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Keywords:

  • sibling/peer bullying;
  • reintegrative/disintegrative shaming;
  • parental bonding;
  • shame management;
  • moral emotions

Abstract

This article investigates the usefulness of Reintegrative Shaming Theory (RST) in explaining the bullying of siblings in families and peers in schools. Questionnaires were completed by 182 children aged 11–12 years in ten primary schools in Nicosia, Cyprus, about sibling and peer bullying. A vignette-based methodology was used to investigate children's expectations of the type of shaming their parents would offer in response to their possible wrong doing. Children were also asked questions about the emotions they would have felt (i.e. shame, remorse, guilt or anger) if they were in the position of the child in the vignette. The level of bonding toward each parent was also examined. In agreement with the theory, a path analysis showed that mother bonding influenced children's expectations of the type of shaming offered by parents. Disintegrative shaming (i.e. shaming offered in a stigmatizing or rejecting way) had a direct effect on the way children managed their shame. Shame management directly influenced sibling and peer bullying. Father bonding had no direct or indirect effects in the model. Against the theory, reintegrative shaming (i.e. shaming offered in the context of approving the wrongdoer while rejecting the wrongdoing) did not have a direct effect on shame management. Beyond the postulates of RST, mother bonding—a plausible indicator of family functioning—had a direct effect on sibling and peer bullying. Mother bonding had a stronger effect for boys than for girls. It is concluded that RST is useful in explaining the link between family factors and bullying, and that RST has cross-cultural applicability. Aggr. Behav. 34:352–368, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.