BULLYING/VICTIMIZATION AMONG GREEK SECONDARY EDUCATION STUDENTS: INDIVIDUAL AND PEER-RELATED FACTORS
The victimization of adolescent students by their peers, has been identified as a serious problem in Greece over the last few years. Despite the public concern about the prevalence of victimization in Greek secondary schools, to date no national policy has been developed against victimization for them to implement. Recent conceptualizations of bullying as a complex social phenomenon that unfolds within the peer-group context and is significantly influenced by the dominant norms and social mechanisms within the group, have informed the implementation of proactive school-wide interventions against peer harassment in many national systems.
Within the educational and policy context briefly outlined above, the present research anticipated to offer a thorough picture concerning the prevalence of victimization in Greek secondary education institutions, the reactions of students on witnessing such incidents, the latter’s perceived sense of safety against victimization and ability to cope with victimization experiences. Data were collected mainly via electronic questionnaires completed by the participant students. Over 800 secondary education students aged from 11 to 17 years attending schools located at central Greece participated in the study. According to the evidence 10% of the students in sample reported that they were seriously bullied, while victimization was more sharply evident among boys and to a lesser extend among those students whose Greek was not their native language. Regarding the types of victimization of the participants, the most frequently reported type was "being called names" (29.9%) and the least being bullied via electronic means (2.9%). While boys were more often involved in bullying others by physical means (x2 =23.4 df=1 p< .0001), girls more often reported being socially isolated (x2=5.96 df=1 p<.01). More than half of the participant adolescents reported that they were knowledgeable about what they should do for terminating their victimization by peers, whereas four in ten admitted that were uncertain about how they could react. A strong statistically significant association emerged from the data between the incidence of self-reported victimization experiences and the perceived knowledge for terminating such incidents (x2=43.44 df=4 p<.0001). Further, one in ten students admitted not feeling safe at school, while, as it was expected, a strong negative statistically significant association (effect size η2 =.173) was identified between the variables of students' sense of safety at school on the one hand and the reported incidence of victimization experiences on the other. Overall, Greek adolescent students reported high levels of coping competence on witnessing incidents of bullying. Those students, however, who reported that they were often victimized, also reported lower levels of perceived coping competence, while a strong, statistically significant association (effect size η2 =.225) emerged from the data between the variables of perceived competence in coping with bullying and the incidence of self-reported victimization experiences.
The implications that arise from the evidence cited above in relation to the development of proactive policies and school-wide interventions counteracting bullying and victimization in Greek secondary education institutions, are also discussed.