Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2014 Issue »

    How Students’ Perceptions of the School Climate Influence Their Choice to Upstand, Bystand, or Join Perpetrators of Bullying

    The authors of this article, Silvia Diazgranados Ferráns and Robert Selman, use an emergent framework to explore how the rules of the school culture at different perceived school climates affect early adolescents’ decisions to upstand, bystand, or join the perpetrators when they witness peer aggression and bullying. Through a grounded theory approach, they revisit interview data from twenty-three eighth graders in four middle schools, with the aim of building on previous research and refining their theoretical framework to guide future research on bullying. The authors identify four school-level indicators that are salient in students’ perceptions of their school climate—safety, order, care, and empowerment—and examine how these indicators combine to configure three types of perceived school climates—negligent, authoritarian, and cohesive. They explore how these perceived school climates influence adolescents’ choice of strategy when they witness bullying in school and document a set of student recommendations about what schools can do to prevent bullying.

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    Silvia Diazgranados Ferráns is a New Civics Early Career Spencer Scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Graduate Fellow in Ethics at the Edmund J. Safra Center. Silvia’s work focuses on understanding the multilevel factors that support the development of citizenship competencies among young people, and on developing and evaluating education programs that help at-risk children develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to live as constructive members of a democratic society. Diazgranados Ferráns is the founder of Juegos de Paz in Colombia, an education-for-peace program that works in alliance with the U.S.-based organization Peace First to empower young people as peacemakers. Prior to working in the fields of prevention science and citizenship education, Silvia conducted clinical and research work with war victims who suffered post-traumatic stress and supported former child soldiers from guerrilla and paramilitary groups in their process of reintegration to civil society.

    Robert L. Selman is the Roy E. Larsen Professor of Human Development and Education and the founder of the Prevention Science and Practice Program within the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His courses draw from ongoing research into the developmental and cultural antecedents of our capacity to form and maintain positive social relationships, as well as ways to prevent negative psychological, social, and health outcomes for youth. Selman’s research into the development of social awareness is related to educational achievement, ethical development, and youth participation in old and new media. His book, The Promotion of Social Awareness (Russell Sage Founda-tion, 2007), has been recognized as a significant contribution to the integration of social development to literacy by the Moral Education division of the American Educational Research Association. Selman is also a professor of psychology in the psychiatry department at the Harvard Medical School.
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    Summer 2014 Issue


    In Here, Out There
    Professional Learning and the Process of School Improvement
    How Students’ Perceptions of the School Climate Influence Their Choice to Upstand, Bystand, or Join Perpetrators of Bullying
    Rewriting the Rules of Engagement
    Elaborating a Model of District-Community Collaboration
    Agency and Expanding Capabilities in Early Grade Classrooms
    What It Could Mean for Young Children
    Revising the Declension Narrative
    Liberal Arts Colleges, Universities, and Honors Programs, 1870s–2010s
    Editor's Review of The Learning Brain
    Memory and Brain Development in Children
    Laura A. Edwards

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