Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Joyce Many

Second Advisor

Dr. Jami Berry

Third Advisor

Dr. Joel Meyers

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Olga Jarrett

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Garry McGiboney



Bullying in schools is a major problem that can greatly impact the academic achievement and overall well-being of students. It also continues to present public relations and legal challenges for local schools and school districts. There is no real argument that it is a significant concern that must be swiftly addressed.

Middle-school principals who participated in my study were asked to define bullying. Subsequently, they suggest that the term be further clarified to reduce misuse and/or overuse of the word by students, parents and other stakeholders. The principals strongly felt that they could effectively address student bullying and had a high perception of their own self-efficacy. They reported several factors contributing to this perception, including training, their district’s strong stance on bullying, adoption of a written policy, procedures and guidelines, personal experiences and a desire to help the students in their care. On the other hand, study participants felt strongly that they have and can reduce school bullying; but, not eradicate it.

Of particular interest was the principals’ thoughts on cyberbullying. They indicated that this area of bullying was particularly problematic. It seemed to form the basis for much of the fights that occurred and it was something that had increased over the years. Additionally, they posited that this component of bullying seems to involve mostly female students. Of particular concern to these principals was what happened at school when all parties returned to school after an online clash. Many of the disputes they addressed in school began with online issues.

On the subject of actually addressing bullying in schools, principals stated that having the district take a substantial stance on the issue and having district-level guidelines in place positively affected their efforts. Moreover, the guidelines, in concert with the policy, district campaign and the Code of Student Conduct provided several tools to address bullying in a proactive, preventive and responsive manner.