Students can reduce bullying rates at their schools by
stepping in when they see it, a new study has found.
But the study, based on analysing Auckland University's Youth
2007 survey of New Zealand high schools, has found that
intervention by teachers alone has no effect on the bullying
"Students taking action to stop bullying was by far the
strongest school-level factor we found," lead researcher Dr
Simon Denny said.
"Students are often reluctant to tell teachers when there is
bullying going on, they don't perceive that teachers are that
effective. That's not to say that they shouldn't involve
adults, but we couldn't see any effect [of teacher
The study also found that students were less likely to step
in when they saw bullying in boys' schools than they were in
coeducational or girls' schools. Bullying rates were also
much higher in boys' schools.
These differences were found to be completely explained by
gender and other demographic differences. Boys were more than
twice as likely as girls to be bullies. But the bullying rate
was found to be slightly higher in private schools than in
state and integrated schools, even after adjusting for
demographic and other factors - even though private school
students were actually slightly more likely to intervene.
"It seems to be something about the culture of private
schools rather than individual students. You would actually
expect those results to go the other way because most kids
who go to private schools are from higher socio-economic
groups," Dr Denny said.
The survey, conducted anonymously on tablet computers, asked
9107 students in 96 high schools how often they had been
bullied, and how often they had bullied others.
They were told: "Bullying is when another student or group of
students say, write, text or message nasty and unpleasant
things to another student, or the student is hit, kicked,
threatened or shoved around. Bullying also means when a group
of students completely ignore somebody and leave them out of
things on purpose."
Five per cent of girls and 7.1 per cent of boys said they
were bullied at least once a week. A further 2.9 per cent of
girls and 6.8 per cent of boys admitted to bullying others at
least once a week.
They were also asked, "How often have you ignored bullying of
other students and not taken action?" and, "How often do
other students take action when they know a student is being
bullied in school?" Responses, averaged across the two
questions, were "almost never" (coded 3 for the first
question and 1 for the second), "now and then" (coded 2) or
"almost always" (coded 1 for the first question or 3 for the
The results showed that students were less likely to take
action in boys' schools (average 1.99) than in co-ed (2.09)
or girls' schools (2.25).
- Simon Collins of the NZ Herald