Comparing adolescent self-regulation among aggressors, victims and non-victims of bullying
The ability to self-regulate can play a vital role in adolescent development. Some researchers argue that self-regulation can be a predictor of physical and mental health in adolescents. This emphasizes the importance of studying adolescent self-regulation. Adolescence is a critical developmental phase during which adolescents face many challenges. A good ability to self-regulate can help adolescents transition through this period successfully. Self-regulation has been linked to emotional, social and physical well-being and academic achievement. Multiple researchers show that self-regulation affects an individual’s relationships, contributes to social success, achieving goals and living a well-adjusted life. Individuals struggling with their self-regulatory abilities are more likely to show signs of substance abuse, risky sexual behaviour, depression, anxiety, high impulsivity, lack of control and reduced attention. Peers undeniably have an influence on an adolescent’s self-regulatory abilities. Negative behaviour such as bullying can affect self-regulation negatively. The lack of self-regulatory abilities may lead to transgressive behaviour instead of pro-social behaviour. Research states that self-control, a main factor of self-regulation, is one of the main causes of bullying behaviour and even criminal behaviour. Bullying behaviour can lead to adolescents withdrawing from social groups, in turn contributing to inadequate social skills. Many bullying prevention programmes explain that adequate social skills can be taught to help adolescents prevent bullying behaviour or cope with it in a healthy way. Adequate social skills include the ability to self-regulate (includes self-control and mindfulness), to resolve conflict and to manage anger. Therefore, it can be assumed that self-regulation and bullying may be interlinked. The goal of this research study was to determine and compare the differences in adolescent self-regulation of aggressors, victims, and non-aggressors/victims of bulling using a quantitative research design. Five hundred and eighty-three (Mage=15.23, SDage=1.24) adolescent learners from seven local high schools in Kimberley participated in the study. The results categorized 480 learners as aggressors and 100 learners as non-aggressors. Five hundred and one learners were classified as victims and 79 as non-victims. Reliability testing for the Short Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SSRQ) showed high reliability with a Cronbach’s α=0.775. High reliability for the Adolescent Peer Relation Instrument was also recorded with a Cronbach’s α=0.781 and Cronbach’s α=0.806 for Section A (Aggressors) and Section B (Victims) respectively. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the construct validity of the questionnaires. Independent T-tests showed statistically significant differences in self-regulation and aggressors and non-aggressors (p<0.05) with a medium effect size (d=0.39). Additionally, there is statistically significant differences in the self-regulation of victims and non-victims of bullying (p<0.05), with a small effect size (d=0.31). An ANOVA test resulted in a significant difference in the self-regulation of different races (p<0.05), especially between black pupils and white pupils, and white pupils and coloured pupils. There is a positive correlation between grade and self-regulation, suggesting that as grade increases, so does self-regulation. A negative correlation between grade and bullying indicates that as grade increases, bullying behaviour decreases. Lastly, Spearman’s Rho showed a statistically significant negative relationship (p<0.01) between self-regulation and bullying behaviour, indicating that as self-regulation increases, being an aggressor (r=-.281) and victim (r=-0.159) of bullying decreases. The results of this limited research study suggest that there is a definite correlation between self-regulation and bullying behaviour. However, the direction of the correlation is still unknown. Further research is necessary to determine causality between self-regulation and bullying behaviour.
- Health Sciences