The association between moral disengagement and bullying in early adolescence

Sammanfattning: School bullying occurs when a student is repeatedly exposed to negative actions by other students. The victim is often at some form of a disadvantage. Bullying can take many forms, such as physical, verbal, and relational. It can also occur online. With social cognitive theory as a theoretical framework, this dissertation examined some of the (individual and collective) moral processes that underlie bullying. More specifically, the aim was to enhance the understanding of the association between moral disengagement (MD) and bullying in early adolescence. Self-reported survey data was collected and analyzed using various statistical methods, such as multivariate regression and multilevel analysis. The results show that MD (individual and collective) is associated with bullying perpetration, both in a school context and online. The results also show that individual MD varies over time, and that changes are related to changes in bullying perpetration. The results also indicate that the mechanisms of MD are differentially associated with different forms of bullying. For instance, diffusion of responsibility is (positively) associated with assisting and reinforcing bullying, while moral justification is (positively) associated with indirect bullying. Overall, the results point to the importance of taking into account and analyzing both individual and contextual factors when examining the role that moral disengagement plays in bullying.

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