Bullying within friendships among primary school pupils

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


It has been found that children tend to be friends with peers who assume similar roles to them in bullying situations (e.g. Huitsing et al., 2014; Sijtsema et al., 2014). It has also been reported that who children are friends with, and who bullies them, are not necessarily different individuals (e.g. Mishna et al, 2008). This paper will report on research into the peer group networks of primary school children, and links between friendships and bullying. Using a peer nomination method, 314 children (aged 9-11 yrs) from 5 primary schools in England identified who their friends were and nominated peers for particular roles (aggressors, defenders, victims). Children reported who they were aggressive towards and by whom they were victimised. They also completed a Friendship Quality Questionnaire to measure the quality of their relationship with their best friend. Using Social Network Analysis (SNA) we examine whether children who are similar in aggression are close to each other in popularity and best friend networks. We then go on to report whether bullies are aggressive towards their friends in two ways; first using a MANOVA to compare the subscales on the friendship qualities questionnaire in relation to the role taken in bullying to examine whether bullies report more conflict in their friendships than others. Secondly, using SNA we report on whether children identified as bullies are more likely to bully those they have identified as most liked or as best friend. The paper highlights the complexity of children’s peer relationships, and how positive relationships, negative interactions and bullying behaviour can co-occur. We will discuss the implications of our findings for schools and educational practitioners.
Period11 Sep 2015
Event title17th European Conference on Developmental Psychology
Event typeConference
LocationBraga, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational