Bullying has been the focus of international research for nearly 30 years. Many aspects of bullying have been investigated and yet, despite greater insight into the nature of bullying, the phenomenon remains a major problem within schools. Now a new form of bullying has emerged with the recent technological advances in communication devices, that of electronic bullying. There has been little research, however, into the prevalence and nature of electronic bullying. The purpose of the present research was to investigate bullying in single sex (boys) schools. Specifically, the prevalence and nature of traditional and electronic forms of bullying were explored. In addition, teacher perceptions of various aspects of bullying were investigated and compared with student responses. In total, I ,530 students from Years 6 to 12 and both primary and secondary teachers (n = 75) participated. Participants were drawn from three independent schools located in Sydney and Brisbane. The student participants completed the Boys Bullying at School questionnaire, a 33 item self-report measure incorporating questions from the Olweus (1989) Bully/Victim questionnaire, the Ahmed (1996) Life at School Survey and researcher developed questions. The teacher participants completed the Teacher Perception of Bullying questionnaire, which comprised a number of researcher developed questions and incorporated the Rigby Staff Handling Bullying questionnaire.
Findings indicated that 16.5% of students reported being victimized on a regular basis, that is, at least once a week, a prevalence rate similar to that of previous Australian studies. Year level differences in victimization were present, with Year 8 students reporting the highest rates of bullying behaviour. Approximately 7% of students reported regularly bullying others as part of a group while 4.1% of students reported regularly bullying others on their own. The most common form of bullying was name calling, while bullying in the playground at recess was the most frequent location for bullying. Students were reluctant to report bullying, with 21.9% of students indicating that they would not report being bullied to anyone. Students nominated a friend as the person to whom they most often divulged bullying. Over 40% of students viewed teacher intervention into bullying as making no difference or making matters worse.
Victimization via the Internet was the most common form of electronic bullying with 11.5 % of students reporting at least one experience of it during the year. However the prevalence of regular victimization by electronic means was considered low. A significant year level difference was found in victimization by text message with junior secondary students (Years 8 to I 0) the most likely to be victimized in this manner. With regard to the electronic bullying of others, the Internet was again the most commonly employed method, with 8.5 % of students reporting using it. The regular bullying of others using electronic methods was considered low. Year level differences were also found in the electronic bullying of others. Junior secondary students were again found to be the most likely to engage in this form of bullying. The impact of electronic bullying was compared with that of traditional bullying. Thirty percent of students reported the impact of electronic bullying to be as distressing as traditional bullying while approximately 15 % of students found electronic bullying to be more distressing than traditional forms of bullying.
No significant differences were found between teacher and student reports of the prevalence of bullying, the likelihood of it being reported and the most likely person to whom it would be reported. However, significant differences between the two groups were found on teacher interest in stopping bullying and the consequences of reporting bullying to a teacher.
Implications for educational practice and issues for future research are discussed that highlight the need to develop educative and preventative programmes targeting students, teachers, and parents and that specifically address electronic bullying. Further investigation also needs to be conducted to identify the factors that determine whether a teacher will intervene in a bullying situation and determine whether teacher intervention will result in a positive resolution for the victim. Teacher confidence and training need to be addressed as a first step.