Victims of bullying

Victims of bullying is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What Works Best and the School Excellence Framework.

What is it?

Bullying is when a person tries to hurt another person, and does it more than once. It can be physical, verbal, social, or cyber. The bully is usually in a position of real or perceived power over the person being bullied. Power imbalance is viewed as a characteristic that distinguishes bullying from other similar forms of conflict

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about their experiences of bullying over the past four weeks. Students are presented with a definition of bullying to ensure a consistent understanding of the behaviours intended.

At the primary level, students are considered to be ‘victims of moderate bullying’ if they had experienced two types of bullying in the past four weeks from amongst physical, verbal, social, or cyber. Students are considered to be ‘victims of severe bullying’ if they had experienced three or more types of bullying in the past four weeks. At the secondary level, students are considered to be ‘moderate victims of bullying’ if they have experienced any physical bullying in the past month, or any one of verbal, social, or cyber bullying more than once a week. Students are considered to be ‘severe victims of bullying’ if they have experienced physical bullying more than once a week, or any one of verbal, social, or cyber bullying at least 4-5 times a week. The results are reported as the percentage of students who are victims of moderate bullying, and the percentage of students who are victims of severe bullying. The results are also reported separately for each of the four types of bullying.

Why is it important?

Bullying negatively impacts the physical, mental, and educational wellbeing of students, with potentially severe effects. Schools must act to identify and address bullying in all its forms to ensure the wellbeing of all students. Bullying interventions work and help to reduce anti-social behaviours and foster positive peer relationships amongst students. Effective strategies include employing parent meetings, firm disciplinary methods, and improved playground supervision to identify and address bullying behaviours.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Wellbeing Wellbeing

Evidence base

Juvonen, J., & Graham, S. (2014). Bullying in schools: The power of bullies and the plight of victims. Annual review of psychology, 65, 159-185.

Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simons-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. JAMA, 285(16), 2094-2100.

O'Morre, M. (2000). Critical issues for teacher training to counter bullying and victimisation in Ireland. Aggressive Behavior, 26, 99-111.

Pepler, D. J., Craig, W. M., Ziegler, S. & Charach, A. (1994). An evaluation of an anti-bullying intervention in Toronto schools. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 13(2), 95-110.

Price, M., & Dalgleish, J. (2010). Cyberbullying: Experiences, impacts and coping strategies as described by Australian young people. Youth Studies Australia, 29(2), 51.

Roland, E. (2002). Bullying, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Educational research, 44(1), 55-67.

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Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.

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