J. Vveinhardt, V.B. Fominiene, L. Jesevičiūtė-Ufartienė

Lithuanian Sports University (LITHUANIA)
Relevance of the research:
Although amateur sport, especially team sport, can serve as a tool for unifying and encouraging interaction among young people, bullying behaviors and victimization manifest themselves as a strong disintegration factor. Destructive and toxic relationships, increasingly recognized in the context of sports activities, are harmful to the psychological and physical health of young people, become a cause of injuries and withdrawal from sports, and adversely affect individuals’ health and well-being in the future. As a result, amateur sports organizers and team leaders face a difficult challenge not only to recognize emerging threats, but, after estimating their prevalence, to learn to recognize bullying and victimization in athletes’ relationships and to select effective preventive measures.
The purpose of the research was to measure the prevalence of bullying behaviors and victimization among amateur athletes.

Methods of the research:
A sample of 337 amateur athletes (181 males and 156 females), involved in different sports, participated in this study. The study was carried out using a questionnaire, constructed by the authors of the study, the psychometric characteristics of which meet the validity and reliability requirements of research instruments. Bullying and victimization in amateur sports was measured by 9-item Bully and 4-item Victim subscales of Illinois Bully Scale (Espelage, Holt, 2001) along with 3 items measuring the attitudes of research participants to the fact of bullying and victimization.

Research results show that both victims and the initiators of attacks avoid admitting that they participate in bullying and victimization processes in sports teams. It was found that 80.4% of athletes in the study believed that they did not suffer from bullying themselves and 64.1% of athletes did not see cases of bullying or harassment in their teams. Also 66.8% of research participants said they did not observe any mockery towards other athletes in their teams. Only 16% of respondents claimed they were the ones who initiated bullying. However, with the help of latent questions, a radically opposite situation was established. The analysis of how often athletes engaged in bullying (perpetration) behaviors revealed that 33.3% of the research participants were bullying initiators and 14.3% of them behaved in this way frequently (daily or weekly). The analysis of victimization by other athletes revealed that 42.3% of research participants experienced bullying in their teams in the last 6 months, which confirms the results of other research in the field of sports suggesting that victims of bullying do not recognize the fact that they are victims for quite a long time. Among them, 49% experienced verbal and 22.3% - physical victimization. Moreover, males were more likely than females to be both perpetrators and targets of bullying.

This research is funded by the European Social Fund according to the activity ‘Improvement of researchers’ qualification by implementing world-class R&D projects of Measure No. 09.3.3-LMT-K-712.