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Project status: In progress
Cyberbullying is an emerging and serious problem among student populations and in the workplace among teachers. This research will develop and trial a legally informed intervention in schools, aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding of the law in order to assist schools in preventing and managing cyberbullying incidents.
It will clarify the standards expected of schools and workplaces to meet their legal and social obligations. It will also highlight the need for educationally proactive responses that will keep students and employees in safe workplaces and schooling settings. This research will reduce the need for reactive litigious responses, keeping schools and workplaces out of court.
Australian Research Council Linkage Project Scheme
Professor Donna Cross - Edith Cowan University
Dr Barbara Spears - University of South Australia
Prof Phillip Slee - Flinders University
Mr Andrew Knott - Macrossans Lawyers
Mrs Robyn Garland
A Legal Knowledge and Cyberbullying Survey will be developed to measure the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of Year 9 students and teachers to the issues of the law, sanctions and policies about cyberbullying. A Legality and Workplace Bullying Survey (for teachers on workplace bullying and legal issues) will also be developed.
Two schools will be recruited in Queensland and two in South Australia. These schools will pilot the Year 9 student and teacher surveys. Focus groups with teachers about legal responses to cyberbullying will also be conducted in these schools.
The anonymous online surveys will be piloted with students in Year 9 from the four schools. The online survey will take students approximately 20 minutes to complete. The students will complete the online surveys in their school computer rooms during class time. Students who do not wish to participate will complete other school work whilst consenting students are completing the survey. The student data will be analysed by age and gender.
Sixty teachers from the same four schools will complete an anonymous survey. The teachers will have the option of either completing an online survey or a paper survey. The survey will contain the same questions as the student survey but will include additional questions about workplace bullying (Legality and Workplace Bullying Survey). It should take the teachers between 20 and 25 minutes to complete the survey and they can complete it at a time that is convenient to them. If the teachers choose the online option, a link for the survey will be provided to their email addresses. This link will be distributed to administration staff at the schools. The researchers will not have access to the email addresses of the teachers.
Four focus groups of teachers will be conducted to ascertain their views on the legal responses to cyberbullying. This information will inform the development of the resources that will be used in the intervention (Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3). An interview in Queensland and Western Australia will be conducted with sector stakeholders such as state education departments (public and private). The knowledge and attitudes of teachers and sector stakeholders to legal solutions, sanctions and policies on cyberbullying will be gleaned from the focus groups and the interviews, and will inform the development of the legally-informed Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3 for the intervention.
Three resources (Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3) will be created to support the intervention in 2013. Resource 1 and 3 will be for school staff and Resource 2 for students.
Schools that agree to participate in the research will select which staff member they would like to deliver the intervention to their school staff, whether it be the school counsellor, deputy principal, school nurse, chaplain or a member of the pastoral care team. The selected person will use Resource 1 and Resource 3 to deliver the information to staff. Resource 1 will focus on the issues related to student cyberbullying and Resource 3 will focus on the issues related to workplace bullying.
Year 9 class teachers (English and Heath/PE) will use Resource 2 with Year 9 students at their school. Resource 2 will focus on the issues related to student cyberbullying.
Resource 1 will include information on legal issues and cyberbullying that will be developed by the CIs and Partner Organisations, which include lawyers, union officials, educators and counsellors. It will be informed by the results of the teacher focus groups along with our previous research (LP0882087). The information in the resource includes a DVD and a 30-minute Powerpoint presentation with embedded video clips, facilitator notes and discussion points. It will address the issues of how the law that is relevant to cyberbullying could apply in the school context; explore formative disciplinary sanctions; and review and operationalise school policies. Additional information included in the resource will promote the discussion of existing school policies and sanctions to reflect each school's values to ensure their practices and policies are legally, morally, and educationally defensible. Included in the resource will be the concepts of prevention of cyberbullying in the first instance linked to the school's pastoral care program, the school management of cyberbullying incidents when they arise, and the possibility of referral to outside agencies or the legal system if applicable.
Resource 2 will be created for Year 9 students and will be delivered by Year 9 class teachers (English and Health/PE teachers). The resource will include topics such as how the legal system in Australia deals with different ages of students. There will be enough flexibility within these modules for the class teachers to modify them according to their own input with support from the CIs and the Research Assistants in Queensland and Western Australia.
Resource 3 will be created to be delivered to staff and will address workplace bullying. The resource will comprise Powerpoint presentations with embedded video clips, facilitator notes and discussion points. It will address issues such as how the law is relevant to workplace bullying.
Forty-eight schools will be recruited (32 schools in Queensland, 16 schools in Western Australia) for the intervention in 2013.
The 48 schools (32 schools in Queensland, 16 schools in Western Australia) that agree to participate in the research will be randomly assigned to two conditions. The schools that participated in the pilot earlier in the year will not be involved in the intervention. Twenty-four schools (16 schools in Queensland, 8 schools in Western Australia) will be allocated to an experimental condition (intervention group schools) and will implement the entire intervention with research staff support using Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3 in 2013. The research staff support will consist of a minimum of a research assistant in each state being available for in-school support with planning and presentations. Twenty-four schools (16 schools in QLD, 8 schools in WA) will be allocated to the control condition (control group schools) and will receive Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3 after follow-up in May 2014 without training or research staff support. Schools will be stratified by SES and then allocated to condition using a table of random numbers.
One person (Deputy Principal, school counsellor or whomever the school selects) from each of the schools that are assigned to the intervention group will attend a training day at the end of 2012. They will bring to the training day a copy of their school policy on bullying/cyberbullying as well a pre-completed checklist. Control schools will be asked for a copy of their policies at this time.
The member of school staff who has been selected to give the intervention to school staff and an English Teacher and/or Health/PE teacher who will deliver the intervention to Year 9 students from each of the intervention schools will attend a training day on a pupil free day conducted by CIs in each state. They will receive the resources for the intervention for school staff and Year 9 students.
Pre-measures will be administered to students in Year 9 from schools in both the intervention group and the control group. All students from this year level will be approached to participate. The measures will be administered to the students online in their supervised computer rooms at each school. The measures will include the Legal Knowledge and Cyberbullying Survey together with a shortened version of the Student Bullying Survey (Campbell et al., 2007). It should take students between 25 to 30 minutes to complete the surveys.
All teachers at the participating schools will be approached to participate. The three measures the teachers will complete will include a one-page self-efficacy scale on handling all forms of bullying incidents, the Legal Knowledge and Cyberbullying Survey and the Legality and Workplace Bullying Survey. It should take teachers between 25 to 30 minutes to complete the surveys.
The principals and deputies at all the participating schools will be approached to participate. The measures the principals and deputies will complete include the Legal Knowledge and Cyberbullying Survey, a checklist about their schools' anti-bullying policies and practices, and a school climate survey, and they will be asked to identify a small number of case studies of how actual cyberbullying incidents have been managed. The measures should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
The member of school staff from each intervention school (16 schools in Queensland, 8 schools in Western Australia) who was selected will deliver the intervention to their staff over a period of 3-4 sessions in Terms 2 and 3, utilising Resource 1 for cyberbullying amongst students and Resource 3 for workplace bullying. Year 9 class teachers will implement the intervention with Year 9 students using Resource 2 in any way they choose. The research assistant in each state will arrange a time each fortnight to talk to the school staff member and class teacher about their implementation of the intervention. The control group schools (16 in Queensland, 8 in Western Australia) will not receive the resources until the end of the intervention.
In September post-tests for all students and teachers in all schools, both intervention and control, using the same instruments as in the pre-test will be administered. Principals and deputy principals will only complete the Legal Knowledge and Cyberbullying Survey. No data will be collected for the checklist, school climate and case studies until follow-up in 2014.
Interviews will be undertaken with Year 9 class teachers and the member of school staff who implemented the intervention and a small sample of Year 9 students from the intervention schools. The information obtained from the interviews will inform the modification of Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3.
The resources will be modified from the information from the interviews of implementers.
Follow-up measures for students, teachers and administration staff using the same materials as in the pre- and post-test will be administered. The control group schools will be given Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3 (after follow-up data collected).
Queensland Guidance and Counselling Association
Queensland Independent Education Union