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Parental Responses to Bullying: Understanding the Role of School Policies and Practices

NCJ Number
Journal of Educational Psychology Volume: 111 Issue: 3 Dated: 2019
Date Published
10 pages

Using data from 1,117 parents who reported that their middle or high schooler had been bullied in the past 30 days, this study identified different patterns of responses and examined the influence of perceptions of school climate, school policies and training, and school structural characteristics on their responses.


Research, theory, and practice suggest an important role for parents in supporting their children when they are exposed to violence and helping them cope with victimization experiences. Despite this research, little is known about how parents respond to the bullying of their children and the factors that influence their response. In addressing this issue, the current study used latent class analysis to identify three patterns of parental responses to the bullying of their children: 1) Only Talk (72 percent); 2) Contact School (23 percent); and 3) Handle Themselves (5 percent). Parents who perceived the school to have more effective school rules were less likely to be in the class of parents who contacted the school versus the "only talking" class; however, school staff training was associated with a greater likelihood of parents being in the "contact the school" class compared with the "only talking" class. Perceptions of equity were also related to an increased likelihood of being in the "contact the school class" compared to the "handle themselves" class. These findings suggest that parents' behaviors in response to bullying may be related to their perceptions of the school and school actions toward bullying. Efforts to promote a collaborative approach to bullying between school and home should focus on communicating this expectation, potentially addressing parents' perceptions of equitable treatment for all students. These results show the importance of developing school policies and practices that promote improved parent-school communication about bullying, which could potentially improve outcomes for students who are bullied and address the systemic nature of bullying. 6 tables and 78 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019