Thesis Database

We have developed the following database of research theses on bullying from all academic institutions in the UK and Ireland. The aim of this database is to assist those who are interested in the field of bullying and want to see what research has already been done. We have attempted to ensure that we have included all relevant theses here; but if there is an omission please let us know by emailing

The database is here for information purposes. Those who want access to the texts of the theses need to contact the author, the relevant institution, or both.

Using the implicit relational assessment procedure (irap) to explore implicit versus self-report attitudes toward bullying with students at post-primary and university levels
Curtis, Aisling
National University of Ireland, Maynooth

The current research sought to develop the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) as a measure of bullying attitudes amongst Secondary School and University Students in South East Ireland. The research assessed whether IRAP performance differed between University and Secondary School Students; and investigated the impact of picture versus word stimuli on IRAP performance. It also examined whether an educational intervention video affected participant responding on implicit measures by presenting the IRAP at pre and post-intervention. Explicit measures were presented at pre-intervention only and compared across studies. Implicit measures were presented at pre and post-intervention and compared across groups, gender, and IRAP stimuli (words versus pictures). In Study 1, 30 University Students and 30 Secondary School Students were exposed to (i) a word-based IRAP designed to assess attitudes towards toxic (e.g. Just go die/Rot in hell) and innocuous phrases (Go on ya fool/Don’t be daft) pertaining to bullying; (ii) explicit measures including the Bullying Prevalence Questionnaire (BPQ), the Revised Pro-Victim Scale (RPV-S), the Bullying Attitudes Questionnaire Modified (BAQ-MM) and the Cyberbullying Survey (CS) and (iii) an educational intervention video about the negative and lasting effects of bullying. IRAP trial-type analysis for Study 1 revealed statistically significant effects on the Toxic- Abusive and Innocuous-Harmless trial-types. Results revealed no statistically significant differences between data for groups, gender, or between pre and post-intervention responses on the IRAP. Using Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient, statistically significant correlations were found between the Pro-Social subscale of the BPQ and Toxic-Harmless and Innocuous-Abusive IRAP trial types. In Study 2, 30 University Students were exposed to a picture-based IRAP with images pertaining to cyberbullying and the same intervention and explicit measures as in Study 1. Again, participants were exposed to the explicit measures at pre-intervention, and to the IRAP at pre and post-intervention. Trial-type analysis for Study 2 revealed statistically significant effects on the Toxic-Abusive and Innocuous-Harmless trialtypes. Results revealed no statistically significant differences between participants’ pre and post-intervention scores on the IRAP or explicit measures; and no correlations between implicit and explicit measures. Further analysis using a 2x2x4 mixed repeated measures ANOVA found no statistically significant differences between University Students’ responses on a word-based IRAP in Study 1 versus a picture-based IRAP in Study 2. Overall, participant responding on the IRAP showed a statistically significant effect for the Toxic- Abusive and Innocuous-Harmless trial-types. Findings are discussed with reference to the research literature.

Individual experiences of bullying behaviours : a portfolio of research and therapeutic practice
Ditchfield, D.
The City University (London)

Tackling bullying within the healthcare profession is a major priority considering the costs and risks associated with it, and a full understanding of what behaviours constitute bullying is crucial (Allen, 2015). This mixed-methods study’s QUAL/Quant aims were, firstly, to establish what ALT staff considered to be their experiences of bullying (QUAL) and, secondly, to consider the prevalence of negative acts and their potential relationships to levels of reported depression (Hypothesis 1), stress (Hypothesis 2) and anxiety (Hypothesis 3) (Quant). A pragmatic epistemological framework was utilised for this study with a qualitative focus. Employees from five divisions of ALT were invited to participate in this study, and 303 (response rate 27.5%) took part in the quantitative questionnaire-based study. Eight participants who had described experiences of being bullied were interviewed qualitatively. Prevalent negative behaviours, as reported were: being exposed to an unmanageable workload, having your opinions and views ignored, excessive monitoring of work, being ordered to do work below your level of competence, and being ignored or facing a hostile reaction when you approach. All three hypotheses were strongly supported, in that there was a significant positive relationship between reported experiences of negative acts and levels of depression, anxiety and stress. A constructivist grounded theory approach was adopted for the analysis of the qualitative data. The findings suggested that the experience of bullying was far more complex than the reporting of negative acts and included a stealth-like nature prior to individuals recognising a bullying event. The integration of both methods during the analysis enabled a more thorough exploration of the experience of bullying behaviours than either a qualitative or quantitative approach would have achieved in isolation.

A sociological exploration of lived experiences of LGBT people in the UK
Formby, Eleanor
Sheffield Hallam University

This body of work examines lived experiences of LGBT people within three sub-themes: sex and relationships education (SRE) and sexual health; homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying; understandings and experiences of LGBT ‘community’.  I have identified a persistent invisibility of LGBT identities in school-based SRE and NHS healthcare provision, and argue that heteronormativity and heterosexism impact on sexual decision-making and sexual wellbeing. In particular, they foster fears about health services, specific concerns about confidentiality and/or disclosure, and fears about judgement or discrimination during health-related encounters.  In work in school and youth work settings I have linked curriculum invisibility to experiences of homophobia, suggesting that there is more at play than individual experiences of ‘bullying’. I have highlighted the complexity of language use related to homophobia and bullying, and demonstrated that some school responses can (appear to) ‘abnormalise’ LGBT identities, for instance in referrals to counselling that young LGBT people can interpret as apportioning ‘blame’. I have also pointed to tensions between governmental efforts to address HBT bullying and, until recently, their lack of support for school-based SRE.  In exploring constructions of LGBT ‘community’, I have demonstrated the complexity of experiences, and argued that use of the (singular) term ‘LGBT community’ risks minimising or misunderstanding such diversity, which has implications for service planning and provision.  Across my work, I stress the importance of adopting a sociological approach to what are often psychologised subjects, demonstrated in my illustrations of people’s ongoing (LGBT) identity management. In doing so, I show how legislative developments do not always lead to improved experiences for LGBT people. However, I seek to influence policy and practice in a way that does not over-state LGBT people’s perceived ‘vulnerabilities’ or ‘at riskness’, and that does not portray (particularly young) LGBT people as inherent ‘victims’ in need of ‘support’.

Precursors and outcomes of sibling bullying
Heinrich, Martina Isabel.
Kingston University

Sibling relationships have a great impact on children’s social and psychological development. This thesis provides an all-encompassing examination of the precursors and outcomes of sibling bullying through three quantitative studies: the first study, a meta-analysis, provides a foundational schema of the factors associated with sibling conflicts; the second study, a short-term longitudinal study, examines the individual and proximal precursors of sibling bullying and its short-term outcomes (one and two years later); the third study, a long-term longitudinal study, examines the distal precursors of sibling bullying and its long-term outcomes (five years later). The first study assessed the strongest effect sizes associated with sibling conflicts. It examined the link between parent-child relationships, familial factors and sibling conflicts. Studies were identified through a systematic search, coded, and selected based on criteria relevant for this study resulting in 60 studies (178 effect sizes), which in total involved 43,270 participating children and adolescents. Studies were categorised as proximal and distal factors. Those involved in sibling conflicts were significantly less likely to have authoritative, and warm and affectionate parents, and less likely to come from families with affluent socioeconomic-status, positive family climate and good marital quality. Conversely, more sibling conflicts were significantly related to abusive and neglectful parents, and parent-child conflicts; and more likely to come from families with poor mental health, low SES, adverse family atmosphere and parental conflict. The factors were moderated by assessment methods, study design, direction and form conflict, gender constellation, and continent. This study served as a building block for the two following studies, as it highlighted key factors to focus on in further assessing the precursors and outcomes of sibling bullying. The second study, which was based on the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transition and Crime (ESYTC, 2014) found that parenting factors were crucial to sibling bullying. Parental involvement, parent-child conflict and parent-child leisure time were precursors and outcomes of sibling bullying, so that more parental involvement and parent-child leisure time were associated with less sibling bullying perpetration and victimisation. Further, sibling bullying perpetration and sibling victimisation were precursors of peer bullying perpetration and victimisation one and two years later. However, the strength of the association declined over the course of two years. Impulsive behaviour and social alienation seem to be fundamental influencing factors in the development of sibling bullying and sibling victimisation, respectively. Additionally, children who were involved in peer bullying were more likely to have been involved in sibling bullying, compared to peer neutrals one and two years later. The third study, which was based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC, Boyd et al., 2012) found that maternal somaticism was the strongest predictor of sibling bullying. Further, the strongest predictor of sibling victimisation was partner-to-mother verbal violence. Symptoms of depression at 16.5 years of age was the strongest outcome of sibling bullying perpetration and victimisation at 12.5 years of age. Children who were peer bully-victims when they were 17.5 years old were more likely to have been sibling pure bullies and sibling bully-victims, compared to children who were peer neutrals. The results suggest that familial factors significantly influence the quality of sibling relationships. Additionally, the findings show that sibling bullying is related to peer bullying, so that children mirror bullying behaviours across social contexts (i.e. family environment and school environment). The findings of this thesis are important for clinical practitioners, social workers, parents and schools. Based on these findings practitioners could tailor family and parenting intervention programs that prevent siblings from establishing conflictual relationships with one another. Particularly, it is suggested that bullying intervention programs should integrate three aspects: family members should play an integrated and active role in their plans to reduce bullying and victimisation; bullying intervention and prevention studies should commence at preschool ages; positive family climate should actively be nurtured, in addition to lowering hostility.

Childhood bullying and paranoid thinking
Jack, Alexander Henry
University of Nottingham

Psychotic phenomena are prevalent in non-clinical populations, with a continuum existing between psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) and incidence of clinical relevance. Phenomena-associated distress often demarcates a threshold whereby individuals seek help, and experiential risk factors are consistent at both ends of the continuum. Increased exposure to stressors may predict the transition from transient, to persistent and impairing psychotic-like symptoms. PLE-specific trajectories have been noted in the literature, with childhood bullying victimisation mooted to predict the development of paranoid thinking; paranoid thinking underlies some expressive violence. Whilst bullying victimisation is a cause for concern in itself, the cognitive and behavioural consequences for victims are potentially significant. Paranoid individuals can incorrectly appraise threat in neutral social situations, and employ maladaptive safety behaviours to reduce perceived danger. Such misperception of social events, and behavioural responses, could result in aggressive or violent actions towards others. The current thesis examines this topic.

Adolescent bullying and intrasexual competition: body concerns and self-promotion tactics amongst bullies, victims and bully-victims
Lee, Kirsty
University of Warwick

Bullying is ubiquitous and a major cause of psychological distress and disease. While most bullying research investigating the predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors has focused on victims, important gaps remain regarding the theoretical drivers of bullying perpetration. Using sexual selection and intrasexual competition as a theoretical framework, researchers have argued that bullying is an evolved behaviour that enables bullies to obtain or maintain a strong position in the social hierarchy and have greater access to resources, including sexual and romantic experiences. Intrasexual competition comprises two key features: competitor derogation and self-promotion. Bullying could be considered as a type of repeated competitor derogation, but the extent to which bullies engage in self-promotion tactics is unknown. As body shape and size are of central importance to males and females in the context of intrasexual competition, the aims of this thesis were: to determine whether body weight or body image independently or jointly predict bullying role; and to examine the extent to which bullies, victims and bully-victims are preoccupied with self-promotion through body alteration, and whether this is related to psychological functioning. A large school-based study (The Bullying, Appearance, Social Information Processing and Emotions Study; The BASE study) of adolescents in the UK was conducted. Study 1 investigated whether body weight or body image (i.e., actual or perceived underweight or overweight) was independently associated with bullying role (bully, victim or bully-victim), and whether body weight and body image interacted to predict bullying role amongst adolescent boys and girls. Study 2 examined whether bullies, victims and bully-victims were at increased risk of weight loss preoccupation compared to adolescents uninvolved in bullying, whether psychological functioning mediated the relationship between bullying role and weight loss preoccupation, and whether sex was a key moderator. Study 3 examined whether bullies, victims and bully-victims had a higher desire for cosmetic surgery compared to adolescents uninvolved in bullying, whether the relationship between bullying role and desire for cosmetic surgery was direct or mediated by psychological functioning, and whether any effects were sex-specific. The findings offer several new contributions to knowledge. Firstly, it was revealed that body image, rather than actual body weight, is associated with being a victim and bully-victim. Bullies were of average weight and were more likely to be at an advanced pubertal status (girls only). Secondly, being a male or female bully was directly associated with increased desire for cosmetic surgery and weight loss preoccupation (boys only). The relationship between being victimised (as a victim or bully-victim) and cosmetic surgery desire and weight loss preoccupation was mostly mediated by reduced psychological functioning. Overall, victims had the highest desire for cosmetic surgery, whilst bully-victims had the highest weight loss preoccupation; there were no significant differences between male and female victims or bully-victims. In conclusion, the findings that male and female adolescent bullies are engaging in or cognizing about self-promotion strategies to improve physical appearance, which was unrelated to psychological functioning, are consistent with the theory of bullying as a form of intrasexual competition. Bullies are thus multi-strategic in their attempt to obtain or maintain social dominance. Bullied adolescents are similarly concerned about their appearance, but this is mostly because of reduced self-esteem, body-esteem and emotional problems as a result of being bullied. Thus, adolescents involved in bullying are at increased likelihood of attempting to alter their physical appearance, albeit via different pathways and with likely different outcomes. The research advances theoretical understanding about bullies and has practical implications for understanding the body concerns and self-promotion tactics of bullies, victims and bully-victims.

The perceived role of bullying bystanders in mexican secondary school settings
Lopez Romero, Maria E.
University of York

Bystanders play an important role in school bullying dynamics, having the power to provide or withhold the social rewards bullies seek. Bystander support is also beneficial for bullying victims, who experience less social and mental health problems if they have defenders. Even though bystanders generally disapprove of bullying, they rarely intervene in bullying incidents. Research suggests that two factors closely related to bystander intervention in bullying are moral disengagement and self-efficacy. Cultural influences and gender may also play a part in bullying and bystander dynamics. The main aim of this study was to explore Mexican secondary school students’ perceptions of their role in bullying situations. The study focused on gender differences in these perceptions, students’ levels of self-efficacy, students’ use of moral disengagement dynamics, and student receptivity to material that encourages prosocial bystander behaviour. A questionnaire was developed to gauge students’ views on these topics, and administered to a sample of 186 secondary school students. Focus groups were also conducted to gain insight on group understandings and norms. A six-session workshop was designed and implemented to expose students to material on prosocial bystander behaviour. Results suggested that most students feel empathy towards bullying victims and acknowledge that they have the power to make a difference. However, participants are reluctant to put ideas into action for fear of bully retaliation and the belief that they cannot rely on support from other peers and school staff. This sense of powerlessness seems to have a cultural component to it, and is more common in male students. Other gender differences were observed: females displayed higher self-efficacy to help and lower moral disengagement levels. Research on cultural influences on bullying and bystander behaviour worldwide is needed, as well as further research on the implications, obstacles and opportunities of gender differences in this regard. Studies on what bystanders need to feel safe when helping bullying victims would also be a valuable resource for anti-bullying intervention efforts.

Adolescent-to-parent violence and abuse (apva): an investigation into prevalence, associations and predictors in a community sample
McCloud, Elizabeth Jane
University of Portsmouth

Adolescent-to-Parent Violence and Abuse (APVA) is a form of family violence and abuse that has, in recent years, received increasing attention within academic literature. In England and Wales, APVA is beginning to have more of a presence in policing, youth justice and domestic violence and abuse policy. However, there remains a dearth of empirical quantitative research arising from the UK about this topic. In response, this research aims to report the prevalence of APVA from a UK cross-sectional community sample of 890 secondary school students (aged 11 to 18 years). Furthermore, adolescent characteristics and behaviours, familial characteristics, and school bullying experience are measured to ascertain whether these factors are associated with, and can predict, APVA. APVA was found to be prevalent amongst 64.5% of the sample; psychological APVA was more prevalent than physical APVA (64.4% and 4.3% respectively). Significant associations and predictors of APVA have been identified and three statistically significant logistic regression models are presented that can predict the probability of psychological APVA, physical APVA, and severe APVA occurring. This research contributes to the understanding of the experiences and characteristics of young people who exhibit APVA. The findings demonstrate that APVA is a complex phenomenon that is associated with and can be predicted by individual, family and school bullying characteristics. The results have implications for policy and practice, in particular that a holistic and whole-family approach should be taken to the assessment and subsequent planning of intervention for APVA and that APVA can be screened for in universal settings, such as schools. Therefore, awareness raising and prevention strategies could be incorporated into existing policy and practice frameworks. It is proposed that these findings are best interpreted and understood by ecological theories which can provide a useful framework with which to develop future research.

Exploring the feeling of embitterment in the workplace
Michailidis, Evie
University of Surrey

Embitterment has been described as the emotion generated in the aftermath of an event experienced as unjust and unfair. Although embitterment is most commonly presented in the work context, research on workplace embitterment has remained scarce due to the fact that the concept of embitterment is rather new. This thesis aimed to shed some light on the prevalence of this emotion, its developmental context, outcomes and ways of treating it. Results from this thesis suggests that breaches in organisational justice, can trigger feelings of workplace embitterment which can impact negatively employees’ ability to psychologically unwind from work, as well as their work engagement and job satisfaction levels. The unfolding of further features of workplace embitterment and the development of interventions to improve this feeling seems a worthwhile future endeavour.

Public/ private sector employee perceptions and experiences of workplace cyberbullying 
Kelly, Eoin
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology

While cyberbullying in education is a widely studied topic, research into workplace cyberbullying is less well represented in the literature.  There are a number of approaches taken in the literature to defining the topic which results in a lack of an agreed definition on which to base future research.  Using a qualitative approach involving in-depth face to face interviews with fifteen participants this study aimed to produce a definition of workplace cyberbullying grounded in the literature and supported by real world experience.  Additionally, a comparison of the perceptions and the prevalence of workplace cyberbullying between the public and private sectors was undertaken.  The definition of workplace cyberbullying produced was: Any act, intended to cause harm or perceived as harmful in the workplace that is delivered through digital means.  The results of this study indicate that there is little difference between the two sectors regarding the perceptions of what constitutes cyberbullying in the workplace, with email misuse being the single most reported avenue for workplace cyberbullying.  The implications of the study are that email misuse is a common cause of workplace cyberbullying in the workplace and given the high number of participants in the current study reporting experiencing workplace cyberbullying further research is recommended to quantify the extent of the issue.

Understanding perceptions of cyberbullying in the transition between primary and secondary school
Sutherland, Claire
University of Northumbria at Newcastle

Over the last decade, the nature of bullying has changed dramatically, moving from traditional, face to face to via communication technologies. The associated bullying behaviours and technologies is collectively known as ‘cyberbullying’. Cyberbullying is an increasing problem which results in negative outcomes for all involved. For victims, it is ubiquitous; there is no escape. Cyberbullying, has been directly and indirectly linked to an increased risk of suicide for both victims and bullies. It is therefore vital to explore what children, parents and teachers interpret as cyberbullying and how to design effective interventions to reduce cyberbullying and/or develop resilience and coping strategies. To date, research on cyberbullying has focussed on children in their teens. However, little is known about the perceptions of younger children particularly at the key transitions point from primary to secondary school. At this age, self-esteem decreases and peer support and influence become very important in determining behaviour. Technology use increases around this age and parental monitoring decreases. This thesis uses multiple methods to fully explore similarities and differences in perceptions and experiences between children before (aged 10-11 years) and after (aged 12-15 years) this transition and develops a behaviour change intervention to promote more positive behaviour online, increase resilience and self-efficacy. This thesis aims to develop ways for children to overcome adversity by developing their problem-solving skills and increasing their confidence levels to deal with a negative situation through building their cyberbullying resilience. Cyberbullying resilience can be strengthened through external factors such as a supportive environment, strong peer support and a sense of belonging and internal factors including high self-esteem, self-control and self-efficacy (Bozak (2013) as cited in Hinduja and Patchin (2017)). Initial findings suggested that cyberbullying is predominantly a female behaviour and that victims and bystanders are reluctant to seek adult intervention unless the situation is considered to be so extreme that they can no longer cope. Primary girls were found to be more likely to report a cyberbullying incident than secondary, even though there was no difference in their perception of the severity of the incident. This thesis adds to the literature by highlighting children, parents and teachers’ understandings and expectations around reporting and what these are. This thesis identifies age differences in relation to cyberbullying perceptions and reporting channels and presents a behaviour change intervention which increased self-efficacy and resilience levels. It is also applies a unique intervention approach by introducing implementation intentions with the intention to increase kind online behaviour in addition to building self-efficacy, self-esteem and cyberbullying resilience so that children have skills and strategies in place to deal with adversity online should the time come.

The impact of self-generated images in online pornography
Monaghan, Andy
Middlesex University

This investigation seeks to evaluate the impact on individuals, and society, of Self-Generated Images (SGI’s) in online pornography. It presents an inquiry into the extent, and modes, of SGI use among a large sample of adult internet users. This form the initial platform for a theoretical analysis of the rapidly emerging topic, alongside an empirical investigation into how SGI’s are used, and criminally abused. A mixed research method strategy was consequently adopted, employing a quantitative anonymous online survey (Stage 1), qualitative face-to-face interviews with serving Metropolitan Police Service officers in the SOECA unit (Stage 2), and qualitative Skype interviews with active SGI users (Stage 3). The thesis is divided into three main sections. Firstly, in chapters one-to-four, the context for this study into SGI’s is explained, including the specific UK statute laws regarding licit and illicit pornographic images. Commonly used pornographic terminologies are defined. Furthermore, existent research on the topic of SGI’s/online pornography is scrutinized, and several theoretical issues are given a discourse in relation to SGI’s. An analysis of the free speech/online pornography debate is included, together with an examination of the criminal abuse of SGI’s. The second part, chapter five, provides a rationale for the adoption of a mixed research methods strategy in pursuing the aims of this study. Many methodological issues regarding the three stages of the primary fieldwork are addressed; these include: ontology, epistemology, research paradigms and axiology, ethical underpinnings, practical considerations, and the strengths and limitations of methods chosen. In the third section, chapters six-to-eight, the study’s key findings include a taxonomy of the six main types of SGI. Passive SGI viewing is very pervasive, particularly among the key demographic groups of younger adults, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) and males, and may be becoming the norm. Free PornTube websites are predominately used; but also, increasingly, social network sites (SNS’s) and messaging/image sharing apps. Most adults use SGI’s safely for sexual stimulation; however, some use them for educational and humorous purposes. For a minority of active creators of SGI’s, disastrous personal consequences can result because of subsequent criminal abuse, including cyber-bullying/trolling, sextortion, etc. Gay and bisexual men have highly accelerated rates of SGI use on hooking-up sites, often leading to hazardous risk taking. Children face grave dangers from making and sharing sexualised SGI’s as online child sexual abuse (CSA), grooming and sextortion, etc. may transpire. In the UK’s schools, Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), are in a parlous state regarding the issues and dangers of SGI’s. Finally, this inquiry provides some original insights into the areas of applying and generating theories, using mixed research methods, and the empirical findings uncovered.

A critical analysis of the legal history of vicarious liability and its applications
White, Emily Charlotte
Sheffield Hallam University

This thesis presents an examination of the historical developments of vicarious liability law in the English legal system over the past 200 years. The developments considered date from the principles laid down in Joel v Morison [1834] EWHC KB J39 to the most recent case of Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd [2017] IRLR 124. The various tests for employment status and the course of employment are discussed, with specific analysis into why the tests have changed and developed. Case law and academic criticism is presented to emphasise how the changes have had a positive or negative impact on the clarity and fairness of the area of law.

A study of school anti-bullying policy in Taiwan
Chung, Ming-Lun
University of Sheffield

This thesis explores the scale of bullying in Taiwanese schools and the impact of school anti-bullying policies. Critical realism is used in this policy-related research to argue against current empirical bullying research mainstream and how it may be possible to conduct scientific policy research in Taiwan. The thesis is divided into two parts, covering the literature review and methodology (four chapters in part one) and analysis of the case study in Taiwan (three chapters in part two). This research endeavours to link critical realism with empirical research to deepen our understanding of the school anti-bullying policy structure in Taiwan. The thesis begins with the exploration of the conceptualisation and development of bullying research in Chapter 2 whose main purpose is to capture the definition of bullying and the prevalence of school bullying in different countries and then illustrate the main research areas and the international trend of bullying research. Following Chapter 2, bullying-related theories and approaches to bullying research are highlighted in Chapter 3 and policy process theories and school anti-bullying policies are touched on in Chapter 4 in term of policy agenda setting, policy formulation and policy implementation consideration. A crucial role is played by Chapter 5 which focuses on the philosophical discussion of critical social research (ontology, epistemology and methodology) with reference to the appropriate use of practical methods and related ethical issues. This chapter sets out to explain how critical realism could function in this research to bridge the gap between the literature review and the case study research. In part two, three chapters discuss the formation of school anti-bullying policy in Taiwan. Chapter 6, which is an historical inquiry, illuminates the trajectory of school regulation policies with regard to the democratic transformation of a political system since 1945 in Taiwan. After the historical discussion, light is shed on empirical inquiry into school anti-bullying policy in Chapter 7, which analyses different debates over school anti-bullying policy and power struggles between four different policy stakeholders. Most importantly, Chapter 8 attempts to theorise the ‘generative mechanism’ behind the policy making process and the inferential logic of knowledge production is also considered at the end of this chapter. In addition, reflection on the generative mechanism and collective agency of community and professional groups in policy making are also involved. The concluding chapter reflects on the use of theories, methodology and the research findings in answer to the research questions and elaborates on the compatibility of critical realism, the critical qualitative case study and school anti-bullying policy research in Taiwan. To be reflexive this chapter finishes by looking at further research directions for policy making and practice between political governance, policy research and school practice.

Depersonalisation, burnout and resilience among mental health clinicians
Wright, Stephen
Canterbury Christ Church University

Burnout in human services has become a widely researched psychological concept over the last 40 years (Shaufeli, Leiter & Maslach, 2009). Negative outcomes of clinician burnout in mental health services is well documented, however less research has focused on the specific burnout subsection of depersonalisation (Maslach, 1998). A mixed methodology was used which aimed to examine predictors of depersonalisation among qualified clinicians employed in NHS mental health services, as well as an exploration of experiences of resilience and burnout. A total of 261 Mental Health Nurses, Clinical Psychologists and Social Workers employed in NHS mental health services completed an online survey and open-ended qualitative
questions. Multiple regression analysis suggested five significant predictors of depersonalisation; clinicians’ specialties, years of experience post-qualification, exposure to physical abuse, emotional exhaustion and low ratings of personal achievement. No significant differences of depersonalisation were reported among different professions. Thematic Analysis of responses to open-ended questions suggested that a ‘love of the job’ or desire to ‘help service users’ supported resilience. Job stressors such as exposure to physical abuse or bullying were reported as detrimental to resilience. Implications of maintaining compassionate and effective client care were discussed as well as limitations and areas of future research.

Speaking of angels: intellectual disability, identity and further education in malta
Casha, Sonja
University of Birmingham

The number of students with intellectual disabilities who continue studying past compulsory education in Malta is abysmal. This has spurred the choice of my research which aims to identify the factors that affect this phenomenon. This study uses first-hand accounts by individuals with intellectual disabilities on their experience of further education (FE) in Malta and attempts to highlight the associated benefits and barriers experienced. The results of this study have shown that although factors affecting FE inclusion in Malta are varied, the participants of the study focused primarily on the negative barriers arising from past school experience. The level of bullying and isolation experienced in mainstream school environments is considered a predominant factor in the choice of not pursuing FE. Another emerging factor is the lack of choice for students with intellectual disabilities to stand by their own wishes including the choice of whether or not to enter FE. This is considered to be due to an entrenched paternalistic attitude inherent in Maltese society which may originate from the island’s Catholic roots. These socio-cultural attitudes relegate people with intellectual disabilities to passive receivers of charity. It is perhaps these same attitudes that limit the accessibility also within FE in Malta as reported by the study participants. These factors are seen as playing a significant part in the reasons for such low participation of students with intellectual disabilities in FE locally. These barriers limit the opportunities for this student cohort to enjoy the benefits of FE which were identified primarily to be social integration, employment and independence.

How can young people, aged 14-16 years with mental health problems, be better supported in mainstream education?
Hart, Tania Elizabeth
University of Leicester

Although research suggests that learning and well-being are synergistic there is a lack of research focusing on the school experiences of children with intrinsic mental health problems. The aim of this research was to explore how these children perceived they could be better supported at school. The additional perspectives of their parents and teachers gave further insight into their worlds. The research objective was to examine how schools and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) could strengthen their assistance. A qualitative design was used, underpinned by a social constructionist theoretical framework. Fourteen children were recruited via CAMHS. Children, parents and teachers participated in semi-structured interviews. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. The findings indicated, to thrive emotionally and academically, these children needed to feel they belonged at school. This was pre-requisite to accepting enhanced individualised support. A sense of belonging was only apparent when the child was free from victimisation (bullying, discrimination and stigmatisation) and had good peer and teacher relationships. Belonging was promoted by increasing the child’s emotional security, which was enhanced by promoting teacher mental health knowledge, nurturing teacher and peer relationships and sensitively ensuring disclosure and confidentiality. When the children accepted assistance, they valued support that empowered them to cope resiliently at school. For example, practical one-to-one teacher help and CAMHS assistance in deciding what personal information should be shared with the school, along with emotional help with school problems. In conclusion, schools must promote a safe caring ethos, whereby emotionally literate teachers balance child wellbeing with attainment goals. Schools and CAMHS should tackle school distress and promote child resilience together. Presently, a lack of resource and time can prevent this, so more directives and mechanisms are needed. At the heart of this planning should be the child’s voice, as presently support is predominantly adult driven.

An investigation of bullying of, and with, primary school girls: a pupil research project
Hearn, Helen
The University of Nottingham

Bullying is a social phenomenon that impacts girls and boys inside and outside of school at both primary and secondary school age and is recognised as a social problem both by academic researchers and in the ‘real world’ by the media and by anti-bullying charities. Although bullying is a widely used concept there is no universal definition. Research on bullying has been conducted over the past four decades looking at various aspects from prevalence and severity to coping strategies and effectiveness of interventions. Studies have also considered specific types of bullying and sex differences but these studies do not consider the full variety of types of bullying boys and girls use or which ones are the most upsetting to experience. Most of the studies on girls’ bullying have been conducted in secondary schools; less attention has been given to tweenage girls. This research redressed this imbalance. It began from the position that it is important for adults to listen to tweenage girls’ views as they may have different understandings of bullying compared to adults and this may have policy implications. It assumed that girls were experts on bullying that happened to girls their age in their school. Weekly research lunch club sessions were used with 32 tweenage girl research advisers/assistants from three primary schools. Together we listened to tweenage girls’ views of bullying broadly through developing and administering questionnaires, conducting group interviews and designing anti-bullying resources to be used in their schools. In addition, I conducted one-off focus groups with 11 teenage girls as a comparison to consider age differences in girls’ views. I argue that this research revealed that both girls’ bullying and using pupil research to engage with tweenage girls’ views on this topic was messy and complex. While relational aggression between girls was reported to be most prevalent and severe, focusing on this alone does not reflect the full extent of the behaviours used in girls’ bullying. Both the tweenage and teenage girls’ views on bullying, coping strategies and anti-bullying interventions were similar and were only subtly different in the detail. The research decisions were influenced in an ongoing process by the wants and expectations of the girls, the schools and the researcher and changed through the prolonged interactions during the research. I also argue that ethical practice was an ongoing process and using pupil research created further ethical dilemmas. Although pupil research with tweenage girls on girls’ bullying was challenging and messy, this research gives an example of how it is a viable, successful way to engage with pupils on this sensitive topic. The use of girls’ free time at lunchtimes showed how pupil research positioned as an extra-curricular activity enabled marginalised voices to be heard and was beneficial for the girls, the schools and the researcher involved. This research suggests ways in which school based anti-bullying policies and practices might be more nuanced to take account of the variety of experiences, understandings and preferences for intervention that exist if they engaged in pupil research. There has been little discussion of the issues of the messiness of research and the ongoing nature of ethical practice in either the pupil research literature or methods texts generally for researchers to refer to. I suggest that it would be useful for others to share their messy experiences of pupil research and the ongoing ethical issues they encounter to enable future researchers to be somewhat prepared and confident in responding to the challenges they may face in their own research.

A mixed methods investigation of a typology of reactive and proactive aggression
Hopkins, L.
Coventry University

The overarching aim of the thesis was to identify and explore a behavioural typology of the use of reactive and proactive aggression in a sample of 9-14 year-old English children and adolescents. To date, few studies have employed a person centred approach to investigate behavioural patterns of the use of both reactive and proactive aggression. Of these only two have investigated the behaviour of community, rather than specialised or clinical participant samples (Crapanzano, Frick and Terranova 2010; Mayberry and Espelage 2007). However, these two studies employed methods which raise questions regarding the reliability and/or generalisability of the results obtained. For example, neither study asked participants whether they had actually engaged in the behaviours of interest; rather they asked children to report on how likely they felt they were to react in the same way as described in a list of aggressive scenarios presented to them. As such the studies did not actually record engagement in aggressive behaviour, rather the participants’ perceived likelihood that they would behave in a certain way. Furthermore, neither study was conducted in the UK, leading to questions of generalisability between participant samples. Both research and school policy in England and Wales has focused on exploring the use of proactive forms of aggression (including bullying) in schools, and reactive aggression has to date been neglected. However, it is essential that we identify the prevalence and patterns of the use of both reactive and proactive forms of aggression as both are prevalent in schools and place children and adolescents at risk of harm. Employing a mixed methodological approach, a two-phased data collection procedure was followed to identify and explore a behavioural typology of the use of reactive and proactive aggression and differences in associated demographic, behavioural and socio-cognitive risk factors between the behavioural groups identified. In Phase 1, focus groups were conducted with 57 (20 males, 37 females) children and adolescents aged 9 – 18 years, in order to understand how they define terminology utilised across the research literature to describe acts of negative interpersonal behaviour. Across three data collection sites participants reported consistent definitions of the terms provided to them and differentiated between the terms aggression, violence and bullying. Social representations of the reasons they believed people engaged and avoided engaging in interpersonal aggression also emerged from their talk. These related to the role of taking the perspective, or empathising with others and the perception of a level of justification for certain types of behaviour, enacted under certain conditions. In Phase 2 a survey design was used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data from 658 children and adolescents aged 9-14 years (302 males, 356 females). The aim of Phase 2 was to identify a behavioural typology of the use of reactive and proactive aggression based on self-report data collected using a modified version of the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPAQ; Raine et al 2006). Once the behavioural subtypes were identified, associations between subtype and, involvement in bullying relationships, demographic (age and gender) and social-cognitive characteristics (empathy, perceived acceptance of behaviour and social representations of why people become involved in negative interpersonal interactions) were examined. Cluster analysis of the RPAQ data identified three distinct behavioural groups characterised by lower than the sample median use of both types of behaviour (Low Aggression: characterising 57.1% of the sample), Moderate-high reactive and Low-moderate proactive aggression (characterising 34.4% of the sample), and finally a group indicating frequent use of both reactive and proactive aggression (High Aggression: characterising 8.5% of the sample). The only age and gender related differences within the clusters were found in the low frequency aggression cluster. Specifically, there were a greater proportion of females compared to males in this cluster. The only age related difference found was a greater percentage of primary school children compared to 13-14 year olds in the Low aggression cluster. Group membership was found to be associated with self-reported bullying as measured by the Peer Victimization and Bullying Scale (Mynard and Joseph 2000). The High frequency aggression cluster contained a significantly higher percentage of those indicating being a bully or a bully-victim compared to the other two clusters. Whereas the Low frequency cluster contained a significantly higher percentage of those indicating not being involved in bullying compared to the other two clusters. However, reporting being a victim of bullying was not associated with any one of the three clusters. Of the socio-cognitive variables, a significant incremental increase was found in the perceived acceptance of both reactive and proactive aggression as the reported frequency of the use of both types of behaviour increased across the three behavioural groups (as measured by a modified version of the RPAQ; Raine et al 2006). Conversely, an incremental decrease was observed between the frequency of the use of aggression and reported affective empathy (as measured by the Basic Empathy Scale; Jolliffe and Farrington 2006), with a significant difference being found between the Low and High frequency aggression groups. No significant differences between the groups in self-reported cognitive empathy were found. Finally, participants were asked two open-ended questions relating to their perception of why people are ‘picked on’, or ‘pick on’ others. Thematic Analysis identified a number of social representations held across the participant sample, with a further content analysis identifying that there were no significant differences in the extent to which these representations were endorsed by the three behavioural groups. The findings of the current research have important implications for our understanding of the developmental pathways for the use of reactive and proactive aggression. They identify that both types of behaviour co-occur, suggesting that the risk factors for the development of these two types of behaviour may not be so distinct and/or the risk factors associated with each are likely to co-occur. Consequently, school behaviour policies need to include strategies for addressing both forms of aggression. Interventions to reduce/prevent this behaviour need to be designed to address the risk factors which are promoting the specific motivations of both reactive and proactive behaviour.

The role of interpersonal sensitivity in the association between childhood bullying and paranoid ideation, in a virtual environment, in those at ultra-high risk for psychosis: an investigation of mediation effects using path analysis
McDonnell, Geoffrey Ailbe
University of London, King's College

Background. Chronic exposure to stressors in childhood has been linked with heightened risk of developing symptoms of psychosis in both clinical and non-clinical populations. The association has been explicated with reference to developmental alterations in biological and psychological systems. One such stressor, being bullied in childhood, has been the focus of recent investigations. The current study endeavoured to systematically review the available evidence from studies purporting to investigate the association between childhood bullying and psychosis symptomatology. Method. A search of PubMed, Medline, PsycInfo, Embase, Scopus and Web of Science electronic databases, alongside manual searching and cross-referencing, was carried out. The quality of available evidence for and against the association was assessed using quality assessment tools found in the literature. Results. Meeting the study’s inclusion criteria were 30 studies (eighteen cross-sectional, twelve cohort). Longitudinal studies, by design, provided higher quality evidence – particularly those which examined specifically the association between the variables of interest. However, preselected key confounding variables were not always taken into account, highlighting that the association is not unequivocal and that further research is warranted. Cross-sectional studies provide lower quality of evidence (of greater variability) where severe limitations regarding the validity and generalisability of findings must be taken into account. Conclusions. Evidence suggests that the association between experience of bullying in childhood and onset of psychotic or psychotic-like symptoms of clinical and non-clinical severity is tenable. However, future research needs to re-examine the association while minimising methodological limitations including confounding variables and definitional issues. Establishment of an association warrants investigation of the mechanisms which potentially underlie it; the pre-existing, small research base on mediators and moderators of the relationships requires further attention.