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Toward tailored interventions: explaining, assessing, and preventing persistent victimization of bullying

PhD ceremony:dr. T.M.L. (Tessa) Kaufman, MSc
When:February 27, 2020
Start:16:15
Supervisor:prof. dr. D.R. (René) Veenstra
Co-supervisors:dr. G.E. (Gijs) Huitsing, dr. T. (Tina) Kretschmer
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Toward tailored interventions: explaining, assessing, and
preventing persistent victimization of bullying

Bullying can have long-lasting consequences for victims. Although some anti-bullying interventions appear to be effective, the question is whether they help all victims. Which victims are being bullied for a longer period ("persistently") and what actions are needed to help them?

My dissertation showed that victims that were not helped by an anti-bullying program were more anxious, were rejected by more students and reported greater problems in their relationship with parents. Moreover, victims could end up in a vicious circle of rejection in one environment (home or school) that predicted negative behavior in another environment (school or home), and also resulted in rejection there.

To better understand the situation of persistent victims, a research instrument is needed that can properly distinguish between victims of bullying and victims of other forms of aggression. This is possible when a research instrument asks young people about the presence of the unique characteristics of bullying: repetition, intensity, power differential and goal-directedness.

The next step is to develop tailored interventions for persistent victims. Examples from my dissertation are interventions that help young people to think positively about themselves and about others, and a monitor that help teachers to recognize victims earlier. Social safety monitoring is now mandatory in the Netherlands, and schools could make better use of the results. Interventions should also involve parents more actively. In short, society cannot settle for current effective interventions. Actions are needed for persistent victims, because all students have the right to enjoy their school period.