Peer Groups, Social Identity, and Children’s Bullying Behaviour
Drawing on social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), this study explored the impact of the peer group on childhood bullying. Participants were 351 students, aged 8 to 13 years, and 17 teachers. Involvement in bullying and other problem behaviors (e.g., getting angry easily or going in areas that are out-of-bounds) was assessed using peer-, teacher-, and self-reports. Peer-reports were also used to determine membership of friendship groups, norms of particular groups, and intra-group positions (prototypical versus peripheral). Results revealed that bullying was associated with other problem behaviors. Further, within-group similarities in both bullying and problem behaviors were evident. Bullying was also greater when it was endorsed by group norms and when children were prototypical versus peripheral members of bullying groups. The implications of the findings for the conceptualization of childhood bullying and the development of anti-bullying programs are discussed.
Developmental Psychology and Ageing