Are there differences in bullies?
Houston, Kathy Perry
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Bullying is a serious problem in schools throughout the world. Cook (2005) estimates 65% of young adolescents experience some type of bullying, the results of which can lead to serious physical, social, and psychological problems. A number of studies have been conducted on the causes and effects of bullying, however little research has been conducted on the different types of bullies and interventions that would work best for each type of bully. The objective for this study is to examine whether bullies differ in their social skills levels. If they do, an assessment of whether the different types of bullies and non-bullies differ significantly on personal, peer, school, and family characteristics will be conducted. Social Cognitive Theory was applied to better understand the relationship between the personal, peer, school, and family characteristics and the results of the study. A questionnaire assessing demographic information and the following scales: bullying, victimization, social skills level, self-efficacy for alternatives to violence, life satisfaction, positive and negative peer influences, school connectedness, school connectedness to an adult, academic achievement, parental support for violence, and parental support for non-violence was utilized. Completed information was obtained for 90% of the students in the study school. According to the data, bullies do differ significantly in their social skills levels. Low social skills bullies represented the largest percent of bullies (40%), moderate social skills bullies represented the smallest percent of bullies (29%), and high social skills bullies represented a third of the sample (31%). Low social skills bullies, moderate social skills bullies, high social skills bullies, and non-bullies were similar on some predictor variables and differed significantly on others. In relation to grade level, all groups were similar except low social skills bullies and non-bullies. Each bully type was significantly different from each other in gender, but high social skills bullies did not differ from non-bullies. These findings support the hypotheses that bullies differ in their social skills levels and factors related to bullying behavior. This information can inform interventions and programs designed to reduce bullying in schools.