways that students may be involved in peer victimization. The next section will provide an ov erview of research investigating prevalence of peer victimization in American schools, as we ll as barriers to understanding true prevalence rates. Prevalence of Peer Victimization Accurate prevalence rates of peer victim i zation in schools are diffi cult to ascertain for several reasons. First, the lack of a standard definition of peer victimi zation and bullying leads to problems comparing prevalence rates across stud ies (Craig et al., 2000). Though some studies provide a definition of bullying, t hus describing that it is repeat ed, intentional, and involves an imbalance of power (e.g., Nansel et al., 2001), many studies only ask for specific behaviors and instead measure the larger concept of peer vict imization because repetitio n of behaviors is not assessed (e.g., Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001). One cross-national study asse ssing prevalence of reports of peer victimization/bullying from students (ages 11, 13, and 15) in 28 countries found that international reports of student victimization range from 4.1% in Sweden to 41.4% in Lithuania (Due et al., 2005). In the same study, 16% of American males and 11% of Am erican females endorsed being victims of bullying" in the current school term. However, these results may not provide accurate estimates


22 of peer victimization among American youth. No objective definition of bullying was provided to students. Thus, they may ha ve endorsed being bullied when they experienced only single episodes of peer victimization, thus leading to an overestimation of rates of bullying. In contrast, the numbers presented may be an underrepresenta tion of true rates of victimization because students tend to subjectively re port that they are victims of bullying less often than they are willing to report being victims of specific acts that fall under the definition of bullying (Stockdale, Hangaduambo, Duys, Larson, & Sarvel a, 2002). The term bullying may create ideas of weakness and physical aggression, leading students to shy away from saying they are bullied because they associate being bullied with weakne ss. Students may also only consider bullying to be associated with physical aggres sion and thus fail to indicate wh ether they had been victims of relational aggression. Anot her limitation to assessing prevalence rates exists even when the same questionnaire is utilized across studies and c ountries and a definition of bullying is provided because other individual and systemic factors may affect variability in reporting (Olweus, 2003). These factors may include language differences, p ublic attention to bully ing, and the students concept of bullying behaviors. Nationally, as well as internationally, barriers exist to attaining true prevalence rates of peer victimization. Barriers cons ist of a lack of teacher and administrator knowledge of what constitutes peer victim ization behavior. For example, Eli noff and colleagues (2004) argued that educators and administrators within school settings often do not recognize peer victimization in the low-level forms, and so frequently do not report behaviors that would fall within the definition of peer victimization. In support of th is line of reasoning, when pre-service teachers were asked to define bullying, only 6% recognized that bullying is a repetitive behavior and 28% indicated that it involves an imbalance of power (Bauman & Del Rio, 2005). In a different


23 qualitative study in which teachers were asked to provide their defini tions of bullying and attitudes toward the need to intervene, some t eachers indicated their beli efs that bullying is a natural part of growing up, vict ims often bully, and victims fre quently see bullying when it does not exist (Mishna, 2004). Finally, research into peer vi ctimization in American schools is much more limited than it is in other countries; few studi es exist that have examined nationwide prevalence (Bauman & Del Rio, 2005). In a notable exception to this, Nans el and colleagues (2001) analyzed data from a large national survey of over 15,000 students in grades 6 through 10 in the United States to determine rates of peer aggre ssion and victimization. In this study, a nationally representative sample of students was provided with a definition of bullying st ating that it may take various forms and involves a power differential, though it di d not directly state that it involved intention to harm or repetition. Students were prompted to indicate the frequency with which they were victimized and the frequency with which they engaged in peer aggres sion during the current school term. Additionally, victims were prompted to indicate the way with which they were victimized. The study found a national prevalence ra te for engaging in peer aggression behaviors to be 10.6% sometimes and 8.8% at least once a week. Overall, 8.5% of the sample indicated that they were sometimes victimized and 8.4% indicated that they were victim ized at least once per week. The overall rates of victimization and peer aggression may be under reported in this sample, because many aggression/victimization behaviors were not assessed. For example, relational victimization was onl y assessed through a question that asked about rumor/lie spreading, though not exclusion, eye-rolling, or divulging personal information. Additionally, overt victimization was assessed through verbal teasing, and physical aggression (hit, slap, push), though behaviors such as threaten ing and flicking objects were not included in the overall


24 assessment. Finally, the overall rates of peer victimization may also be underestimated in this study, because the researchers did not include cy ber aggression behaviors in the definition. Demographic differences in rates of peer aggr ession and victimization also existed in the above study. Overall, males reported being both a ggressors and victims more frequently than did females. Additionally, males reported higher rates of physical victimization than did females; females reported that they were most frequent ly victimized via rela tional and verbal/sexual aggression. There were no gender differences in rates of relationa l aggression or victimization. Children in 6th to 8th grade reported being victimized with more frequency than did children in higher grades. Youth from rural regions reported e ngaging in more frequent peer aggression than did youth from non-rural regions; no differences were found among geographic region (rural, town, urban, suburban) in fr equency of victimization. Due to the recent trend of usi ng technology to engage in peer aggression, few studies have examined the prevalence rates of aggression a nd victimization in cyberspace. In one study of over 1,000 American children and adolescents (g rades 5, 8, and 11), cyber aggression was measured with a single question asking students to indicate the frequency with which they told or spread lies about another stude nt, thus only focusing on a narrow range of cyber victimization behaviors (Williams & Guerra, 2007). Less than 5% of students in grade 5 endorsed that they engaged in this behavior, whereas 12% of stude nts in grade 8 and 10% of students in grade 11 indicated their engagement in th is behavior. This suggests that rates of cyber aggression and victimization may be highest in middle school, similar to other forms of bullying. In another study assessing the rates of c yber victimization in a sample population consisting of over 350 youth under age 18, 11% of respondent s indicated that they engage d in online bullying and 29% indicated being victimized on line (Patchin & Hinduja, 2006). A dditionally, 47% of respondents


25 indicated that they had witnessed online bullying. Chat rooms, email, and computer and cellular text messages were the most commonly repor ted modality for cyber victimization. Gender differences in aggression and vi ctimization were not assessed. Gender differences were examined in anothe r study assessing the prevalence of cyber victimization among a sample of junior high stud ents. In that study, 22% of males and 11% of females reported engaging in cyber aggression behaviors and 25% of both male and female respondents indicated that they had been vic tims of cyber aggression (Li, 2006). Another study of peer victimization in cybers pace asked youth (ages 10-17) who re gularly used the Internet to report on two indices of cyber victimization: (a) feeling threatened or worried because they were bothered or harassed online; and (b) feeling threatened or emba rrassed because another person posted or sent an electronic message about them that other people could see (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004b). Only 6% of youth respondents indicated that they had been harassed online in the past year. This significantly smaller rate in compar ison to the aforementioned studies could have resulted because cyber victimization via cellular text messages was omitted from the survey or because questions attached an emotional react ion to prevalence rates (e.g., only considered harassment if the youth felt threatened, wo rried, or embarrassed). Additionally, youth respondents may have reported less harassment on line because their caregivers were present when they answered the telephone survey. Si milar to the findings by Li (2006), no gender differences were reported in rates of victimization. In contrast, one study examining rates of cyber aggression and vi ctimization among 3,000 students in grades six, seven, and eight identif ied gender differences in both aggression and victimization (Kowalski & Limber, 2007). In this study, students completed a questionnaire that examined a broad range of experiences with cyber bullying and being bulliedeach


26 question specifically asked students whether they had been bullied by a specific cyber victimization behavior. Females reported being bullied more often than did males, and males indicated more frequent engagement in bullying than did females. Prevalence rates of cyber victimization may vary by geographic region and socioeconomic status of students because students from lo wer socioeconomic backgrounds may have limited access to the technology necessary to engage in c yber aggression. In support of this postulation, in a sample of middle school students from a rura l region in the Southeastern United States, only 14% of students reported being victims of cyber aggression and only 10% reported being aggressors (Dempsey, Sulkowski et al., no date ). Additionally, 36% repo rted that they had observed cyber aggression that was perpetrated by their peers. There were no grade or gender differences in frequency of cyber peer victimization. Despite the difficulties in identifying consistent estimates of prevalence of involvement in peer victimization, those that exis t demonstrate that peer victimi zation occurs frequently within schools and many students are invol ved in the process as aggressors, victims, and bystanders. There are several factors that influence student involvement in peer victimization, including individual and environmental ch aracteristics. Both the individual (gender and age) and environmental (social, ethnic, and school contexts) will be described in detail in the following section. Risk Factors Gender Research into gender dif ferences in reports of peer bullying and vi ctimization has found similar trends to those described by Nansel a nd colleagues (2001), in which males reported higher rates of physical aggression and victimization than do fe males. In a sample of 279 students in 6th grade (early adolescence), males reported higher rates of overt physical and verbal


27 victimization than did females (Grills & Ollend ick, 2002). Additionally, in a study of adolescent students between the ages of 13 and 17, males re ported being victimized via overt forms of aggression more often than females (Storch, Cr isp, Roberti, Bagner, & Masia-Warner, 2005). In the majority of studies, females report higher ra tes of involvement in relational victimization than in physical victimization (e.g., Cric k & Grotpeter, 1995; Prinstein et al., 2001) Research on gender differences in prevalence rates of relational victimization has demonstrated mixed results. Many researchers examining peer victimization in adolescent populations have demonstrated that males and females report similar rates of relational aggression and victimization (e.g., Prinstein et al., 2001; Storch, Brassard, & Masia-Warner, 2003; Storch, Crisp et al., 2005). In contrast, other studies in wh ich gender differences are found with females reporting higher rates of relational aggression and victimization than males, the sample populations are categorica lly different. For example, Ostr ov and Keating (2004) studied relational aggression in preschool students and reported that females engaged in relational aggression more than did males. Similar trends were found in a population of elementary-aged students (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). Finally, in two studies of a dolescents from different rural populations, gender differences were again found in rates of relational aggression and victimization (Dempsey, Haden, Goldman, Sivins ki, & Wiens, no date; Dempsey, Sulkowski et al., no date). It is possible that the mixed results in th e finding of gender differences exist due to variations in sample populations, which may have varying acceptance of traditional gender roles and values. Furthermore, age differences may ex ist in which females become more independent and rebellious in adolescence and therefore are more likely to challenge traditional gender roles, thus explaining the differences in trends in peer victimiza tion by gender between children and


28 adolescents in nationally represen tative populations (Nansel et al., 2001). Future research in this area should be conducted to inves tigate the role of ge nder expectations as a potential moderator in male and female engagement in relational and physical aggression. Another theory explaining the higher rates of female engagement in relational aggression versus physical aggression postulate s that relational victimization is viewed as more socially acceptable for females than is physical aggression (Crothers, Field, & Kolbert, 2005). Thus, the cognitive mechanism of internal ization of traditional gender ro les and values may mediate the relationship between gender and engagement in relational and physical victimization. Females may also engage in relational aggression more often than physical aggression because they understand that attacks to social status may be more devastating to females than overt attacks (Paquette & Underwood, 1999). This cognitive theory of mind approach to understanding peer victimization asserts that aggressors understand the mental states of their victims and take advantage of this understanding by selecting the most harmful fo rm of aggression. Supporting the hypothesis that cognitive mechanis ms may partially explain the relationship between gender and aggression, Vernberg, Jac obs, and Hershberger ( 1999) confirmed that attitudes about violence partially explained th e relationship between overt victimization and gender. In addition to assessing rates of victimization and aggr ession in a sample of over 1,000 adolescents in grades 7, 8, and 9, they also queried respondents attitudes about the legitimacy and utility of violence and the degree to wh ich respondents believed bystanders should ignore aggressive behavior among othe r students. Using hierarchical regression analyses, the authors demonstrated that attitudes about violence reduce d the error variance in the regression equation between gender and bullying by 30 percent. Thus males demonstrated higher (more acceptable) attitudes about violence than females and attitude s toward violence were strongly correlated with


29 victimization of others. After controlling for attitudes about vi olence, the relationship between gender and bullying behavior was significantly weakened. T hus, adolescents who view aggression to be useful in obtai ning a goal are more likely to e ngage in peer aggression than others. Werner and Nixon (2005) reported similar fi ndings in their study of the relationship between normative beliefs regard ing the acceptability and utility of aggression, and use of aggression as a retaliatory mechanism. Their findi ngs extended those of Vernberg and colleagues (1999) because they examined both physical and re lational aggression. Female students in grades seven and eight provided self-re ports about their engagement in physical and relational aggression, as well as their att itudes toward use of physical an d relational aggression. Beliefs about the utility of aggression uniquely contributed to the predic tion of self-report of relational aggression after controlling for physical aggression. Furthermore, attitudes regarding aggression also uniquely contributed to an explanation of the variance in reports of physical aggression after controlling for relational aggression. Cognitive mechanisms could also potentially explain the observed differences in effects of gender at different ages and am ong different populations. It is po ssible that age moderates the relationship between gender and a ttitudes regarding the ut ility of aggressive behavior. This needs to be examined in future studies to provide further clarification about the role of cognitive mechanisms in explaining gender differences in aggression and vict imization. Additionally, given that such cognitive mechanisms play a role in aggressive be havior, they should be considered when developing preven tion and intervention strategies. Age Both physical and relational peer victim iza tion are observable in children as early as preschool (e.g., Ostrov & Keati ng, 2004) and continue into a dulthood in the workplace (e.g.,


30 Tehrani, 2004). Peer victimization in schools in creases as children progress through elementary school and many studies indicate that it peaks in mi ddle school, before making a slow decline through the high school years (e.g., Na nsel et al., 2001). A potential explanation for the increase in relational forms of peer victimization duri ng early adolescence can be framed within a developmental context. Adolescence is the developmental period youth begin to compare themselves to peers with greater frequency a nd place increasing importance on peer status and sense of belonging when forming their self-c oncept (Jackson & Bracken, 1998). Aggressive students may view relational aggression as an es pecially harmful technique during adolescence because of this developmental change. Dominance theory may also partially explain the increase in peer victimization in early adolescence, especially in its overt forms (Pellegrini & Long, 2002). Early adolescence corresponds with the transition from elementa ry school into middle school, and thus the formation of new peer groups. Dominance theory pos its that individuals, particularly males vie for dominance in the peer group by exhibiting their power status (oftentimes through the victimization of their peers). Once these peer groups are formed and a dominance hierarchy has been established, there is no longer a need to vie for dominance, lead ing to a decrease in aggression in mid-adolescence. Using a sample of 321 students followed through grades 6 to 8, Pellegrini and Long (2002) gathered teacher reports of individual student behaviors and student self-reports of engagement in peer aggression. Teachers reports included an indication of each students assertion of dominance. Supporting the dominance theory hypothesis, both peer aggression and assertion of dominance ch anged in a similar trend across time. Another potential explanation to account for the increase of p eer victimization in middle school is the increased opportunity to engage in aggression. Students in middle school do not


31 spend their days in the same classroom and are given several unstruc tured passing periods throughout the day to transition to their classe s, allowing more frequent opportunities for victimization. In addition, supervision in middle school may also decrease in comparison to elementary school. In a comparison of elementary and middle school teachers, elementary school teachers correctly identified 47% of aggressors th at were peer-identified and 46% of victims that were identified by peers; middle sc hool teachers correctly identifie d only 22% of aggressors that were peer-identified and 16% of victims that were identified by peers (Leff, Kupersmidt, Patterson, & Power, 1999). This finding suggests that peer victimization in middle school occurs away from the supervision of adults and also implies that aggressors and/or victims are less likely to receive much needed services to re duce peer victimization and any related problems with psychosocial adjustment. Social Context Hom ophily is the concept dictating that during early adolescence students tend to demonstrate similar behaviors to others in their peer group (f or a review see Espelage & Swearer, 2003). The homophily hypothe sis attempts to explain obser ved increases in rates of physical victimization in early adolescence, when identificat ion with peer groups becomes particularly important. Espelage, Holt, and He nkel (2003) assessed the degree to which peer groups among students in grades 6 through 8 ac count for engagement in physical fighting (retaliating against aggression by hi tting a student back, getting in fights, and threatening to hit another student) and peer victimization behaviors (teasing, rumor spreading, and social exclusion). A confound to this study is that threats of physical violence can be considered a peer victimization behavior, instead of a physical fighting behavior. The investigators identified the peer groups of individual middle school students and then asked eac h student to indicate their engagement in specific peer victimization and fighting behaviors within the last 30 days. Using


32 hierarchical linear modeling, they found that peer group levels of engagement in peer victimization accounted for individual levels of engagement in peer victimization over time. Thus, students who were in peer groups with ot her students who engaged in aggression toward peers were also highly likely to engage in peer victimization. Ther efore, peaks in peer victimization in adolescence may result from adoles cents need to fit in with their peers and thus adopting behaviors similar to those of their peer group. Ethnic Context Individual ethnicity is less im portant in th e study of bullying than the ethnic dynamics of the school context (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). Though much peer victimization research is conducted in urban schools with high rates of ethnic diversity, few studies have examined the role of ethnic context in peer victimization. The lack of exam ination of ethnic contexts is problematic because risk and resiliency factors that moderate psychosocial adjustment of aggressors and victims may be influenced by et hnic context (Graham, 2006). In a study of 2,000 students attending 6th grade at multiple middle schools (Graham, 2006), ethnic diversity of the school was inversely related to student reports of victimizatio n and associated psychosocial adjustment problems (loneliness, poor self-worth, perceived threats to school safety). One hypothesis for this finding is that exposure to a greater diversity of students may promote tolerance for individual differences as opposed to intolerance and need for dominance. School Context Though peer victim ization has been demonstrated to occur across rural (Stockdale et al., 2002), urban (Sullivan, Farrell, & Kliewer, 2006), and suburban environments (Werner & Nixon, 2005), continued research is needed to identify factors that contribute to the variance in prevalence of peer victimization between schools. Few studies have investigated this important area of research (especially in the United St ates), though with the development of advanced


33 statistical techniques such as multilevel modeling, it is an area that should be expanded in the coming years. Specifically, studies need to be co mpleted in which hierarchical linear models are utilized to indicate the degree to which school differences, esp ecially school cl imate variables, account for variations in individual reports of peer victimization. Schools may differ in prevalence rates due to the individual factors of attending students (e.g., age), community variables (e.g., acceptance of violence, availability of supportive resources), and school variables (e.g., ethnic cont ext, school culture, attitudes of teachers toward peer victimization). In a Norwegian study of variance in rates of peer victimization between elementary schools, teacher reports of professiona l culture within the school on such dimensions as leadership, professional cooperation, and agreement on profe ssional issues was related to parent, teacher, and student reports of peer vi ctimization within the school (Roland & Galloway, 2004). However, this study was limited by the us e of multiple single comparisons among schools to assess between school differences, as opposed to the use of advanced statistical techniques (i.e., multilevel modeling), and therefore is a need for further replication of these findings. The previous sections have now demonstrated that peer victimization occurs with high frequency in middle schools and involvement varies as a function of individual and contextual characteristics. To show that peer victimizati on is not simply a natural and benign developmental process, the following section provi des an overview of research indi cating that peer victimization is associated with problems with ps ychological and social development. Psychosocial Adjustment Much research has examined associations be tween involvement in peer victimization and psychosocial adjustment (e.g., Dempsey, Haden et al., no date; Graham & Juvonen, 1998; Grills & Ollendick, 2002; Juvonen, Graham, & Schuster, 2003; Prinstein et al., 2001). The majority of such studies examine the short-term correlate s of peer victimiza tion by assessing current


34 involvement in victimization and reports of psychosocial functioning using cross-sectional research designs. Due to the nature of the research paradigm, it is difficult to establish a causal link between peer victimization status and psyc hological and social maladjustment. Thus, it is possible that students are victimized because th ey demonstrate lower levels of psychosocial adjustment and are therefore perceived as weaker than their peers. Similarly, it is possible that aggressors engage in aggression as a manifest ation of psychological a nd/or social problems. Additionally, it is also po ssible that direct involve ment in peer victimization causes students to experience increased adjustment problems. Longitudinal research designs are needed to demonstrate cau sality, yet few studies have followed students over long periods of time to establish the lasting effect s of victimization in childhood/adolescence on late r psychosocial adjustment. Retros pective studies are occasionally utilized to provide information about possible lo ng-term effects, though they are severely limited as the accuracy of retrospective recall of peer victimization is ques tionable. Nevertheless, retrospective studies have pr ovided support for the hypothesis that associations between victimization and psychosocial adjustment are causal (Rigby, 2003). Research using longitudinal designs and the application of structural equation modeling shoul d be conducted to ascertain causality within peer victimization and psychosoc ial adjustment relationships. Regardless of the considerable limitations of identifying consequences of peer victimization, it is essential that relationships between involvement in peer vi ctimization and psychosocial adjustment be identified and discussed. Aggression In an investigation of the role of social inform ation processing (Crick & Dodge, 1994) in perpetration of peer victimization, Camodeca a nd Goosens (2005) assessed the presence of proactive and reactive aggression and perceived ea se of engagement in aggressive behavior


35 among aggressors and victims. They defined proactive aggression as de liberate and unprovoked aggression, and reactive aggression as a defensive reaction to perc eived aggression from another. Individuals who display reactive ag gression, a form of retaliation, exhibit a misinterpretation of the actions of others, which result s in biases in all steps of soci al information processing (Crick & Dodge, 1996). In contrast, individuals who displa y proactive aggression are biased in later steps of information processing in which they cons ider the perceived conse quences of particular actions, and thus possess antisocial motivations for the aggressive behavior (Crick & Dodge, 1996). Deficits in social information processi ng can account for both relational and physical aggression (Werner & Nixon, 2005). That is, physically aggressive youth make hostile attributions in instrumental provocations, wher eas relationally aggressive youth create hostile attributions to soci al provocations. In another investiga tion of the roles of reactive and proactive aggression in peer victimization, Camodeca and Goosens (2005) uti lized peer nomination techniques to identify physical aggressors and victims among a sample of 242 Dutch school children. They utilized a teacher questionnaire to identif y the degree to which each child displayed reactive and/or proactive aggression. Additionally, each student wa s asked to self-report about the level of ease associated with engagement in aggressive behaviors. The researchers found that engaging in peer victimization behaviors was a ssociated with both proactive and reactive aggression, whereas being a victim was only associated with react ive aggression. Additionally, aggressors and victims displayed higher rates of aggression, increased deficits in their social-information processing skills, and greater ease of engaging in aggressive behaviors, than did defenders of victims and non-involved peers. This supported previous findings from a sample of 236 children (ages 7 and 8), which revealed that aggressors engaged in both proactiv e and reactive aggression,


36 victims engaged in reactive aggression, and nonin volved peers demonstrated neither reactive nor proactive aggression (Camodeca et al., 2002). Self-Worth and Self-Concept In a rev iew of research demonstrating corre lations between peer victimization and selfworth, Grills and Ollendick (2002) hypothesized that low self-worth serves as a mediating factor between victimization and anxiety in females a nd a moderating factor between victimization and anxiety in males. Self-worth reflects the degree to which a ch ild feels confident in his/her abilities in specific areas of functioning, as well as an overall global sens e of efficacy (Harter, 1982). Grills and Ollendick (2002) assessed a sample of 279 6th grade students to test their hypotheses. Overall, they found a negative relati onship between reports of overt (physical and verbal) victimization and self-worth, and this relationship was stronger among females than among males. They also found a negative relation ship between self-worth and anxiety and a positive relationship between victimization and anxiety. Further analyses confirmed their hypotheses that self-worth mediated the relations hip between victimization and anxiety for girls and not boys. Self-worth served as modera ting variable for the relationship between victimization and anxiety for boys, but not girls. Boys that reported low levels of self-worth reported higher rates of anxiety when they were victimized than did victimized boys with highlevels of self-worth. To date, no research has exam ined if these trends are present in situations involving relational a nd cyber aggression. To further investigate the role of self-worth in the relationship be tween victimization and psychosocial adjustment, Lopez and DuBois (2005) utilized structural equation modeling to assess the mediating effects of negative self-eva luation (self-worth). Their findings added to those of Grills and Ollendick (2002) as they established that the re lationship between peer victimization and emotional problems is stronger for females than for males.


37 Another study analyzed the relationship between involvement in peer victimization and global self-worth, as well as specifi c domains of self-concept, such as social competence, athletic competence, physical appearance, and self-contro l (Houbre, Tarquinio, Thuillier, & Hergott, 2006). Victims reported lower self-concept on scal es assessing social competence, athletic competence, physical appearance, and global self -worth in comparison to nonvictimized peers. In contrast, aggressors reporte d lower self-concept on measures of physical appearance and selfcontrol than peers not involved in bullying. However, aggressors reported higher levels of selfconcept on measures of athletic competence and so cial competence than their noninvolved peers, thus revealing that victims self-concepts are worse than those of th eir aggressors. Finally, provocative victims had the lowest self-concept on all measures in comparison to aggressors, victims, and noninvolved peers. Social Adjustment Aggression and victim ization not only affects individual students internal states, but also the ways in which other students perceive them. Juvonen and colleagues (2003) examined student perceptions of aggressors, victims, and provocative victims (as id entified by their peers) to determine the effects of invol vement of bullying on social stat us in a sample of nearly 2,000, predominantly African-American and Latino 6th grade students. They found that aggressors had the highest social status of all individuals included in the sample, including those not involved in peer victimization; victims had the lowest social status of all individu als. Furthermore, although social status of provocative vi ctims did not significantly differ from noninvolved students, this was the group most likely to be avoided by their peers. Retrospective studies of vi ctimization in childhood and adolescence have provided a compelling argument that victimization may have lasting impact for students beyond high school years. Jantzer, Hoover, and Narloch (2006) asked 170 college students about their peer


38 victimization experiences in elementary and secondary school and also measured current indicators of social adjustment (quality of frie ndships, shyness, and trust in relationships). They found correlations between recall of victimization and shyness, sati sfaction with friendships, and trust in early adulthood. As with all retrospe ctive methodology, there are several limitations to this study, including lack of ability to draw causal associations, and potential for bias in recall. However, the findings provide support for the ne ed to conduct longitudinal studies to determine long-term outcomes of victimization. Internalizing Disorders Relation al and overt victimization is associated with depression, loneliness, social anxiety, poor self-esteem (Juvonen et al., 2003; Prinstei n et al., 2001) and symptoms of social phobia (Storch, Masia-Warner, Crisp, & Kl ein, 2005) in males and females. Furthermore, being a victim of overt aggression is also associated with externalizing sympto ms in males (Prinstein et al., 2001). Children that engage in relational aggres sion demonstrate concu rrent social problems (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996) and peer rejection six months after be ing identified as an aggressor (Crick, 1996). Victimization through cyber forms of peer victimiza tion is also associated with depressive symptoms. Youth that are victims of cyber aggressi on report rates of depressive symptomology three to five times higher than do youths not involved in online victimization (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004a). An association between victimization in a dolescence and internalizing disorders in adulthood has also been established. Ledley and colleagus (2006) demonstrated that recall of adolescent verbal victimization is associated w ith interpersonal difficulties, such as decreased self-esteem regarding social sk ills, problems with intimacy and trust in relationships, and increased anxiety about being unloved and abandoned, in early adulthood. Additionally,


39 Dempsey and Storch (2008) demons trated that recall of relational victimization was associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety in early adulthood. Self-blame may mediate the relationship be tween peer victimization and psychological adjustment (Graham, 2006). More specifically, adolescents who attribute victimization as resulting from internal inadequacy are more likely to experience problems with psychosocial adjustment in response to bullying than are vic timized students who attr ibute victimization to external causes (Graham, 2006). In a qualitative study of victim ization experiences in middle childhood (fourth and fifth grades), girls reported feelings of re sponsibility, or blame, for victimization whereas boys did not (Mishna, 200 4). Such a trend suggests that gender may moderate the relationship between victimiza tion and psychosocial adjustment in middle childhood. This is an important topic to further inve stigate, especially in adolescent populations. In addition to gender, ethnicity may serve as a mediating factor between overt and relational victimization and in ternalizing disorders (e.g., l oneliness, depression, social avoidance). In a population of African Amer ican schoolchildren (ages 8 to 13), overt victimization was positively rela ted to fear of negative evalua tion (social anxiety), social avoidance, and depression; relational victimi zation was not a predicto r of any psychosocial adjustment after controlling for gender and overt victimization (S torch, Zelman, Sweeney, Danner, & Dove, 2002). However, due to the small sample size of this study, additional studies should attempt to replicate the me diating effect of ethnicity (or urbanicity) in the relationship between relational victimization and psychosocial adjustment. The association between perpetra tion of peer victimization a nd internalizing disorders is less clear. Prinstein and colleagues (2001) f ound that engagement in overt aggression is associated with depressive and externalizing symptoms in males and females and engaging in


40 relational aggression is also asso ciated with externalizing symptoms in females. In contrast, Juvonen and colleagues (2003) failed to find a positive relationship between internalizing symptoms and perpetration, though they did not a ssess for differences in overt and relational forms of victimization. Instead, they reported that aggressors actually re ported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and lone liness than students who were not involved as victims or aggressors. The contrasting resu lts between these two studies could be due to the differing definitions of aggressors. Prinstein and fellow researchers (2001) analyzed the relationship between perpetration of peer vi ctimization and internalizing symptoms while differentiating between relational and overt aggression, wher eas Juvonen and colleagues (2003) grouped both forms of victimization into one definition. Fu rthermore, the two samples were from very different contexts (suburban vs. urban) a nd were comprised of different ethnicities. Conclusion Peer victimization is clearly prevalent and problematic in mi ddle schools. Though it may be implemented in many forms and via different me dia, the goal of the perpetrator is to cause harm to the victim. An examination of the psychosocial correlates of peer victimization, especially from research indicati ng that victimization precedes the development of psychosocial problems, indicates that harm is indeed inflicted and can affect a students social, emotional, and academic functioning. This evidence underscores the need for the problem of peer victimization to be addressed in the environment in which it frequently takes placeschools. The remainder of the introduc tion chapter is dedicated to discussing the implementation of prevention programs to address peer victimization in middle schools. This will begin with an overview of the steps school psychologists need to take to implement a peer victimization prevention program, including assessing current rate s of peer victimiza tion and selection of prevention programs. Following this is a review of research indicating the effectiveness of


41 prevention programs. Finally, the section will concl ude with a discussion of the potential barriers to implementation, focusing on issues rela ted to integrity of implementation. Addressing the Peer Victimiz ation Problem in Schools Schools need to take several st eps to address peer victim ization to ensure the safety, and promote social and psychological well-being and academic success for all attending students. In recognition of this need, some states have a dopted legislation mandati ng that their schools implement prevention programs to reduce bullyin g and other forms of peer victimization (Furlong, Morrison, & Greif, 2003). As of June, 2007, 35 states have adopted some form of legislation to address school bully ing/peer victimization (Srabste in et al., 2008). Among these 35 states, 25 had provided actual definitions of bul lying in their legislation, though the definition of bullying varied among the states and did not consistently include the four components of bullying (Elinoff et al., 2004) that were previous ly described. Therefore, many of the enacted laws may actually pertain to the larger construct of peer victimization, rather than bullying. Furthermore, the scope of the legislation varied by states. Some states included language in their legislation that acknowledged that peer victimizati on is associated with poor er mental health. In addition, some legislative acts strictly prohibited school peer victimization and others either mandated or encouraged implemen tation of prevention programs. To address this legislative demand, and to meet the needs of students, schools should implement comprehensive, evidence-based prev ention program that involves actions at the primary, secondary, and tertiary le vels. Best practices in bullying prevention specify that schools should take several steps to achieve this goal (Whitted & Dupper, 2005). The steps involved in addressing the school peer victimization problem are assessment of prevalence, implementation of an evidence-based prevention pl an, and individualized interventi ons for current aggressors and victims (Olweus, 2001). The following sections will describe each step in greater detail. The first


42 section on measuring peer victimization will provide a review of the different strategies to assessing peer victimization a nd identifying involved students. The next section will provide a description of the elements that should be incl uded in prevention progra ms. Finally, there will be a presentation of the research related to pr ogram effectiveness and barriers to program implementation and effectiveness. Measuring Peer Victimization Crothers and Levinson (2004) provided a review of the different m ethods used in the assessment of school peer victimization. They identified several methods including informal observations, sociometric procedures (i.e., peer and teacher nomination), teacher ratings, selfreport, and survey instruments. When selecting a measurement method, it is essential to consider the purpose for the measurement (i.e., to identif y specific bullies and vi ctims for individualized interventions, to evaluate rates of victimization in an entire school). When attempting to identify specific children who are bullies and victims so that individualized interventions can be implemented, techniques such as peer and teacher nominations and self-report are appropriate to use. When conducting an assessment of prevalence of peer victimization in an entire school, such as for evaluation of a prevention program, anony mous self-report surveys, reviews of discipline referrals, and direct observations around the sc hool are appropriate me asurement techniques. Informal observations Direct observations can be utilized to objectively gather info rm ation about observable peer victimization behavior in schools. Observations need to be conducted across environments (e.g., lunchroom, hallways, classrooms) and over multiple time periods to gather information about the variables and contexts that promote peer vi ctimization behaviors (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). Information gathered from direct observations can aid in prevention planning, as it will indicate the environments most in need of increased supervision. Informal observations are not


43 recommended for gathering information regarding th e specific prevalence of peer victimization within a school because many forms of peer victimization may not be observable (e.g., forms of relational and cyber victimization). Peer and teacher nominations Peer nom ination is a sociometric technique in which students are as ked to nominate (or name) students who are victims and students who ar e aggressors from a list of students (usually students in the same classroom or grade). The evaluator then tallies the nominations for each child, and usually assigns a Z-scor e to indicate the degree to which a child is identified as an aggressor or victim in comparison to other stude nts. Students with the hi ghest Z-scores, or who received a given number of nominations, on the tw o dimensions are then considered aggressors and/or victims (or provocative victims) and thus are identified as those most in need of direct intervention services. Teacher nomination works much the same ways as does peer nomination. Teachers are prompted to provide names of stude nts who are aggressors/victims or who engage in specified behaviors with the most frequency. Espelage and Swearer (2 003) argued that peer nomination is easiest to use in elementary sc hool populations rather than middle or high school populations because teachers and students remain in the same classes throughout the day. They recommended that for older populations of students, it is more useful to ask students to name a specified number of students in their grade (not from a provide d list) who engage in specific behaviors (e.g., shoving other st udents). Solberg and Olweus (2003) explained that peer nominations are inappropriate te chniques to utilize for assessi ng general prevalence of peer victimization within a school because cutoff poi nts tend to be arbitrary and may vary as a function of individual classroom context a nd are not reproducible from study to study.


44 Rating scales Rating scales are useful instrum ents to util ize for the assessment of prevalence of peer victimization. They can be used in research studies or within school s to identify specific behaviors and rates of victimization. The Olwe us Bully/Victim Questionnaire (Olweus, 1996) is the most well established instrument for measuri ng prevalence rates of sc hool bullying and peer victimization. It is an anonym ous 36-item questionnaire on which students are asked to indicate the frequency that they have been bullied and en gaged in bullying within a given time frame. The survey provides a definition of bullying to the students and as ks them about rates of global bullying/victimization and rates of specific beha viors, which include overt and relational forms of bullying. However, the questionnaire does not provide differen tiated scores for overt and relational bullying, rath er they are grouped into one category. Based on response patterns, individuals are then considered, bullies, victims, bully-victims or uninvolved. Furthermore, the scale does not include an assessment of cyber victimization behaviors. Rating scales can also be used to classify re spondents into groups based on severity, type, and frequency of involvement in peer victimizat ion. Using students resp onses to rating scales, researchers and practitioners can also complete a la tent factor analysis to classify students into groups of victims and aggressors based on their response patterns (Nylund, Bellmore, Nishina, & Graham, 2007). Comparison of various assessment techniques In an investigation of the m ost accurate me thod of identifying perpetrators of peer victimization, Cole, Cornell, and Sheras (2006) compared the congr uency of peer nominations of aggressors to self-report of pe rpetration of peer victimization behavior in a sample of over 300 middle school students. The researchers f ound virtually no correlation (r = .003) between students who self-reported as aggres sors and students that other students identified as aggressors,


45 thus indicating that the two methods identify very different categor ies of students. Students that were identified through peer nomin ation techniques had significan tly more discipline referrals, detentions, and suspensions than self-reported aggressors, as well as higher self-concepts. They concluded that use of survey instruments as king students to self-ide ntify themselves as aggressors may underestimate the prevalence of e ngagement in peer victimization, and therefore peer nomination techniques should be utilized when the purpose of the assessment is the identification of specific aggressors needing individualized interventions. In another comparison of the correlations between the various overt bullying and victimization assessment techniques, Pellegrini and Bartini (2000) comp ared the correlations between direct observation, survey instruments, se lf-report via the use of a diary, and two forms of peer nominations. They asked students to i ndicate three students who were aggressors and three victims and put marks next to the names of students who engage in or are victims of 36 specific behaviors. Overall, direct observations of both aggression and victimization were the least congruent with the other assessment methods. The two fo rms of peer nomination were highly correlated (r = .75), which suggests that either method of peer nomination is appropriate for the identification of a ggressors and victims. Though peer nomination allows for the identifica tion of aggressors and victims, it is an inappropriate technique for measuring the peer vi ctimization problem in a school because it does not provide information about prevalence rates. Therefore, teacher or students rating scales should be used to gather information about the occurrence of peer victim ization. In a comparison of elementary and secondary teacher and student rating scales assessing th e prevalence of peer victimization, teachers consistently underestimat ed the frequency and percentage of students involved in peer victimization in comparison to information provided by students (Bradshaw,


46 Sawyer, & O'Brennan, 2007). Thus, this finding indicates that st udent rating scales are more accurate measures to use when the goal is to assess prevalence of peer victimization within a school setting. Prevention Programs In a com prehensive review of best practices in prevention of peer victimization in schools, Whitted and Dupper (2005) outlined the necessary components that prevention initiatives should include. First, they argued that interventions should be different than interventions for children engaging in mutual fighting because peer victimiza tion is a qualitatively di fferent construct that involves a power differential. They further indica ted that school peer victimization intervention initiatives must target the entire school, not just individual stude nts: Strategies to prevent or minimize [peer victimization] in schools must include school-level inte rventions designed to change the overall culture and climate of the school; classroom-level interventions targeting teachers and other adults in the school; and student -level interventions that target individual or small groups of victims and bullies, (p. 169). Interventions at the school-level are implemented with the goal of altering the current school climate from one in which students easily perpetrate peer victimization of other students without consequence to one where there ar e diminished opportunities and increased consequences for aggressive behavior. In a comprehensive review and evaluation of wholeschool approaches to peer victimization prevention, Smith, Schneider, Smith, and Ananiadou (2004) outlined several components/steps essentia l to prevention programs. The first step in reaching this goal is to objectively define peer victimization behaviors so that all school personnel are aware of the behaviors that necessi tate a consequence. The school also needs to increase supervision in areas in which peer vict imization is likely to occur, as indicated by student reports. Finally, school administrators need to deci de on a code of conduct that


47 specifically delineates consequences for engaging in peer victimization and need to widely communicate this to all member s of the school community, including lunchroom personnel and bus drivers, and to the students. Furtherm ore, all school personnel need to accept the responsibility to act on peer victimization behaviors every time they are observed to communicate to students that such behavior s are unacceptable and will yield unfavorable consequences for aggressors. Students and teachers often abstain from reporting incidents of peer victimization because they experience a diffusion of responsibility, each assuming that it is the task or responsibility of other students or administrators to intervene (Olweus, 2001). A school wide Positive Behavior Suppor t (PBS) plan is one way to punish perpetration of peer victimization behavior and reinfo rce prosocial behavior, such as defending victims. PBS plans have been demonstrated to reduce problem behaviors, including overt victimization (kicking and pushing), outside of individual classrooms in middle schools (Oswald, Safran, & Johanson, 2005). The goal of many classroom-leve l interventions is to stimul ate discussions about peer victimization and to empower bystanders to take actions to in tervene in peer victimization. Twemlow and colleagues (2004) theo rized that the overriding goal of school peer victimization interventions should be to shift the bystanders perception of their role from abdicating (avoiding the acknowledgement that they play an active role in the bullying process) to a helpful, altruistic role in which they feel inclined to defend the vi ctims. Salmivalli (1999) further clarified the goal of classroom-level interventions when she suggeste d that they be utilized to raise awareness of the peer victimization problem, allow opportunity fo r self-reflection of personal participation in peer victimization, promote commitment to engagement in victim-defending behaviors, and allow opportunity to role-play these behaviors. Classroom-level interventions are usually


48 implemented via a set curriculum. One example of such a curriculum is the Aggressors, Victims, Bystanders program (Slaby, Wilson-Brewer, & Dash, 1994) which was developed toward the goal of altering attitudes about the acceptability of violence a nd changing the perceptions of bystanders from their view of passive to activ e participators in situ ations involving peer victimization. Finally, individual-level interven tions should also be implemented directly with aggressors and victims. Individual level interventions for victims should include direct counseling to increase coping mechanisms and resiliency, and assertiveness training. Problem-based learning may also be an effective strategy for decreasing victimization (Hall, 2006). Whole-school approaches to preventing and intervening in peer victimization involve creating a school-wide discipline policy, incr easing adult supervis ion on school grounds, particularly in places where st udents report peer victimization is most likely to occur, and delivering curriculum to all students with the particular focus of em powering bystanders to defend victims and stop reinforci ng or joining aggressors (Sm ith, Cousins, & Stewart, 2005). Using a survey of elementary and secondary sch ool principals in Ontario, Canada, Smith and colleagues (2005) identified specific actions a nd characteristics of schools and programs that were reportedly effective in reducing school pe er victimization. Of the 1,734 randomly selected public and Catholic schools solicited to comp lete the survey, 395 responded (22.8%). A strong sampling bias may exist in that only principals that were conscientious and concerned about the school peer victimization problem may have selected to return the survey. The survey queried each principal about their schools demographic char acteristics, nature and severity of the peer victimization problem (as indicated by incident s of both overt and relational victimization), resources directed toward addressing the problem, current interventions, and efforts to evaluate


49 the effectiveness of implemented programs. On e significant confound to th is study was that all information was to be answered by school officials, thus true rates of pe er victimization may not be reflected. Using multiple regression analyses to analyze the survey information, they found that schools reporting increased utilization of adequate resources (time, money, and personnel) and amount of programming (e.g., individual co unseling, classroom discussion, committees specifically designed to address sc hool victimization) perceived their initiatives to be more effective. They conclude that, a piece-meal a pproach [to peer victimization] with inadequate resources will likely have little impact on [aggressor/victim] problems, (p.758). To date, there are no programs described in th e research literature that target relational aggression, nor is there evidence of the effectiveness of the existing prevention programs at reducing rates of relational fo rms of victimization. Young, Boye, and Nelson (2006) emphasized the critical need for research in this field. They recommended two strategies that schools may adopt until this information becomes available: (a) implement interventio ns designed to target overt forms of victimization or (b) develop new intervention st rategies based on the relational victimization. Clearly, neither of these suggestio ns is in accordance with best practices for prevention and intervention practices. Merrell, Bu chanan, and Tran (2006) also identified the problem of lack of research in the area of interventions. They recommended that until such information becomes available, school psycholog ists could take steps toward interventions by making teachers and other school personnel aware of the relational aggr ession problem through in-service presentations that in clude definition, prevalence, pote ntial negative outcomes, gender, family, and cultural issues contri buting to relational aggression, and a description of assessment procedures. Furthermore, they cautioned against the developm ent of specific programs and instead advocated for the inclus ion of relational victimization in programs to promote healthy


50 emotional development and decrease antisocial behavior, such as those that increase social emotional learning utilizing positive behavior support. Responsiveness to Program Goals There are tw o common methods by which to evalua te an intervention: efficacy trials and effectiveness trials (for a re view, see Prochaska, Evers, Pr ochaska, & Johnson, 2007). The goal of efficacy trials is traditionally to generate a maximum effect size for a specific intervention. To do this, efficacy trials involve highly controlled experimental conditions that include (a) a homogeneous sample of participants who are likely to respond to the intervention; (b) implementation by highly trained interventionist s/researchers; and (c) tightly controlled conditions in a single site. In contrast, the goal of effectiveness trials is to evaluate the responsiveness of an entire targeted populati on to an intervention under realistic conditions. Interventions in effectiveness trials are frequently implemen ted across sites (e.g., schools) by professionals in the settings (e.g., counselors, teachers), as opposed to researchers in a laboratory setting. Thus, efficacy trials usually yield higher e ffect sizes than effectiveness trials, though they sacrifice external validity. Evaluations of p eer victimization prevention programs are most frequently conducted using effectiveness trials. Program Effectiveness Many program s exist to decrease peer victimi zation and associated adverse outcomes, yet the programs are seldom effective when school o fficials adopt and implement them in the United States (Olweus, 2001; Smith, Ananiadou, & Cowi e, 2003). Olweus (1993) developed a peer victimization prevention program widely implemented in Scandinavian schools and demonstrated positive results. However, a lack of program effectiveness was found in a metaanalysis of studies evaluating the effectiven ess of peer victimizat ion prevention programs implemented in North America and Europe (Smith et al., 2004). More sp ecifically, the purpose


51 of the meta-analysis was to investigate the specific factors related to effective interventions, including age of the target ed students, components of the implemented program, and characteristics of the design utilized to evaluate effectiveness of the programs, such as controlled or uncontrolled studies and degree to which random assignment was utilized. Included in their meta-analysis were studies that evaluated the im plementation of whole-school peer victimization prevention programs in more than one classroo m with reported quantitative outcome data regarding the prevalence of peer victimization in the school. At the time that their data collection was finished in December 2002, only 14 studies were identified, thus demonstrating the paucity of evaluation research in this area. The author s concluded that nearly all of the 14 studies reported effect sizes that were small, negligible or even negative for reducing self-reports of victimization and aggression from pre to post program implementation. Furthermore, they found that studies that reported us ing integrity checks for implem entation reported more positive outcomes than did studies with no integrity checks. Integrity checks involved use of questionnaires, observations, and activity logs. They also reported that the programs that reported significant effects were implemented in elementary and middle schools. Programs implemented in high schools did not yield positive effects. A more recent investigation of a peer victimization preven tion program implemented in Finland also provided evidence th at prevention programs are most effective when implemented with increased integrity (Salmivalli, Kaukiaine n, & Voeten, 2005). This study not only examined changes in prevalence of aggression and vict imization, but also bys tanders attitudes and perceived efficacy toward intervention in peer victimization situations. They found that in schools with high levels of impl ementation, effect sizes were m oderate, ranging from .31-.44, for decreasing bystander attitudes to peer victimization and increasi ng their perceptions of efficacy


52 about intervening in peer victimization situations. However, effect sizes were significantly smaller, even in high-level implementation schools at decreasing self-rep orted victimization and aggression. This suggests that pr evention programs may be benefi cial when implemented with high levels of integrity, at changing bystander attitudes and actions, th ough not at reducing overall levels of peer victimization. Therefore, prevention programs may actually be beneficial, though effectiveness cannot be demonstrated wi th the traditional method of only measuring prevalence of perpetration and victimization. It is possible that though prevalence does not decrease, bystander interventions may increase and thus diminish the relationship between victimization and problems with psychosocial adjustment. In a recent study, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (Olweus, 1993) was implemented in 10 middles schools (7 interventi on and 3 comparison) serving grades 6 through 8 and evaluated for its effectivene ss at altering rates of overt and relational victimization, as well as students attitudes toward victims (Bauer, Lozano, & Rivara 2007). Attitudes toward victims were measured using three dichotomous questions designed for the study. Overall, there were no changes in prevalence of either overt or relati onal victimization. However, when results were stratified by ethnicity, th e researchers found that Caucasian students reported a decrease in prevalence of both relational and physical victimi zation in comparison to students in schools that did not implement the prevention program; ot her ethnic groups did not demonstrate these differences. No differences were found between intervention and comparison schools in regards to students attitudes toward vi ctims. When results were stratif ied by grade, they found that 6th grade students at intervention schools reported more positive at titudes toward victims than 6th grade students in comparison schools.


53 Integrity of Program I mplementation A review of school-based prevention programs in the United States indi cated that lack of program fidelity is a common problem and contri butes to the lag in re sponsiveness to peer victimization prevention program objectives (Gottfredson et al., 2000). In an influential report, Sharon Mihalic, the Director of th e Blueprints for Violence Preven tion Initiative at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, asserted th at the mere implementation of evidence-based programs is not sufficient to decrease violence peer victimization in the schools and emphasized that it is the quality of implementation that yi elds intended outcomes (Mihalic, 2002). In a response to the debate over the need for adaptatio n of program elements to fit the specific needs of a school, Elliott and Mihalic (2004) emphatically stated, The available research demonstrates that fidelity is related to effectiveness and any bargaining away of fidelity will most likely decrease program effectiveness, (p. 51). Gresham, Gansle, and Noell (1993) specified guidelines for evaluating quality of implementation of school-based behavioral inte rventions: (a) in tervention components should be objectively defined and measureab le; (b) each intervention co mponent should be objectively measured through direct observation; (c) treatm ent integrity should be monitored by assessing the number of days it was implemented out of total days of the inte rvention and number of components properly implemented per day; and (d ) objective measures of integrity should be corroborated with self-re ports. Though these guidelines were directed toward the evaluation of interventions for individual students, they can be extended to school wide prevention programs. There are two major concerns that surround the issu e of implementation quality of peer victimization prevention programs (Kallestad & Olweus, 2003). The first concern relates to general factors that affect implementation of programs and the second concern relates to the variability within these factors at the school a nd teacher levels. Genera l factors that affect


54 implementation of programs and reform initiatives are directly related to the features of the programs/plans themselves. Much research has been done in the field of e ducational reform that delineates necessary components of programs that influence implementation. In a comprehensive description of the factors influe ncing state and local adoption a nd implementation of educational reform initiatives, Datnow (2000) explained that there is a paradigm shift in the field of educational reform toward the a doption of externally designed reform programs, such as peer victimization prevention programs de veloped by researchers. This is beneficial to school districts because they do not have to spend time and mone y to develop reform initiatives anew. There is a current paradox in which there is a strong need for schools and districts to a dopt programs that fit the needs of their schools, yet many administrators feel uninformed and unprepared to evaluate programs for goodness of fit (Datnow, 2000). To overcome this paradox, it may be beneficial to provide a strong media presentation that describes the current bullying problem and presents a highly structured intervention program (Kallestad & Olweus 2003). There is a need for systematic evaluation of this potential strategy (Shinn, 2003). Differentiation between school and teacher level factors Along with individual program f actors, there exist general sc hool level variables that influence adoption and implementation of programs and individual teacher variables that influence the delivery of program components. To differentiate between school context variables and individual teacher variable s that influence integrity of program implementation, studies utilizing multilevel model analyses are needed. A ccording to Price (2003), Prevention research is at a point in histor y in which the context of prevention programs can no longer be ignored. The myopic focus of the microsocial analysis must be supplemented by a contextual framework that enlarges practitioners understa nding of microsocial processes, (p. 2). To further expand upon this point, Shinn (2003) explained that multilevel m odels are necessary to use for statistical and


55 conceptual reasons when evaluating integrity of implementation. The statistical purpose of using multilevel models in prevention research is that single level designs are based on the assumption that there are not between-school differences in integrity of imp lementation. Violation of this assumption results in underestimating the standard errors of predicted coefficients (Raudenbush & Bryk, 2002). The conceptual reasons for the utiliz ation of multilevel mode ls in evaluation of prevention research are twofold. First, children and teachers are not norm ally distributed across school environments in the United States. Schools differ by socioeconomic levels, parental education levels, and many other important characteristics. Sec ond, knowledge of the degree to which factors at the school and teacher levels influence integrity of implementation will be essential to researchers and practitioners so that program fidelity can be maximized. School-level factors Kallestad and Olweus (2003) conducted an invest igation of factors th at accounted for the varying degree of im plementation of peer victim ization prevention programs at the classroom level between and within schools using a mu ltilevel design. They assessed integrity of implementation by asking teachers to self-report on their engagement in several dimensions of program implementation, such as us e of role-play and holding cla ss meetings about incidents of peer victimization. The absence of objective meas ures to monitor implem entation integrity, such as direct observations of classrooms and review of permanent student products related to prevention program activities, is a potential confound to the st udy. They reported that school climate factors are associated with variance between schools. On e school climate factor that accounted for a significant propor tion of the variance between sc hools was degree of openness in communication among school staff. Openness of co mmunication was an index of the frequency by which teachers engaged in informal convers ations with one another regarding classroom issues and relationships with st udents. Another factor that acc ounted for a significant proportion


56 of the between-school variance was overall school attention to peer vic timization. Schools that held a school conference day de dicated to learning about peer victimization and presented questionnaire results on the prevalen ce of peer victimization in the specific school to teachers at a staff meeting had teachers who displayed hi gher rates of implementation integrity. In a review of over 3,500 school-based preven tion programs implemented in the United States targeting such problems as drug abus e, gang involvement, and violence, and other problem behaviors, Gottfredson and Gottfredson (2002) delineated several school-level factors that influence adoption and implementation of programs. Overall, they found that schools reported consistently implementing programs a pproximately 60% of the time. Thus, 40% of programs were not regularly implemented, and thus had low treatment fidelity. Furthermore, they outlined four characteristics of schools that demonstrated higher rates of implementation integrity than others. First, sc hools with low organizational capacity tend to experience more problems than those with a hi gher capacity. Low organizational capacity may be demonstrated by schools with poor staff mo rale and attitudes of hopelessness and resignation about the possibility of improving school conditions, as well as high rates of teacher turnover. Second, schools that have high or ganizational support in terms of training and resources are more likely to implement programs with integrity than schools in which f aculty and staff did not receive adequate training for implementation of a program. They hypothesized that adequate training involves adequate amount and quality of instruction, supervision, and support, including corrective feedback. Third, school s that adopt prevention progra ms with higher degrees of structure are more likely to demonstrate more treatment fidelity. Therefore, they recommended that schools adopt highly stru ctured programs that include detailed manuals and prepared materials for use by educators. Finally, the more program activities are aligned with normal


57 school activities, the more likel y they are to be implemented. Thus, the authors recommended that professional educators, and not volunteers deliver programs in a teaching context in the regular classroom. Payne, Gottfredson, and Gottfredson (2006) furthere d this research of general, school-level factors by examining contextual differences in schools that led to increased implementation integrity. They found that four school demographic factors accounted for 78% of the variance in reports of integrity of prevention program impl ementation. First, poverty-level (and related to this, ethnic make-up) of the school accounted for 30% of this variance; si ze of the school and urbanicity accounted for 23% of the variance; gr ade level accounted for 13% of the variance; and rate of teacher-turnover accounted fo r 12% of the variance. All of th ese factors can be considered related to the aforementioned characteristics asso ciated with increased implementation integrity (organizational capacity and support, quality and quantity of traini ng, ability to purchase a highly structured program, and degree of integration in normal school cult ure). In fact, when structural equation modeling fit these school characteristics into an inte grative model, they found few direct relationships between demographic factor s and integrity of implementation; rather the relationships were mediated by the fo ur implementation characteristics. Teacher-level factors In their study of the factors that predict va riability between and w ithin schools in program implementation, Kallestad and Olweus (2003) indicat ed that the strongest predictor of within school variability was simply whether the teacher s implementing the program read and reviewed program related materials (e.g., informational ha ndouts and manuals). An additional factor that accounted for teacher implementation variability was teachers perceptions of the degree to which their actions in the implementation progr am would produced outcomes associated with decreased bullying. They also reported that teacher age, years of experience, and education-level


58 were not predictive of integrity of implem entation. Shinn (2003) cau tioned that this study, conducted in Norway, may not be generalizable to schools in the United States because American schools are composed of more diverse populations on multiple dimensions (e.g., ethnicity, socioeconomic status, urbanicity). A recent research study in the United States, howev er, examined barriers and facilitators to program integrity in the implementation of a PBS intervention (Kincaid, Childs, Blase, & Wallace, 2007). Using a qualitative research desi gn, the researchers found that lack of teacher buy-in was the most frequently identified barr ier to achieving program integrity, whereas the most frequently identified facilitator was r eceiving district and administrative support for implementation of the program. Whitted and Dupper (2005) also identified individual teacher variables as influences on implementation integrity. They explained that often teachers do not properly implement peer victimization prevention programs due to time constraints or they make modifications to programs, drastically diluting or eliminating the effectiveness of such programs. Thus, perceived teacher time, training, and support could be poten tial barriers to implementation integrity. A recent study examined the effects of teach er integrity of implementation on bullying prevention program success (Hirschstein, Van Sc hoiack Edstrom, Frey, Snell, & MacKenzie, 2007). In this study, three schools were randomly assigned to a control condition and three matching schools were randomly assigned to th e peer victimization prevention program condition. The Steps to Success program (Committee for Children, 2001) was implemented to 549 children in grades 3 through 5. Two types of teacher implementation were monitored in the study: (a) the degree to which teachers talk the talk and (b) walk the walk. The talk the talk element of implementation was the delivery of the designated program curriculum and was


59 measured by dosage (i.e., number of lessons deli vered), adherence (i.e., the key ingredients of the lessons were delivered), and overall quality of lesson delivery (e.g., classroom management, instructional techniques, and emotional t one). The walk the walk component of implementation was the degree to which teachers ge neralized skills taught in the curriculum to real school situations. This invol ved modeling/guiding appropriate behaviors using references to the curriculum (as opposed to just telling child ren when they are misbehaving) and coaching students to acquire taught sk ills through one-on-one inte ractions and role-play. The integrity of both elements of implementa tion was monitored using direct observations of teachers and the research then assessed whet her integrity was associated with intended outcomes of the prevention program. Outcomes we re measured using pre-post comparisons of playground behaviors, teacher rati ngs of childrens perpetration of peer victimization and overall social skills, and students self-report of aggression, victimization, bystander actions, and perceived adult responsiveness. The talking the talk dimension of analyses indicated that teachers did not differ in number of lessons delivered, but they did differ on the adheren ce and quality of lesson delivery. Teachers that demonstrated grea ter lesson adherence reported be tter child social skills than teachers with low adherence. However, child re ports of aggression, victimization, and bystander actions, as well as observed peer victimization behaviors on the playground, were unrelated to adherence. In addition, lesson quality actually increased student reports of difficulty responding to aggression (bystander actions) an d self-reports of victimization. When looking at the walking the walk dime nsion, the authors found that teachers that provided greater support for skill generalization using modeling had students with less observed playground aggression and victimi zation. However, this trend was only found among older, but


60 not younger children. Teacher modeli ng did not affect student repor ts of peer victimization, aggression, or bystander activity. Fi nally, teachers that engaged in coaching and role-playing of skills had students with demonstrated decrease s in observed victimization, aggression, and encouragement of peer victimization, but no chan ges in student or teacher reports of aggression and victimization. These results indicate that t eacher integrity of implem entation is associated with some program outcomes (e.g., teacher perceptions of student behavior and observed playground behaviors), but not overall student reports of direct involvement in victimization or bystander actions. This suggests th at even with increased qual ity of implementation, programs still may not yield decreases in student reports of aggressi on and victimization. Conclusions and Future Research Adolescent bullying and victim i zation is a significant problem in American schools and school psychologists have the opportunity and re sponsibility to work with schools to alter attitudes toward peer victimizati on and the negative effects it has on victims. Nearly one-third of adolescent students are either vi ctims or aggressors (Nansel et al., 2001) and even more students serve as bystanders. Bullying occurs in multiple forms (i.e., overt, relational, and cyber) and all forms are related to negative social and emoti onal adjustment for victims (e.g., Prinstein et al., 2001). It is particularly preval ent and problematic in early adolescence when students transition into middle school and vie for positions in th e social hierarchy (P ellegrini & Long, 2002). Although many programs have been developed to address peer victimization, they show few to no positive effects when implemented in American schools. Lack of implementation integrity may contribute to the lack of responsiven ess to programs (Gottfredson et al., 2000). It is also possible that programs find little success, as measured by students self-reports of aggression and victimization, because they increase awareness a nd knowledge of peer victimization, resulting in more recognition and reporting of the pr oblem. In future studies, it


61 may be beneficial to measure other dimensions of success of programs, such as changes in student attitudes toward peer vic timization. It is also possible th at programs do not decrease rates of aggression and victimization, but may still prom ote resiliency in victimized children and result in decreases in associated psychosocial adjustment problems. This is also an area of research that needs to be further examined. This study contributes to research on the efficacy of peer vic timization prevention programs and the possible barriers to achieving positive student and school outcomes. In this mixed method study, a previously established pe er victimization prevention curriculum, Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders (Slaby, Wilson-Brewer, & Dash, 2002), was delivered to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade middle school st udents in three rural middle schools. The AVB program uses a 12-session curriculum to teach students problem-solving and conflict resolution skills and to promote classroom conversations ab out peer victimization. At one middle school, a model program was implemented (Model Implementation Condition). For the Model Implementation Condition, the researchers presen ted to all teachers in the school on peer victimization prevention and provided training to deliver the program curriculum. All teachers at the school were responsible for program delivery. In addition, researchers monitored the integrity of implementation and provided feedback regard ing adherence to the program curriculum. The use of observations to monitor implementation and the provision of corrective feedback following these observations is one of the f our components that Gottfredson and Gottfredson (2002) delineated as being influential to ma intaining treatment integrity. In addition, the researchers also attempted to pr omote integrity of implementation by utilizing a highly structured program and aligning the program with normal sc hool activities as teachers implemented it in classrooms.


62 Two other schools were assigned to the Traditional Implementation Condition. The Traditional Implementation Condition involved tr aining all teachers about peer victimization prevention, but only training a s ubset of teachers (Social Stud ies teachers) to deliver the curriculum. The Social Studies teachers then de livered the curriculum in their classes, though integrity of implementation was not monitored by observation and corrective feedback was not provided. The researcher provided teachers with contact informati on to ask questions about the program as they arose. Finally, at a 4th middle school, no curriculum was delivered and no staff training on peer victimization wa s provided (Control Condition). The current study extends the existing research literature by assessing the effectiveness of the program at altering bystander attitudes, schoo l climate, and victim resiliency in addition to self-reported frequency of aggre ssion and victimization. First, one goal was to determine whether the program altered bysta nder attitudes toward victimsan established predictor of bystander interventions in peer victimization (Salmiva lli & Voeten, 2004)and overall school atmosphere and climate. A second goal was to determine whether the program promoted resiliency in victims, as measured by student-reported changes in symptoms of depression and social anxiety. Finally, self-blame regarding victimizationa f actor thought to mediate the relationship between victimization and psychosocial adjustment (Gra ham, 2006)was assessed. Little research has examined changes in these indices with preven tion program implementation and thus specific, directional hypotheses could not be formed. Howe ver, it was hypothesized that greater changes would be observed among students in the Model Impl ementation condition versus students in the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions Because all resources were not in place to promote integrity of program implementation in the Traditional Implementation schools, it was


63 hypothesized that there would be no significant differences among the responses of students in the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. The current study also contribute s to research on peer victim ization prevention in schools by providing qualitative information about the process of implementation and barriers to achieving changes in student rates of peer vi ctimization. This qualitative information was gathered from focus groups with teachers in the Model and Traditional Implementation conditions, as well as students in the Model Implementation condition. The goal of the teacher focus groups was to develop an understanding of barriers to program delivery, perceptions of utility and effectiveness of th e program, and suggestions for program improvement. The goal of the student focus groups was to elicit opinions on the curricular components of the program and any perceived changes (positive or negative) that resulted from the peer victimization prevention initiative at the school. Use of qualitative i nquiry, specifically usi ng grounded-theory, is warranted when attempting to gather information about process (Creswell, 2002; Creswell, 2007). Thus, the information gathered from qualitative research methods will enhance understanding of the data obtained through quan titative methods and will influence future attempts to enhance the utility of school-based prevention programs. The research questions addressed in the current study are as follows: Does the AVB program alter studen t self-reports of victimization and aggression from pre to post implementation? Does the AVB program alter stud ent perceptions of school climat e and students empathy toward victims? Does the AVB program promote resiliency in students, which will be measured by changes in self-reported symptoms of depr ession and social anxiety, and se lf-blame for victimization? What are the factors that make implementa tion of the program difficult for teachers? What were teachers overall perceptions regard ing students responsiveness to the curriculum?


64 What did students perceive to be the most effective components of the program? What components of the program did students find ineffective?


65 CHAPTER 2 METHOD Participants District Participating schools were located in a pre dom inantly rural county in the Southeastern United States. According to the 2000 census da ta (United States Census Bureau, 2000), approximately 16% of families in the county li ve at or below the pove rty linethis exceeds national levels of families living at or below poverty (9%). The median family income of the county ($34,499) is lower than the median income of the United States ($50,046). Schools Four of the five m iddle schools in the county, serving students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, participated in the st udy with the consent of school principals. In January 2007 the districts school psychology department conducted an evaluation of the prevalence of bullying and victimization in district middle schools, as well as associated ps ychosocial indices of adjustment (depression and anxiety). This asse ssment revealed that there were no significant differences in student-reported rates of being an aggressor, victim, or bystander; thus, it was assumed that there were no rele vant differences between the sc hools in the current study with regard to rates involvement in peer victimization. The demogr aphic characteristics of each school are presented in Table 2-1. A summary of the treatment condition in each school is presented in Table 2-2. School 1 was assigned to the Model Implementation condition, Schools 2 and 3 were assigned to the Traditional Implem entation condition, and Sc hool 4 was assigned to the Control condition. Overall, 283 students (61% females) return ed forms indicating parental consent for students responses to be used in the study. The demographic characteristics of participating students are presented in Table 2-3.


66 Procedure All study procedures were completed with th e approval of the University of Florida, Institutional Review Board, the director of special education services and the lead school psychologist of the district, and th e principals at each of the part icipating schools. Sample copies of all consent forms are included in Appendix B. Curriculum The Aggressors, Victim s, and Bystanders (AVB) curriculum (Slaby et al., 1994), was delivered to all students at all treatment condition schools. The 12-session curriculum, appropriate for students in grades 6 through 9, encouraged students to contemplate how to use a 4-step conflict resolution model to problem-solve and contribute to the resolution of peer conflict in the roles of aggressors, victims, and bys tanders. Curriculum materials came from the AVB teachers manual, which included detailed instruc tions for curriculum delivery for the teachers, as well as activities and handout s to be completed by students (i.e., permanent products). Integrity Checks Trained observers com pleted the Program Adhe rence Rating Scale (PARS) as a measure of teacher adherence to AVB program guidelines at the Model Implementation condition school. A copy of this measure is included in Appendix A. Observers were gradua te students in school psychology and licensed school psychologists working in the distri ct. They were provided with training and detailed guidelines for completing the PARS. All obser vers completed the PARS in pairs until inter-observer agreement (IOA) was 80% or greater. All pairs of observers achieved IOA over 80% during their firs t observationsa number conve ntionally agreed upon as acceptable for reliability (for a review, see Kennedy, 2005). Average IOA across raters was 93%, with all disagreements within one rating scale point of each other.


67 Observers made unannounced visits over th e 12 weeks of curriculum delivery to all teachers at the school who provided consent (n= 22) and observations were completed for the entire curriculum delivery session. After the sessi on, observers indicated on a rating scale from 1 ( no implementation ) to 5 ( no deviation ) the degree to which teachers adhered to program guidelines for (a) amount of time delivered; (b) use of group participatio n; (c) completion of student products; and (d) meeting specified sessio n objectives. Ratings were tallied to provide an overall score (ranging from 4 and 20) for the enti re session; higher scor es indicated a greater degree of integrity of implementation. This sc ale was designed for the current study and was based on the system used by Hirschstein and colle agues (2007) in their st udy on the influence of implementation integrity on program outcomes for a bullying prevention program. In that study, the researchers evaluated integrity of implemen tation based on teachers adherence (i.e., the key ingredients of the lessons were delivered) and overall quality of lesson delivery (e.g., classroom management, instructional techniques, and em otional tone). A copy of the measure and guidelines for scoring are included in Appendix A. Training, Curriculum Delivery, and Consultation Support Model Implementation condition The researcher delivered a presen tation to a ll school staff during a teacher planning period in mid-August. The first hour of the training sess ion involved an introduction to the topic of peer victimization, including definitions and recogni tion of behavior, a discussion of the peer victimization problem at the schoo l, as indicated by survey data completed the prior year, and small group discussions regarding teacher percep tions of bullying and peer victimization. The following two hours were a training session for delivery of the AVB program and it was delivered to every teacher in the school. The AVB curriculum training included a description of the goals and structure of the program, and a revi ew of each lesson. The first three lessons were


68 reviewed in detail and the teachers were prov ided with an overview of the remaining nine lessons. Each lesson was described in detail in the training manual. In addition, an emphasis was placed on delivering all components of the program with integrity. Teachers were then allotted time to ask questions about the curriculum and provided with the contact information for the researcher and encouraged to contact the research er with any questions. They were also informed that the researcher would be at the school regularly on Mondays and Tuesdays to answer questions about the curriculum and to obser ve its implementation in randomly selected classrooms. Teachers at the model implementation school vot ed on the time and days that they would deliver the curriculum. The goal of allowing teach ers to vote on some delivery variables was to increase the likelihood of teacher buy-in. The te achers voted to deliver the curriculum during fourth period on either Monday or Tuesday each week because th eir fourth period had an extra 30 minutes of class time each day to allow for staggering of lunch periods, which would allow for lost class time to be made up over the wee k. The AVB curriculum was delivered to students over 12 weekly sessions from October to January. All 29 teachers with a 4th period class delivered the curriculum to their classes. Teachers were asked to complete a brief lesson summary at the end of each session. Teachers delivering the curriculum were asked to provide written consent to allow their classrooms to be randomly observed two times ove r the twelve weeks. Out of the 29 teachers delivering the curriculum, 22 provided consent for observation. The researchers observed the delivery of the curriculum in randomly sel ected classrooms each Monday and Tuesday to monitor implementation integrity us ing the PARS and to provide br ief feedback to teachers after the session. Each teacher was observed on two occasions, with a different researcher/observer on


69 each occasion. After each observation the research er completed the PARS as an indication of program guideline adherence. Immediately follo wing each observation session, the researchers briefly met individually with teachers to provi de feedback regarding adherence to program guidelines and to provide suggestions to enc ourage increased or main tained integrity of implementation. Traditional Implementation condition All staff in the Tradition al Implementa tion condition schools received the one-hour presentation about peer victimization that was delivered at the Model Implementation condition school. This also took place during teacher plan ning period in mid-August. In addition, the researcher met with social studies teachers over the following two weeks during 90-minute, after school meetings to train them to deliver the AVB curriculum. Only the social studies teachers at the traditional implementation schools received training in the curriculum. Teachers were asked to complete a brief lesson summary at the end of each session. Teachers were then provided with the contact information for the researcher(s) and encouraged to contact them with any questions. The researcher met with the groups of teachers af ter approximately the third lesson was delivered to answer any questions and problem-solve to overcome any barriers to implementation. Social studies teachers at both schools vot ed to determine when they w ould deliver the curriculum. At school 2, the teachers did not come to a consensus decision to deliver the curriculum on a weekly basis and so one teacher opted to deliver the curriculum in twel ve consecutive class periods. The other five teachers delivered the curriculum once weekly. At School 3, all teachers selected to deliver the curriculum in twel ve consecutive class periods. Similar to the curriculum delivery in the model school, the AVB curriculum was delivered to students in 12 sessions between October and January. Integrity of implementation was not monitored at these schools and the researcher s did not regularly provide feedback about


70 adherence to program guidelines. Researchers were available for consultation by email, though no teachers at these schools contacted the researcher for help. Control condition School 4 did not receive trai ning or implem ent any element of the prevention program during the period when data collection occurred, though students did take the survey at both pre and post test. Upon request of the principal, School 4 received similar training to school 2 and 3 in the spring 2008 semester and bega n curriculum delivery in March 2008. Assessment of Stude nt Outcomes All students at the four part icipating schools were provide d with an opportunity to com plete self-report measures during their class time as part of a district evaluation of the program. Survey questions were de veloped in consultation with th e school district. The district assumed all costs related to survey administ ration (i.e., photocopying). Teachers administered the surveys during classroom time. As part of the post-test survey administration, the school district opted to send passive consent forms to a ll parents to allow parents to request that their children not take part in the districts evaluation. The researchers requested parental consent for stude nts responses to be us ed as part of this research study. Consent forms for using student su rvey responses in research were sent home to all 2,230 students at the four participating school s in September and each school provided an incentive for students to return the forms with parental consent or refusa l. Of the surveys sent home, 628 surveys were returned with parental consent to participate in research. Students participating in the survey provide d their assent or refusal of asse nt to complete the surveys and were informed that there would be no penalty for refusal of assent. Only students with parental consent for study participation a nd students assent for particip ation at both pre and post test were included in the study. Of the 628 students with parental cons ent to participate in research,


71 only 283 provided their assent to participate at both pre and post implementation time points. One reason for the large gap between students with parental consent and the number of participants is that a large number of surveys at Schools 3 and 4 were never located at postimplementation (either because teachers did not ad minister the survey or because students did not write their names on the slip of paper accompanying the survey). All students participating in the districts evaluation received a packet of survey materials. Materials included the survey questions, a sheet to bubble in their response s, a slip of paper on which to write their names and indicate assent/refus al of assent to allow responses to be used for research, and a large envelope. Teachers instructed students to write their names on the loose sheet of paper and to check whether they assented or refused to assent to allow their responses to be used for research. They were informed that their names would only be used for pairing their responses to the surveys before and after curriculum implementation. If they did not have parental consent for research and/or refused to assent to research participation, the names were discarded from survey packets. Students were also informed that no teachers or in-school personnel would have access to the surveys with their names on them and so their responses were anonymous to in-school staff. To ensure the confidentiality of their responses, teachers instructed students to place thei r response sheets and name slips in the envelope and to seal the envelope before handing in their surveys. After survey administration, the research te am sorted through all envelopes to remove student names from surveys so that response forms were anonymous. St udent forms with both parental consent and student asse nt were assigned a random numb er so that pre and post test response forms could be paired. All response form s without either parental consent or student


72 assent for participation in research were sepa rated from the name slip and made completely anonymous before they were returned to the school district. Survey packets contained a demographic questio nnaire (age, grade, gender, and ethnicity), the Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire, Cy ber Aggression and Victimization questionnaire, Relational Victimization Questionnaire, Attitudes to Victims Scale, Centers for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale, Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents Characterological Self-Blame for Victimization Scale, and the School Clim ate portion of the Califor nia School Climate and Safety Survey Students completed survey packets dur ing class time at two time points during the semester. Students were allotted approximate ly 50 minutes to complete the surveys. Preimplementation surveys were administered the week prior to the start of curriculum delivery in September, when school had been in sessi on for approximately four weeks. The postimplementation data were collected four weeks in to the spring semester in February after the curriculum delivery was completed. Focus Groups Teacher groups Teachers at the three intervention sch ools voluntarily participated in focus group discussions to provide informa tion regarding their perceptions of the program and factors affecting implementation. The teacher focus groups were held in February and March, after program implementation was completed. Teachers were informed that participation was optional and that they had the right to withdraw from th e group at any time. Eight teachers participated in the focus group at School 1 (model implementa tion condition) and therefore two focus groups were held, each with four teachers. The first group consisted of four females and the second group consisted of equal numbers of male and fema le teachers. Four of the six social studies teachers (one male and three females) at School 2 (Traditional Implementation condition) agreed


73 to participate and the th ree social studies teachers (all fema les) at School 3 (also Traditional Implementation condition) ag reed to participate. Each focus group meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes. At the beginning of each focus group, participants were informed of the antici pated length of the session and their right to withdraw their participation at any time. With the teachers permission, focus group sessions were audio taped so that transcri pts could be made of the sessions to facilitate coding of themes. Participants were assured that only members of the research team would have access to the tapes and that tapes would be destroyed after transcripts of the sessions were made. Only the teachers at School 2 refused to allow their responses to be audio taped. In this case, detailed notes of the session were used for theme analysis. Two members of the research team were present during all focus group sessions. One member served as the moderator and the other served as the assist ant moderator and took detailed notes of each session. The moderator of the groups provided the t opics to be discussed and then took a middle level role in moderating the groupprobing and redirecting participants as necessary when they drifted from the specifie d topics. When participants remained on topic, the moderator played a minimal role in the group. All focus groups opened with the opportunity fo r each participant to provide their general opinions regarding the program for approximately three, uninterrupted minutes. Following this, the moderator asked specific questions about participants reactions to the prevention program and factors affecting implementation. The mode rator elicited teacher perceptions along the following topics: (a) ease of curriculum delivery; (b) barriers to curriculum delivery; (c) observed student reactions to curriculum a nd overall program; (d) level of support from administration; (e) additional suggestions for pe er victimization prevention. A list of sample


74 questions is included in Appendi x C. Finally, each participant was allowed time to summarize their thoughts at the end of the session. This sequencing of the questions, suggested by Krueger (1998) allowed participants time to organize their thoughts and reduced the likelihood that participants would change the direction and content of their statements throughout the focus group session. At the end of each focus group, th e moderator provided a two to three minute summary of the critical points that emerged dur ing the focus group to provide participants the opportunity to offer correctiv e feedback (Krueger, 1998). Following each session, the moderator and assi stant moderator debriefed to discuss and note first impressions of themes and to compare information with that gathered in other focus group sessions. The research team used detailed notes of focus group sessions taken by the assistant moderator and the moderator and transc ripts of the audio taped focus group sessions to ensure the verifiability of information collecte d. Transcripts were then created from the audio taped sessions. The transcripts we re reviewed several times and coded for themes related to the elicited topics, following the general process recommended by Bogdan and Biklen (2003). Intercoder reliability for the teacher focus groups was 89%. Student groups Three student focus groups were conducted with students in the Model Implem entation condition. Student groups were conducted during lunch time and so three groups were conducted, one for each lunch period. Consent form s were sent home to all interested students and all students who returned forms with parental consent were allowed to participate in the groups. The first lunch group consisted of four fe male students in sixth grade, the second group consisted of one male in seventh grade and one female in eighth grade, and the final lunch group consisted of one female and three males in seve nth grade. Parental cons ent and student assent was provided to allow for audio recording of fo cus group responses. Student participants were


75 assured that only members of the research team would have access to the tapes, not school staff or administration. As with the teacher focus gr oups, a moderator and assistant moderator were present for all focus groups. Th e specific topics discussed were student perceptions of the curriculum, effectiveness of the curriculum, and barriers to reducing peer victimization in the school. A sample list of questions is included in Appendix C. Th e audio taped sessions were transcribed, reviewed several times, and coded for themes related to the elicited topics, as was described previously for the teacher focus groups Inter-coder reliability for the student focus groups was 93%. Measures Several student report variables were selected for use in the current study to evaluate the effectivenes s of the prevention program. First, student reports of vic timization and aggression were measured, as is traditionally done in pr evention program evaluation (Smith et al., 2004). However, because the purpose of the study was to assess the effectivene ss of the program at influencing variables other than victimizati on/aggression, several othe r indices of student functioning were administered. More specifica lly, both symptoms of depression and social anxiety have repeatedly been demonstrated to be associated with self -reported victimization (e.g., La Greca & Harrison, 2005; Prinstein et al., 2001). Therefore, it is possible that although rates of victimization do not change, victims resi liency increases, thus le ading to decreases in symptoms of depression and soci al anxiety. It has been hypothesized (Graham, 2006) that these relationships are mediated by attribution of victimization and therefore self-blame for victimization was also assessed. The AVB program was designed to target all students involved in peer victimization situations (aggressors, victims, and bystanders). Therefore, it important to measure not only changes in victims and aggressors, but also th e attitudes of bystanders (Salmivalli et al., 2005).


76 To assess changes in bystander att itudes, bystander empathy toward victims was measured in the current study. In addition to student level variables, school level va riables are also thought to be associated with the prevalence and severity of peer aggression. Consequently, overall school climate was assessed in this study to determ ine if changes were present pre and post implementation. Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire (RPEQ) Frequency of experience engaging in and be ing a victim of physical and relational aggression within the past 30 days was assessed using the RPEQ (Prinstein et al., 2001). The RPEQ is an 18-item, self-report measure of overt and relational aggression and victimization with a stable four fact or structure: (a) relational victimi zation; (b) overt victimization; (c) relational aggression; an d (d) overt aggression (Dempsey, Sul kowski et al., no date; Prinstein et al., 2001). Respondents were prompted to indicate the frequency of each form of aggression and victimization item on a rati ng scale ranging from 1 ( never ) to 5 (a few times per week ). Responses in each subscale were summed to provide a score between 4 and 20 for overt subscales and 5 to 25 for relational subscales; higher sc ores indicated more frequent aggression and victimization. The RPEQ has been used in several resear ch studies examining rates of adolescent victimization and aggression (De Los Reyes & Prinstein, 2004; La Greca & Harrison, 2005; Prinstein et al., 2001). Evidence of its reliabil ity has been demonstr ated by its internal consistencyCronbachs alpha for the victimizati on scales range from .8 2 to .84 for relational victimization and .78 for overt victimization (De Los Reyes & Prinstein, 2004; La Greca & Harrison, 2005). Cronbachs alpha for the aggre ssion subscales are .68 for relational aggression and .83 for overt aggression (De Los Reyes & Pr instein, 2004). Concurrent validity of the victimization scale was establis hed by demonstrating its correl ation with peer reports of


77 victimization (De Los Reyes & Prinstein, 2004). Factor analys es have demonstrated the discriminant validity of the subscales (Dempsey, Sulkowski et al., no date; Prinstein et al., 2001). Cyber Aggression and Victimization Questionnaire (CAV) In addition to the RPEQ, the CAV (De mpsey, Su lkowski et al., no date) was used to assess frequency of involvement in cyber aggression and victimization. The CAV is an 8-item selfreport measure that prompts students to indicate the frequency with which they served as an aggressor or victim for four cyber aggression behaviors: (a) sending/receiving a text message, email, instant message, or web space posting containing mean or threatening content; (b) creation of a web page revealing embarrassing or hurtful informati on; (c) using trickery to send a mean message from the victim's account; (d) se nding a message containing personal information to a large group of peers. Questions from the CAV were added to the RPEQ victimization and aggression scales and followed the same rating scal e format. In an exploratory factor analysis conducted on the CAV and RPEQ items (Dempsey, Sulkowski et al., no date), CAV items correlated with other overt and relational aggression and victimi zation items, thus establishing the convergent validity of the C AV. The factor analysis also c onfirmed the scales discriminant validity, as the cyber aggression and victimizatio n items emerged as separate sub-factors from relational and overt forms of a ggression and victimization. In th e same study, reliability of the scale was demonstrated by its ad equate (as interpreted by Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994) internal consistency (Cronbachs alpha = .74). In the current study, Cronbachs alpha for the victimization items on the RPEQ and CAV wa s .79 at pre-implementation and .82 at postimplementation. Cronbachs alpha for the aggr ession items on the RPEQ and CAV was .83 at pre-implementation and .89 at post-implementation.


78 Relational Victimization Questionnaire (RVQ) One lim itation of the RPEQ is that it assesse s a limited range of relational aggression and victimization behaviors, predominantly exclusio n. Therefore, a more comprehensive measure of relational victimization was al so administered in the current study. The RVQ (Dempsey & Storch, 2008) is a modified version of a 7-item measure that assesses fr equency of relational victimization. The original RVQ scale was designed to assess retrospectiv e recall of adolescent experiences with relational vi ctimization. For the current stud y, the measure was modified to assess experiences within the past 30 days on a rating scale ranging from 1 ( never ) to 5 ( a few times per week ). A factor analysis of th e original measure indicated that the seven items form one general factor of relational victimization with individual item loadings ranging from .51 to .79. Internal consistency of the measure in that study was adequate (Cronbachs alpha = .79). In the current study, Cronbachs alpha for the RVQ was .82 at pre-implementation and .83 at postimplementation. The Centers for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) The CES-D questionnaire (Radloff, 1977) was adm inistered to asse ss experiences of depressive symptoms within the past week. The CES-D is a 20-item measure that yields a total score ranging from 0 to 60higher scores indicate greater severi ty of depressive symptoms. Four items are phrased positively and require reverse coding. Participants are prompted to indicate the accuracy of each statement on a rating scale ranging from 0 ( not at all ) to 3 (a lot ). In their review of screening measures for depressive symptoms, Sharp and Lipsky (2002) recommended the CES-D because of its low cost, adequate psychometric properties, and ease of scoring. This scale has been repeat edly used in research studies th at assess depressive symptoms in adolescents (e.g., Wardle, Williamson, Johnson, & Edwards, 2006).


79 Phillips and colleagues (2006) presented validi ty evidence for use of the CES-D with a young adolescent population by reporting the results of a confirmatory factor analysis using the CES-D responses of over 3,500 students in 7th grade. Based on the resu lts of this analysis, the authors recommended that a one-factor solution s hould be used with adolescent populations in which only a total depressive symptom score is yielded (as opposed to breaking the CES-D into subscales). In another study of the psychometric properties of the CES-D with a large sample of young adolescents in grades seven and eight, a lo ngitudinal design allowed the researchers to demonstrate the stability of the CES-D (Motl, Dishman, Birnbaum, & Lytle, 2005). Finally, the test-retest reliability of the scale ranges from r = .45 to r = .71 and estimates of internal consistency are adequate (Cronbachs alpha = .85 .90) (Fountoulakis et al., 2007; Roberts, Andrews, Lewinsohn, & Hops, 1990). In the curre nt study, Cronbachs alpha for the CES-D was .87 at both pre and post-implementation. Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A) The SAS-A (La Greca, 1998) is a 2 2-item questi onnaire (with 4 filler items) that assesses social anxiety in adolescents and has been demo nstrated to discriminate between adolescents with and without symptoms of social anxiet y (Ginsburg, La Greca, & Silverman, 1998). Students were prompted to endorse the veracity of each statement on a rating scale ranging from 1 ( not at all true ) to 5 ( true all the time ). The SAS-A discriminates be tween socially anxious and nonanxious adolescents (Ginsburg et al., 1998; La Greca, 1998) and has adequate 12-month testretest reliability (r = .60) (Storch, Masia-Warner, Dent, Roberti, & Fisher, 2004). In the current study, Cronbachs alpha for the SAS-A was .93 at pre-implementation and .94 at postimplementation.


80 Characterological Self-Blame for Victimization The Characterolog ical Self-Blame for Victimi zation scale is a 7-item measure, derived from the Attributional Questionnaire, which wa s designed for students in middle school (Graham & Juvonen, 1998). Characterological self-blame refers to a vi ctims tendency to blame victimization on character traits, such as popul arity and likelihood of fighting back. A factor analysis conducted by the authors of the scale indicated that the 7 items (with individual item loadings range from .40 to .79) form one fact or. Discriminant validity of the scale was demonstrated by its emergence as a separate factor from other portions of the Attributional Questionnaire, such as perceive acceptance a nd rejection and attribut ing victimization to characteristics of bullies (e.g., bully's tendency to pick on many children). Convergent validity was established by its moderate relationship ( r = .58) to behavioral self-blame (e.g., blaming victimization on being in the wrong place). In the current study, Cronbachs alpha for the Characterological Self-Blame for Victimization scale was .82 at pre and post-implementation. Attitudes to Victims Scale The Attitud e to Victims Scale (Rigby, 1997) is a 10-item scale used to measure bystanders attitudes toward the plight of vict ims on a 3point rating scale from 1 (disagree ) to 3 (agree). The scale is a shortened version of the origin al Attitude to Victims Scale (Rigby & Slee, 1991); the ten items were chosen from the origin al 20-item version based upon their item total correlations. Half of the items are positively worded and half are negatively worded, consequently reverse scoring was required before summing responses to produce a total score. Higher scores indicated more empathetic attitu des toward victims. Individual item responses were summed to provide a total score. The or iginal scale was designed for use with school children ranging in age from 6 to 16 years ol d. Rigby (1997) reported that the Cronbachs alpha coefficient for this scale based on the responses of over 4,000 male and female respondents (ages


81 9 to 18 years) was .78 for females and .81 for males. In that same study, predictive validity of the measure was demonstrated by its negative relation ship to bullying behavior in both males and females. Cronbachs alpha for the Attitude to Victims Scale was .71 at pre-implementation and .78 at post-implementation in the current study. California School Climate and Safety Survey Short Form (CSCC-SF) The School Clim ate portion of the CSCSS SF (Furlong et al., 2005) was used to assess students perceptions of teacher support and respect toward students and perceived fairness of school rules. This portion of the 102-item CSCS S consists of seven items on which students are prompted to rate the accuracy of each item on a rating scale ranging from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 5 (strongly agree ). The seven items for this school cl imate factor were selected based on a principal component analysis conducted on the original CSC SS and a confirmatory factor analysis on the retained items (Furlong et al., 20 05). Higher scores on this survey indicate more positive perceptions of school climate. Psychomet ric properties of the scale were established based upon the responses of over 7,500 students in grades 6 through 10. Evidence of the reliability and validity of this scale was dem onstrated by results from a principal components analysis and confirmatory factor analysis (Furlong et al., 2005). Individual item loadings onto the School Climate portion of the survey ranged fr om .41 to .79 and no items demonstrated crossloadings on other factors greater than .09. In addition, the goodness of fit indices for the scale were also sufficient. The scale discriminate d between school climate and perceived school safety, thus demonstrating its discriminant valid ity. In the current study, Cronbachs alpha for the scale was .82 at pre-implementati on and .85 at post-implementation.


82Table 2-1 Demographic characteri stics of participating schools School Condition Enrollmenta% Minoritya% Free and Reduced Luncha % Endorsing Victimization b % Endorsing Aggression b Overt RelationalCyber Overt RelationalCyber 1 Model Implementation 544 27 72 46 63 11 36 62 8 2 Traditional Implementation 593 67 80 54 59 16 49 68 11 3 Traditional Implementation 338 11 63 57 69 16 49 66 12 4 No Implementation 706 39 60 55 70 15 49 72 8 aAll data came from 2007-2008 academic year statistics; bAll data came from survey conducte d by school district during the 20062007 academic year; *Analysis of Variance indicated that none of the differences in ra tes of aggression and victimization betwe en schools were significant for any form of aggression/victimization.


83Table 2-2 Description of treatment conditions for each school School 1 School 2 School 3 School 4 Condition Model ImplementationTraditional Implementation Traditional Implementation Control (No Implementation) Bullying Prevention Training All teachers and staff All teachers a nd staff All teachers and staff None Curriculum Training All teachers and staff Social studies teachers Social studies teachers None Curriculum Delivery All teachers and staff Social studies teachers Social studies teachers None Implementation Observations and Feedback Yes No No No Programs Already in Place No No Yes peer mediationa No aPeer mediation has not been demonstrated to be an effective strategy to reduce bullyi ng (for a review see Merrell, Buchanan, & Tran, 2006)


84Table 2-3 Composition of st udent participant sample Condition N (% female) Ethnic Breakdown (%) Grade Levels (%) CaucasianAfrican American Asian American Hispanic Other Sixth SeventhEighth Model Implementation 66 (70)739112 5303832 Traditional Implementation 150 (56)811113 4383527 Control 67 (66)702711 1186319


85 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS The current study used quantitative and qualitative m ethodology to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer victimization prevention program and to identify factors that influence program implementation and program effectiveness. Specifically, students completed self-report scales to provide information regarding ra tes of victimization and aggression, bystander empathy, victim resiliency, and school climat e. One goal of the current study was to assess whether there were changes in students res ponses associated with program implementation. That is, the study aimed to determine whether students at the Model Implementation condition school demonstrated greater changes in these va riables at post implementation than did students at the Traditional Implementation and Control c ondition schools. A second aim of the study was to elicit teacher and student feedback regarding the AVB prog ram and factors affecting its implementation and effectiveness. This chapter will present results of the study using quantitative analyses to assess for differences in students responses on self-repo rt questionnaires and qua litative analyses to identify themes that emerged during student and teacher focus groups. First, information regarding teacher implementation of the program at the Model Implementation condition school will be presented to provide confirmation that the program was implemented with integrity. Following this, results of the quantitative analyses will be presented to address study questions regarding whether the AVB program resulted in changes in responses to self-reported questionnaires assessing bystander empathy, victim resiliency, and school climate, as well as involvement in peer victimization. The results of post-hoc analyses to assess for grade-level differences in post-implementation self-reported measures will also be presented. These analyses were conducted due to information provided durin g student and teacher focus groups that there


86 may be differences in student responsiveness to the program associated with grade. Finally, the chapter will conclude with a presentation of the major themes and categories that emerged during teacher and student focus groups. Quantitative Analyses Teacher Implementation To ensure that the curriculum was im plemented with integrity at the Model Implementation condition school, mean scores on the Program Adherence Rating Scales (PARS) were calculated and examined for both sets of observations. The average ratings along each PARS item are listed in Table 3-1. Overall, te achers exhibited the greatest deviation from program guidelines on the item addressing whether program elements were delivered according to the specified time range. There were no si gnificant changes betwee n observation one and observation two scores, except for the group pa rticipation item. Teachers were rated as demonstrating higher adherence ( t (21) = -2.247, p < .05) to using and encouraging group participation at observation two ( M = 4.77, SD = .53) than they were rated at observation one ( M = 4.36, SD = 1.09). Despite small deviations from progr am guidelines, these results indicate that teachers demonstrated a high level of program integrity. Student Questionnaire Data Screening Student response sheets were visually screen ed for nonsense responses (e.g., Christm astreeing). Those with obvious nonsense respons es were discarded from analyses. Following visual inspection of the data, participants resp onses were screened to further identify any respondents with random data pa tterns. There were eight di fferent validity check items throughout the survey that directed respondents to fill in a specific bubble for that item number (e.g., Fill in bubble A for item 67). Participants who had two or more incorrect responses to check items were excluded from analyses.


87 Next, individual item analyses were conducted to identify any items needing removal from the data set. As Cronbachs alpha for each sc ale was calculated (results were presented in Chapter 2) each individual item loading was ex amined to determine whether removal of the item would largely affect the reliability of the scale. That is, each item was examined to ensure that removal of the item would not cau se a substantial decrease in the scale reliability. No item demonstrated a disproportionate decrease in scale reliability, and so all items were retained in this step. Next, items on which more than 10% of respondents had missing data were examined to determine whether responses were missing syst ematically or at random. Item 20, related to physical aggression, was the only item with a di sproportionate amount of missing responses. To determine whether to exclude this item from an alyses or use mean imputation to replace missing values, an analysis was conducted to identify whether the item was Missing Completely at Random/Missing At Random or Mi ssing Not at Random. This ch eck followed the recommended procedures for handling missing data (McKnight McKnight, Sidani, & Figueredo, 2007). On the pre-implementation questionnaire, 38 respondent s excluded the item and 32 excluded the item at Post Test. A Mann-Whitney test was conducted to compare scores on all va riables to determine whether students with a missing value differed from students who completed the item. Groups did not differ on any variables for either pre or post implementation missing values and so it was concluded that the item was Missing Comple tely at Random or Missing at Random. Finally, mean imputation was also used to re place missing item values on all scales for which 20% or less of the items were missing. Mean s were calculated from the nearest four items on the scale to the missing item. Demographics The m eans on each pre-implementation and post-implementation measure by condition are reported in Table 3-2. In addi tion, Table 5 presents a corre lation matrix depicting the


88 relationships between all pre and post implementa tion variables. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) analyses were conducted to determine whether students in each conditi on differed from one another in their scores on th e various scales at pre-implem entation. There were significant differences in mean scores on the Self Blame for Victimization scale by condition ( F (2, 276) = 3.21; p < .05). Tukeys post hoc test revealed that this difference was between students responses in the Control condition ( M = 13.23, SD = 4.62) and Traditional Implementation condition ( M = 15.28, SD = 5.99). Students responses in the Control condition indicated less self-blame for victimization at the pre-implem entation survey point than did students in the Traditional Implementation condition schools. Furthermore, there were also significant differences by condition on the school climate measure, the CSCSS-SF ( F (2, 276) = 3.21; p < .05). Tukeys post hoc test revealed that this difference was betw een students re sponses in the Model Implementation condition ( M = 26.36, SD = 5.77) and Traditional Implementation condition ( M = 23.81, SD = 5.79). Students from the Model Implementation condition school indicated a more positive school climate th an did students attending the Traditional Implementation condition schools. There were no other differences in mean scores at preimplementation among the three conditions. Table 33 presents the correlation matrix for all variables. Analysis of Covariance Student self-report m easure scores were assesse d to determine if changes in scores on these measures were observed from pre to post implem entation and to explore whether the magnitude of any changes were associated with the cu rriculum grouping (Model Implementation condition, Traditional Implementation condition, Control co ndition). Each participating student had two time points of datapre and post implementation. St udents who did not have data for both time points were excluded listwise from analyses.


89 Overall, there were eight student self -report dependent variables from the postimplementation questionnaires: total victimiza tion (VIC)calculated from the victimization items from the RPEQ/CAV, total aggression (AGG) calculated from the aggression items from the RPEQ/CAV, relational victimization (RVQ), sy mptoms of depression (C ES-D), symptoms of social anxiety (SAS-A), Characterological Se lf-Blame for Victimization (SELF), bystander empathy (EMP)measured by the Attitudes to Vi ctims Scale, and perceived school climate (CLI), as measured by the CSCSS SF. A series of independent Analysis of Cova riance (ANCOVA) equations were conducted to determine the relationship between curriculum condition and post-implementation scores on the dependent variables. ANCOVA analyses were used because they allow pre-implementation scores to be held constant in a regression equation. For each equation, the pre-implementation score on the specific measure was entered as th e covariate and curriculum condition was entered as the independent variable. Assumptions check To ensure th at the data for each ANCOVA analysis appropriately met the assumptions required for regression: (a) lin earity; (b) conditio nal normality; and (c) homogeneity of variance, studentized residuals (standardized residuals divi ded by their standard errors) for each dependent variable were calculated and pl otted against the covariate of each equation. The studentized residual plots of the Victimizati on and Aggression equations indicat ed a violation of assumptions and so the log transformation of each of the dependent variables were calculated and used as dependent variables to correct for the violati ons. Assumptions were appropriately met in the other ANCOVA equations and so no modifi cations to the data were required.


90 Victimization and relational victimization Due to lack of prior research supporting ch anges in rates of p eer victim ization upon implementation of a prevention program, it was hypot hesized that results would not demonstrate differences in rates of victimization (as measur ed by the victimization items of the RPEQ and CAV) or relational victimization (RVQ). Resu lts supported this hypothesis. That is, no significant differences were found among conditions on the post-implementation log VIC scores after pre-implementation log VIC scores were entered into the analysis as a covariate, F (2, 279) = 0.12, p = .89. Similarly, no significant differences were found in post-RVQ scores among conditions after holding pre-implem entation RVQ scores constant F (2, 277) = 1.45, p = .25. Aggression It was also hypothesized that there w ould be no significant differences among conditions on post-implementation aggressions scores (as m easured by the aggression items on the RPEQ and CAV) after controlling for pre-implementati on AGG scores. Consistent with this hypothesis, results of the ANCOVA failed to demonstrate significant di fferences among conditions, F (2, 277) = 0.132, p = .88. Depressive symptoms It was hypothesized that student s in the Model Implem entati on condition would indicate fewer post-implementation depressive symptoms than students within the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. An ANCOVA was conducted with post-implementation CES-D score as the dependent variable, implem entation condition entered as the independent variable, and pre-implementation CES-D score en tered as the covariate. The results did not support the hypothesis. No differences were found among implementation condition groups F (2, 251) = 0.34, p = .71. Because the CES-D was the last sc ale on the survey, there were several


91 participants with more than 20% missing data on this measure and so their total CES-D scores could not be calculated, leadi ng to a smaller sample size th an in the other analyses. Social anxiety symptoms It was hypothesized that student s in the Model Implem entati on condition would indicate fewer post-implementation social anxiety symptoms than students within the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. An ANCOVA was conducted with post-implementation SAS-A score as the dependent variable, implem entation condition entered as the independent variable, and pre-implementation SAS-A score en tered as the covariate. The results did not support the hypothesis. No differences were found among implementation condition groups F (2, 268) = 0.29, p = .75. Self-blame for victimization It was hypothesized that students in the M odel Implem entation condition would endorse less self-blame for victimization at post-implem entation in comparison to students within the Traditional Implementation and Control c onditions. An ANCOVA was conducted with postimplementation SELF score as the dependent va riable, implementation condition entered as the independent variable, and pre-implementation SELF score entered as the covariate. The results did not support the hypothesis. No differen ces were found among implementation condition groups after controlling for pre-implementation SELF scores, F (2, 271) = 2.44, p = .09. Bystander empathy It was hypothesized that students in the M odel Implem entation condition would report more favorable attitudes toward victims than st udents within the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. An ANCOVA was conducted with post-implementation EMP score as the dependent variable, implementation condition en tered as the independent variable, and preimplementation EMP score entered as the covari ate. The results did not support the hypothesis.


92 No differences were found among implementatio n condition groups after controlling for preimplementation EMP scores, F (2, 277) = 0.36, p = .70. School climate It was hypothesized that students in the Model Implem entation condition would report more favorable perceptions of school clim ate than students within the Traditional Implementation and Control conditions. An ANCOVA was conducted with post-implementation CLI scores as the dependent variable, implementation condition entered as the independent variable, and pre-implementation CLI scores entered as the covari ate. The results did not support the hypothesis. No differences were found among implementation condition groups after controlling for pre-implementation CLI scores, F (2, 276) = 0.30, p = .97. Grade level influences on ANCOVA results A final series of ANCOVA analyses were c onducted after separati ng students responses by grade level. Though this was not an original research question, teacher and students responses during focus groups suggested that there was a need to conduct pos t-hoc analyses to determ ine whether students in sixth grade demonstrated gr eater changes along self-report measures than did students in grades seven and ei ght at the Model Implementati on school. Similar to the above results, there were no significant difference s between post-implementation scales scores by condition at any grade level. The one excep tion to this was that difference in postimplementation scores by condition were fo r EMP scores among sixth grade students, F (2, 85) = 3.54, p < .05. Condition accounted for an 8% increas e in explanation of variance of postimplementation EMP scores among students in 6th grade. Tukeys post-hoc analyses revealed that the mean post-implementation score for st udents in the Model Im plementation condition (M = 42.75, SD = 4.14) significantly differed from stude nts in the Traditional Implementation ( M = 38.34, SD = 6.97), but not Control ( M = 40.67, SD = 5.45) conditions.


93 Qualitative Analyses Content analysis was used to identify them es in focus group participants responses to topics posed by the moderator, us ing axial coding. First, the mode rator, assistant moderator, and an additional member of the research team read and reviewed each transcript and independently noted emerging themes. Following this, the team me t and agreed upon a list of themes. Next, two members of the research team again reviewed the transcripts and categ orized each portion of transcribed data into one or more of twelve prescribed categorie s. Disagreements in coding were then discussed and coding was agreed upon. Each piece of text from the transcripts was then manually placed in its coded category and the text within each category was again reviewed to determine whether further subcateg ories and coding were needed. Teacher Focus Groups Four teacher focus groups were conductedtwo with teachers in the Model Implementation condition and two with teachers in the Traditional Implementation condition. Refer to Appendix D to view the teacher numbe rs that correspond to each focus group. The goals of the teacher groups were to generate teacher responses along the following themes: (a) ease of and barriers to curriculum deliv ery; (b) observed stude nt reactions to curriculum and overall program; (c) level of support from administration; (d) additional suggestions for peer victimization prevention. In the first round of coding, three members of the research team agreed upon eleven coding categories that related to these themes. After the text was initially coded, it was subsequently reexamined to determine a need for further categorization or combining of categories. Two members of the research team then re-coded the text within final categories into subcategories using the same procedure as was used for the initial coding. Table 3-4 indentifies the final


94 categories and subcategories. Each category/subcateg ory will be discussed in further detail below as it corresponds to the related elicited theme. Curriculum elements: Facilitators a nd barriers to curriculum delivery Teachers d escribed several factors that f acilitated and inhibited their ability and willingness to implement the program curriculum. The curriculum involved several elements for lesson delivery, including role playing, cla ss discussions, homework, and completion of worksheets. Teachers were prompted to use script s to ensure uniform delivery. First, the teachers named several components of the actual curricul um that were successful or unsuccessful. These included the use of role playing, distribution of homework assignmen ts, use of scripts to ensure uniformity of delivery, and features related to the physical materials of the prevention program (e.g., handouts). Overall, the teachers consistently indicated th at they appreciated the incorporation of role playing exercises into the program curriculum. Seve ral teachers pointed out that the role playing activities allowed children to become more enga ged in the curriculum lessons and also allowed them to observe the actions and choices of aggr essors, victims, and bystanders in a hypothetical situation. For example, a teacher from School 2 explained, The kids seemed to like the role playthe interaction and the discussion, and an other teacher at School 3 stated, Role playing was good, even by going overboard you could kind of watch the kids say, oh wow, that looks stupid, we shouldn't' do that." However, a minority opinion regarding the use of role playing also emergedthat the role plays were too unr ealistic and scripted fo r the students. Those holding the minority opinion emphasized that the role playing script s were not representative of the way students speak and behave. A teacher at School 1 explained, Rolling onthe role plays, I would throw out the scripts. I would set it more as a situation and let themat 8th grade level. I dont know about lower, but, I think the role plays ne ed to be a little bit more


95 spontaneous. In contrast, a few teachers expl ained that their student s exhibited difficulties generating creative solutions to role plays and need ed to rely on scripts. Teacher 9 stated, The children, I found, unlike [Teacher 10], she has 7th gradersI dont know how to put this kindly, so Im just going to say itin some of the role plays it called for some creativity that some of our children just, lacked the ability to do. And thats as ki nd as I can say it. In contrast to the predominantly positive regard for the role playing activities, teachers repeatedly expressed negative feelings toward the incorporation of homework assignments into the program curriculum. The ch ief criticism regarding the homework assignments was that children failed to complete them and return th em to school. Teacher 10 described her difficulty with the homework assignments, And one ot her thing is homework. Its a good idea for practice, kind of to reflect, but they dont do it. Many times they di dnt even bring the paper back with them so we could do it together. That part just did not wo rk. Teacher 11 added, Homework for a weekly basis thing is not going to work because theyre not going to keep up with it. Or theyre going to wait to the last minut e because theyre going to forget to do it. One or the other. Teacher 1 however, used incentives for students to return homework and remarked that this made the homework a positive element of the curriculum, and I would give them the homework, I kind of liked that too. I would give them a piece of candy for bringing it back because we, I would share their answers, and I kind of liked that too. Another program element that emerged as a topic of discussion during the focus groups was the use of scripts for the teachers to deliver the curriculum. Teachers who commented on the use of teacher scripts explained that they were too rigid and did not a llow for freedom to be realistic with the students. Teacher 3 commented, It was difficult to stic k with the scripts. I know we had some freedom in it, but it still beca me difficult because it seemed detached from


96 where the kids were and what they wanted from it, so we ended up having conversations that sprang out of the ideas and the situations that were presented by the program. A final element of the program on which teachers consistently commented was the physical curriculum material, which included worksheets and homework assignments to be completed by the students. One theme that emer ged within this category was the excessive amount of paper needed to delive r the program properly. Teacher 9 identified this as the most difficult barrier to program deliver y, I couldnt use the handouts, I had to type quite a bit of it on the overhead for the children and they had to use their own paper, justit would have taken 10 reams of paper, we calculate d, soI guess that was the most difficult part of implementing. Curriculum delivery:Facilitators and barriers to curriculum delivery In addition to discussing specific elements of the curriculum, the te achers addressed topics related to the overall program delivery, includi ng length/number of sessions, time of year to implement the program, and who should deliver pr ogram curriculum. The program consisted of 12, 50-minute sessions that were to be delivered by the students teachers. Teachers at the Model and Traditional Implementation condition schools began curriculum delivery approximately one and one-half months into the fall semester. At every school, teachers commented on the length and number of sessions. Three general sub-categories emerged within this topic. Firs t, many teachers explained that the individual lessons contained more information and activit ies than could be done in one 50-minute period. For example, Teacher 11 suggested, It would be better in a two week chunk, maybe just a little bit shorter, actually shorter lessons in case you do get the ones who want to discuss more. A second sub-category that emerged related to leng th and number of sessions was that there were too many lessons in the curriculum and that the nu mber of sessions could be scaled back due to the repetition of the lessons. Teacher 9 stated, If there was a way to combine some of the


97 lessons and make it a little bit shorter I think it would have been a little bit more effective because middle schoolers justwe lose them afte r a certain length of time. In addition, Teacher 15 explained, As I was getting toward the end, I wish I had taken less time in the beginning and more time in the end. I wish I could have skipped 15 and just done the last half of it." Related to this, the final sub-category within the length a nd number of session topi c was that the twelve sessions was too burdensome to take out of class time. This was a particularly strong theme from teachers at Schools 2 and 3, where the lessons were delivered during normal social studies classroom time. For example, Teacher 10 lamented, Well, it took away from my class. Twelve weeks is a long time to take time out. Im way behind now. I wont get through what I had planned for the year. Another topic that continuously emerged dur ing the focus groups related to the most appropriate time of year to implement the cu rriculum. Consistently, teachers indicated their desire to deliver the curriculum within the firs t two weeks of school. Reasons for this included that it would help establish a set of rules a nd expectations for behavior for the year, the curriculum would be less intrusive into regu lar lesson plans, and the topics would be developmentally appropriate for incoming si xth and seventh grade students. Teacher 13 recommended, If we're going to do it again, I w ould suggest doing it the first two weeks of school. That's when they need it, especially 6th graders, before you get into curriculum. The first couple of weeks of school are logistical and housekeeping. That would be the perfect time. Additional suggestions were: For the first five days of school it might be good to set up the prevention program around classroom rules for the si xth graders to start it as a jumping off point for the school year, (Teacher 15) and if you di d consider that beginni ng of the year thing [7th


98 grade students] would be more receptive...Because theyre really 6th graders at the beginning of the year, (Teacher 10). Who should deliver the curriculum was the fi nal curriculum delivery theme to emerge throughout the teacher focus groups. The majority of teachers that suggested someone else deliver the program identified guidance counselors as the most appropriately trained people. Teacher 9 explained, Id like to see our guidanc e counselors more involved in this. I know they cant do every lesson, but at least be more of a part of it. Additionally, Teacher 14 recommended, Maybe if the person who wrot e the book could come and teach it." Teacher 12 also suggested that someone else deliver the pr ogram curriculum, All in all, I think the kids would have responded better to other teens. Perhaps you could train some key high school students, or young college students, to come to sc hools and teach other kids these skills. I didn't feel like the right person for the job. Appropriateness of curriculum: Facilitators and barriers to curriculum delivery Another set of topics that continuously em er ged as barriers to curriculum delivery and achieving intended results were related to the appr opriateness of the curriculum for students in middle school. The AVB curriculum was designed for students in grades six through nine. Teacher responses related to this topic were co ded into two separate categories, academic skill level of students and developmental appropriateness of the curriculum. Though the majority of teachers did not commen t on the academic level of the material, a few teachers within the focus groups taught students with disabilities a nd identified that the materials were too difficult for these students. Teacher 2 described the difficulties she experienced with a remedial reading class: Because with the lower level, Im telling you pe ople, it went on and on and on. Wed be in the third week trying to finish up lesson 6, you know? On the third week, my kids, you know, just struggling with the reading. And I read it, I would read to them, we would


99 discuss it, but then the vocabulary sometime s, they wouldnt understand. The vocabulary, or, um to make sure they were getting the poi nt that you were trying to get across for those three or four children that are sitting in there. In addition, another teacher (Tea cher 6) working with a remedi al reading class explained: I had sixth through eighth in one classroom a nd theyre exceptional children with learning disabilities. I found it difficult to present the material because they didnt understand the terminology. It wasnt ESE adjusted material for them. I mean, if you have a worksheet, there maybe needs to be different levels of th e same worksheet so that we can differentiate instruction Though only a minority of the teachers partic ipating in the focus groups addressed concerns related to the academic skill level of the curriculum, the majority of teachers commented on the developmental appropriateness of delivering a peer victimization prevention program to middle school students. Nearly all teachers commenting on this topic expressed the need to implement a prevention program and teach the curriculum topics to children in elementary school. Teacher 4 stated, As a former elementary teacher who taught first grade, I thought, Wow! maybe the time to get to these kids would be kindergarten and first grade. Teacher 5 also recommended that the program lessons be delivered in elementary school, citing: Well, there is a culture of bullying or not bu llying and elementary schools is a great place to start that. I taught elementary school before I came to middle schoo l. And if we could deal with the kids before the 5th grade, wher e some of these would start acting out, it made a big difference in what happened as they moved on. And so I got to see that, you know, what happened and I got to feel that environment in two different places. So I think starting early as possible helps. Beyond recommending the program in elementary school, some teachers went further to state that elementary school would be the ideal time to reach children because middle school is too late to teach the program lessons. Teacher 11 supported this argument, The students, by the time they get here, theyre already set in their wa ys. They have so much already with the changes and stuff that they could be taught to control themselves no ma tter what comes up before they reach that transition stag e into the 6th grade.

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100 A minority of the teachers commented on the timeliness of delivering the curriculum to students in middle school, particularly to stud ents in the sixth grade. Teacher 13 stated: The 6th graders bought into the bystander part of the program, because they didn't realize that the bystander played a part in the conflict at all. They just didn't realize how much they affected the outcome of a situation. As sixth graders, they can relate to doing something in mass. They have a hard time doi ng things on their own because they're scared to death because their response is to slink aw ay so they don't get sucked into the fight unless they're the aggressor. Most of them can buy into that bystander part real well and they don't realize what kind of effect they can have. Teacher beliefs: Facilitators a nd barriers to curriculum delivery A final set of topics that teachers identified as either facilitating or impeding their ability and willingness to implement the prevention prog ram were related to overall teacher beliefs. Included in this broad category were the follo wing sub-categories: (a) teacher buy-in; (b) congruency between personal beliefs and program lessons; and (c) personal beliefs about the factors that affect peer victimization. Teachers identified personal at titudes that affected their willingness and enthusiasm to deliver the program curriculumbuy-in. Negative attitudes affecting teacher buy-in were expressed by all three teachers at one of the Traditional Implementation conditions schools (School 3). Teacher 14 indicated her lack of buy-in with the statement, I was unhappylivid that I had to do this, an d explained that it affect ed her behavior, I was re ally dragging my feet in the beginning. It didn't bother me as much at the end. I was very stubborn. I didn't take the [curriculum] home and read it. I didn't spend any extra time on it." The te achers cited a lack of belief in the utility of prevention initiatives as affecting their buy-in. Teac her 15 stated, This is a topic better left untouched, until it needs to be touc hed, meaning that she did not accept a need to prevent peer victimiz ation. Instead, she later i ndicated that schools need to provide discipline after peer victimization occurs. Another teacher from the same sc hool (Teacher 13) stated similar beliefs, describing that she was not a happy camper" and continue d, "I'm probably the worst one

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101 to teach this. I don't believe you're going to prevent a bully from bullying unless you go home with them." Associated with buy-in, teachers at School 3 (one of the Traditional Implementation condition schools) indicated a strong lack of co ngruency between their personal beliefs and the goals and lessons of the prevention program. They further explained that this affected their delivery and enthusiasm of the program. Teacher 15 remarked, I didn't feel like it was me talking. I don't have kids, but I didn't agree with the approach. The kids could look at my face and see that I didn't agree with the approach. I couldn't look th em in the eye because it didn't make sense to me." In contrast, teachers from the Model Implementation condition school expressed positive buy-in to the program. Teacher 3 commented, I was glad to have the program here at school, Im glad were addressing it because it is a pr oblem, bullying is a problem, and Teacher 7 explained, I liked the programI actually really enjoy getting to talk to the kids about bullying. Furthermore, teachers at the Model Im plementation condition school expressed beliefs in the utility of prevention programs: Of course, we like to think, as teachers, as ed ucators, that we are planting seeds. Dont we like, and we wonder sometimes, maybe we don t get to see the fruit or the bloom or whatever, but we do sometimes feel that maybe things you say at some point, do come, maybe, especially the kids that think. I know that many kids in that class, many of them did think about that stuff, (Teacher 4). Teacher 1 added, If you can save two or thr ee, if you can reach out and support those, then youre not only helping to be part of the solution to the bullies, but also, utilizing these materials that are built to support bystanders and victims, and especially the victims. Its hard to stand up and say youre a victim. Finally, teacher beliefs about the factors influencing peer victimization emerged as a recurrent theme throughout the focus groups. Be liefs about the factors influencing peer

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102 victimization may serve as facil itators or barriers to program delivery and outcomes because they reflect teachers opinions regarding their ability to alter students attitude s and behaviors. First, teachers expressed their beliefs about the individu al factors that influenc e childrens engagement in peer victimization. When disc ussing the reasons students partic ipate in peer victimization, a few teachers attributed behavior to normal adolescent development. Teacher 15 stated, When we came to that part of the lesson with the rumor, they all wrote these horrible things about these rumors 'she does it with her brother'. I realized th is is what's mostly on their minds, this kind of stuff. I think that's the nature of teenage girls to be like that. Teacher 4 also discussed the nature of students in middle school, st ating, By middle school, theyre kind of hardened, and its very difficult to get them to change their attitudeI could see it wasnt reaching them, no matter what I said. Alternatively, some teachers also discusse d factors that caused students to be victimized, I think that its sizeBut its also the children that are not able to fit in socially. Its the children with exceptional needsthose children are targets because th ey dont know how to socially interact, (Teacher 6). Teacher 7 also commented on student involvement as both bullies and victims: What I see is that a lot of the students that are doing the bullying ar e the ones that dont care about their school work or who cant do their schoolwork, so they act out in other ways to the ones that are caring about their sc hoolwork...But the ones that want to sit there and do their work seem to be targets at time s too. Where the ones that seem could care less about their work, theyre the one s thats doing the bullying. Second, they attributed some school factors to peer victimization. One teacher at School 3 attributed engagement in peer victimization to program exposure, they wouldn't have thought of a lot of these things unless we were talking about them, (Teacher 13). Teacher 2 argued that schools should be involved in teaching children so cial skills and peer victimization skills, even from an early age:

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103 I am a parent of a third grader who asked me the other day, Momma, how come we dont get social studies? actually as ked me that, and I said, I dont know, I used to teach it in second grade. I taught second grade for nine years, and I taught social skills all the time. And when I moved to middle school, I couldnt believe the same social skills that I was having to teach. They didnt learn back then, uh, excuse me, follow directions, thats the rules, be kind to one another, you know, dont talk when somebody else is talking, listen to them, show respect fo r their conversation. Teacher 1 also lamented that a lack of schools teaching social skills contributes to the peer victimization problem: Dont you feel though, that the last eight years has been testing, testing, testingIn elementary school, what is missing that used to be there? Social st udies. We taught group behavior, we taught socialization, we ta ught community, we taught, the pledge of allegiance, we taught to be a good citizen. By th e time they were in fifth grade, they had a good idea about having a sense of community within a school, and I think that by elaborating on all these other things in social studies, but it s not [standardized] testingAnd you know, everything is geared around the [statewide standardized test]. We are missing social studies, a sense of community, a sense of family, a sense of morality, a sense of right and wrong, and empathy. Empat hy is taughtand social studies shows them thatWe dont have social studies anymore, its not taught, and we have many families where the discipline is not there, and we cant fix families. When these kids are younger they really want to please, and if its taught like it should have been I dont think we would have seen this new group of disrespect, uncaring and not bein g able to see another persons point of view. Finally, the teachers identified factors within the home that affect student involvement. Teacher 13 indicated her beliefs th at children learn to be aggre ssors because of value systems instilled in them at home, They watch their parent s do it. This is the way it is in these rural poor communities." Teacher 2 also cited parents as responsible for their childrens aggressive actions, A good parent participates. A good parent is con cerned about their child having a bully problem or an anger problem, yes. But the parent where that s where the kid learned it, then that parent is going to say, I aint going to that, theyre crazy, what are you talking about? My kid is just doing what I told them to do.

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104 Positive student responses: Responses to prevention program A second goal of the teacher focus groups was to elicit inform ation a bout the changes that teachers observed in student behavior. Teachers made several comments regarding observed changes in behavior. The majority of teacher s noting changes described positive changes in behavior, though usually with only a specific group of children. Teacher 3 described this breakdown in student responses: What I found to be difficulties were having ch ildren who pretty much are bullies in the class with the students who could really bene fit from the program. And the students who wanted to participate. My fourth period cla ss is a small group, but th eyre very polarized. They fit into one group or another, and ther es no mixing with those kids. And it was an uncomfortable situation for some of the more tim id children to participate in the activities, because they knew there would be a repercussi onThey were just afraid of being truly expressive. Sometimes it worked, sometimes there were moments of glory. I was like, Holy cow, this is working, this is great! Bu t most of the time, it was, um, difficult. And I think some of the conversations we ended up with were fantastic but in that group, I dont know how much of an impact it had. I could r eally see it working with other kids, but with that mix it wasnt working. Positive aggressor and victim response s: Resp onses to prevention program No teachers at any school described changes in the behaviors of aggressors. Only one teacher (Teacher 6) specifically noted victims positive responses to the program: And a lot of the victims in my class were, have become a little bit more vocal, you know, You need to quit doing this to me, youre picking on me. Or you know, where they normally they would be, you know, quieter. They were being more vocal about it in the classroom. And, you know, were able to addres s as a class, you know, you need to, Why are you doing this? And so the class was more aware of it. Positive bystander responses: Responses to prevention program The m ajority of the teachers who noted change s in students behavior s and attitudes noted that the children who were bystanders, not aggressors or victims, were most affected by the program. Teacher 4 said, I think that the kids who actually do get bullied, I didnt see much change in them. I saw more of the empowerment for the kids who see it, or observe it or are around and see these Youre helping giving them skills, youre giving them ideas, and youre

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105 giving them discussions of issues. So I felt they were helped to a certain extent. Teacher 5 also described changes in bystander attitudes, I think I saw more of an awareness on the not-soinnocent bystanders. What we call the pot-stirrer s. Another teacher (Teacher 9) at School 2, a Traditional Implementation condition school cited a specific ex ample of a bystander intervention that he witnessed and at tributed to the prevention program: I was at the roller rink with the kidswe were taking them on some sort of reward day and there were some students getting crossway s with each other and by the time I got over there I had kids that had already intervened and had already stopped the situation. They said to me, Mr. X, we remembered what we learned and we kept our cool-heads, and not only that, we were also realiz ing we couldnt just stand aroun d. But they literally stopped the fight. And to be honest w ith you, Ive seen that on more than one occasion. And the kids will actually say Im keeping the cool-h ead about being actively involved in helping others settle their problems. So I have to s ee something work. If it didnt come out of the classroom and make a difference in their real world its not worth the time doing it. But to see this working, in real lifewhich I was surprisedand even the kids were talking about, you know, they remembered. And I brag ged them, you were so good to remember to keep a cool-head. You solved your problem ev en before I got here. So that, you know, if that is one of the goals of this program it did succeed. Negative student responses: Responses to prevention program Though the m ajority of teachers, especially those at the Model Implementation condition school described small, but positive changes among some groups of students, other teachers also indicated some undesirable changes or lack of student behavior changes. Teachers from School 3 expressed that students did not like the progr am and that the teachers only observed negative changes in student behaviors. These changes incl uded an increase in the nu mber of school fights, which they attributed to the prevention program curriculum. For example, Teacher 13 noted, Three days after I started teaching [the program curriculum] we had our first fight of the year, because it was right in the front of their mind. The same teacher also stated, they enjoyed the skits because it let them pretend they were figh ting. They wanted to be the ones standing on the side yelling, Fight, fight. A teacher at Schoo l 2 expressed disappointment due to a perceived lack of student response, I was especially disheartened when one of the students told me this,

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106 We know the right choice. We can tell you what's right, but do you really think we will choose to do? I can only hope that my students will remember a few suggestions if they decide fighting isn't worth it. I especially hope that students understand the major role of a bystander. Administrative support A third topic on which teacher thoughts were elicited during focus gr oups was related to perceptions of adm inistrative s upport and perceived administrativ e barriers to implementation and intended results. Teachers cite d two predominant administrative i ssues that served as barriers to quality implementation. First, two teachers expl ained that a lack of advanced notice regarding implementation of the program lead to difficulties with program preparation. Teacher 14 verbalized this difficulty, Not giving us any notice made it even harder. If we knew over the summer, we could do it better. Teacher 5 also iden tified lack of ability to sufficiently prepare as a barrier to implementation: There was an issue with the implementation b ecause most of us ha d thought that it was going to start at a certain time and they actua lly started weeks ahead and we werent ready for that. It was just like Boom! There it is. We had already planned on doing it and planning is a big issue for use. Things have to happen in a certain sequence. We tend to plan weeks ahead in terms of these special kinds of things. So that was an issue. A second administrative barrier that emerge d during teacher focus groups was failure to implement consistent consequences for aggresso rs. Teacher 13 explained, If administration had more consistent discipline, there wouldn't be larg e scale problemsIf the lit tle things were taken care of, they wouldn't be big things. Curriculum: Prevention program enhancement The fourth and final go al of the teacher fo cus groups was to elicit teacher suggestions for prevention program enhancement. The teachers comments to this theme were coded along several categories. First, two categories related to suggestio ns for the program curriculum. One sub-category of suggestions involved writing down tr ue experiences to facilitate role plays and

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107 class discussions. The teachers at School 3 r ecommended that students journal their peer victimization experiences. For example, Teach er 14 suggested, sixth graders should keep a journal of anytime they get bullie d in the first two weeks that th ey weren't expecting, that would be a jump off for some discussions of wh at's going on. Teacher 5 at School 1 also recommended that students write ab out real-life experiences instead of using the scripted role plays, There were a couple times that I actually had them sit in groups and rewrite. I would say, Okay, rewrite these how you think they would go in a normal way. And so instead of standing up and acting it out they were actually working a nd that was to vary the format somewhat. A second category of suggestions to improve the curriculum involved the incorporation of reality into the curriculum through media sources or personal recollections of peer victimization experiences. Teacher 4 advised, It might be nice to incorporate reality to th is. Actual real events that happened, those real events that happened, really grabbed my kids. Teacher 2 agreed, Yes, the real world stories. I shared mine with ev ery class. In another focus group at the Model Implementation condition school, Teacher 7 also sugge sted that video clips and articles be used to facilitate discussions about real-life events, But if they could have had a little bit more reality.If we could have a little bit more of the reality, maybe articles or things like that, video clips. Teacher 8 further proposed th at adolescents or adults visit the classes and share their past victimization experiences with the students, If you could get people that could give testimonials, like witnesses, or you know, that had pa rticular situations that they could share with the students, whether it be peers or grownups, in addition to the audio-video we mentioned already. I think that could have been set-up. Teac hers at School 2 also indicated a desire for more real-life events to be in corporated into class discussions. Teacher 9 suggested that the

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108 relationship between highly publicized school shoo tings and peer victimization be presented to students: I think a tie-in, something that could be in cludedand this is gra phic, but its happening. It just recently happenedthey find that a lot of these kids that are bullied are the same ones that are coming and shooting others. You know, I dont know if that was included much within the thing, but we did talk a bout that. You know, guys, you can do this if you want to, you can take advantag e of what you perceive to be a weaker person, if you want to, but there could be some very serious cons equences down the road. When they bring the gun to school they usually shoot the one that was the worst bullier. School: Prevention program enhancement Teachers als o provided several recommendati ons for additional prevention program elements that could be conducte d at the school level. The tw o major categories that they discussed involved use of discipline and implementation of counseling groups for students involved in peer victimization. When discussing implementation of disciplin e strategies, teachers focused on providing more consistent consequences to students who perpetrate peer victimization. The majority of teachers provided suggestions in which the school could legally and ethically engage. For example, Teacher 14 described a novel approach th at she used to provide discipline to students. Working with the student council, the teacher arra nged for an ice cream party for all children in the school who did not receive discipline referr als (including those who received referrals for peer aggression). Teacher 6 also described the ne ed for a more comprehensive school behavioral plan, especially for students w ho engage in peer aggression: I dont see much results coming from when we refer someone for bullying, I dont see an end result. I dont see a consequence. I see the same students doing the same things over and over again and then when things are reported, well, they ll talk to them and then, you know, itsThere needs to be some kind of disc ipline system put in pl ace that reinforces this program. Because children are not going to want to report being bullied if that person is not going to feel intimidated by being disciplined and they re not going to stop. I had a student tell another student, you know, snitches get stitches. And that child, because, he had told on him before, and he di dntnothing happened. Actually, it got

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109 worsesothere needs to be something, so me consequence, and maybe some ongoing group counseling or something to make a cha nge. Otherwise, its not going to stop. The second predominant sub-category of s uggestions for school-level intervention enhancement involved the use of counseling groups for children involved in peer victimization. This group of suggestions came from a focus group at the Model Implementation condition school. Teacher 2 proposed: It seemed to me, that, and I dont know, the school would probably think this is the stupidest idea in the whole world, but I truly be lieve that this program, for an after-school program, looking at building it into especially the victims. I think the victims would be much more open, much more supported and mu ch more empowered if they could have their own group. If they could really talk about it and work through this program in that way. Secondly, I think bystanders are those kids that are on the fence. I think thats another kind of grouping that kids who are more, not mo re verbal, but who are being torn back and forth: Well, I stand up and sometimes I dont. That might be a whole other group. I think the guidance counselors should be looking at working with some programs and incorporating as consequences for some of th is bullying behavior, required after-school, not detention, but required participating in a five week or a ten week or a whatever after school here. Look at that for something whic h gives us an additional tool for bullying behaviors and would actually target those kids to actually work on things that they could talk about and we would have a pair of teach ers to work together to maintain order, maintain respect for each other within it, because bully on bully, youll see a lot of that there...I would like to see something incorpor ated like that, rather than during the day instructional time. Building off Teacher 2s recommendations, Teache r 4 suggested that pare ntal involvement be incorporated into the pr oposed counseling groups: Now, if you were to do middle school, I think separating them out is good. Basically, the kids who are having bullying issues should ge t more intensive hel p, and I think after school is a good option. If ki ds are having problems in bullying areas, it would be wonderful if you could even try and involve the parents, and making it as a consequence for bullying. If your child is having issues with this, we are offering classes to deal with this issue. There are anger management classes, parenting classes. Home and community: Prevention program enhancement The final recomm endations for interven tion enhancement were categorized as home/community involvement. Teacher 8 proposed:

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110 You might also want to target the communit y. Community centers. Like, local churches, or outside of church communities. Weve already mentioned parents. These areas, I want to say buildings, or, we think of church when we think of community center. That do have an outlet for young people, children, youth, that perh aps [this] program could approach them as well to see if they can ma ke an effect upon these children. Um, so that theyll be targeted from all and many ends as possibl eAnd I think they would want to do it because, you know, they have the same problems by what we hear already. Student Groups The goals of the three student focus groups we re to generate stude nt responses along the following th emes: (a) overall react ions to program; (b) observed changes in peer behavior; and (c) additional suggestions for peer victimizati on prevention and intervention. Refer to Appendix D to view the student numbers that correspond to each focus group. In the first round of coding, three members of the research team agreed upon five coding categories that related to these themes. After the text was initially coded, it was subsequently re-examined to determine a need for further categorization or combining of categor ies. Due to the small amount of text within each category, it was deemed that no further sub-categorization was necessary, thus there were five total coding categories for the student groups. They are presented in Table 3-5. Thoughts regarding the curriculum All students participating in the focus groups expressed positive reactions to their involvem ent in the prevention curriculum. When asked whether they would recommend that it be implemented the following school year, no students said no. Instead, Student 2 said, I say yes because some of the kids in 5th grade that are coming over here, they probably used to pick on kids in the lower classes. But when the bullyi ng program comes they probably learn that they were doing wrong and not good. In response to the moderators prompt to provide their opinions about the program, students identified several portions of the pr ogram that they enjoyed. Referring to the incorporation of role plays, St udent 2 stated, I li ked that, how you got to actually solve the

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111 problems and stuff in it as if you were the adult. Student 10 also commen ted, on the role playing activities, Our class especially enjoyed, uh, the, uh, where we played it out, we had a lot of fun doing that. And you just, when you have somethi ng like that, you just take what you have and you make the best out of it, and you try to make it fun to where everyone is learning in a fun way. Student 7 also commented on the helpfulness of the role plays, I th ink half of the school liked [the program], because most of them, when they heard about the scripts and other things that were involved in it, they some of them volunteered, and they made it seem funny and helpful. Only one student (Student 8) noted a dislike for the role plays, though the student indicated an overall favorable op inion of the curriculum, Uh, we liked the uh, most of all, we liked the discussions and stuff, does that help? Uh, the uh, role playing was kind of hard to get into, because some of the things were kind of dumb, but, uh, it helped. When asked about their general impressions of the program, the seventh grade group of students (all from one classroom) indicated that the program had a slow start and was initially difficult to understand. Student 9 reported, I th ought it was like, hard at the beginning, and I didnt really get it, but after th ree or four sessions I started understanding it and I started liking it. In addition, another student (Student 7) explained, I lik ed it, because like, I could understand most of it, but when they started handing out the homework, I started understanding it more. Perceived changes in student behaviors and attitudes The m oderators elicited students opinions as to whether the program produced changes in the attitudes and actions of a ggressors, victims, and bystanders Student responses to this question were mixed. Some students indicated that they were pers onally victimized less frequently or engaged in aggression toward others less freque ntly. For example, Student 2 reported a reduction in the experience of peer victimization, I feel that [the program] helps, it

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112 helps a lot of the students includi ng someone that used to pick on me a lot. After they heard the bullying program. Additionally, Student 3 report ed that the curriculum helped reduce personal involvement in peer victimization, I used to pick on people wh en I was in elementary, but I dont do it anymore because of the bullying sessi on and I realized that it hurts other peoples feelings when you pick on them. Student 5 also reported a similar revelation, it helped me like see like, I should or should not do, and further indicated that the program decreased personal peer victimization. However, the majority of students did not i ndicate changes in the at titudes and actions of other students. Student 3 stated, it didnt work be cause a lot of people, like, call people names, and they didnt stop calling people names. When asked whether the program increased the likelihood that other studen ts would intervene in peer victimiza tion situations, all students in the sixth grade group reported that they did not observe changes in bys tander actions. In response to a question regarding whether the program led to a decrease in rates of peer victimization among peers, Student 7 described, Actually, um, ma ybe a moderate amount, but its still, um, going around. Ive seen the students do just as their old ways. Like instincts, but bad ones. In addition, Student 9 indicated that though th e program may have helped empo wer victims, the aggressors may have responded with more aggression. The student described that the program, made [victims] feel better, and made them feel more confident, but after bullies hear about it, theyll just get worse and worse and the victims get beat worse. Finally, Student 10 summed up the different observations with the co mment, I think that it just de pends on the person and if they wanted to pay attention to it, th en it would help, and if they didn t want to pay attention and they didnt care at all, then they would still do whatever they felt like.

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113 Beliefs about ability to change student behaviors Another category that continuously em erged th roughout the three student focus groups was the students beliefs about the ability of adults to change the behavi ors of aggressors and bystanders. Overall, students in dicated that a prevention progra m curriculum is not likely to affect the behaviors of aggressors. Student 1 explained, People would still [engage in peer victimization] because they think theyre cool a nd they think that makes other people like them, and Student 10 commented, I dont know how much you can real ly do in a situation where theres bullying going on because you can do things but if the person still chooses to do it, theyre going to do it no matter what. Some st udents also indicated th eir beliefs that peer victimization is a normal, developmental process. According to Student 6, Its just like a natural middle school thing and Student 9 stated, I think that bullying is just, Im not saying its a good thing, but its just a natural or der, like animals fight other anim als. Its just a way of order. The students also provided reasons for resist ance experienced by bys tanders to intervene and defend victims. One student ci ted fear that intervention would harm social relationships, Because they think the other person wont be their friend anymore and then they will get into an argument, (Student 1). Other stude nts indicated fear of being picked on as a reason for avoiding intervening in peer victimizati on or reporting it to a teacher. St udent 2 explained that bystanders are also afraid because maybe that the bully would come after them next for telling about what hes doing to the victim. Student 5 also mimicked this belief from an aggressors point of view. In response to the moderators question, What do you think would happen if [someone] stepped in ? the student replied, Well then, I, uh, change the target to the person whos uh, trying to intervene. Student 9 also indicate d a belief that aggressors woul d increase their engagement in peer victimization with more victim empowerment, Its just that the bul lies are attacking the victims because they think that theyre all like confident, so theyre weaker.

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114 Description of peer victimization at school The m oderators elicited students comments rega rding the nature of peer victimization at their school to determine the extent to which the current program was relevant to the school climate and to identify any future areas for inte rvention development. The majority of students indicated that the predominant forms of peer vi ctimization that occurred at their school were relational victimization in the fo rm of gossip and overt victimizat ion in the form of teasing and name-calling. Student 8 stated, a lot of name calling, or, thats mostly what you hear going aroundas soon as the teacher leaves the classroom it gets thrown around, you go into the halls, it gets thrown around, and Student 10 described, Well, if people dont like other people, they usually call them names and spread rumors about them. Then, when people get word of it, they usually keep spreading it and it goes around to the whole school, to where everybody is messing with the person that the rumors about. In contrast, according to the students, physical forms, such as intimidation, and cyber forms of peer victimization were significantly less common. Student 9 explained, There used to like, in school, there used to be people slammi ng people against lockers and saying, like, give me your money, give me your lunch money and stu ff, now theres not very much of that, I dont even think Ive ever seen that in the school but. Now theres more like, name callinga lot more name calling and just plain out pushing ar ound. One student expl ained that relational victimization occasionally elevates to physical fighting, Thats what pr obably causes all the fights. Rumors, (Student 1). The students also identified the primary se tting in which peer victimization most frequently occurs. They explained that settings in which there are less adults to observe peer victimization and intervene are the most common places that peer victimization occurs. These

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115 included the bus, hallways, and lunch room. Student 9 clarified, as soon as the teachers gone it starts happening. Ideas for intervention enhancement The final category of comments that students provided during the focus groups were related to students ideas for prevention and in tervention enh ancement. That is, the comments were in response to the question, What else can teachers and school do? First, one student indicated a need for greater teach er supervision, especia lly in areas where p eer victimization is likely to occur, I think they should start letti ng teachers, like, well, th ey should put more of them on hall duty, in the hallways, outside the hallways and on the sidewalks, (Student 7). Student 9 also supported this suggestion, Like, take your, if youre going somewhere, not like lines, but make it so they go there as a class, be cause I dont like lines. But, take them as a class like to the lunchroom and the libr ary, wherever theyre going. The most consistently recurring theme to incr easing the effectiveness of prevention was the provision of consequences for peer victimizati on and positive reinforcement for students who do not engage in aggressive behavi or and for those who take steps to defend victims. For example, Student 4 indicated a need for a revised discipli ne code, They could make different rules and add new rules to it because people sometimes dont follow all the old rules, but if theres new rules I think maybe people would listen to it. Student 1 also indicated a need for better punishmentsmaybe not just getting a warning. In addition to revising the di scipline policy to provide mo re consistent and severe consequences for aggressors, the students also suggested that a policy be drafted to encourage bystander interventions. Student 1 suggested, Sort of like student 4 was saying about the rules, I think they should, maybe if you do, better things, uh, not get into trouble as much, have more like, more, I forgot what the word is, where you can get rewards. More rewards... Student 6

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116 explained that students actions will not change unless, uh, like they do something to like, uh, reward people who um, have like a clean record or something, or increase punishment or something.

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117Table 3-1 Mean teacher scores on the Program A dherence Rating Scale at observations one and two Item Observation One Mean (SD) Observation Two Mean (SD) Total Mean (SD) Each component was delivered according to the specified time range 4.32 (.72)4.23 (1.07)4.27 (.80) Group participation was used, as sp ecified, and encouraged by the teacher 4.36 (1.09)4.77 (.53)*4.57 (.75) Student products (e.g., homework) we re assigned and collected as designated 4.77 (.53)4.86 (.35)4.82 (.29) Focus was directed and maintained toward appropriate lesson objectives 4.86 (.47)4.82 (.50)4.84 (.32) Total Score 18.32 (1.96)18.68 (1.96)18.50 (1.66) *Mean group participation score significan tly increased from time one to time two, t (21) = -2.247; p < .05

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118Table 3-2 Means and standard deviations on student questionnaire scales by condition Scale Model Implementation Condition Traditional Implementation Condition Control Condition Pre Mean (SD) Post Mean (SD) Pre Mean (SD) Post Mean (SD) Pre Mean (SD) Post Mean (SD) VIC 19.68 (6.63) 19.09 (6.54) 18.86 (5.22) 18.32 (5.43) 18.38 (4.25) 18.08 (5.45) AGG 16.75 (3.89) 16.58 (4.67) 18.10 (5.91) 17.66 (6.67) 17.33 (4.10) 16.71 (4.28) RVQ 13.32 (5.76) 12.92 (5.21) 13.44 (5.00) 12.27 (4.84) 13.06 (5.16) 12.82 (4.82) CES-D 39.39 (11.74) 39.65 (11.01) 41.22 (11.56) 40.52 (11.13) 38.31 (10.87) 38.67 (9.69) SAS-A 40.23 (15.42) 37.55 (15.19) 40.07 (14.66) 38.87 (14.47) 39.31 (16.65) 37.17 (14.36) SELF 13.99 (6.31) 13.52 (5.83) 15.28 (5.99)a 14.61(5.46)c 13.23 (4.62)a 12.19 (4.82)c EMP 40.77 (5.90) 40.25 (6.84) 38.99 (6.58) 38.44 (6.93) 39.40 (5.87) 39.20 (6.92) CLI 26.36 (5.77) b 23.82 (6.96) 23.82 (5.79) b 22.91 (5.86) 24.24 (4.74) 22.90 (6.22) acPre and Post-implementation SELF scores differed among the Traditional Implementa tion and Control conditions; b Pretest CLI scores differed among the Model Implementation and Traditional Implementation conditions

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119Table 3-3 Correlation matrix of pre and post implementation scale scores Pre-Implementation Questionnaires Post-Implementation Questionnaires VIC AGG RVQ CES-D SAS-A SELF EMP CLI VIC AGG RVQ CES-D SAS-A SELF EMP CLI Pre-Implementation Questionnaires VIC 1 AGG .36* 1 RVQ .68* .33* 1 CES-D .44* .29* .57* 1 SAS-A .35* .02 .46* .53* 1 SELF .24* .00 .34* .28* .41* 1 EMP .04 -.30* .07 -.04 .12 .07 1 CLI -.08 -.34* -.05 -.16* .09 .08 .33* 1 PostImplementaVIC .53* .28* .57* .43* .31* .22* .01 -.04 1 AGG .21* .67* .24* .24* .05 -.04 -.29*-.21*.36* 1 RVQ .50* .21* .63* .47* .35* .32* .06 -.04 .70* .27* 1 CES-D .35* .33* .41* .64* .36* .18* -.11 -.10 .49* .31* .52* 1 SAS-A .29* .04 .40* .49* .68* .35* .09 .07 .46* .06 .50* .53* 1 SELF .18* -.04 -.04 .23* .34* .42* .03 .01 .31* -.06 .33* .23* .41* 1 EMP .00 -.38* -.38*.01 .15 .04 .63* .23* .00 -.35*.05 -.16*.12 .02 1 CLI -.02 -.28* -.28*-.14 .04 .01 .32* .38* -.06 -.24*-.07 -.24*.01 -.01 .52* 1

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120Table 3-4 Teacher focus group categories and subcategories Theme Category Subcategory Facilitators and barriers to curriculum delivery Curriculum elements 1. Role playing 2. Homework 3. Scripts 4. Physical materials Curriculum delivery 5. Length/number of sessions 6. Time of year 7. Person to delivery curriculum Appropriateness of curriculum 8. Academic skill level 9. Developmental appropriateness Teacher beliefs 10. Teacher buy-in 11. Congruency between beliefs and program lessons 12. Personal beliefs about the fa ctors that affect peer victimization Observed student reactions to curriculum and overall program Responsiveness to program 13. Positive student responses 14. Negative student responses Level of support from administration Administrative support 15. Administrative support Additional suggestions for peer victimization prevention Curriculum 16. Written experiences 17. Incorporation of reality School 18. Discipline policies 19. Counseling groups Home and community 20. Collaboration with home and community

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121Table 3-5 Student focus group categories and subcategories Theme Category Subcategory Overall reactions to prog ram Thoughts regarding the curriculum 1. Thoughts regarding the curriculum Observed changes in peer behavior Perceived changes in student behavior and attitudes 2. Personal changes 3. Changes in peer behaviors and attitudes Beliefs about ability to change student behaviors 4. Adults ability to prevent peer victimization 5. Factors influencing resistan ce to behavior change Description of peer victimization at school 6. Types of victimization 7. Settings where vic timization occurs Additional suggestions for peer victimization prevention Ideas for intervention enhancement 8. Provision of consequences and positive reinforcement 9. Encouragement of bys tander interventions

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122 CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION There is a growing recognition in education that school safety should be a priority, as som e of the most significant problems facing students ar e violence and peer victimization (Crockett, 2003). In recognition of this need and in res ponse to a growing number of legislative acts mandating that schools address i ssues of peer victimization (Srabstein et al., 2008), school psychologists have recognized that they have th e opportunity to play a key role in preventing social problems, such as peer victimization, that interfere with students ability to learn (Dawson et al., 2003). One way that school psychologists work to prevent psychosocial and academic problems is the implementation of school wide progr ams to prevent peer victimization, such as the Aggressors, Victims, and Bystande rs (AVB) program (Slaby et al., 1994). Though many programs exist to address peer victimization, effectiveness trials have failed to demonstrate that the programs reduce rates of peer aggression and victimization in American middle schools (Merrell, Geuldner, Ross, & Isava, 2008). While issues related to implementation integrity may contribute to this inability to dete ct meaningful effect si zes (Mihalic, 2002), it is also possible that effectiveness of programs is measured along inappropr iate constructs, which are predominantly influence by the attitudes and actions of aggressors. In contrast, programs such as the AVB program, primarily focus on providing skills to victims and bystanders. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to extend research in peer victimization prevention by examining the effectiveness of the AVB prog ram at altering victim resiliency, bystander empathy, and school climate, while taking step s to promote implementation integrity. The purpose of the study was twofold: (1) to use qua ntitative techniques to assess treatment-level differences in students changes in responses at pre to post implementation survey points; and (2) to gather qualitative data through student a nd teacher focus groups to further understand

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123 reactions to the prevention progr am, barriers to implementation, and suggestions for intervention enhancement. A considerable strength of the study was that individual student data was collected at two points to track individua l student changes over time, and not just group mean changes in overall student responses within a school. The qualitative data from the teacher focus groups served to triangulate the quantitative results of the study by helping to identify successful features of the prevention initiative and more problematic featur es that potentially serv ed as barriers to achieving intended changes in student behavior a nd attitudes. The qualitative data provides a contextual understanding of the quantitative results and aids the development of potential hypotheses that can be the subject of future investigations. Theref ore, in the following review and discussion of the results, information from the focus groups will be used to provide a deeper understanding of the results of the quantitative analyses. The following text will provide a review of the key findings of the study and discussion of the link to existing literature related to preven tion of peer victimizatio n. Next, implications of the studys findings for policy and practice will be presented. Finally, the chapter will conclude with an examination of the limitations of th e study and directions for future research. Key Findings The first question add ressed by the research study was to determine whether the AVB program produced changes in students reports of aggression and victimization. Consistent with past research with American middle school popu lations (for reviews, see Merrell et al., 2008; Smith et al., 2004), the current st udy did not find any differences in post-implementation reports of aggression and victimization between the treatment condition (Traditional and Model) and control condition schools after controlling for preimplementation differences in student reports. Additionally, no trends in the data emerged from pre to post implementation. That is, students

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124 reported that rates of personal aggression a nd personal victimization remained constant throughout the period that the study was conducted. Student and teacher responses during fo cus groups mirrored the findings that the behaviors of aggressors, and subs equent rates of victimization, di d not change as a result of the prevention program. Many students commented on their skepticism that the behaviors of perpetrators of peer victimization can be cha nged with a prevention program curriculum, citing that it is simply the nature of some teenagers a nd that the students who engage in aggression did not attend to the program, or merely made a joke of the lessons. The teachers also provided similar comments indicating their lack of beliefs that the actions of the aggressors were reduced with the prevention curriculum. The teachers expl ained that the peer victimization behavior would not change as a result of curricula because the perpetrators learned and adopted aggressive values in the home environment. They also explained that by the tim e children reach middle school, the values were so ingrained that they could not be changed, though they shared their optimism that programs presented in elementary schools may be more successful. That the program did not produce changes in peer aggression and victimization is not surprising, as both these constructs are influenced predominantly by the behaviors of aggressors. In contrast, peer victimization prevention curri cula, including the AVB curriculum, primarily focus on changing attitudes and actions of victims, reactive victims, and bystanders. It is therefore encouraged that constructs related to these populations be measured (Salmivalli, 1999; Salmivalli et al., 2005; Twemlow et al., 2004). The second research question addressed by the current study was whether the AVB program altered changes in victims resilienc y, as measured by self -reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, and self-b lame for victimizationa variab le theorized to mediate the

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125 relationship between peer victimization and ps ychosocial adjustment (Graham, 2006). Overall, the study failed to identify differences in postimplementation reports of symptoms of depression and social anxiety and self-b lame for victimization among st udents in the two treatment conditions and the control condition. Thus, in th e current study, the AVB program did not result in changes in victim resiliency. This research question was exploratory in nature because past research has not used such constructs to evalua te the effectiveness of intervention programs at the middle school level. Thus, these findings are one of the first to i ndicate that intervention programs may not be effective at increasing victim s resiliency and empowerment, as they were measured in the current study. Teacher reports in focus groups provided potential hypotheses for the null findings, as fifteen of the sixteen particip ating teachers failed to pr ovide any examples of changes in victims behaviors. In fact one teach er explained that the victims in her class were intimidated by the more aggressive students and so did not fully participate in the curriculum delivery sessions. However, it is possible that changes may not have been observed in victim variables because of the experimental design and analyses. When assessing changes in these variables, the study examined the changes in depressive and anxious symptoms and self-blame for victimization in all students pa rticipating in the study. Lack of changes among the majority of students may have muted the ability to detect ch anges in these variables among actual victims. It would have been beneficial to couple the experiment with a peer or teacher nomination technique to identify specific victims (or use a measure with cut-off scores to identify the highest quartile of students experiencing peer vi ctimization) and to examine changes among these students along victim variables. Additionally, it is possible that the research instrument used in the study, the Characterological Self-Blame for Victimi zation scale (Graham & Juvonen, 1998) was not

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126 sensitive to victim changes in resiliency. Perhaps a measur e designed to assess victim empowerment or victim resiliency directly would be more appropriate for assessing changes in these constructs. A third research question addressed by the current study wa s whether the AVB program altered student perceptions of sc hool climate and students empathy toward victims. Overall, no differences in post-implementation scores on measures assessing bystander empathy or school climate were found among the control and treatment conditions. This is in contrast to the finding in a Finnish sample of middle school students that a prevention program curriculum resulted in increased bystanders attitudes a nd perceived efficacy related to intervening in peer victimization situations (Salmivalli et al., 2005). A potential explanation for the null finding may be the nonrepresentativeness of the student response sample, as it was not made up of equal proportions of males and females. As Salmivalli and Voeten (2004) discovered, males are more likely than females to engage in aggressor-helping behavi ors when they are in bystander situations. Therefore, it is possible that their opini ons/behaviors did change, though these were overshadowed by the females lack of change. Th ey also found that bystander attitudes towards aggression predicted bystander roles. Therefore, it can be surmised that because the prevention program in the current study did not alter bystand ers attitudes, it also did not change their behaviors. Consistent with this, students partic ipating in the focus groups reported that there were few to no changes in bystander behaviors; some students further ex plained that student bystanders are often afraid to intervene due to worries that the aggressors will then target them. However, when the results were stratified by grade level, sixth grade students at the Model Implementation condition school indicated more favorable attitudes toward victims at postimplementation than did students at schools in the Traditional Implementation condition, but not

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127 the Control condition. Indeed, th is mirrors the findings of a recent study examining the effectiveness of a prevention program in Amer ican middle schools in which only students in sixth grade demonstrated favorab le changes in their attitudes toward victims as a result of exposure to the program curri culum (Bauer et al., 2007). The finding that only sixth grade students at the Model Implementation condition school exhibited an increase in favorable attitudes toward victims ha s several potential explanations. First, the difference in condition indicates that tr eatment integrity may be responsible for the lack of responsiveness to the program among sixth graders at the Traditional Implementation condition school. Only the integrity of im plementation was monitored at the Model Implementation school. Therefore, sixth grade students may have exhibited changes in bystander empathy because they received the entire curricul um as indicated. In contrast, no steps were taken to monitor integrity at the Traditional Im plementation condition schools and it is therefore possible that sixth grade students at those schools did not receive al l elements of the program as intended. Second, the results are consistent with a prominent theme in the teacher focus groups that the program was most releva nt and effective for students in the sixth grade because they were in the process of transiti oning into middle school and were not hardened into a culture of middle school in which peer victimization was already accepted. Finally, this result can be interpreted in the context of exis ting literature demonstrating that rates of peer victimization peak in sixth grade (Nansel et al., 2001). Perhaps th e intervention early in the year, as students transition into middle school, helps the on the fe nce children, as one teacher referred to them. These are the children who could serve as bystand ers who intervene or bystanders who worsen peer victimization situations by either walking away, joining, or cheering on the aggressor or alternatively, supporting the vic tim (Salmivalli & Voeten, 2004). Es pecially interesting was that

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128 one teacher emphasized that bystander attitudes and actions were the factor most likely to change among sixth grade students as a result of the program: The 6th graders bought into the bystander part of the program, because they didn't realize that the bystander played a part in the conflict at all. They just didn't realize how much they affected the outcome of a situation. As sixth graders, they can relate to doing something in mass. They have a hard time doi ng things on their own because they're scared to death because their response is to slink aw ay so they don't get sucked into the fight unless they're the aggressor. Most of them can buy into that bystander part real well and they don't realize what kind of effect they can have. Failure to find changes in students reports of school culture by treatment condition could be explained by the nature of the measure. Th e CSCCS (Furlong et al., 2005) measures school climate by asking students about their perceptio ns regarding fairness of school rules and treatment by teachers. Lack of changes in student responses therefore indicate that students perceptions of teacher and administration att itudes toward and treatment of students were unaffected by the delivery of the prevention program. However, the measure does not assess students perceptions of changes in student culture and actions of other students. These constructs may have been affected by the pr ogram, though were undetectab le with the current school climate measure. Another group of research questions was directed toward as sessing students and teachers opinions regarding the AVB prevention program. Ov erall, students responses to the program were very positive. Students stated that they enjoyed participating in the program and indicated that they would recommend that the program be implemented agai n the following year with the incoming sixth grade class. Though students indicat ed favorable attitudes toward the program, this subjective information should be interpreted with cau tion, as some of the students (especially those in the sixth grade group) e xhibited a tendency toward social desirability bias. In addition, the positive attitudes toward the curriculum, esp ecially role plays, may have been because the program provided students with a desirable and en joyable alternative to silent reading (which

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129 students were traditionally direct ed to do during the time that the program was delivered at the Model Implementation condition school). In contrast to the predominantly positive attitudes toward the program that the students expressed, teachers attitudes ex hibited greater variability. The majority of teachers endorsed their approval of the use of role plays because they engaged the students in the lessons. In contrast, the teachers asserted a strong disapprov al of the use of homework in the curriculum, citing that it required an exce ss of paper and was not likely to be completed or returned. Teachers attitudes toward the program appeared to be affected by their level of buy-in and beliefs regarding their ability to alter peer vi ctimization at their school. The teachers that indicated highest levels of buy-in were from the Model Implementation condition school, whereas teachers indicating a strong lack of buy-in were from Traditional Implementation schools. It would be interesting for future rese arch to explore whether providing consultative support affects teacher buy-in to programs. Perhap s they see the buy-in from the researcher or feel that they are more supported. Alternativel y, it could be that te acher buy-in was only experienced by those at the Model Implementation condition school who agreed to participate in teacher focus groups. It is possible that those w ho dissented to the groups chose to because of negative perceptions regarding implementing the program. Alternatively, the positive attitudes could have resulted from greater perceptions of researcher sup port or that all teachers in the school delivered the curriculum instead of only the social studies teachers. Finally, program delivery at the Model Implementation condition school was not held during regular class time instead the teachers used their daily extra 30 minute period usually reserved for silent readingand so the program was less intrusive into their daily lesson plans. Consistent with this proposed explanation, relationships between impl ementation integrity and degree of teacher time

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130 needed to prepare and deliver lessons and perc eived level of consulta tive support have been proposed (Whitted & Dupper, 2005). Of note, the teachers from School 3, who indicated the strongest lack of buy-in, were the only teachers to note negative student behaviors resulting fr om the program, including an increase in bullying and an increase in number of student fights. Severa l factors could explain this. First, due to the teachers negative atti tudes regarding program implementation, they may have purposefully searched for evidence that the pr ogram would not work to be able to say that it failed. Going one step further, these teachers ma y have purposely manipulated aspects of the program to demonstrate negative outcomes. If this is the case, more positive teacher observations (and changes in attitudes and behavior at th e Model Implementation condition school) may have resulted because the researchers presence could have led to more teache r buy-in or because the researchers were able to identify teachers likely to manipulate program outcomes and specifically target them to increase buy-in. In a review of the common e rrors in leading change initiatives, Kotter (1996) cited failure to id entify people who may se rve as potential outcome manipulators and to closely work with them with the goal of communicating the urgency and necessity for the change initiative as a key error that professionals commonly commit. Another research question that the current study addressed was re lated to identification of the barriers to implementation integrity. Throughout the focus groups, teachers identified several factors that interfered both with their ability to implement the program, as well as the students responsiveness to the program. Th ese included administrative barr iers, classroom-level barriers, and student-level barriers. Each will be discussed in greater detail below in the context of past research.

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131 Administrative Barriers to Program Success Several teachers expressed fr ustration and lack of buy-in to the prevention program due to failure of the administration to provide them with adequate notice and time to prepare for curriculum implementation. Despite agreeing to imp lement the program in January of the prior school year, none of the principa ls shared their intention to implement the prevention program with their teachers until planning period in August. Thus, as many of the teachers in the focus group indicated, they were allotted little time to plan to integrat e the program into their planned curriculum and prepare for implementation. Th e teachers conveyed strong feelings of helplessness regarding their abil ity to prepare for implementa tion. Indeed, low organizational capacity (as evidenced in this case by lack of informing teachers of the plan for the program) was the first of four variables that Gottfredson a nd Gottfredson (2002) indicated as contributors to low implementation integrity. Though integrity was promoted at the Model Implementation condition school through consultative support, teachers at the Tradi tional Implementation condition school did not receive this support and therefore thei r implementation integrity was likely affected by this administrative barrier. Teacher-Level Barriers to Implementation A general th eme that emerged during the te acher focus groups was that the teachers endorsing the most negative attitudes toward the program also indicated strong beliefs about their lack of ability to prevent peer victimiza tion. This lack of belief in personal efficacy at effecting change has been previously identified as the largest explanation for variation in integrity of implementation (Kallestad & Olweus, 2003). Qualitative information collected from the teacher focus groups also was consistent with barriers to implementation identified by Kincaid and colleagues (2007) in their examina tion of barriers to implementation of Positive Behavior Support programs. Teachers in the curr ent study consistently generated statements

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132 identifying that lack of belief in the lessons in the program and their willingness to implement the program served as barriers to program delivery. Child-Level Barriers to Program Success A recurring focus group them e was that middle sc hool is too late to reach students with a prevention program because students are already set in their ways and attitudes. That is, they have well-established attitudes toward the utili ty of peer aggression. Smith and colleagues (2004) found that in studies conduc ted prior to 2002, prevention programs only demonstrated effectiveness in elementary and middle schoo ls. Teachers in the focus groups repeatedly emphasized that todays generati on of middle school students are mo re mature and set in their ways than in earlier generations. It is possible that the results of this study can be interpreted in the context of generational cohor t changes. That is, though the program may have been effective for student in middle school in 1994 when it was designed, middle schoo l students in 2008 are qualitatively different and more mature and hardened group of students. Consistent with this, several teachers commented that students behavi ors have changed over the past decade and that they are becoming more aggressive and less respectful of authority than students they taught in past years. Limitations The results described in the section above m ust be interpreted within the context of the limitations of the current study. These limitations incl ude threats to internal and external validity due to flaws in the study design, composition of the sample population and problems with measurement and analyses used in the study. Study Design and Sample Population The forem ost flaw in the study design was the lack of random assignment to treatment condition. Participants were al ready housed in schools and so random assignment to condition

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133 was not possible. In addition, school placemen t into treatment condition was non-random School 4 served as the control condition school b ecause the principal requested to implement the prevention program later in the school year. T hough students responses to measures at preimplementation were controlled th rough statistical analyses, it is po ssible that outside variables, such as experiences shared by students at a par ticular school during the y ear, may have affected post-implementation scores. The lack of random a ssignment leads to an inability to draw causal conclusions about differen ces (or lack thereof) among treatment conditions. Furthermore, student participants in the study sample were likely not representative of the entire school populations. Survey responses were only analyzed from students who returned consent forms and provided assent for their answers to be used in the study at both pre and post implementation time points because the IRB for this institution does not allow the use of passive consent for survey research. Therefore, particip ation in the study relied on several factors, including school and teacher encouragement for the return of student consent forms, as well as responsibility of the students to remember to provide the consent form to their parents and return it to school. Therefore, participating students ma y represent the most responsible students or teachers and schools with the highest degree of b uy-in to the program. In addition, though steps were taken at each school to encourage the retu rn of consent/assent slips, a disproportionate amount of students at the various schools return ed slips, leading to unequal sample size among treatment groups. A final limitation associated with the student sample was the high rate of missing surveys or surveys in which students di d not provide assent to participate at both time points. A large number of participants at the Control condition school who had parental consent to participate did not have post-implementation surveys that coul d be identified, despite se veral notifications to

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134 school officials that these had not been turned in. The researcher s speculated that one or more teachers neglected to allow students the opportun ity to complete post-implementation surveys, despite the districts and admi nistrations request to do so. Participants in the teacher and student focus groups may also be unrepresentative of the entire sample. The teachers electing to participate in the focus groups may also have been unrepresentative of the population of teachers delivering the curriculum at the treatment condition schools. All teachers at Sc hool 3 agreed to participate in the groups, but only four out of the six agreed to participate at School 2 and only eight of the 22 pa rticipated in School 1. Therefore, the samples may have represented th ose who felt most strongly about the program (either positive or negative). For the student fo cus groups, it was extremely challenging to recruit students to participate in the gr oups, despite offering an incentive (pizza lunch) and even more difficult to receive signed parental consent forms. Students agreei ng to participate are therefore likely to be qualitatively different than the majo rity of the student body that did not express an interest in participating or take the necessary steps to obtain pa rental consent for participation. One student group in particular (s ixth grade girls) also demonstr ated a response bias in which they appeared to desire to please the moderators with their responses and therefore the validity of their responses is questionable. A final limitation related to the generalizabil ity of the study findings is related to the representativeness of the participants in this community to the population of the greater United States. This community may have more cemented at titudes than other popul ations, especially in their attitudes toward the utility of violence. Th is was repeatedly expressed in the focus groups, as teachers explained that chil dren learn to adopt violent attitudes at home. Several of the teachers in the focus groups provided statements indicating their endorsement of corporal

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135 punishment for aggressive behavior and the futi lity of adopting non-viol ent solutions to cope with problems. As teacher beliefs in their efficacy to affect change in peer victimization is a strong factor contributing to poor implementatio n integrity (Kallestad & Olweus, 2003; Kincaid et al., 2007), it is possible that teachers in the current study held more negative attitudes toward the program and higher likelihood to exhibit resi stance to implementati on than would teachers from other communities. Measurement and Analyses As was previously described in the key findi ngs section, a potential lim itation was that the instrumentsespecially those to assess school climate and bystander empathydid not adequately measure the dependent variables of interest. The study relied upon the assumption that the measure of bystander empathy served as a predictor of bystander actions. The measure was used because it had been previously employed in other studies and had adequate psychometric qualities. However, a measure of bystander actions would have been a more appropriate assessment tool. In addition, the scho ol climate measure was used because of its well-established psychometric qual ities. Regardless, a measure of school climate that specifically examined student variables that compose school climate may have been more sensitive to detecting changes in school atmosphere. Another key limitation associated with measur ement in the present study is that only student responses were examined to evaluate pr ogram effectiveness. Stud ent responses to rating scales were used as the primar y form of measurement because the goal of the study was to assess student-level changes across a va riety of constructs. However, it would have been helpful to verify the accuracy of students self reports via review of student discip line referrals and teacher and/or parent surveys. A second limitation related to measurement is that only student attitudes, not bystander actions were asse ssed. Perhaps students already had positive attitudes toward

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136 victims and the program changed th eir willingness to act, not thei r attitudes. Indeed, two teachers in the focus groups cited specific examples in whic h they observed students intervene in bullying situations and attributed th ese actions to the program. Another limitation related to measurement was that the surveys were too long (109 questions) for the time allotted to students to complete them. Several teachers only allowed students approximately 20-30 minutes to complete the surveys, and so students with difficulties reading struggled with completion, according to t eacher reports. Therefore, several students did not complete the final measure (the CES-D) due to time constraints. Finally, there were several limita tions related to the st atistics in the study. First, to increase power and the likelihood that small differences in student changes would be detected, a larger sample size of students with bot h pre and post implementation survey responses was needed. In addition, it would have been bene ficial to consider the propor tion of variability in postimplementation responses due to between student variability (level one) and between school variability (level two) using multilevel models. Unfortunately, the use of multilevel models is reliant on the statistical power of the level two sa mple size, in this case the number of schools in the design. A large sample of schoolsat least 20was needed in order to conduct the more advanced analysis. Implications for Policy and Practice Despite these lim itations, this study adds to the literature because it provides further support for the hypothesis that school wide prev ention program curricula may not change the rates of peer victimization, nor might they e ffect even moderate size changes in victim and bystander attitudes, as they were examined in the current study. That is, given the enormous expenditure of time, money, and teacher resour ces required to implement the AVB program and other similar curricula, the programs do not aff ect the desired changes in students and may

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137 therefore be an inappropriate use of resources. Although prevention program curricula have been demonstrated to change student s knowledge of curriculum com ponents, changes in knowledge do not necessarily translate to ch anges in attitudes and actions. As Teacher 12 pointed out, I was especially disheartened when one of the students told me this, We know the right choice. We can tell you what's right, but do you really think we will choose to do what's right? Many of the kids agreed with the speaker. These results, though discouraging, imply that a shift in focus is needed for addressing peer victimization in middle schools. Though pr evention programs may be effective at the elementary school level, as was suggested by th e teachers in the focus groups and supported by various researchelementary sc hool programs more consistently produce small effect sizes (Merrell et al., 2008)they should not be considered part of be st practices in peer victimization prevention in middle school. In contrast, programs that promote the use of positive reinforcement for appropriate, non-aggressive behavior (and bystander interventions ) and immediate and consistent consequences for perpetrators and bystanders that negativel y contribute to peer victimization (i.e., joining or ch eering the aggressor) will likely produce more desirable results, as is evidenced by the success of PBS programs at reducing overall disruptive behavior (Oswald et al., 2005). The majority of states in the United States have legislation that addre ss the problem of peer victimization in schools and that encourage or mandate implem entation of prevention programs (Srabstein et al., 2008). However, studies evaluating school wide prevention programs consistently demonstrate a lack of responsivene ss to student reports of involvement in peer victimization in American middle schools (Merrell et al., 2008; Smith et al., 2004). The results of the current study further support these null findings in changes in involvement in victimization,

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138 and extend them to demonstrate a lack of cha nges in student attitude s toward victimization, perceptions of school culture, and victim resilienc y. Such results bring into question the utility of mandated/encouraged implementation of programs th at have yet to demonstrate even moderate effect sizes. Though some scholars have specu lated that lack of program responsiveness to program goals may be a function of poor implementation integrity (e.g., Elliott & Mihalic, 2004; Gottfredson et al., 2000; Mihalic, 2002), this study elim inated this possibility. The teachers implementation fidelity, as measured by direct ob servations and consulta tion, indicated that the program was implemented as directed at the Model Implementation condition school. In addition, steps needed to ensure implementation integrity (Gresham et al., 1993) were taken to increase the likelihood of teacher buy-in and generalization of the lessons outside of the curriculum delivery sessions by training all teacher s in the curriculum and allowing them to vote on the method and timeline of delivery. Both forms of treatment fidelity described by Hirschstein and colleagues (2007)walking the walk a nd talking the talkwere monitored and encouraged in the Model Implementation condition. Despite these steps to ensure both forms of implementation integrity, there were no differences in the majority of constructs between the Model Implementation and Traditional Implemen tation and Control condition schools, except for the small difference among sixth grades st udents by condition on the bystander empathy variable. Finally, the study also contributes to existing literature because the information gathered from the teacher and focus groups provided furthe r information regarding possible barriers to achieving changes in students attitudes and be haviors and provided suggestions for future directions in peer victimization prevention and intervention research. Information collected

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139 during the focus groups, especially those with teachers from the Traditional Implementation condition schools, identified severa l factors that may have advers ely affected teacher buy-in and enthusiasm of delivery of program components. On e potential solution to this is to reduce these variables by using computers to de liver lessons. Some promising new research indicates that this may be a future direction to pursue. Using computers, students can complete electronic assessments of their current beliefs about and involvement in p eer victimization. The computer programs can then adjust the prevention program and skill delivery level to the students readiness level and categoriza tion (aggressor, victim, or bystander) and repeatedly use questionnaires to evaluate whether students attitudes and skill level change as they progress through the modules (formative asse ssment). Initial investigations in this area appear promising (Evers, Prochaska, Van Marter, Johnson, & Prochaska, 2007; Prochaska et al., 2007). Another potential solution to overcoming barri ers to quality implementation that are associated with teachers beliefs about their abil ity to effect change is through the development of consultee-centered consultation models to di rectly address teacher beliefs. At the Model Implementation condition school, the Program Adhe rence Rating Scale scores indicated that teachers delivered the prevention program curriculu m with high integrity. That is, they delivered the knowledge to the students through the sugge sted activities (i.e., l ectures, role plays, discussions). Additionally, the teachers participating in the focus groups at the Traditional Implementation condition schools indicated that they delivered the knowledge, as requested, during class time, though the resear chers did not take steps to verify this through observations. During the focus groups, however, the majority of teachers did not comment upon generalizing the lessons to settings outsid e of the classroom sessionsthe walking the walk portion of prevention activities (Hirschstein et al., 2007). Furthermore, seve ral teacher comments indicated

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140 low buy-in to curriculum delivery and low teacher be liefs regarding ability to effect change in school peer victimization. In addi tion, the students commented that peer victimization was most likely to occur when teachers were not present, though none mentioned th at teacher supervision had been increased during or after program impl ementation, indicating that teachers did not act to reduce peer victimization outsi de of the 50-minute lesson period. Therefore, a future direction for research and practice may be to develop strategies that target teacher beliefs and priorities regarding ability and willingness to prevent peer vi ctimization. Beliefs and priorities are factors hypothesized to affect implementation integrity and may be targeted with teacher training (Pajares, 1992; Rimm-Kaufman, Storm, Sawyer Pianta, & LaParo, 2006). Similar strategies have been used to increase teachers perceived self-efficacy to effect academic behavior changes among their students (Joram & Gabriele, 1998). Additionally, a more accurate measure of implementation integrity should be used in future studies that also encompasses teacher generalization of program le ssons to other settings. Furthermore, instead of expending the majority of empirical focus on interventions at the primary, universal-level, it will be important fo r researchers to shift their sights to develop interventions at the seconda ry and tertiary levels of peer vic timization prevention. Specifically, it will be important to develop a further understandi ng of the cognitive and social factors that place students at risk for becoming victims and to implement interventions before the peer victimization occurs. This may involve teachi ng at-risk students assert iveness and friendshipmaking skills (Hanish & Guerra, 2000). Finally, at the tertiary level, interventions need to be developed and investigated to promote resiliency in children who are repeat ed victims. Specifically, the development of individual intervention programs for repeated victims of peer vi ctimization with the goals of

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141 promoting resiliency, assertiveness, and coping skills are needed that can be implemented in the school setting (Lodge & Feldman, 20 07; Varjas et al., 2006). In or der to develop such programs it will be essential for continued investiga tion of the mediating factors between peer victimization experiences and th e development of internalizing and externalizing disorders. Working within a cognitive-behavioral framework, mental health professi onals can then work with chronic victims to alter c ognitions that contribute to poor resiliency (Reivich et al., 2005). Also at the tertiary level, schools need to continue to develop strong discipline plans for perpetrators of peer victimi zation that involve immediate a nd consistent consequences and positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior of students (Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, & Feinberg, 2005). This need for positive reinfor cement and consistent consequences was also a continuous theme throughout the student focus groups. Though many teachers also communicated their frustration that immediate consequences were not implemented by all teachers or administrators, it was interesting th at no teacher commented on the need for positive reinforcement. This illustrates a disconnect betw een students perceptions of need and teachers perceptions and highlights the need for students and teachers to collaborate with one another when designing and implementing prevention initiatives. The current study contributed to the field of investigation by providing further information regarding the effectivene ss of peer victimization programs at the primary level of prevention. It also contributed to the identification of f actors influencing program implementation and effectiveness, thus indicating directions for future research at all levels of prevention. Of critical importance at the primary, secondary, and tertia ry levels, is strong pr ofessional development programs for school staff, especial ly school mental health workers, to ensure their knowledge of

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142 and competence in implementing interventions at each tier of the prevention initiative (Kratochwill, Volpiansky, Clements, & Ball, 2007).

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143 APPENDIX A PROGRAM ADHERENCE RATING SCALE AND GUIDE LINES FOR SCORING Program Adherence Rating Scale Teacher:__________________________ Observer:__________________________ Grade:____________________________ Lesson #:___________________________ Date:_____________________________ Time: __________ to __________ Program Adherence Rating Scale No Implementation 1 Some Implementation 2 Moderate Implementation 3 Minor Deviation 4 No Deviation 5 Each component was delivered according to the specified time range: 1 2 3 4 5 Group participation was used, as specif ied, and encouraged by the teacher: 1 2 3 4 5 Student products (e.g., homework) were a ssigned and collected as designated: 1 2 3 4 5 Focus was directed and maintained toward appropriate lesson objectives: 1 2 3 4 5 Comments: Teachers enthusiasm for subject was: Teachers knowledge about background material was: Student interest and engagement was: Any additional comments:

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145 Objective Guidelines for Completing the Pro gram Adherence Rating Scale (PARS) Time Range: 1 was not implemented at all/was skipped 2 about 25-50% of time range was used (for example: 1-2 minutes for a 5 minute portion) 3 approximately 50-75% was delivered (for example: 3 minutes of a 5 minute section) 4 most, but not all time was spen t (4 minutes of a 5 minute session) 5 met or exceeded designated time limit Group Participation: 1 teacher only lectured and no group part icipation was used, though it was indicated 2 teacher led one part of group discussion or role-play, but left out an entire required activity, and did not encourage stude nt responses and ideas 3 teacher led all required components, but di d not encourage student responses and ideas 4 teacher led most required components, a nd encouraged student responses and ideas 5 teacher engaged the class in all specified group participation activities and encouraged student responses and ideas Student Products: 1 Student homework not handed ou t or turned in as prescribed 2 Students remind teacher about homework 3 Homework handed out or turned in with no e xplanation or discussion teachers initiative 4 Teacher hands out homework and answers questions 5 Homework collected and discussed/homework distributed and instru ction read/questions answered or no homework was needed for this session Focus on Lesson Objectives: 1 lesson was not delivered and time was spent on a different topic or activity 2 teacher introduced topic, but spent majority of time on a different topic 3 teacher spent some time on topic, but approximately half time on a different topic 4 teacher spent majority of time on topic, but allowed students to spend some time on a different topic 5 teacher spent all of lesson on designated topic

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146 APPENDIX B SAMPLE CONSENT FORMS Parental Consent for Student Assessment Dear Parent/Guardian, I am a graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Florida. Under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Waldron, I am conducting research on the evaluation of a bullying prevention program that will be implemented in your childs middle school this year. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of the program curriculum at producing changes in students soci al and emotional functioning. The results of the study may help teachers and admi nistrators better understand the process and effectiveness of bullying prevention programs. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit future students. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. Your childs school will be admi nistering surveys to all students that assess peer aggression and victimization, perceptions of school climate, symptoms of depression and anxiety, tendency to blame oneself for being bullied, and attitude towa rd victims of bullying. Students that agree to participate will complete two packets of questionn aires during the fall semester. Students will be given the whole packet of questionnaires, but they will not have to answer any question they do not wish to answer. Your child s teacher will hand out the surv ey packets during class time and will allow students approximately 30 minutes to complete them. Students who do not participate in the research will be asked to work or read qu ietly at their seat during this time. Each survey will then be sealed in an envel ope and turned in to the teacher to return to the research team. Teachers and school administrators will not look at individual childrens responses. Although the children will be asked to write their names on a piece of paper to be inserted in the envelope with the survey, their names will only be used for matching purposes, their identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. We will replace their names with code numbers. With your permission, I would like to use your childs c onfidential responses for my research. Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Pa rticipation or nonpart icipation in this study will not affect the children's grades or placement in any programs. You and your child have the right to withdraw consent for your ch ild's participation at any time without consequence. While we do not anticipate any risks associated with study participation, some people may feel uncomfortable answer ing questions about emotions and social experiences. Students who participate in the survey s will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to a local store. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at or my faculty superv isor, Dr. Waldron, or3920723 x232. Questions or concerns ab out your child's rights as re search participant may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Allison Dempsey, MA _____________________________________________

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147 I have read the procedure described above. I vol untarily give my consent for Allison Dempsey to use my childs ___________________________ confidential su rvey responses for her research on the effectiveness of a bullying prevention program. I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Parent / Guardian Date ____________________________ ___________ 2nd Parent / Witness (optional) Date

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148 Parental Consent for Student Focus Group Participation Dear Parent/Guardian, I am a graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Florida. Under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Waldron, I am conducting research on the evaluation of a bullying prevention program that will be implemented in your childs middle school this year. The purpose of th is study is to gather students perceptions of the prevention program through conversations in small focus gr oups. The results of the study may help teachers and administrators better understa nd the process of implementing bullying prevention programs. These results may not directly help your child to day, but may benefit future students. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. Students that agree to participate will be part of a focus group consisting of three to seven fellow students from the same grade. The focus group w ill be held during a maximum of two days in November during the students lunch time so th at they will not miss any class time. A pizza lunch will be provided to partic ipating students. Students in focu s groups will be asked questions related to their reactions to the prevention program curriculum and thei r opinions about bullying prevention. A graduate student from the Univer sity of Florida will conduct the focus groups. With your permission, your child will be videotaped during the focus group so that a transcript of the session can be completed. Your childs name will not be listed on the transcript. The video will be accessible only to the research team and the tape will be erased at the end of the study. Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Your childs identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and will not be re vealed in any manuscripts reporting the results of the project. Participation or nonparticipation in this study will not affect the children's grades or placement in any programs. You and your child have the right to withdraw consent for your ch ild's participation at any time without consequence. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to the participants. No compensation is offered for participation. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Waldron, or392-0723 x232. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be di rected to the IRB02 office, Un iversity of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Allison Dempsey, MA _________________________________________________

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149 I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child, _________________, to participate in a videotaped focus group for Allison Dempseys study of the process of implementing a bu llying prevention program. I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Parent / Guardian Date ____________________________ ___________ 2nd Parent / Witness Date

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150 Teacher Consent for Focus Group Participation Dear Educator: I am a graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Florida. Under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Waldron, I am conducting research on the process of implementing a bullying prevention program th at will be implemented in your middle school this year. The purpose of this study is to gather teachers perceptions re garding the program and potential barriers to its imple mentation and effectiveness. The results of the study may help teachers and administrators better understand the process of implementing bullying prevention programs. I would like to invite you to participate in this focus gr oup, which will be held during two, 60minute after-school sessions this semester. One will be held in September and the other in December. You do not have to answer any questi ons in the focus group th at you do not want to. With your permission, I would like to videotape this focus group. On ly members of the research team will have access to this tape and will creat e a transcript from the sessions, removing any identifying information on the transcripts. The ta pe will then be erase d. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in any manuscripts reporting the re sults of this project. There are no anticipated risks, compensation or ot her direct benefits to you as a participant in this focus group. You are free to withdraw your c onsent to participate and may discontinue your participation in the focus groups at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research pr otocol, please contact me at or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Waldron, or392-0723 x232. Questions or concerns about your as research participant may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Please sign and return this copy of the letter in the enclosed envelope. A second copy is provided for your records. By signing this letter, you give me permission to report your responses anonymously in manuscripts detailin g the results of this study. Allison Dempsey, MA __________________________________________________________ I have read the procedure described above for the Prevention Program Focus Group. I voluntarily agree to participate in the focus group and give my permission to be videotaped during this group. I have received a c opy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Signature of participant Date

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151 Teacher Consent for Observation Dear Educator: I am a graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Florida. Under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Waldron, I am conducting research on the evaluation of a bullying prevention program that will be implemented in your middle school this year. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of the program curriculum in producing changes in students social and emotiona l functioning. As part of this study, I plan to monitor teacher implementation of the program curriculum by conducting periodic observations over the course of the semester during curriculum delivery sessions The results of the study may help teachers and administrators better understand the process of bullying prevention programs. There are no anticipated risks, compensation or ot her direct benefits to you for being observed in your classroom. You are free to withdraw your c onsent to participate and may discontinue your participation in the observation at any time without consequence. The results of a brief measure conducted during your evaluation on your adherence to the guidelines of the program curriculum will be kept confidential from sc hool administrators. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in any manuscripts reporting the results of this project. If you have any questions about this re search protocol, pl ease contact me at or my faculty supervisor Dr. Waldron, or392-0723 x232. Questions or concerns about your rights as research participant may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Please sign and return this copy of the letter in the enclosed envelope. A second copy is provided for your records. By signing this letter, you give me permission to report your responses anonymously in manuscripts reporting the results of this project. Allison Dempsey, MA _______________________________________________________ I have read the procedure described above fo r the observations of adherence to program guidelines. I voluntarily agree to participate in the observations and I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Signature of participant Date

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152 APPENDIX C SAMPLE FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS Teacher Focus Groups What did you think of the prevention program ? How did your students respond to the curriculum? What changes in student and teacher behavior did you notice? What components of the program did you feel were most successful? What were some things that made it difficult to implement the program? Please share your perceptions about the level of support you received from the staff. What would you suggest doing differently next time? Student Focus Groups What did you think of the prevention program ? What did you like about the curriculum? What did you dislike about the curriculum? What changes in student and teacher behavior did you see this year? Why do you think some changes were not seen in stude nt behavior? What else could be done to de al with bullying at your school?

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153 APPENDIX D ASSIGNMENT OF FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT NUMBERS Teacher Focus Groups School 1, Group 1: Teachers 1-4 School 1, Group 2: Teacher 5-8 School 2, Group 3: Teachers 9-12 School 3, Group 4: Teachers 13-15 Student Focus Groups Grade 6, Group 1: Students 1-4 Grades 7-8, Group 2: Students 5-6 Grade 7, Group 3: Students 7-10

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154 LIST OF REFERENCES Albee, G. W., & Ryan-Finn, K. D. ( 1993). An overview of prim ary prevention. Journal of Counseling & Development, 72 115-123. Bauer, N. S., Lozano, P., & Rivara, F. P. (2007). The Effectiveness of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in Public Midd le Schools: A Controlled Trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 266-274. Bauman, S., & Del Rio, A. (2005). Knowledge and Beliefs about Bullying in Schools: Comparing Pre-Service Teachers in the United States and the United Kingdom. School Psychology International, 26 428-442. Bodgdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2003). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Bradshaw, C. P., Sawyer, A. L., & O'Brennan, L. M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences be tween students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36 361-382. Camodeca, M., & Goosens, F. A. (2005). Aggr ession, social cognitions, anger and sadness in bullies and victims. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46 186-197. Camodeca, M., Goosens, F. A., Terwogt, M. M., & Schuengel, C. (2002). Bullying and victimization among school-age children: Stability and links to proactive and reactive aggression. Social Development, 11 332-345. Chan, J. H. F. (2006). Systemic Patterns in Bullying and Victimization. School Psychology International, 27 352-369. Cole, J. C. M., Cornell, D. G., & Sheras, P. ( 2006). Identification of School Bullies by Survey Methods. Professional School Counseling, 9 305-313. Committee for Children. (2001). Steps to respect: A bullying prevention program Seattle, WA: Author. Craig, W. M., Henderson, K., & Murphy, J. G. (2000). Prospective teachers' attitudes toward bullying and victimization. School Psychology International, 21 5-21. Creswell, J. W. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative ressearch Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Crick, N. R. (1996). The role of overt aggression, relational aggre ssion, and prosocial behavior in the prediction of children's future social adjustment. Child Development, 67 2317-2327.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Allison Dempsey (ne Allison Bud zynski) was born in 1980 in Denver, Colorado. She grew up in Littleton, Colorado with her parents, Tim and Vilma, and brother Alex and graduated from Columbine High School in 1998. Allison earned a B.S. degree in psychology with cumulative honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. After graduation, she moved to Baltimore where she was awarded a two-year post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and simulta neously earned an M.A. in experimental psychology from Towson University. In 2004, Allison began her doctoral degree in the school psychology program at the University of Florida. While at the University of Florida, Allison conduc ted research related to peer victimization and engaged in practicum work in school and pediatri c settings. Allison lives with her husband, Jack, who is also a doctoral st udent in school psychology; and two dogs, Brian and Baxter. The couple will temporarily move to De troit, Michigan in July, 2008 so that Allison may complete a full-year pre-doctoral internship at the Childrens Hospital of Michigan. After receiving her doctoral degree, Allison plans to attain a position conducting research and engaging in clinical work at a unive rsity or academic hospital setting.