I think everyone who researches domestic violence and sexual violence can learn something from the approach used in a recently epublished study on bullying in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.  What is interesting to me is the researchers focus on the different levels that contribute to bullying.  Instead of focusing primarily on individual factors, this study adapts Bronfenbrenner’s  ecological system model.
Here are levels examined:

  • Children Themselves: Examines individual factors
  • Microsystem: experience within interpersonal relationships.
  • Mesosystem: social interconnections between participants, such as students, teachers, and peers.
  • Exosystem: “encompasses the linkage and processes taking place between two or more settings, at least one of which does not ordinarily contain the developing person . . . (e.g., for a child, the relation between the home and the parent’s work place)” (Bronfenbrenner, U. (1989). Ecological systems theory. In R. Vasta (Ed.), Annals of child development (Vol. 6, pp. 197­249). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. p. 227)
  • Macrosystem: societal characteristics, such as individualism and collectivism (Nesdale & Naito, 2005) and social disorganization

How do you think this would apply to sexual violence and domestic violence?
Here is the full abstract and link to the article on the journal’s web site:

An Ecological Systems Approach to Bullying Behaviors Among Middle School Students in the United States.
Lee CH. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2010; ePublished June 3, 2010
Click here for a link to the abstract.
(Copyright © 2010, Sage Publications)
The aim of this study is to identify an ecological prediction model of bullying behaviors. Based on an ecological systems theory, this study identifies significant factors influencing bullying behaviors at different levels of middle and high school. These levels include the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. More specifically, the ecological factors investigated in this multilevel analysis are individual traits, family experiences, parental involvement, school climate, and community characteristics. Using data collected in 2008 from 485 randomly selected students in a school district, this study identifies a best-fitting structural model of bullying behavior. Findings suggest that the ecological model accounted for a high portion of variance in bullying behaviors. All of the ecological systems as well as individual traits were found to be significant influences on bullying behaviors either directly or indirectly.