Moral disengagement in self-reported and peer-nominated school bullying

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Abstract

This study examined the relation between moral disengagement and different self-reported and peer-nominated positions in school bullying. The aims of this study were to (1) investigate moral disengagement among children for whom self-reported and peer-nominated bully status diverged and (2) compare levels of disengagement among self-reported and peer-nominated pure bullies, pure victims, bully–victims, and children not involved in bullying. A sample of 739 Danish sixth grade and seventh grade children (mean age 12.6) was included in the study. Moral disengagement was measured using a Danish version of the Moral Disengagement Scale and bullying was measured using both self-reports and peer nominations. Results revealed that both self-reported and peer-nominated bullying were related to moral disengagement, and that both pure bullies and bully–victims displayed higher moral disengagement than outsiders. Discrepancies between self-reported and peer-nominated bullying involvement indicates that a person's social reputation has a stronger association with moral disengagement than so far expected. Implications are discussed, highlighting the importance of further research and theory development. Aggr. Behav. 37:133–144, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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