Resilient victims of school bullying : psychosocial correlates of positive outcomes

Wade, E 2007, Resilient victims of school bullying : psychosocial correlates of positive outcomes, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Resilient victims of school bullying : psychosocial correlates of positive outcomes
Author(s) Wade, E
Year 2007
Abstract Bullying is a phenomenon that has serious psychological consequences for victims, including low psychological wellbeing, poor social adjustment, psychological distress, and physical illness. Bullying has become a topic of increasing public concern and the focus of considerable research in Australia over the last decade. Parallel to this rise in interest in bullying research is a rise in research into resilience. Research has indicated that children facing distress will show a range of responses; some will regress, while others tolerate and even thrive in the face of trauma; it is this second group that are described as resilient. It was therefore postulated in this thesis that individuals exposed to bullying may not all succumb to the typical negative effects of being a victim of school bullying. While previous studies have noted the difference in reactions to bullying, this is the first study to investigate whether resilient victims can be identified, and their key psychosocial characteristics profiled. Based on this notion, it was predicted that victims of bullying could be taught a set of skills and attitudes that would build their resilience to the expected effects of bullying.

The present research consisted of two studies. Study 1 had two phases. The first phase of Study 1 identified 'resilient victims' of school bullying by assessing participants on their levels of victimisation and their levels of wellbeing using a battery of questionnaires. Participants were assigned to one of four groups: resilient victims, non-resilient victims, healthy non-victims, or poor-health non-victims. From the original sample of 867 students, 111 were categorised into one of the four groups, and completed a second questionnaire package. The second phase examined the relationships between these resilience groups and eight psychosocial correlates of general resilience: individual protective factors, optimism, coping, social support, social skills, self-esteem, self-concept, and emotional intelligence. The results showed that there were significant discriminators between resilient and non-resilient victims, particularly on factors such as optimism, productive coping, self-concept and self-esteem, and so cial variables.

The aims of the second study were to 1) develop a cognitive-behavioural group intervention program to teach social skills, perceived social support, self-esteem, optimism, and effective coping skills, to adolescent victims of school bullying; and 2) to investigate the effectiveness of the intervention. Ten year 7 and 8 students who reported negative consequences to high levels of bullying participated in the intervention program. Results indicated that the program had positive effects on the skills and attitudes that the program targeted. The program also appeared to have positive effects on the participants' levels of victimisation and general wellbeing.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Bullying
Group Intervention
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