Background: Bullying and victimization behaviors are a serious problem for students, peers, parents, and school teachers. These behaviors usually persist and cause communication problems.
Objective: To determine the effect of education based on the socio-ecological theory on bullying in students.
Methods: This educational study was of the field-trial type, and carried out on 237 middle school students in Gonabad City (Iran), from September 2015 to May 2016. The intervention group consisted of 147 students, and 90 were assigned to a control group. The intervention (Five sessions of bullying and victimization were discussed) based socio-ecological theory at two levels: individual level and interpersonal level. The intervention was carried out on the students, their parents, and school teachers in two schools. To this end, the multi-stage random sampling was done. Prior to the intervention, the Illinois questionnaire as well as a researcher-made questionnaire was completed. The researcher-made questionnaire included demographic characteristics with regard to living with both parents, one parent or no parents (a guardian) and questions about bullying behaviors in the family as well as about knowledge and attitudes towards bullying. Subsequently, the questionnaire was completed by the students one month and six months after the intervention. The data was analyzed by IBM-SPSS version 21, using ANOVA, multiple regression, repeated measures, Chi-square, and Man-Whitney U test.
Results: The findings showed that there was no significant difference between the mean attitude of the students before and after training. However, the mean score of bullying behaviors in the experimental group was significantly reduced one month after the intervention, but it increased after six months. Moreover, there was a significant difference in terms of bullying behaviors between the intervention and control groups (p=0.0001). Furthermore, a significant relationship was found between the mothers' education level and the students' bullying behaviors (p=0.009.
Conclusion: Bullying is an important problem that affects schools and influences the academic and social capabilities of students. In this regard, the role of educators is the most important, and education on the basis of the socio-ecological model was proved to be effective in reducing bullying. Therefore, educational intervention should be taken at two levels of school and family.
Keywords: Bullying; Socio-ecological theory; Students.