Working with families whose child is bullying

An evidence-based guide for practitioners
CFCA Paper No. 26 – July 2014

Assessing the prevalence and nature of the child's bullying behaviour

This section provides resources for assessments conducted directly with the young person, and includes:

  • key psychometric resources available for measuring bullying behaviours in children - while this is not an exhaustive listing, these scales are published, widely available, and have been evaluated for psychometric properties (for a review, see Hamburger, Basile, & Vivolo, 2001); and
  • questions for assessing the prevalence and nature of the bullying behaviour displayed by the young person - these questions are drawn from the literature (see Craig & Pepler, 2003), and serve to assess:
    • frequency or intensity of bullying;
    • history or habitual patterns of bullying;
    • generalisation of the behaviours across multiple social environments and contexts; and
    • seriousness and effects of the behaviours.

The tools in this section represent different ways in which the practitioner can measure bullying experiences. The selection of an approach is at the practitioner's discretion and will depend on the presenting case.

Key psychometric resources for measuring bullying

Table 1 summaries the key measures identified in a compendium of psychometrically sound measures for assessing self-reported incidence and prevalence of a variety of bullying experiences (see Hamburger, Basile, & Vivolo, 2001, for full details).

Table 1: Self-reported measures for assessing bullying
Scale name and description Age Number of items Publication details
Aggression Scale

Assesses frequency of perpetration of teasing, pushing or threatening others.

10-15 years old 11 items Orpinas & Frankowski (2001); Orpinas, Horne, & Staniszewski (2003)
Modified Aggression Scale

Two subscales assessing bullying behaviour and anger (modified version of the Aggression Scale)

10-15 years old 9 items Bosworth, Espelage, & Simon (1999)
Bullying Behavior Scale

Assesses bullying behavior at school

8-11 years old 6 items Austin & Joseph (1996)
Children's Social Behavior Scale - Self-Report

Assesses frequency of various types of aggressive and prosocial behaviours and loneliness

8-14 years old 15 items Crick & Grotpeter (1995)

Questions for assessing the prevalence and nature of the bullying

The following questions (based on Craig & Pepler, 2003) can help practitioners to assess the nature of the bullying by the child and their subsequent risk for problems associated with bullying.

  • How frequently is the child bullying?
    • Once weekly or more often
    • Infrequently or briefly
  • Over what period of time has the child been involved in bullying?
    • Six months or more
    • Recently
  • In how many different places does the bullying occur (e.g., school, on way to school, home)?
    • More than one context
    • One context
  • In how many different relationships does the bullying occur (e.g., siblings, same-sex peers, opposite-sex peers)?
    • Multiple relationships or peers
    • One relationship or peer
  • What level of distress or other effects does the bullying cause to the victim?
    • Severe and serious effects
    • Moderate effects
    • Mild effects