British Journal of Educational Psychology

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Volume 74 Issue 3 (September 2004), Pages 323-496

Help seeking amongst child and adolescent victims of peer‐aggression and bullying: The influence of school‐stage, gender, victimisation, appraisal, and emotion (pages 375-390)

Background: An important element of many anti‐bullying programmes is encouraging victims to tell someone about their predicament. Research has already reported prevalence of telling, who/when children tell and efficacy of telling. However, seeking help can be viewed as a coping behaviour, and coping processes such as appraisal and emotion may be important predictors of whether pupils ask for help.

Aims: To examine the effects that background variables (gender, school‐stage), victimisation (duration, frequency), appraisal (threat, challenge, control) and negative emotion have upon support seeking by child and adolescent victims of peer‐aggression and bullying. To also examine how effective pupils perceive social support to be.

Sample: Participants were 830 children (49% male) aged 9–14 years. Three hundred and seventeen pupils were in Primary 6, 307 in Secondary 2 and 206 in Secondary 3.

Method: A self‐report bullying questionnaire was completed by the participants within their classes. Questionnaires included items relating to victimisation, appraisal, emotion, and coping strategy choice as well as demographic data.

Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that gender, challenge appraisals, and emotions were significant predictors of the degree to which child and adolescent victims of peer‐aggression and bullying sought help (accounting for 15.8% of the variance): girls were more likely than boys to seek help, as were pupils with high challenge appraisals or those experiencing high levels of negative emotion. Also, girls were more likely than boys to view support as the best strategy for both stopping bullying and for helping them to feel better.

Conclusion: Results suggest that pupils are more willing to seek help when they see the situation as one in which something can be achieved. Pupils also may be seeking support to get help coping with negative emotions, and this may need to be emphasized to teachers.

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