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School bullying and humour : is laughter the best medicine?

Fox, C. and Hunter, Simon and James, Lucy (2011) School bullying and humour : is laughter the best medicine? In: BPS Developmental Section Conference, 2011-04-04.

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Abstract

Within the context of the government drive to address children’s social and emotional well-being at school, particularly the problem of bullying in schools, this study addressed key questions about how children’s use of humour relates to their involvement in social interactions characterised by the use of aggression. The first aim of this study was to assess the relationships between four humour styles (affiliative; aggressive; self-enhancing; self-defeating) and involvement in school bullying. The second aim was to test whether certain humour styles moderate or mediate the associations between victimisation and internalising symptoms. Two hundred children aged 11-13 years (years 7 and 8) from one secondary school in England participated. These young people completed self- and peer-reports assessing the extent to which pupils themselves used, or were the target of, verbal-, physical-, indirect-, and relational aggression. All four humour styles were also assessed, as were symptoms of depression and loneliness and self-esteem. Results are discussed with respect to theories of humour and aggression in childhood. Policy implications are also outlined. The larger, longitudinal study for which this study acts as a pilot is also introduced here.