Measuring Students’ Self-Efficacy in Bullying Situations

By — Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Jul 11, 2011

Bullying has been defined as purposefully harming another person repeatedly over time (9). A study of U.S. middle and high school students found 14.3% were bullies, 12.5% were victims, and 11.6% were bullies and victims (6). Recent media attention regarding bullying and the negative effects of victimization (for example, Lawrence King in California, Jaheem Herrera in Georgia and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover in Massachusetts) is an unfortunate reminder of the continued need for researchers, policy makers, parents and guardians, school personnel, and students to understand the phenomenon of bullying.

Self efficacy may help us to further our knowledge regarding bullying and victimization. Self-efficacy refers to people’s belief in their ability to successfully achieve a desired outcome (2, 10 &11). It has been linked with specific behaviors related to bullying and school violence. Some of these behaviors include:

  • having confidence that children can avoid violent behaviors (7)
  • supporting peers who are bullied (5 & 13)
  • preventing bully victims from becoming more aggressive (1)
  • creating lower levels of violent conduct (4)

Researchers, to date, have not developed a measure to specifically examine self-efficacy for coping with bullying victimization. The development of such a measure may aid school personnel in identifying students who may be at increased risk for bullying victimization.

Since there is no published scale for measuring self-efficacy for coping with bullying situations, our research team has developed such a measure entitled the Kim Bullying Self-Efficacy Scale (KBSES) (8). This instrument was tested in a rural southeastern school district and three subscales were identified: knowledge, social resources, and action. These subscales were positively correlated with the Self-Reliance, Attitude to Teachers, Social Stress, and Anxiety scales on the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2) (12 & 8).

This investigation extends the initial developmental work with the KBSES by investigating its validity. The three primary goals of this validation study were to determine:

  • whether items form the same three subscales as in the previous study
  • relationships between the KBSES subscales and other scales that measure bullying victimization and self-efficacy
  • behaviors related to bullying about which students felt most and least confident

Our Study’s Methods


The following section describes the three scales we used in our study:

1) Kim Bullying Self-Efficacy Scale (8)

  • 26 items measuring self-efficacy of students’ ability to cope with bullying victimization
  • 3rd grade reading level
  • Approximately 25 minutes to less for students to complete
  • Measures with three different subscales: Social Resources, Knowledge, and Action

2) Confidence Scale (3)

  • 5 items measuring students’ confidence in their use of nonviolent strategies
  • Researchers have found high scores on this scale were related to lower levels of bullying

3) Victimization Scale from the Student Survey of Bullying Behavior-Revised 2 (SSBB-R 2; 14)

  • 12 item scale measuring bullying victimization across the dimensions of physical, verbal, and relational bullying
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