206927 Misperceptions of bullying norms as a risk factor associated with violence among middle school students

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

H. Wesley Perkins, PhD , Department of Antrhopology and Sociology, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
David W. Craig, PhD , Department of Chemistry, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
Jessica Perkins, MS , Department of Health Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Bullying among adolescents in many countries is a significant school and public health concern. Erroneous perceptions of bullying norms may be important risk factors for being a bully, victim, or bully/victim. Anonymous online surveys were conducted to assess the accuracy of perceived peer bullying norms among youth in 20 middle schools (grades 6 to 8) from 2006 to 2008 in New Jersey and New York (n= 10,728). The survey reveals attitudes about bullying, incidence levels of bullying behavior as reported by perpetrators and victims, and also assesses perceived norms among peers regarding these attitudes and bullying behaviors. Results from the analyses of eight types of bullying behavior show that while bullying is substantial, it is not the norm. The most common (and erroneous) perception, however, is that the majority engage in and support such behavior. Multilevel analysis reveals that perceptions of bullying behaviors are highly predictive of personal bullying behaviorómore so than actual school norms. Pervasive misperceptions of bullying may contribute to engagement in bullying and help perpetuate victimization.

Learning Objectives:
Assess the existence and extent of misperceptions regarding bullying norms among secondary school students. Analyze the association between misperceived bullying norms and personal engagement in bullying

Keywords: Child/Adolescent Mental Health, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: H. WESLEY PERKINS received the B.A. in Sociology from Purdue University, an M.Div. degree from Yale University Divinity School, and the M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University. He is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. In 1993 he was honored with Hobart and William Smith's faculty prize for outstanding scholarship and in 1997 he received the faculty prize for outstanding service to the college community honoring his work to reduce alcohol abuse among students. He is Project Director of the Alcohol Education Project at Hobart and William Smith, an initiative providing research, educational resources, and strategies to reduce alcohol and other drug abuse throughout the U.S. and internationally. In 1999 and again in 2005 the Project received a national award from the U.S. Department of Education as a Model Prevention Program in Higher Education. "Assessing Bullying in Secondary Schools with a New Online Survey: Applying the Social Norms Model to Adolescent Violence," workshop presented by H. Wesley Perkins and David W. Craig at The National Conference on the Social Norms Model, Denver, CO, July 28, 2006
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.