The role of protective peers and positive peer relationships in school bullying: How can peers help?
The purpose of this study was to examine how positive peer relationships related to bullying. The hypothesized model predicted that an increase in positive peer relationships would result in being bullied less through the mechanism of increased availability of protective peers in the peer ecology. Therefore, it was predicted that protective peers would mediate the relation between positive peer relationships and being bullied.
A cross-sectional correlational design was conducted. A total of 299 third through fifth grade students participated in this study from two public elementary schools in the Midwestern United States. Teachers from 27 classrooms across the two schools consented to participate as well. Phase 1 of the study consisted of the development and refinement of the Protective Peer Ecology Scale. Phase 2 of the study was data collection. Positive peer relationships, protective peers, and being bullied were assessed by student-report and teacher-report. Data were analyzed using a series of hierarchical multiple regression techniques to test for statistical mediation (Baron & Kenny, 1986).
The findings did not support the research hypothesis. Protective peers did not mediate the relation between positive peer relationships and being bullied, regardless of whether being bullied was assessed by the child or teacher. Overall, the findings suggested that protective peers play a minimal role in bullying and appear to be a proxy variable for positive peer relationships.
Post-hoc analyses explored whether positive peer relationships mediated the relation between protective peers and being bullied. The findings supported the alternative hypothesis that the relation between protective peers and being bullied was partially mediated by positive peer relationships. Results suggest that promoting positive peer relationships in schools is an important ingredient for bullying prevention.
0340: Educational sociology