Bullying Immigrant versus Non-Immigrant Peers:
Moral Disengagement and Participant Roles in the two Contexts
Young people with migration experiences constitute an increasing number of students in many European schools. To foster social cohesion and to prevent potential intergroup tensions in schools, it is of high importance to better understand the complexities of bullying episodes in immigrant contexts. Bandura’s cognitive theory of moral agency (1999, 2002) offers a promising framework to study this topic.
Although most young people evaluate bullying and social exclusion of ethnic or national minority peers as wrong, self-justification processes might allow them to morally disengage and to perform a behaviour which is in contrast with their moral standards. Yet, no study to date investigated whether these self-justification processes differ in hypothetical bullying situations of a newcomer peer depending on his or her immigrant status.
This study examined
- Whether moral disengagement differs in hypothetical bullying situations of a newcomer peer depending on his or her immigrant status
- Whether the respondent’s immigrant status, age, gender, real life participant bullying role (as bully, assistant, reinforcer, defender, victim or outsider) and moral disengagement proneness moderate the differences in moral cognitions between non-immigrant vs. immigrant victims
In total, 342 ten-year olds (54% immigrants) and 292 twelve-year olds (45% immigrants) participated. Moral disengagement was higher for non-immigrant compared with immigrant victims independent of the respondents’ immigrant status of the participants. However, different participant bullying roles predicted the differences in in moral cognitions between non-immigrant versus immigrant victims depending on the respondents’ immigrant status of the participants.
The research was conducted by: Simona C. S. Caravita, Dagmar Strohmeier, Christina Salmivalli, Paola Di Blasio
Prof Dagmar Strohmeier
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Linz
3.00 pm to 4.00 pm in TB 06
Dagmar Strohmeier is Professor for Intercultural Competence at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Linz. She received a PhD (2006) the venia legendi in Psychology (2014) from the University of Vienna. Dagmar Strohmeier studies peer relations in children and youth with a cross-cultural and cross-national perspective and a special focus on immigrant youth. She has developed, implemented and evaluated a program to foster social and intercultural competencies in schools (ViSC program). This program has been implemented in Cyprus, Romania and Turkey. She has published numerous international papers and presented her work at national and international conferences. Her outstanding research was awarded by the University of Applied Sciences in 2011 (Researcher of the Year) and the Bank Austria Main Award for the Support of Innovative Research in 2009. Her teaching was awarded by the Main Award for the Supervision of the Best Master Thesis in Child Centered Education from the Köck Stiftung in 2010.