July 20-22, 2008

2008 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach

Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport

ASSESSING BULLYING IN NEW JERSEY SECONDARY SCHOOLS:
APPLYING THE SOCIAL NORMS MODEL TO ADOLESCENT VIOLENCE


David W. Craig, Ph.D., Dept. of Chemistry

H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Hobart & William Smith Colleges


Abstract

An online survey has been developed for use in assessing bullying in secondary schools and for conducting social norms interventions. The survey reveals attitudes about bullying, incidence levels of bullying behavior as reported by perpetrators and victims and also assesses perceived norms among peers regarding these attitudes, bullying behavior, and experiences as victims. Results from more than 10,000 students from 20 schools show that while bullying is substantial, it is not the norm. The most common (and erroneous) perception, however, is that the majority engage in and support such behavior. Multisite analysis reveals that perceptions of bullying behaviors are highly predictive of personal bullying behaviorómore so than actual school norms. Examples of media created to reduce harmful misperceptions about bullying and preliminary results from pre/post tests of schools conducting interventions will be reported.