Social-Ecological Model

Topics: High school, Middle school, Bullying Pages: 25 (8737 words) Published: April 13, 2013

A Social-Ecological Model for Bullying Prevention and Intervention in Early Adolescence: An Exploratory Examination

Susan M. Swearer and James Peugh University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Dorothy L. Espelage University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Amanda B. Siebecker

Whitney L. Kingsbury

Katherine S. Bevins Chapter submitted for publication in: The Handbook of School Violence and School Safety: From Research to Practice Edited by Shane R. Jimerson and Michael J. Furlong To be published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mahwah, New Jersey

Social-Ecological Model 2

Involvement in bullying and victimization is the result of the complex interplay between individuals and their broader social environment. In this chapter, Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) classic ecological theory is used as a base to illustrate the interrelated nature between the individual, multiple environments, and engagement in bullying and victimization behaviors. First, the bullying literature across the social-ecology is reviewed, a social-ecological model of bullying is proposed and evaluated, and implications for effective bullying intervention are discussed. Social-ecological theory has been previously applied to the conceptualization of bullying and victimization (Garbarino & deLara, 2002; Newman, Horne, & Bartolomucci, 2000; Olweus, 1993; Swearer & Doll, 2001; Swearer & Espelage, 2004). It is clear from both theory and research that bullying and victimization are phenomena that are reciprocally influenced by the individual, family, school, peer group, community, and society. One major task facing bullying researchers is how to empirically examine these reciprocal influences. Although it is beyond the scope of this chapter to examine each area in depth, a brief overview of selected socialecological variables associated with bullying and victimization is provided and followed by an empirical examination of these multiple and reciprocal influences. Individual Variables Associated with Bullying and Victimization Much of the extant literature on bullying and victimization has focused on the individuals involved in bullying and victimization. Researchers and educators are understandably interested in the reasons why an individual either engages in bullying others and/or might be bullied by others. Previous research has found that individuals involved in bullying (e.g., a victim, bully, or bully-victim), are more likely to experience significant depressive symptomatology (Austin & Joseph, 1996; Craig, 1998; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Marttunen, Rimpela, & Rantanen, 1999;

Social-Ecological Model 3 Swearer, Song, Cary, Eagle, & Mickelson, 2001). Individuals who are victimized (e.g., a victim or a bully-victim) report significant anxious symptomatology (Craig, 1998; Hodges & Perry, 1996; Swearer et al., 2001). Although it is evident that individuals involved in bullying and victimization may experience greater levels of depression and anxiety than individuals not involved in bullying, the temporal relation between involvement and bullying and internalizing problems is less clear. Do the bullying behaviors precede depression/anxiety or does the depression/anxiety precede the bullying? Despite this unanswered temporal relationship, internalizing factors appear to influence an individual’s experience with bullying and/or victimization. The relationship between caregivers and children functions as a model for the child’s interactions with others. A child with an insecure attachment learns to expect inconsistent and insensitive interactions with others, whereas a child with a secure attachment style comes to expect consistent and sensitive interactions (Bowlby, 1969). Troy and Sroufe (1987) found that children who had insecure, anxious-avoidant, or anxious-resistant attachments at the age of 18 months were more likely than children with secure attachments to become a victim of...
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