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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The general theory of crime applied to bullying perpetration : does school climate moderate the relationship between self-control and bullying? Starosta, Lindsay


In order to understand bullying behaviour, one must consider student characteristics, the social context of the behaviour, and the interactions among them. To this end, this study examined the applicability of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory of Crime to bullying perpetration, which posits that crime and other deviant behaviours are a manifestation of two converging factors: low self-control and opportunity. This study explored whether school climate served as an “opportunity” for bullying behaviour. An ethnically diverse sample of 979 students in grades 4-7 reported on the frequency with which they engaged in bullying, their perceptions of school climate, and their levels of self-control. Results revealed that low self-control and various school climate factors each predicted bullying perpetration, although the interaction between the variables was not significant. That is, students with low self-control were more likely to engage in bullying behaviours, as were individuals with poorer perceptions of school climate. These results highlight the necessity for bullying interventions to consider both individual characteristics and social contexts. Specifically, schools would benefit from implementing programs that address social emotional learning with a particular focus on fostering self-control and positive school climates.

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