Gathering and communicating information about school bullying

Karin S. Frey (Educational Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This paper aims to discuss multiple methods for gathering information about school bullying and provides a developmental framework for communicating the information to parents and teachers.


Formal assessments of bullying consisted of student surveys and systematic observations of the playground behaviors of more than 600 students. Bullying that was informally observed during survey administration, and interviews with students involved in bullying also provided insight into the magnitude of school problems.


The extent of a school's bullying problem is difficult to asses by informal observations alone. Educators are most likely to be aware of bullying that it is performed by socially unskilled, poorly regulated students. Socially skilled students are much more adept at keeping their bullying secret. Formal observations by trained coders provide an important window into the world of children, but are too costly and labor‐intensive for most applications.

Practical implications

Student surveys provide alternative means of assessing the impact of bullying. Accuracy of information derived from surveys and student interviews may be improved by protecting students from coercion, starting with questions about witnessed bullying, and asking students for concrete examples.


Efforts to research or intervene in school bullying require accurate information about the problem. Parents and staff are more likely to support intervention efforts when educators and researchers present bullying information using a non‐stigmatizing, developmental framework



Frey, K. (2005), "Gathering and communicating information about school bullying", Health Education, Vol. 105 No. 6, pp. 409-413.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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