Method of Shared Concern

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Ken Rigby of the University of South Australia, together with Coosje Griffiths, led a project commissioned by the Australian Government to evaluate the effectiveness of the Method of Shared Concern approach to addressing bullying in the Australian schooling context.

Bullying has for some years been identified as a major problem affecting school communities throughout the world (Smith et al. 1999). It is generally agreed that bullying can be defined as the systematic abuse of power in interpersonal relations. It involves a more powerful person or group deliberately seeking to hurt or threaten an individual or group that is unable to defend themselves adequately. Typically, bullying involves a series of negative acts. Bullying may take a variety of forms, both direct, as in physically attacking someone or verbally abusing them, and indirect, as in unfairly excluding people, spreading rumours, or sending hurtful anonymous emails.

It has been estimated that about half the students attending school have experienced some kind and degree of bullying.

In Australia, one child in six has reported being bullied on a weekly basis (Rigby 1998).

The harm done to vulnerable children who have been bullied has been extensively researched. Both physical and psychological consequences have been identified (Hawker & Boulton 2000; Bond et al. 2001; Rigby 2005a). Long-term negative effects on the mental health of victims have been reported (Olweus 1993).

In addition, it is known that students who continually engage in bullying at school tend to be more clinically depressed and suicidal than others (Rigby & Slee 1999) and are more inclined to act aggressively towards others in the wider society, both contemporaneously (Rigby & Cox 1993; Andershed, Kerr & Stattin 2001; Van der Wal, de Wit & Hirasing 2003), and after leaving school (Farrington 1993; Olweus 1993). 

Method of Shared Concern Paper

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