Background: Unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland has only recently (2003) implemented legislation regarding the requirement for anti-bullying policies in the province's school system. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to ascertain the nature of the management of bully/victim problems across Northern Ireland schools prior to the enactment of legislation. Sample: From an exhaustive sampling frame of all 1329 schools in Northern Ireland (96 nursery, 910 primary, 167 secondary, 73 grammar, 54 special, 29 further education), a total of 285 schools replied to a questionnaire (20 nursery, 181 primary, 41 secondary, 26 grammar, 13 special, 3 further education, 1 non-specified), a return rate of 23.11%. Design and methods: A review of the literature and consultation with educational experts in Northern Ireland resulted in the development of an 'Audit' questionnaire designed to examine dissemination and implementation (or not) of Department of Education, or bespoke, discipline and anti-bullying policies; components of anti-bullying programmes; the communication of anti-bullying policies to the school community; staff training; reporting and management of claims of staff victimisation; sanctions against bullies; and homophobic bullying. Results: It was found that, in a legislative vacuum, the schools in Northern Ireland had been acting in a proactive manner regarding the management of such bully/victim problems (e.g., development and implementation of policies, effective communication strategies). Conclusions: These results provide a baseline from which the efficacy of subsequent legislation in Northern Ireland can be evaluated. Utilisation of the methodology adopted in this study would be beneficial in other jurisdictions in evaluations of knowledge, attitudes and management of bully/victim problems, either pre- or post-implementation of legislation.
- Northern Ireland
- School legislation