Surveying bullying using peer nomination methods

Simone Paul, Peter K. Smith, Herbert H. Blumberg


Objective - This study addresses the need for effective reporting of bullying in education, whereby a standardised peer nomination measure can reveal the extent of the problem on a class basis.

Methods - Three Inner London secondary schools were included in the study: a boys’ school (WES), a girls’ school (PHS), and a mixed school (WA). Peer nominations of specified participant roles indicated the extent to which the student population was involved in bullying problems at class level.

Results - Contingency tables of participant roles (Bully, Victim, Bully/Victim, and No Role) and school sample year groups (Year 7; Year 8; Year 9) are reported with chi square analysis of frequency distributions. The proportion of peer nominations and the number of students identified as a bully, victim or bully/victim varied in each class differed in each school. WA had the highest percentage of role nominations overall, WES had the highest percentage of nominations for the role of bully. A reduced number of nominations were also noted in consecutive year groups, particularly for the role of bully. The numbers of victims per class varied widely, but was seldom one victim, as postulated by the scapegoating hypothesis.

Conclusions - A peer nomination measure can identify the extent of bullying and offer an opportunity to evaluate the impact of interventions by measuring change in a school and class. This can help education practitioners, and support service professionals tailor the provision available to students in school.


Bullying; School; Student; Peer nomination

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