Call for Papers: School Climate, Aggression, Peer Victimization, and Bully Perpetration
December 16, 2013: submission deadline
Submit manuscripts through the Manuscript Submission Portal in attention to the Action Editors for this special section, Dr. Dorothy Espelage and Dr. Sabina Low.
This special issue invites manuscripts that investigate school or classroom climate/environment as it relates to school-based aggression, bullying, and peer victimization (and correlated behaviors). Manuscripts should include rigorous measurement studies (e.g., multiple reporters or innovative sampling methods), multilevel modeling, and/or longitudinal designs so as to capture both conceptual and methodological advances in the field.
Research findings from largely cross-sectional investigations suggest that classroom practices, teacher attitudes, and school environment play a critical role in understanding the rates of student reports of aggression, bullying, and victimization.
At a basic level, discrepancies have been noted between how teachers and staff perceive bullying rates in comparison to their students. Many teachers are unaware of how serious and extensive the bullying is within their schools, and are often ineffective in being able to identify bullying incidents (Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O'Brennan, 2007; Kochenderfer-Ladd & Pelletier, 2008).
Divergence between staff and student estimates of the rates of bullying are seen in elementary, middle and high school, with staff consistently underestimating the frequency of these events (Bradshaw et al., 2007). Passive or dismissive attitudes towards bullying or a lack of immediate intervention effectively serves to reinforce bullying behaviors because the perpetrator receives no negative consequences (Yoon & Kerber, 2003). However, studies of the impact of teacher attitudes and students' experiences with aggression and victimization are limited and do not generally employ longitudinal or multi-level designs, which are necessary to account for shared variance and nested data.
An exception in the literature is the few studies that have employed social network analysis to examine classroom structure and its impact on aggression that find when classrooms have rigid hierarchical social structures, victimization becomes more stable because there are few opportunities to maneuver into different roles or social positions (Schäfer et al., 2005). On the other hand, when classrooms are more democratic and the social power is more evenly distributed, a less hostile environment for students is created (Ahn, Garandeau, & Rodkin, 2010). When there are clear levels of power amongst students, victimized children may not have the resources or support to retaliate against bullies and bully behavior remains unchallenged.
These are examples of the type of studies this special issue would like to attract. Increasingly, more studies are being conducted on the school climate, culture, and environment on the rates of bully perpetration and victimization. Findings suggest that when schools have a "culture of bullying" this can serve as a catalyst to allow youth who bully to continue to behave aggressively without fear of sanction while also encouraging passivity of bystanders (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2009). Further, in schools where bullying is more prevalent, students are less likely to seek help from teachers and staff (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2009).
This issue will emphasize a departure from a focus on student attitudes and behaviors, to a social-contextual approach that appreciates how much features of the school environment can mitigate or perpetuate aggression.
Despite this, many questions remain in the field. Given that school climate is a multi-dimensional construct, it is important to unpack the most salient aspects of a school culture that are associated with peer aggression and victimization. This requires the use of multi-level statistical approaches that model the nested nature of students in classrooms and schools. Only then can we parse out those aspects that are to be targeted in professional development training and school-wide prevention efforts.
Also, in light of the plethora of prevention programming around bullying and violence, it is important to understand how the school environment both affects, and is shaped by bullying prevention efforts. Thus, we welcome articles that address school climate or environment as moderators or mediators of program efficacy.
Submission deadline is December 16, 2013. Submit manuscripts can be submitted through the journal's electronic portal in attention to the Action Editors for this Special Section, Dr. Dorothy Espelage and Dr. Sabina Low.
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