Bullying: A preliminary investigation of its nature and the effects of social cognition

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The nature of peer group bullying among 631 Australian primary school children in years 5, 6 and 7 was surveyed in STUDY ONE to further understand the nature and effects of bullying. Over 6% of the sample reported being bullied 1–2 days/ week and nearly 1/3 of the sample felt unsafe from bullying. For 16% of the children who are bullied the experience lasts six months or more. Approximately one quarter of the students felt that teachers did little to stop bullying while children gave as their reason for not helping a victim “it is none of my business” and “fear”. Bullying affected self perception with 65% feeling worse about themselves after the incident. In STUDY TWO 76 children were individually interviewed regarding their social problem solving capacities. Bullies, victims and “normals” differed in relation to their attribution for control for explanations of aggressive behaviour. Bullies were more “external” than victims or other children. Bullies chose more aggressive second best solutions to aggressive behaviour by other children than victims while victims feared retaliation for aggressive behaviour on their part. The findings were discussed in terms of social cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993


  • attribution
  • Bullies
  • problem solving
  • social cognition
  • victims


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