"I Am Not Scared" Project
Collective Efficacy in the School Context: Does It Help Explain Victimization and Bullying Among Greek Primary and Secondary School Students?
Journal of Interpersonal Violence – SAGE Publications
bullying, victimization, multilevel modeling, collective efficacy, social capital
1 - 20 pages
The purpose of the current study is to examine the impact of the class social environment on bullying by modeling the effects of class-level collective efficacy on individual-level bullying involvement. Collective efficacy is defined by Sampson, Raudenbush, and Earls (1997) as the link between the trustworthiness of community residents and their willingness to intervene for the common good.
Some recent studies have confirmed that collective efficacy is negatively associated with neighborhood violent criminal activity (Duncan et al., 2003), affiliation with deviant peers (Simons, Burt, Brody, & Cutrona, 2005), and partner violence (Browning, 2002). The importance of informal social control in regulating students’ bullying behavior has been also outlined in many studies. In the school context, high levels of interpersonal trust among teachers and pupils were found to be negatively associated with student bullying.
In the present study, the role of relational trust and collective responsibility is explored as possible determinants of classroom agency in controlling bullying behavior. The effects of collective efficacy were modeled after adjusting for a set of individual-level variables for which information was available, namely gender, age, ethnicity, attitudes toward bullying, and prosocial behavior. The total sample of children consisted of 1.758 students, aged from 11 to 14 years from 10 primary schools and 10 secondary schools in Thessaloniki, Greece.
The results of the research corroborate recent findings of other studies that elements of school social capital, such as teacher support and student respect for one another, are associated with lower levels of victimization among adolescents.
The effect of classroom collective efficacy failed to reach statistical significance for bullying perpetration that may be more explained by individual-level factors that absorb the effect of class-level variables. However, collective efficacy moderated the effect of gender on bullying perpetration indicating that boys were less likely to engage in bullying in classes with higher levels of collective efficacy. In conclusion, the results suggest that enhancing trust and informal social control mechanisms in the classroom could help reduce bullying and victimization.
To date, most studies on bullying behavior have focused on the individual characteristics of bullies and victims including gender, age, social cognition and interpersonal skills, despite growing evidence that bullying arises within a peer-based context and, therefore, is best explained by factors that operate at multiple levels. So far only a few studies (Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003; Salmivalli & Voeten, 2004) have examined how involvement in bullying is influenced by class-level factors. This study tries to explore the impact of the class social environment and collective efficacy on bullying behavior.
The introduction consists of the adequate summary of the findings of previous studies on the individual characteristics of bullies and victims, and the empirical evidence of class-level effects on bullying. The social capital and collective efficacy theories are described in the theoretical framework, which is very interesting and explains the need of the different approach followed in the study.
The method used is presented extensively, describing the characteristics of the participants, the procedure of the research and the measures taken into account. Data were analyzed within a two-level design, and three hierarchical linear models (HLM) were conducted on each of the two continuous outcomes (victimization and bullying). The results are presented in comprehensive statistical tables and are analyzed in report.
The information provided in this paper is of great interest and gives a multi-level aspect in the validation of the phenomenon of bullying. This study is considered to be the first to investigate the effects of classroom collective efficacy on self-reported bullying and victimization in greek schools. Although individual characteristics yield more explained variance than class-level variables, findings indicate that class-level factors remain significant even in the presence of individual characteristics that account for most of the variance in bullying behavior and can, therefore, contribute to the explanation of individual differences in bullying and victimization. As a result, it is highlighted that enhancing trust and informal social control mechanisms in the classroom could help reduce bullying in schools.
I Am Not Scared Project
Copyright 2017 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission