Shelley Hymel

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.


Research Classification

Social Contexts
Social Determinants of Child and Youth Development
Social Networks
Educational Approaches
Learning and Development Approaches

Research Interests

social development
peer relations in children and youth
school violence
bullying and victimization
Social Emotional Learning
mental health and wellbeing
interpersonal relations among children and youth

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

survey research with children and youth
interview research with children and youth
school-university collaborative research

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2020)
An experimental investigation of group processes in witnessing bullying (2019)

Drawing on Tajfel and Turner’s Social Identity Theory and Harris’ Group Socialization Theory, the current study examined how group processes (i.e., group membership and social status) contribute to schoolchildren’s bystander reactions to hypothetical bullying. A between-groups experimental design was used to examine the effects of group membership (e.g., belonging to the same group as the bully, victim, both characters, or neither) as well as bully social status (e.g., more or less popular than the bystander) on the emotional and behavioural reactions of 357 middle-school students in grades 6 to 8. Identification with the victim was associated with greater likelihood of bystanders endorsing feelings of anger. However, witnesses who observed an in-group bully harassing an out-group victim reported the strongest feelings of shame. Feelings of shame and anger subsequently predicted bystanders’ willingness to help the victim, whereas feelings of sadness and fear positively predicted intentions to talk to an adult. Results are discussed in light of the small but growing body of literature on the intersection of group processes, moral emotions and bystander behaviour. Implications and recommendations for school-based anti-bullying interventions are provided.

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Multimethod assessment of social-emotional competence in children with selective mutism (2019)

Selective mutism (SM) is a rare childhood anxiety disorder associated with significant psychosocial impairment. Despite the understanding that social-emotional functioning is essential to mental health and well-being, few studies to date have examined the social-emotional competencies of children with SM. The current study documents the social lives of 31 children aged 4 to 10 years old with SM through a multi-method assessment procedure. Specifically, the social-emotional competence of children with SM was assessed using (1) parent reports obtained in semi-structured interviews, (2) parent and teacher reports of social skills using established rating scales, and (3) multiple, direct measures of emotion recognition abilities using standardized norm-referenced assessments. This is one of the most extensive studies of the social-emotional competence in children with SM to date, and thus, contributes greatly to our understanding of this disorder. Consistent with previous research, parents and teachers in the current study reported that children with SM have “Below Average” social skills. A unique contribution of the present study is the finding that children with SM made more errors labelling the emotions depicted on child and adult faces compared to the normative sample, and tended to make the most errors on angry faces compared to happy faces on child and adult facial stimuli. Further, results from correlational analyses revealed that parent, but not teacher, ratings of poorer social skills were related to more emotion recognition errors, which is the first study to document a relationship between errors at various stages of social-information processing (i.e., encoding/interpreting facial stimuli and social skill problems). Results from the current study indicated that children with SM have problems in various areas of social-emotional competence that extend beyond our previous understanding of the disorder.

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Executive functions and subtypes of aggression in young children (2014)

In the present study, linkages between early aggression and Executive Functions (EFs), the cognitive control processes associated with goal-directed behaviour and novel problem solving, were evaluated. Of interest was how specific EFs were related to early dimensional subtypes of aggression, specifically disaggregated into its forms (physical, relational) and functions (proactive, reactive). Kindergarten children (N = 255) were individually rated by teachers in terms of their tendencies to engage in four different subtypes of aggression -- proactive and reactive physical aggression, and proactive and reactive relational aggression. Children rated as high versus low in each of the four subtypes of aggression were compared for differences in “Cool EFs,” such as executive attention, inhibition, working memory, flexibility, planning, and the conjoint use of several EFs, and one “Hot EF” or more affectively-based cognitive control. Results of a series of 2 (high, low aggression) by 2 (male, female) analyses of variance, conducted for each of the four subtypes of aggression, indicated significant differences in Executive Functioning as a function of both levels of aggression and sex (main effects), and multiple interactions of aggression and sex. Boys were rated by their teachers as displaying higher levels of proactive and reactive physical aggression, and more attention problems than girls, whereas no significant sex differences were observed in proactive or reactive relational aggression. Differential patterns of EFs were observed across aggression subtypes and for male versus female children. Higher levels of proactive physical aggression were associated with weaknesses in several specific EFs (i.e., more attention problems; poorer visual-spatial working memory; poorer conjoint selective attention, flexibility, and working memory; and poorer delay of gratification), as were higher levels of reactive physical aggression (i.e., more attention problems; poorer inhibition; poorer visual-spatial working memory; less flexibility; and poorer conjoint selective attention, flexibility, and working memory). Boys with reactive physical aggression demonstrated additional impairments, including poorer delay of gratification and marginally poorer planning abilities. Further, girls high in proactive relational aggression demonstrated stronger verbal working memory and planning abilities, and marginally higher visual-spatial working memory abilities, whereas boys high in reactive relational aggression demonstrated poorer crystallized and planning abilities.

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Growing up in Canada: Youth ethnic identity and Canadian identity (2014)

The present study examined early (grades 6-7) and middle adolescents’ (grades 8-9) sense of belonging to school and to Canada. Belonging entails feelings of connectedness to our families, friends, schools, communities, and nations. Several studies have investigated adolescents’ sense of belonging to school but few have examined whether youths’ belonging to school varied as a function of ethnicity, time lived in Canada, ethnic discrimination, and ethnic identity. Moreover, early and middle adolescents’ belonging to Canada has never been studied. Thus, the primary objective of the present study was to examine the role of youths’ 1) time in Canada, 2) ethnicity, 3) their experiences with peer ethnic discrimination at school and 4) ethnic identity in explaining their sense of belonging to school and to Canada, respectively. The secondary objective of this study was to examine two distinct dimensions of ethnic identity – private regard and public regard – within a Canadian context. Early and middle adolescents enrolled in schools in Vancouver lower mainland participated in the present study. The first group included 158 students in grades 6 and 7 and the second group included 340 students in grades 8 and 9. Students in grades 6-7 were interviewed individually. Students in grades 8-9 were asked to complete a paper-and-pencil survey during a single group testing session. Results showed that discrimination was linked to both private and public regard. Additionally, for middle adolescents, the link between discrimination and public regard varied as a function of ethnicity. Years lived in Canada was linked to belonging to Canada, with students who have lived in Canada for six years or less reporting lower levels of belonging than their peers who have lived in Canada all their life. Higher levels of ethnic discrimination were associated with lower levels of school belonging but not lower levels of Canadian belonging. As hypothesized, positive levels of private and public regard were associated with their sense of belonging to school and to Canada. Importantly, years lived in Canada significantly moderated the link between ethnic regard and belonging. The present study demonstrated the complexity of studying ethnic regard and Canadian belonging during adolescence.

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The social experiences of secondary students with intellectual and learning disabilities: School safety, victimization, risk-taking, and feelings of belonging (2013)

This study examined the social and behavioural experiences of secondary students (grades 8-12), comparing a school-based sample of 151 adolescents identified with mild intellectual disabilities or specific learning disabilities, and a school- grade-, sex-, and ethnically-matched group of adolescents without disabilities in terms of self-reported victimization, bullying, racial discrimination, gender harassment, sexual imposition, feelings of school safety, and belongingness, as well as engagement in high-risk behaviours (alcohol/drug use, violent behaviour). Results of a series of planned contrasts indicated that adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities and specific learning disabilities did not report greater rates of victimization or bullying, nor did they report lower feelings of school safety or belonging, or engagement in high-risk behaviours (i.e., drug use, alcohol use, violent behavior) than their peers without disabilities. As well, adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities and specific learning disabilities did not differ from each other on these indices. Sex differences were also non-significant. Bi-variate correlations generally indicated that the relationships between victimization, bullying, and associated socio-environmental variables such as school safety, engagement in high-risk behaviours, and feelings of belonging did not significantly differ between students with mild intellectual disabilities and students without disabilities, but did for students with specific learning disabilities. Specifically, findings from this study failed to find a significant association between school belonging and victimization, victimization and alcohol use, victimization and violent behaviour, as well as bullying and alcohol use for students with specific learning disabilities. Sex differences among these relationships were also examined, and for the most part were non-significant. However, there were a few exceptions. Namely, the relationship between feelings of school belonging and victimization was significant for boys with specific learning disabilities, but not for girls. Similarly, the relationship between bullying and drug use was higher for boys without disabilities than it was for girls.

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Personality disorder traits and antisocial behaviour in adolescents (2012)

In an effort to further understand the contribution of maladaptive personality characteristics to the expression of distinct forms of antisocial behaviour during adolescence, this study examined links between personality disorder traits, physical and social aggression, and nonaggressive antisocial behaviour over one year. A community sample of adolescents (n=182) completed self-reports of physical and social aggression and nonaggressive antisocial behaviour during the summer between the 10th and 11th grades. Participants’ parents (n=192) completed a measure assessing the adolescents’ personality disorder traits when the youths were 15 years of age in 2009, and their teachers (n=154) completed measures of the frequency of adolescents’ perpetration of physical and social aggression during the following academic year. Analyses, conducted separately for boys and girls, explored the links between broad personality disorder factors and facet-level traits as predictors of teacher- and self-rated physical and social aggression, and nonaggressive antisocial behaviour. Results of a series of multiple regression analyses revealed that disagreeableness emerged as a strong predictor of teacher-rated social aggression, self-rated physical aggression and nonaggressive antisocial behaviour in girls but not boys. Broad personality disorder traits did not predict self-rated social aggression. Findings from the facet level revealed that, in contrast with previous research, associations were not found between aspects of disagreeableness, emotional instability, compulsivity and nonaggressive antisocial behaviour in boys. Further, facets within the introversion factor strongly predicted self-rated physical and teacher-rated social aggression for girls only. Findings highlight the importance of examining both higher- and lower-order maladaptive personality traits and considering gender differences in trait expression, in understanding the perpetration of distinct forms of adolescent antisocial behaviour.

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Understanding Early Adolescents' Social Behaviours and Relationships with Peers (2011)

Hawley (1999) proposed that the ability to consider one’s own characteristics in relation to the characteristics of interaction partners is an adaptive social skill in guiding the use of prosocial or aggressive behaviour. Although research has shown that social status is associated with aggression and prosocial behaviour generally, we know very little about how youths’ behaviours directed toward certain types of peers (e.g., friends vs. nonfriends; popular vs. unpopular peers) vary as a function of their own social status. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate variability in early adolescents’ aggressive and prosocial behaviours across peer targets and determine whether higher status youth behave differently toward specific types of peers as compared to lower status youth. Early adolescents in grades 6 through 8 (N = 426) completed self-report measures assessing how often they engaged in aggressive or prosocial behaviours toward each participating peer in their grade. Participants also completed self-report measures assessing their relationship with each grademate (i.e., friendship, liking) in addition to peer-report measures of three indices of social status (i.e., social preference/likeability, perceived popularity, social dominance). Results showed that, regardless of their own social status, early adolescents varied their behaviours toward different types of peers to some degree. However, high and low status youth often behaved differently toward certain types of peers. Importantly, a distinct pattern of findings was apparent for each index of social status. Among the findings, the results showed that popular, but not unpopular, youth reported more prosocial and aggressive behaviours toward popular and personally liked peers than toward unpopular and personally disliked peers. Well-accepted, but not rejected, youth reported engaging in prosocial behaviours toward a variety of peers in addition to greater relational aggression toward friends than nonfriends. Finally, dominant, but not subordinate, youth reported greater aggression toward dominant than subordinate peers. The present study has demonstrated the value of examining multiple social status indices and of considering toward whom youth direct their aggressive and prosocial behaviours to obtain a richer understanding of the complex social processes involved in the early adolescent peer group.

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An Investigation of Anger: An Attachment Perspective (2010)

The present study investigated the relationship between attachment and anger amongadolescents, examining a hypothesis initially proposed by Bowiby (1973) regarding the effects ofadolescents’ attachments to parents on anger experience. Extending Bowlby’s hypothesis withanother critical anger component, anger expression, a theoretically-refined model was developed and tested. Participants included 776 students (379 boys, 397 girls) in grades 8-12. As predictedby attachment theory, results of structural equation modeling analyses indicated that adolescents’attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance toward both mother and father figures werepositively related to the adolescents’ greater levels of anger intensity. In turn, the increases in theintensity of anger feelings were associated with increases in both anger-in (internalizing) andanger-out (externalizing) expressions. In addition, there was a direct effect of attachment anxietyon anger-in expression but no direct effects of attachment anxiety and avoidance on anger-outexpression. This study highlights the importance of differentiating anger dimensions and thecritical role of anger intensity as a mediator of the relationship between insecure attachment andanger expressions. Implications of the findings are further discussed.

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Social problem-solving and emotion processes among early adolescent bystanders in hypothetical bullying situations (2010)

In an effort to understand bystander behavior, the purpose of this study was to examine the role of emotions and peer relationships on early adolescent bystanders’ social problem-solving. Students in grades 6 and 7 (N = 349) read a series of hypothetical bullying vignettes and were asked to imagine that what happens to the victim in each vignette happens to a self-nominated friend or non-friend. Students were then asked about their feelings (i.e., initial emotion, initial emotional display, level of emotion, intention to dissemble), strategies, and goals. Research questions considered links between strategies and goals, whether social problem-solving and emotion processes varied as a function of gender and friendship status with the victim, and links between social problem-solving and emotion processes. Results of canonical correlation showed that bystanders who endorsed strategies likely to perpetuate bullying were less motivated to pursue goals aimed at assisting the victim, giving higher ratings instead to self-focused and anti-social goals. With few exceptions, a series of 2 X 2 (gender [boys, girls] X friendship status [friend versus non-friend]) repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) highlighted that bystanders’ strategies and goals varied as a function of gender and friendship status with the victim. Girls generally favored prosocial strategies and goals more than boys; intervention was more likely on behalf of friends. A series of gender X friendship status repeated measures ANOVAs examining bystanders’ emotion processes showed that friendship status was important. For instance, bystanders indicated that they would experience more anger and would be more willing to show their anger in a hypothetical bullying situation involving a bullied friend. Finally, results of a series of hierarchical multiple regressions showed that the degree to which bystanders thought they would experience different emotions emerged as a strong predictor of individual strategies and goals in hypothetical situations, particularly when the situation involved a non-friend. Findings highlight the importance of emotions, peer relationships, and gender as related to bystander social problem-solving in hypothetical situations with implications for increasing peer intervention.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Social Emotional Learning beliefs of preservice teachers: measuring the impact of a teacher education program (2018)

The importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for success in school and the workplace is increasingly being recognized. Often, teachers are the ones tasked with implementing SEL programming and promoting it in the classroom. Yet, though future teachers will be expected to promote SEL, little attention is given to SEL in teacher education programs and there is a dearth of research on SEL in teacher education. The teacher education program at the University of British Columbia (UBC) has a unique cohort of its elementary education program that focuses on SEL. This study examined changes in teacher self-efficacy, teaching beliefs and priorities, especially with regard to SEL, among students completing their teacher education program. Preservice teachers in the SEL cohort were compared with students in other cohorts. Students (n = 102) in four different cohorts of the teacher education program were surveyed at the beginning and the end of the academic year to measure change in self-efficacy over time and between cohorts. Overall, the self-efficacy of students in the teacher education program improved in all areas measured over the course of the program. On SEL-focused subscales, students in the SEL cohort reported the highest self-efficacy, though, in general, the SEL cohort students did not improve significantly more over the course of the year than students in other cohorts. In fact, on the subscale measuring self-efficacy for preventing behavioral problems before they occur, though students in the SEL cohort had the highest self-efficacy, other cohorts showed greater improvements over the course of the year. Results suggest that after taking part in UBC’s teacher education program, preservice teachers, regardless of their cohort, report higher self-efficacy in both academic and SEL-related areas regardless of the cohort.

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The role of discipline practices in student connectedness to school, bullying and victimization (2018)

In light of compelling empirical evidence, school connectedness is a strong protective factor, negatively associated with a range of students’ risky and violent behaviours, and a powerful predictor of student psychological wellbeing and academic achievement. In contrast, prevalence of interpersonal aggression and peer victimization are major threats to student engagement and positive school climate. This study argues that teachers’ approach to school discipline is an important determinant of students’ connectedness to school as well as of quality of their interpersonal dynamics, and explores how student perceptions of positive and negative discipline strategies predict their feelings of school connectedness as well as rates of involvement in bullying and victimization. Elementary students (N = 2303, grades 4-7) from 18 participating schools in a single school district responded to self-report measures of connectedness, bullying, victimization, and discipline practices as a part of a larger project on School Climate and Bullying. Results of Hierarchical Linear Regression analyses indicated that discipline practices accounted for 43% of variance in school connectedness, 8% of the variance in bullying and 15% of the variance in victimization, after controlling for sex, grade and school differences. Greater school connectedness was most strongly predicted by restorative discipline and fairness, whereas higher reports of bullying and victimization were predicted by low fairness, use of punitive discipline or perceived lack of discipline by students. Overall, these findings provide new evidence concerning the role of school discipline, and suggest important implications for teachers and educational professionals.

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Victimization and internalizing difficulties: the moderating role of social support (2018)

Children and adolescents who are targets of peer victimization experience many negative developmental outcomes, including depression and anxiety, which can have lasting effects throughout their lives.  Researchers have sought to identify protective factors that lessen the negative impact of peer victimization on wellbeing.  Social support has been identified as one of the most significant protective factors.  Studies that examine the effect of social support from multiple sources on the wellbeing of students who are victimized by their peers have reported mixed results.  The present research addressed these inconsistent findings by extending the aspects of social support that are measured to include both source and type.  This study sought to answer three questions: (1) Does overall social support (regardless of type) from a) parents, b) teachers, c) classmates and d) close friends moderate the relation between overall victimization and depression and/or anxiety? (2) Does the type of social support provided (emotional, informational, appraisal and/or instrumental support) moderate the relation between victimization and depression and/or anxiety? (3) Does overall social support (regardless of type) from a) parents, b) teachers, c) classmates and/or d) close friends moderate the relation between different forms of victimization (verbal, social, physical and cyber) and depression and/or anxiety? Participants were 720 students in grades 4-7 who completed self-report measures of victimization experiences at school, perceived social support, and a screening index for depression and anxiety. Multiple regression analyses with predictors entered in blocks were run to explore the moderating role of social support in the relation between victimization and depression and/or anxiety. Results indicate that certain sources and types of social support moderate the relation between victimization and depression/anxiety, while other sources and types of social support are associated with higher depression/anxiety among 4th-7th graders.  This held true when considering both overall victimization and various forms of victimization.  Results suggest that the moderating role of social support in the relation between victimization-depression and victimization-anxiety are distinct; when exploring the impact of social support from peers at school, classmates and close friends should be treated as distinct groups; social support from parents can have a positive impact on 4th-7th graders.

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Victimization, social support, and well-being in middle childhood: a population level analysis (2018)

Peer victimization in schools has been shown to have pervasive and enduring harmful effects on the well-being and psychological adjustment of children. Elucidating protective factors that may buffer children against the harmful effects of victimization is an important area of research. Social support, from peers or from adults such as parents or teachers, has been identified as one potential mitigating factor against detrimental developmental outcomes for victimized children. The present research explored the relationships among victimization, social support from peers and adults, and well-being outcomes in two age groups in middle childhood. Specifically, this study aimed to answer the question: Do victimized and non-victimized, grade 4 and grade 7 students differ in satisfaction with life, sadness and/or worries as a function of the availability of peer and adult support, and do these relationships vary by sex? A sample of over 36,000 grade 4 students and over 21,000 grade 7 students completed a self-report survey assessing their experience with victimization, available support from both peers and adults, their feelings of sadness and worries and their satisfaction with life. From these samples, a subsample of students were identified who were highly victimized or not victimized and who reported having high or low peer and adult support. Univariate analyses of variance were then conducted to explore the moderating direct and interacting role of social support and sex in the relationship between victimization and reported satisfaction with life, sadness, and worries. Replicating previous findings, the present study found that both higher adult support and higher peer support were associated with more positive well-being outcomes, and that victimization was associated with negative well-being outcomes. Main effects of peer support existed nearly universally for each outcome of satisfaction with life, sadness, and worries, at both grade 4 and grade 7, though the main effect of   adult support was present only for life satisfaction and sadness. The hypothesized moderation of victimization and well-being outcomes by adult and peer support was not found. These results present the additive associations of peer support and adult support with the well-being outcomes for both non-victimized and victimized schoolchildren at middle childhood.

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Teachers' Emotion Regulation as a Protective Factor Against Burnout (2016)

Burnout, a phenomenon which involves emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment, is one reason that many educators report leaving the teaching profession. Many of the risk factors associated with burnout have been explored at great length but very little attention has been paid to the protective factors that might mitigate burnout. Accordingly, this study examined the role emotion regulation, both the general knowledge of emotion regulation skills and the reported use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, two common emotion regulation strategies, plays in relation to job satisfaction and burnout. Participants were 233 K-12 teachers who were enrolled in the Summer Principals Academy graduate program for aspiring teacher leaders at Teacher College, Columbia University, between 2008 and 2012. Participants completed self-reported measures regarding their use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, job satisfaction and two aspects of burnout (personal accomplishment and emotional exhaustion). Participants also completed a performance measure of Emotional Intelligence, which included a knowledge test of overall emotion regulation ability. Results of simultaneous hierarchical regression analyses indicated that, contrary to hypotheses, emotion regulation was not, a protective factor against teachers’ experience of burnout in the present sample. The study begs replication, however, as the present sample was not fully representative of the general teaching population (i.e., participants were highly satisfied with their jobs and were studying to become school administrators).

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The general theory of crime applied to bullying perpetration: Does school climate moderate the relationship between self-control and bullying? (2016)

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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School Violence: Individual and Group Influences (2015)

Weapon carrying at school has been explained by a number of theories, but two dominate the literature: being fearful and trying to protect oneself from harm (fear-victimization hypothesis) or displaying behaviour consistent with a deviant lifestyle (lifestyle theory). This study replicated previous research by investigating the relative and combined influence of individual level processes related to weapon carrying, as hypothesized by the fear-victimization hypothesis (i.e., fear of victimization and victimization experiences) and lifestyle theory (i.e., alcohol and drug use). This study extended previous research by also considering an ecological model of weapon carrying by examining school level processes that may impact student weapon-carrying. Data was obtained from students (N= 50,334) in grades 8-12 in 69 schools in Western Canada who completed the Safe Schools and Social Responsibility Survey. Multilevel modeling was used to evaluate both individual and school level variables that underlie the two major theories of weapon carrying among youth. Results at the individual level provided support for both the fear-victimization hypothesis and the lifestyle theory, suggesting multiple pathways to deviant behaviour. Support was also found for the hypothesis that some school-level variables, as reflected in the collective experiences of the student body, influenced the relationship between individual level processes (i.e., a students reported fear of victimization, victimization experiences, and substance use) and weapon carrying.

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The Interplay of Emotional Awareness and Emotion Regulation Strategies in Peer Victimization (2015)

Peer victimization is an emotionally charged experience, one that is all too common in schools today. Although there is an increasing body of research on the emotional processes involved in bullying and victimization, we still know very little about emotional competencies and emotion regulation strategies used by children that enhance or reduce their risk of being victimized at school. This study examined two interrelated components of emotional competence: emotional awareness and the use of two well-researched emotion regulation strategies- cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, and their association with school victimization. In particular, the study investigated the contribution of children’s levels of emotional awareness to their risk of victimization, and how using an antecedent-focused strategy such as reappraisal, or a response-focused strategy such as suppression influences this relationship. Participants were 607 students in grades 4-7 who completed self-report measures of emotional awareness, emotion regulation strategy use (cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression), and experiences of victimization at school. Ordinary least squares regression analyses were conducted to explore the associations between low emotional awareness and the use of specific emotion regulation strategies. Results indicated that low emotional awareness was a predictor for the use of suppression as an emotion regulation strategy. Results of binary logistic regression analysis, examining the contributions of low emotional awareness and the use of suppression and reappraisal to reported victimization showed that low emotional awareness was associated with increased odds of being victimized, and that the use of suppression as an emotion regulation strategy decreased the odds of being victimized. For this age group, then, using suppression as an emotion regulation strategy is adaptive for decreasing the risk of victimization, particularly for children with low emotional awareness.

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Getting off to a good start: Problem behaviours, teacher-child relationshp quality and early school adjustment (2014)

Difficulty adjusting during the first years of school is associated with negative long-term academic and behaviour outcomes (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horsey, 1997; Ladd & Dinella, 2009; Qualter, Brown, Munn, & Rotenberg, 2010). Externalizing and internalizing behaviour problems can interfere with the ability to engage in learning or get along with others at school. Teacher-child relationship quality has been found to predict a variety of academic and social outcomes for children (e.g., Hamre & Pianta, 2001; Ladd & Burgess, 2001; Maldonado-Carreño & Votruba-Drzal, 2011; Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004). Of interest in the current study is whether teacher-child relationships moderate or mediate the association between problem behaviours observed at school and student ratings of school adjustment. The sample of students (n = 482) was taken from a longitudinal study of the school adjustment of Italian school children. Results from sequential regression analyses indicated that teacher ratings of students’ externalizing behaviours were related to student self-reports of loneliness at school and school liking. There was no evidence that teacher-child relationship features mediated the association between problem behaviours and school adjustment, although teacher-child closeness was found to moderate the relationship between physical aggression and school liking.

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Children's perspectives on relationships with non-parental adults: insights from a structured intergenerational program (2012)

A considerable number of studies have documented the importance of the relationships between adolescents and non-parental adults as contributors to development. However, few studies have investigated these relationships in middle childhood. Even fewer studies have explored how the qualities of such relationships contribute to positive outcomes. Considering the gaps in this field of study, the present study explored the qualities of relationships between children in middle childhood and non-parental adults that developed in a structured, intergenerational, environmental education program, completed as a part of children’s environmental science curriculum. Specifically, this study investigated (a) whether children who were involved in this program had more positive attitudes, behaviors, and learning compared to students who were not in the program and (b) how children characterized the qualities of the relationships that developed, and (c) whether those relationships between children and non-parental adult volunteers in the program contributed to the outcomes (N = 211). Results showed that children in the program had more positive attitudes and learning toward environmental issues than children in the comparison group. Qualities of relationship examined also showed positive relations with children’s perceptions of affiliation with the non-parental adults and bonding toward the program, as well as student reported positive outcomes (attitudes, behaviors, and learning regarding environmental issues). Implications and limitations of the study are discussed, as well as directions for future research.

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The social facilitation of bullying: a multilevel analysis (2012)

It is well documented that bullying is harmful and relatively common among children and adolescents. Children report understanding that bullying is wrong, yet bullying continues to be a persistent problem in schools. The goal of the present study was to examine whether children’s bullying behaviours were socially facilitated by group norms and beliefs. Children’s justifications and rationalizations for engaging in wrongful behaviour, a phenomenon referred to as moral disengagement (MD), have been linked to bullying behaviour at the individual level. Specifically, children who report engaging in bulling tend to report more MD than those who do not. Only one study to date, however, has examined MD at the group level and results indicated that group levels of MD, over and above individual levels, predicted engagement in bullying. Group level processes, especially group norms supporting aggression and bullying, have also been linked to greater bullying perpetration. The current investigation extended this research by examining how group levels of MD and normative beliefs about deviancy influenced bullying using two unique samples of schoolchildren. The first study examined the influence of two group level variables (MD and normative beliefs about deviancy) on bullying over a school year in a sample of 376 students (surveyed in Grade 5 and 6) from 38 schools in Southern Ontario. The second study examined the influence of group MD on 1128 students across 74 classrooms in Vancouver, British Columbia. Results across both studies did not support the hypothesis that group levels of MD (Study 1 & 2) and normative beliefs about deviancy (Study 1 only) influenced engagement in bullying. The findings suggest that further investigations are required in order to better understand the effects group level MD and normative beliefs on bullying behaviour.

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Witnessing bullying at school : the influence of bullying and victimization on bystander behaviour (2011)

Bullying at school is a widespread and persistent problem facing Canadian youth today (Craig & Harel, 2004). In addition to the small but significant minority of students who are involved directly as bullies and victims, more than two thirds of youth are bystanders or witnesses to school-based violence ( Craig & Pepler, 1997; Salmivalli, Lagerspetz, Björkqvist, & Osterman, 1996; Salmivalli, Lappalainen, & Lagerspetz, 1998). Given the high probability that students will at some point in their school career witness bullying, it is important to examine the risks and responsibilities associated with being a bystander. Successful efforts to reduce or eliminate bullying requires knowledge of the types of strategies peers are likely to use to respond to bullying, as well as the students who are most likely to engage in these behaviours. This research investigated how secondary students’ bystander behaviour varied as a function of their age, gender, and concurrent experiences with bullying and/or victimization at school. In a school-based survey examining social experiences at school, Grade 8 to 12 students (N= 50,334, 49% male) who reported witnessing bullying (n=18,839) rated how often they had engaged in different bystander responses. Results of a series of hierarchical regressions indicated that student’s gender and personal experiences with bullying and victimization each accounted for a small but significant proportion of variance for prosocial, aggressive and passive bystander responses; age was only a significant predictor for passive bystander behaviour. These results both confirm and extend the literature on bystanders and bullying, and suggest a number of important areas for future research. Gaining a better understanding of the individual characteristics and contextual factors that encourage or discourage bystander’s defending behaviour can assist educators in developing and delivering effective school-based anti-bullying programs that promote safe and positive bystander intervention.

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Does appearance matter? School bullying and body-esteem in early adolescence (2010)

The present study integrates previous research in two distinct but related areas to address the links between physical size/weight, as measured by Body Mass Index (BMI), body-esteem, and peer bullying. Previous research on bullying has shown that being a victim of bullying is associated with lower levels of body-esteem; previous research has also shown that peer teasing, particularly teasing about physical appearance, partially mediates the relationship between BMI and body-esteem. Replicating and extending this research, the present study explored whether peer victimization, like teasing, serves to partially mediate the link between BMI and body-esteem, considering both general bullying and specific forms of bullying as well as bullying targeted directly at physical appearance/weight among both boys and girls in middle school (N = 801). As in prior research, high BMI was associated with poor body-esteem for girls, although for boys both high and low BMI were associated with poor body-esteem for boys (quadratic relation). As well, links between victimization and different aspects of body-esteem were demonstrated, particularly for body-esteem about appearance and weight for girls, and for all types of body-esteem (appearance, weight, and attribution) for boys. Moreover, peer victimization was found to serve as a partial mediator in the relationship between BMI and body-esteem for girls and boys. For girls, verbal victimization and victimization about physical appearance, weight, and body shape served as partial mediators in the relationship between BMI and appearance body-esteem, as well as BMI and weight body-esteem. For boys, a similar meditational role of victimization was demonstrated, but only for those who were above average in weight. Future directions, limitations, strengths, unique contributions, and implications are discussed.

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