Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Tracy Marsh

Abstract

International research on bullying suggests that bullying is pervasive in schools and the workplace. Most researchers concur that bullying behavior is a disruptive factor to the social and educational well-being of students. Previous research, grounded in social and family systems theory, has indicated those who bully tend to be involved in self-destructive and delinquent behaviors. Additionally, in the only-large scale study on bullying behaviors, 29% of the 10th-grade student body admitted to being bullied that school year. Further, in a new study conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, half of all high school students reported that they have bullied another student. In spite of these studies, there remains a paucity of information in the literature regarding what distinguishes bullies from other students in terms of family factors such as family size, family composition, and birth order. Little has been conducted on which variables in the home contribute to being labeled a bully. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationships that exist between reported middle-school bullying and each of the above-named family variables. This study examined archival data from a standardized bully questionnaire completed by middle school students. A correlational analysis approach of the bully subscale score and family factors indicate that having a small family size and living with both parents are associated with a lower probability of engaging in bullying behavior. This research yields insight on relationships between bullying behaviors and family variables. Implications for social change included better assessment of, identification of risk factors of bullying behaviors which can lead to a more comprehensive model of bullying strategies that includes broadening our understanding of bullies as being part of a family system versus as an isolated individual.