Children can be harmed in many ways. One of the more common ways is bullying. Below are descriptions of a number of studies conducted by Eliza Ahmed, Valerie Braithwaite, Jacqui Homel and Helene Shin on bullying in schools and workplaces.

The Life at School Project began in 1996 under the direction of Eliza Ahmed and involved 32 primary schools in the Australian Capital Territory. Questionnaires were completed by children and their parents about experiences of bullying, how families coped with these problems, the degree to which schools were successful in controlling bullying problems, and parents’ concerns and wishes for how they wanted schools to respond to the problem in the future. Parents were willing to work in cooperation with the schools, favouring an approach that prioritised conflict resolution and teaching children to work cooperatively and respectfully with each other before escalating to suspension and expulsion of bullying children from school.  The project was progressed by Valerie Braithwaite, Eliza Ahmed and Brenda Morrison in 1999 when a grant from the Australian Institute of Criminology made it possible to follow up children and parents in 1999 to find out how their lives had changed. In this stage of the project, Brenda Morrison introduced ideas on restorative justice into schools. 

The Life at School Project was longitudinal and was able to track children over time as they moved into and out of bullying and victimisation roles. Three important findings were: (a) many children learnt from their experience and moved out of the bullying and victimisation roles; (b) a significant minority of children were trapped in the roles of being both bully and victim and exhibited psychological problems; and (c) the factors that influenced bullying could be traced to family, school and the characteristics of the child – all three were important.

The young people who took part in the Life at School Project were followed up as they left school by Jacqueline Homel. The earlier study suggested that most children who were bullied at school bounced back to be well adjusted adolescents. But there were still problems of bullying and victimisation in high school. As young people prepared for life after school, two factors were important for putting them on a positive pathway and out of harm’s way of adult aggression – moving out of a culture of regularly drinking alcohol and becoming involved in further study through tertiary education programs.

The Life at School Project inspired three further projects on bullying.

Eliza Ahmed joined an international consortium to take part in the Cross-national School Behaviour Research Project 2004 (Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Israel, Italy, and South Africa). Data were collected from 1452 secondary school students to better understand how bystanders could be empowered so that they could come forward to stand up against bullying. The goal was the development of a pro-social bystander intervention culture. 

Eliza also initiated a further study in Bangladesh called the Organisational Culture Project (1999, 2002). This study looked at bullying and victimisation in schools and in workplaces. Data were collected from 1875 families from various schools across Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The survey questions covered bullying/victimisation in schools, school and family attributes, and restorative practices, that is, forgiveness, reconciliation, reintegrative shaming, shame and pride management.

In 2002, further data were collected from 824 staff from various workplaces and organisations across Dhaka. Key variables measured in the surveys in this study were organisational justice (eg respectful treatment, transparent procedures, trust in organisations), shame and pride management, and workplace bullying and victimisation.

The findings of these Bangladeshi studies linked bullying in schools and workplaces with poor shame management and poor pride management. Poor shame management occurred when people were unable to acknowledge shame over wrong doing and fix things up, and instead blamed others or expressed anger toward others (acting out to get rid of their shame feelings). Poor pride management occurred when people experienced pride in terms of superiority and being better than others. This type of pride, called narcissistic pride, was associated with bullying, particularly in workplaces. The type of pride that did not lead to bullying was humble pride, a feeling of satisfaction that could be shared with others and that was appreciative of everyone who helped a person with their success.

In these Bangladeshi studies, forgiveness, liking for school, and respect within workplaces were important determinants of good shame and pride management.

The third project was led by Helene Shin and looked at the kinds of institutions that supported good shame management, that is a willingness to acknowledge shame and reluctance to displace shame as blame or anger. The Life at School: Teachers’ Views and Experiences Study 2001 administered surveys to high school and college teachers in Canberra, Australia, and Seoul, Korea. The data were collected from a sample of 303 Australian teachers and 362 Korean teachers.

Good shame management was embraced by teachers who valued cooperation and collective well-being. Poor shame management was found among teachers who valued competition and individual pursuit of status and power. Good shame management also was linked with teachers having a work identity that involved commitment to teaching and a sense of belongingness to the school.

Video on bullying in schools and workplaces

Publications related to school and workplace bullying projects

Braithwaite V. & Ahmed, E. (2019) Looking beneath the iceberg: Can shame and pride be handled restoratively in cases of workplace bullying? The International Journal of Restorative Justice XXX.

Ahmed, E. (2018). Better support services for better mental health? The case of depression among parents on welfare. Open Journal of Depression, 7, 1-16.

Shin, H. H., Braithwaite, V. & Ahmed, E. (2016) Traditional face-to-face bullying to cyberbullying: Who crosses over? Social Psychology of Education, 19, 537-567.

Braithwaite, V. & Ahmed, E. (2015) The personal management of shame and pride in workplace bullying, RegNet Research Paper No. 2015/96, RegNet Research Paper Series Vol. 3, No. 10, Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet).

Shin, H., Rogers, H. & Law, V. (2015) Domestic violence in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), a data report published online: https://www.dss.gov.au/national-centre-for-longitudinal-data/centre-research-and-publications/domestic-violence-in-the-longitudinal-study-of-australian-children-lsac

Shin, H. (2015) Parenting as a two-way street: Investigating changes or continuity in child’s bullying status and its relationship with parenting using the longitudinal study of Australian children (LSAC) Waves 1 to 5, Ewha Journal of Gender and Law, 7 (3),147-184.

Homel, J. B. (2013) Does bullying others at school lead to adult aggression? The roles of drinking and university participation during the transition to adulthood. Australian Journal of Psychology, 65(2), 98-106.

Braithwaite, V. (2012) A multipronged approach to the regulation of workplace bullying, Regulatory Institutions Network Occasional Paper 20, Australian National University. Paper submitted to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying, House of Representatives, Australian Government.

Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, V. (2012) Learning to Manage Shame in School Bullying: Lessons for Restorative Justice Interventions. Critical Criminology, 20(1), 79-97.

Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, J. (2011) Shame, pride and workplace bullying. In Karstedt, S., Loader, I., & Strang, H. (eds), Emotions, Crime and Justice. Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing, pp. 55-79.

Shin, H. (2010) The Shame Code: Talking about the Space of Reconciliation. Bonlivre: Seoul, Korea.

Homel, J. (2010) Pathways from school bullying to adult aggression: A longitudinal study. PhD Dissertation, Australian National University.

Braithwaite, V., Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, J. (2008) Workplace bullying and victimization: the influence of organizational context, shame and pride. International Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 13(2), 71-94.

Ahmed, E. (2008) ‘Stop it, that’s enough’: Bystander intervention and its relationship to school connectedness and shame management. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 3(3), 203–213.

Homel, J. (2007) A life-course perspective on bullying. In A Frances and R. Homel (eds), Pathways and Crime Prevention: Theory, Policy and Practice. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing, pp. 172–196.

Morrison, B. (2007) Restoring Safe School Communities: A Whole School Response to Bullying, Violence and Alienation. Sydney, NSW: Federation Press.

Ahmed, E. (2006) Understanding bullying from a shame management perspective: Findings from a three-year follow-up study. British Journal of Educational and Child Psychology, 23(2), 26-40.

Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, V. (2006) Forgiveness, reconciliation, and shame: Three key variables in reducing school bullying. Journal of Social Issues, 62(2), 347-370.

Shin, H. H. (2006) Institutional safe space and shame management in workplace bullying. PhD Dissertation, Australian National University.

Morrison, B. & Ahmed, E. (2006) Restorative justice and civil society: Emerging practice, theory and evidence. Journal of Social Issues, 62(2), 209-215.

Braithwaite, J., Braithwaite, V., & Ahmed, E. (2006) Reintegrative shaming. In Henry, S. & Lanier, M. M. (eds), The Essential Criminology Reader, Westview Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 286-295.

Braithwaite, J., Ahmed, E., & Braithwaite, V. (2005) Shame, Restorative Justice, and Crime. In Cullen, F. T., Wright, J. P., & Blevins, K. R. (eds), Taking Stock: The Status of Criminological theory, Advances in Criminological Theory, Vol. 15. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.

Ahmed, E. (2005) Pastoral care to regulate school bullying: Shame management among bystanders. Pastoral Care in Education, 23(2), 23-29.

Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, J. (2005) Shaming, shame, forgiveness and bullying. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 38(3), 298-323.

Morrison, B. (2005) Building Safe and Healthy School Communities: Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation. http://www.iirp.edu/pdf/au05_morrison.pdf.

Shin, H. & Tonghee Park (2005)  Individualism, Collectivism and Trust: The Correlates between Trust and Cultural Value Orientations among Australian National Public Officers, International Review of Public Administration, Vol. 9(2), 103-119.

Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, V. (2004) Bullying and victimization: Cause for concern for both families and schools. Social Psychology of Education, 7, 35-54.

Ahmed, E. & Braithwaite, V. (2004) ‘What? Me ashamed?’: Shame management and bullying. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 41(3), 269-294.

Ahmed, E. (2004). Bystander Intervention: School Connectedness and Shame Management. In Österman, K. & Björkqvist, K. (eds), Contemporary research on aggression. Volume I: School violence. Proceedings of the XVI World Meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression, Santorini, Greece. Finland: Åbo Akademi University. http://www.israsociety.com/xvi/index.html

Braithwaite, V., Ahmed, E. Morrison, B., & Reinhart, M. (2003) Researching the prospects for restorative justice practice in schools: The ‘Life at School Survey’ 1996-9. In L. Walgrave (ed), Repositioning the Restorative Justice: Restorative Justice, Criminal Justice and Social Context. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing, pp. 169-190.

Morrison, B. (2002) Bullying and victimisation in schools: A restorative justice approach. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No. 219, Australian Institute of Criminology.

Ahmed, E., Harris, N., Braithwaite, J.B., & Braithwaite, V.A. (2001) Shame Management through Reintegration. Cambridge: UK, Cambridge University Press.

Ahmed, E. (2001) Shame management: Regulating bullying. In E. Ahmed, N. Harris, J. Braithwaite, and V. Braithwaite. Shame Management through Reintegration. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 211-314.

Braithwaite, V. (2000) Values and restorative justice in schools. In H. Strang & J. Braithwaite (eds), Restorative Justice: Philosophy to Practice. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 121-144.

Conference presentations

Shin, H. (2015) Overlap in face-to-face bullying and cyberspace bullying behaviours: Comparison of characteristics of children who were involved in only face-to-face bullying (as bully, victim, or both) with those who are also involved in cyberbullying using Waves 5 LSAC data. Paper presented at the 50th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference, Gold Coast, September 28-October 2.

Shin, H. (2014) The effect of parenting on a child’s bullying perpetration: persistence and discontinuation of bullying behaviours from a longitudinal perspective using LSAC waves 1 to 5. Paper presented at the 13th Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Conference, Melbourne, July 30-August 1.

Shin, H. (2013) Shielding from the violence: To what extent does a mother’s mental resilience and parenting approach protect her children from the effect of exposure to her partner’s violence? Paper presented at the 18th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Human Development Association, 1-4 July.

Shin, H. (2012) Not just mum’s own: The mediational effect of mother’s mental health on the relationship between stressful life events and child’s outcome. Paper presented at the 7th World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, Perth, 17-19 November.

Shin, H. (2011) Why some children thrive despite the odds being stacked against them: Investigating the characteristics of young mothers and their children who have good outcomes. Paper presented at the LSAC Conference Melbourne, Australia, 15-16 November.

Shin, H. (2009) Talking to children clearly but respectfully: the effect of inductive reasoning and hostile parenting. Paper presented at the LSAC Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 1-3 December.

Ahmed, E. (2007) Trauma, bullying and managing emotions. Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Trauma Society, Melbourne, October 13-14.

Ahmed, E. (2006) Understanding desistance from bullying: A shame management perspective. Paper presented at the 2006 Joint Conference of the APS and NZPsS – ‘Psychology Bridging the Tasman: Science, Culture and Practice’, Auckland, New Zealand, September 26-30.

Ahmed, E. (2005) Shame management and recidivism in school bullying. Paper presented at the Empirical Findings and Theory Developments in Restorative Justice: Where Are We Now? ANU, Canberra, February 23-25.

Ahmed, E. (2005) Bullying and victimization: Evidence based interventions. Presented at the Advanced workshop, organised by the Australian Public Service Commission and Comcare, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, April 26.

Ahmed, E. (2005) Workplace dignity and respect. Presented at the 9th European Congress of Psychology on Work and Organizational Psychology (Symposium: Bullying in the workplace), Granda, Spain, July 3-8.

Ahmed, E. (2005) Shaming, shame, forgiveness and school bullying. Presented at the 9th European Congress of Psychology on Work and Organizational Psychology (Symposium: Bullying in the workplace), Granda, Spain, July 3-8.

Ahmed, E. (2005) Bullying persistence or desistance? Findings from a three-year follow-up study. Invited paper presented at the 2nd National Coalition Against Bullying Conference, Melbourne, Australia, October 29-30.

Shin, H. (2005) Shame management and workplace practices from the reintegrative shaming theory. Paper presented at the annual RegNet Conference “Empirical Findings and Theory Development in Restorative Justice: Where Are we Now?” Canberra, Australia, 23-25 February.

Shin, H. (2004) Patterns of trust among Australian Public Officers. Paper presented at the 28th International Congress of Applied Psychology, Beijing, China, 8-13 August.

Ahmed, E. (2004) Emotionally intelligent tax policy: The case of higher education funding. Presented at the Annual Governance Network and Regulatory Institutions Network Conference, ANU, Canberra, December 6-8.

Ahmed, E. (2004) Bystander intervention: School belongingness and shame management. Invited paper presented at the International Society for Research on Aggression Conference, Santorini, Greece, September, 18-22.

Ahmed, E. (2004) Condemning workplace bullying: What can we learn from shame and pride? Invited paper presented at the ‘Emotions, crime and Justice’, Onati, Spain, September 13-14.

Ahmed, E. (2004) Forgiveness, reconciliation and shame: Three key variables in reducing school bullying. Paper presented at the 28th International Congress of Psychology, Beijing, August 8-13.

Ahmed, E. (2004) Building relationships: An empirical analysis of shame, pride and workplace bullying. Presented at the 4th International Conference on Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace ‘Bringing it forward’, Bergen, Norway, June 28-29.

Ahmed, E. (2003) Management of shame and pride: A theoretical analysis in relation to rule violation. Panel presentation and discussion at the First RegNet Conference ‘The Nodal and the Global’, ANU, Canberra, December 9-11.

Shin, H. (2003) Firmly but respectfully: Encouraging adaptive shame management at the workplace. Paper presented at the 11th European Congress on Work and Organizational Psychology, “Identity and Diversity in Organizations,” Lisboa, Portugal, 14-17 May.

Ahmed, E. (2002) Shame management and bullying: Stability and variability. Paper presented at the XXV International Congress of Applied Psychology on ‘Making Life Better for All: A Challenge for Applied Psychology’, University of Singapore, July 7-12.

Shin, H. (2002) Cultural values and shame management in the workplace. Paper presented at the 25th International Congress of Applied Psychology, “Making Life Better for All,” Singapore, 21-28 July.

Ahmed, E. (2001) Shame management and bullying status. Paper presented at the International Conference on Positioning restorative justice, Leuven, Belgium, September 16-19.