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Understanding Weaknesses in Bullying Research: How School Personnel Can Help Strengthen Bullying Research and Practice

NCJ Number
Children and Youth Services Review Volume: 69 Dated: October 2016 Pages: 143-150
Date Published
October 2016
8 pages

This article presents an overview of five weaknesses in bullying research, suggests possible solutions, and discusses implications for school personnel.


School personnel (teachers, administrators. counselors, staff, and social workers) would greatly benefit from a stronger understanding of bullying dynamics. In order to heighten their understanding, bullying research must be strengthened. Despite more than 40 years of bullying research, a number of methodological weaknesses continue to plague bullying research. First, there is a lack of a common definition of bullying, making it difficult to compare results across studies. Second, some researchers use one-item measures of bullying, a practice that lacks content validity and fails to assess the entire scope of the bullying dynamic. Third, many measures fail to assess all forms of bullying. Fourth, researchers often fail to provide a definition of bullying or to even include the word "bullying" in their measures, thus conflating the measurement of bullying and aggression. Finally, most scales measure the prevalence of bullying and fail to assess the motivations for bullying or reasons why youth are bullied or bully others. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2016