Bullying and Belonging: The Role Of Defenders – CogDev Oral Presentation 2013

The presentation Sian Jones gave at CogDev 2013 on 5th September, 2013 may be downloaded from the link below.


Please do feel free to contact us with any questions or comments: We’d love to hear from you.

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Research Paper Now In Press

After a few months of writing after the end of the project grant, we are really pleased that the first project-related paper has now been accepted for publication in the journal  Pastoral Care in Education. 

This is a methods paper, about the process of doing research on the project. The paper reference and abstract  are given below:

Jones, S.E., Fox, C.L., Gilman, H., James, L., Karic, T., Wright-Bevans, K., & Caines, V. (in press). “I’m being called names and I’m being hit”: Challenges of longitudinal research on bullying among 11-13 year-olds. Pastoral Care in Education.

Over the past 25 years a burgeoning literature has emerged which concentrates on the antecedents, experiences, and effects of peer victimization and bullying in schools. Although many advances have been made in this research area, there remain relatively few research papers in the academic literature that discuss the complexities of research (a) with children, rather than adults, (b) in schools, , or (c) on a sensitive research topic such as bullying. Here, we aim to address this apparent deficit, by drawing on our own experiences of a longitudinal research project, gathering quantitative data, to examine humour use and bullying among children aged 11-13 years, in the UK.  We explain and critically evaluate our research choices, from designing questionnaires and engaging with parents, pupils and school staff, to our methods of data collection. In so doing, we highlight both the range of options available to researchers, the importance of dialogue surrounding these choices in the wider research community, and the need for evidence-based best practice in this research area.

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Further Media Coverage

This post will be updated with links to media coverage following the official end of the grant.

28th May, 2013 – soundcloud.com

Claire Fox did a radio interview with Tom Mallow for this station. You can listen to this here:

21st May, 2013 – Cross Rhythms Radio – Drive Time

Claire Fox did a radio interview for this station. You can listen to this here:


3rd May, 2013 – The Guardian Teacher Network – Research in Brief


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Official End of Grant

Tuesday (30th April, 2013) was officially the last day of this grant (though we’ll continue to update this blog, and to tweet on @Humour_Bullying). We (Claire, Simon, Siân) are all very proud of the research and were really happy that the dissemination event went so well. Those who attended felt that the research findings resonated with their experiences, and we were able to get some great ideas for interventions based on the results and for future research. Many thanks to all who came along.


We have been really pleased with the readership of articles related to our research

Yesterday saw the project hit the headlines. In addition to live radio interviews, The Times carried a piece about the research, as did the BBC and ScienceDaily.com.  The BBC had an open comment thread and, when the comments section closed, there were 425 comments. We find this very exciting – it is always deflating to conduct research which you believe has the potential to make an impact, only to find that no one outside of your immediate circle is interested. It is therefore great to see so many people giving their opinions and leaving their thoughts about the research. However, it is also frustrating to see people criticizing or dismissing the study without really understanding what we did. We therefore wanted to add some thoughts here which extend what was reported in the press. That’s not to say the press reports were inaccurate or a problem, but just that they naturally do not have the space to discuss the research in all the detail that we’d like to see. So, here are a few points we would like to make:

1. Many of those commenting on the BBC discussion thread suggested that rather than self-defeating humour leading to victimisation it was the other way around. This is in fact supported by our research. The news articles reported that self-defeating humour led to victimisation – but they did not report our finding that victimisation also led to self-defeating humour. We were able to examine this by using a research design where we looked at both humour and victimisation early in the school year and then again later in the year. In this way, we could begin to untangle which of these influenced the other – and, in fact, both influenced each other so that there appears to be a vicious cycle operating.

2. We are not ‘victim blaming’. Using bullying behaviour is always wrong and no one should be subjected to the aggressive, domineering behaviours of others. One of the goals of our study has been to identify whether, and in what ways, peer-victimisation might be associated with young people’s humour styles and with their social and psychological wellbeing. By doing this we hope to be able to identify both risk and resilience factors. Future efforts to reduce bullying can then use this knowledge. If we know what sorts of factors put children at risk of being bullied, then this can inform interventions to enhance children’s resilience.

3. We are not suggesting that young people’s humour use is the only reason for bullying occurring. Bullying is a complex issue, and young people’s use of humour can only ever be a part of the story. To understand it involves understanding an ongoing interaction between an aggressor (or aggressors), a victim (or victims), and their wider social group. In addition, it involves attending to the respective histories of all those involved (at school and at home, and with both peers and caregivers), as well as the immediate social, economic, and institutional context. However, it is simply not practical to collect information on all of these variables! As it was, we required young people to take part in two sessions of data collection at both the start and the end of the academic year. However, our results add to the body of knowledge which is accumulating on this topic and should be considered in that context.

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Radio Interviews

Following the media interest yesterday, Claire Fox and Sian Jones gave three radio interviews. These are available to listen to again, at the links below.

BBC Radio Stoke:

BBC Radio Oxford:


Good Evening Wales:

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Media Interest

Following the publication of a press release, we have felt very honoured to have had our research covered by the press.

You can read the coverage using the links below:

The Times


This is a preview courtesy of the Times online: you need to subscribe to view the entire article.

BBC online


Science Daily


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Project Dissemination Event

On Tuesday, 30th April, we held our dissemination event for the project. The event was well attended by local teachers, governors, and researchers from other universities, and after a presentation of our results, inspiring discussions were had regarding where our research may lead.

To download a powerpoint of the presentation of findings, click here.

Photographs of the event are below.


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Dissemination Event: Two weeks to go….

Newcastle-under-Lyme-20130405-00011 (1)Have you registered yet for our dissemination event, taking place at Keele University on 30th April?

We’ve been busy preparing for it – we got our research leaflets back this week – and now we’re counting down the days. We’d love to see you there.

A full programme of the day is given below.



To register, please email Tracey Wood, t.wood[at]keele.ac.uk, for a booking form. There are now just a few places left – these will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Research Findings

Simon Hunter and Sian Jones have both recently given talks incorporating some of the findings from our research project.

On March 14th,, Simon Hunter gave a talk at the University of Strathclyde, concerning the links between humour styles and loneliness, and on similarity among best friends’ humour styles.

His talk may be accessed here: LMAO? Longitudinal Relationships Between Humour and Involvement in Bullying.

Strathclyde 2013 seminar2 (1)

On March 20th, Sian Jones  presented findings at Oxford Brookes University, suggesting that the link between peer victimisation at Time 1 and depressive symptoms at Time 2 maybe partially mediated by the presence of defenders or perpetrators in one’s immediate peer network.

Her talk may be accessed here: Friends Like These: The Role of Friendship Groups in the Maintenance and Resistance of School Bullying.

Ganging Up or Sticking Together_brookesseminar

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New Date – Dissemination Event


Registration is free of charge.

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