In this paper, bullying was defined as a form of aggressive behavior or negative actions reoccurring over time between children who bully and those who are victimized (Fekkes, Pijpers, & Verloove-Vanhorick, 2005). Furthermore, Fekkes et al. (2005) suggested bullying as a group phenomenon involving not only the bullies and their victims, but also the bystanders. Other problems addressed by this research included the negative impact bullying has on children’s mental and physical health and the level of involvement that is necessary for effective intervention strategies to be successful.
The specific research questions posed investigated the extent to which children are involved in bullying behavior, the level of involvement of others (i. e. , teachers, parents, classmates), and the effectiveness of current intervention strategies used to stop bullying behaviors. The purpose of the data presented by this research was to gather information and to utilize that information to compose novel efforts in combating bullying in schools. Fekkes et al. (2005) presented a range of empirical literature to support the need for this research.
Studies by Williams et al. , (1996); Salmon et al. , (1998); and Forero et al. , (1999) were included to support the problem of negative health issues associated with bullying behaviors (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Studies by Atlas and Pepler (1998) and Hawkins et al. (2001) supported the notion of bullying as a group phenomenon and the effectiveness of bystander intervention (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Participants in this study were 2766 children from 32 Dutch elementary schools.
These children had participated in a longitudinal study on the effectiveness of an anti-bullying policy at schools. It is important to note that the data were collected prior to any implementation of the anti-bullying policy. In November 1999, children from 9 to 11 years old were administered a questionnaire in the classroom. The questionnaire addressed frequency of bullying behaviors, types of bullying behaviors, where bullying behaviors took place, who intervened to stop the bullying, and whether or not the interventions were successful.
According to Liebrand et al. (1994), Mooij (1992), and Olweus (1994), this questionnaire was based on the Dutch version of the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire, a well-documented questionnaire that was used in numerous studies on bullying (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Using statistical analyses to analyze the data from the questionnaires, Fekkes et al. (2005) found that active bullying was prevalent at schools. Physical forms of bullying behaviors, such as hitting or pushing, were found to be most typical of boys.
Girls were found to initiate bullying behaviors that were relational in nature, such as isolation tactics and rumor spreading. Bullying was found to take place on the playground as well as in the classroom. Nearly half of children being bullied did not report it to their teacher but did speak to their parents about it. A similar finding was also reported by Whitney and Smith (1993) (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Intervention attempts by teachers were found to have little effect, if any, on bullying occurrences. All of these findings provided the insight needed to recommend future intervention strategies.
The prevalence of bullying behaviors among children in this age group was found to be consistent with the findings of similar studies conducted cross-culturally. Fekkes et al. (2005) compared the findings of this study to others in Norway, the UK, Italy, and Germany. With regard to gender differences in bullying behaviors, Whitney and Smith (1993), Borg (1999), Junger-Tas and van Kesteren (1999) found similar results among the direct and indirect nature of bullying behaviors among boys and girls (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005).
Olweus (1993a) found that levels of bullying were lower on playgrounds with more teachers present (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Consistent with Whitney and Smith’s (1993) study and Rivers and Smith’s (1994) study, teachers are not regularly told about incidents of bullying behaviors by victimized children (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Because so many of the findings of this paper were consistent with other studies, the next logical step for future researchers would be to systematically integrate the various aspects of this topic into an intervention model with a comprehensive approach.
Fekkes et al. (2005) recommended many strategies to assist such interventions. One such recommendation stated that teachers should create an environment in which children feel comfortable talking about their negative bullying experiences. Olweus (1993a) suggested the establishment of class rules aimed at minimizing bullying behavior (as cited in Fekkes et al. , 2005). Fekkes et al. further suggested that in addition to establishing class rules to minimize bullying behaviors, class discussion of the rules on a regular basis may aid in establishing an anti-bullying culture within that community.
Another possible step for future research may be to replicate the study with a younger set of participants. Data collected from a younger age group may provide more insight into the early stages of bullying behaviors and early intervention strategies may aid in minimizing the prevalence of incidents of bullying in the higher elementary grades. Overall, I believe this study provided some valuable insight with regard to prevalence of bullying behaviors without the aid of an established intervention program.
One of the strengths of this study was its large number of participants as well as findings which were consistent in similar studies in other countries. Such a large sample size provides for a clear snapshot of the pervasiveness of this problem. An additional strength of this study involves its use of an adapted version of the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire which has been used in many studies on bullying. Using such a well-documented tool lends to the consistency of the findings across multiple studies. Something that stood out to me was that there was no mention of effects of bullying behaviors on peer bystanders, positive or negative.
I feel this was a limitation because bystanders were referred to as having a certain degree of power when taught effective intervention strategies Fekkes et al. , 2005). Another limitation I observed was the limited age range of the participants. I feel that with younger participants, it may be possible to do comparison studies to try to pinpoint just when bullying behaviors begin to surface within the social structure of the classroom. A final limitation of this study was its use of a quantitative design to address issues more qualitative in nature. Fekkes et al.
(2005) state that the aim of the data presented was to provide insight on the topic. This may be more effectively accomplished by doing a current literature review on the prevalence of bullying behaviors and current intervention strategies. Fekkes et al. (2005) describe their current involvement in a project aimed toward development of anti-bullying policies within schools in the Netherlands. They also describe how this study will be used in that capacity. This paper being linked to such a project also raises questions for me about the integrity of the purpose of the study.