Category: Child / Adolescent - School-Related Issues
Very few studies have documented the relationship between bullying experiences and psychological development in Asian-American adolescents/Korean-American youth. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between moral disengagement and bullying among Korean-American adolescents. It was hypothesized that Korean-American adolescents who identified themselves as bullies would show higher levels of moral disengagement than non-bullies. Korean-American junior high school students (N=119) residing in New York and New Jersey areas participated in the survey study. Moral disengagement and bullying experiences were assessed by the Bully Survey (Swearer & Paulk, 2007). Discrimination experiences were assessed by the Perceived Ethnic and Racial Discrimination Scale (Way, 1997), with depressive symptoms assessed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CESD-D). Of the 119 participants, 51 participants (43%) identified as a victim, 48 (40%) identified as neither a bully nor a victim, and 38 (32%) reported bullying others. Among those bullying others, 24 (63%) identified as bully-victims.
Korean-American adolescents who reported bullying others experienced higher levels of moral disengagement than non-bullies, F (1, 108) = 10.49, p 2partial = .09. In addition, there was a significant difference on moral disengagement between boys and girls, F (1, 108) = 6.09, p = .02, η2partial = .05. An ANOVA also revealed a significant interaction between bullies and gender, F (1,108) = 8, p2partial = .07. Boy bullies (M= 31.73, SD= 8.7) reported significantly higher moral disengagement than girl bullies (M= 24.69, SD= 5.67) and girl non-bullies (M= 24.14, SD= 6.24).
The bully group was divided into two groups, those identified as both a bully and a victim (N=24) and those who identified as just bullies (N=10). These two groups were compared with the two non-bully groups: those who had identified as just a victim (N=26) and those who had identified as neither a bully or a victim (N=48). The bullying experiences were significantly associated with moral disengagement, F (3, 103) = 4.52, p M= 28.92, SD= 8.7) reported significantly more moral disengagement than non-bullies and victims (M= 22.18, SD= 5.34), p< .01.
Bullies’ high moral disengagement may indicate bullies misinterpreting moral norms and associate their behaviors with an abstract view of socially acceptable behavior. This idea would support Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, which states that individuals who fail to act in accordance to social norms do so because they either justify their behavior, ignore their behavior, or dehumanize their victim to rationalize their behavior (Bandura, 2002). Implications are discussed.