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AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR Volume 33, pages 220–229 (2007) Characteristics of Male and Female Prisoners Involved in Bullying Behavior Jane L. Ireland 1,2Ã , John Archer 1 , and Christina L. Power 1,2 1 Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK 2 Psychological Services, Ashworth High Secure Hospital, Liverpool, UK : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
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  AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORVolume 33, pages 220–229 (2007) Characteristics of Male and Female Prisoners Involvedin Bullying Behavior Jane L. Ireland 1,2  , John Archer 1 , and Christina L. Power 1,2 1 Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK  2  Psychological Services, Ashworth High Secure Hospital, Liverpool, UK  : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : This study explores bullying behavior in a larger and more representative sample than previous prison-based research. It has twocore aims, first to explore the nature of bullying in relation to indirect and direct aggression and, second, to explore the predictorsof bully-category membership with particular reference to behavioral characteristics. Participants were adult men ( n 5 728) andwomen ( n 5 525) prisoners. All completed a behavioral measure of behavior indicative of bullying (Direct and Indirect Prisonerbehavior Checklist, DIPC) that also explored prison-based behavior such as negative acts towards staff or prison rules, positiveacts and drug-related behavior. Indirect aggression was, as predicted, reported more frequently than direct aggression, althoughthis only held for perpetration. Bully-victims, as predicted, showed more negative behavior. Pure bullies and pure victims alsoshowed more negative behavior than the other categories. The findings are discussed in relation to the environment in whichbullying behavior is being assessed and with attention to the possible motivations underlying both bullying and negative behavior.Directions for future research are suggested. Aggr. Behav. 33:220–229, 2007.   2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc. : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : INTRODUCTION Interest in exploring the bullying that occursamong prisoners has increased markedly since1999. Between 1999 and 2004, 18 studies havebeen published [e.g., Ireland, 1999; Irelandand Archer, 2004; Ireland and Ireland, 2003; Ire-land and Power, 2004; Palmer and Farmer, 2002],with only seven before this. Definitions of bullying applied to prisons are broadly defined[Ireland, 2002a, 2005a], with an example of a broaddefinition of bullying behavior proposed by Ireland[2002a]:An individual is being bullied when they arethe victim of direct and/or indirect aggres-sion happening on a weekly basis, bythe same or different perpetrators. Singleincidences of aggression can be viewedas bullying, particularly where they aresevere and when the individual eitherbelieves or fears that they are at riskof future victimization by the sameperpetrator or others. An incident can beconsidered bullying if the victim believesthat they have been aggressed towards,regardless of the actual intention of thebully. It can also be bullying whenthe imbalance of power between the bullyand his/her victim is implied and notimmediately evident. (p 26).As the field of prison bullying research hasdeveloped, researchers have become more interestedin furthering understanding concerning the natureof bullying behavior and the predictive charac-teristics of those involved. With regard to theformer area, interest has focused in particular ondirect and indirect aggression, with the latter areabeginning to focus on exploring the behaviorsdisplayed in prison that could potentially predictbully category membership [Ireland, 2002a, 2005a].Previous research has been limited by relativelysmall sample sizes obtained from a small numberof prisons. This study aims to address this by usinga large sample of adult prisoners from a widernumber of prisons than utilized previously. Itis hoped that this will assist with enhancing thereliability of findings. Published online 3 April 2007 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/ab.20182Received 9 June 2005; Accepted 20 May 2006Grant sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC);Grant number: RES: 000-22-0268.  Correspondence to: Jane L. Ireland, Department of Psychology,University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.E-mail: JLIreland1@uclan.ac.uk   2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.  Research into the nature of prison bullyinginitially focused on direct forms, specifically theft-related, physical, sex-related and verbal bullying[e.g., Connell and Farrington, 1996]. Since 1996 thefocus has moved to an exploration of indirect(subtle) forms of bullying such as gossiping, spread-ing rumors and ostracizing [Archer and Coyne,2005]. In a prison, indirect aggression has beenreported to occur to at least the same extent, if notmore frequently, than direct aggression [e.g., Ire-land, 1999, 2002a; Ireland and Monaghan, 2006].This reported preference for indirect bullying hasbeen explained with reference to developmentalmodels of aggression and the application of the effect-danger  principle [Bjo ¨rkqvist, 1994].With regard to the former, Bjo ¨rkqvist et al.[1992a,b] outlined a developmental model in whichindirect aggression is described as complementingand replacing direct aggression over time. Accordingto this model, by the age of 15 years indirectaggression should form a considerable part of anindividual’s aggressive repertoire. Since prisonresearch has focused on older adolescents (agedover 18) and adults, an overall preference forindirect aggression should therefore be expected.However, although this developmental model mayprovide a partial explanation, it is not sufficient onits own to explain this preference. Ireland [2005a]points to the ‘‘effect-danger principle’’ as a further,perhaps overriding, explanation. Being caught bul-lying in prison may incur penalties from staff, someof which can be considered severe (e.g., removalof privileges, days added onto a sentence). Theperceived benefits associated with direct forms of bullying may not therefore outweigh the potentialcosts. Indirect bullying, however, becomes aneffective method of victimizing in prison since it isless likely to be identified by staff [Ireland andMonaghan, 2006]. This fits with the effect-dangerprinciple proposed by Bjo ¨rkqvist [1994], whereaggressors choose a strategy based on an evaluationof the effect of their aggression in relation to thepersonal danger involved. Indirect aggression argu-ably combines a low-danger element for perpetra-tors with a desired negative effect on victims, andthus may become preferred in prison settings to themore detectable (and costly in terms of penalties)direct aggression.The majority of research that has explored directand indirect bullying has done so with young and juvenile offenders [e.g., Ireland and Monaghan,2006] or combined samples of young and adultoffenders [e.g., Ireland, 1999]. This raises querieswith regard to the potential confounding effect of developmental differences coupled with the validityof extrapolating findings from young to adultprisoners. By exploring the prevalence of indirectand direct aggression among a large sample of adultprisoners, this study aims to determine moreconfidently if indirect aggression is indeed reportedmore frequently than direct by adult perpetrators.Developing an understanding with regard to thecharacteristics associated with perpetration andvictimization in prison is also an area of increasinginterest. Based on a classification similar to thoseused in schools [e.g., Craig, 1998], prison researchershave focused on four bully categories: ‘‘pure bullies’’who report only perpetration, ‘‘pure victims’’ whoreport only victimization, ‘‘bully-victims’’ whoreport bullying others and being victimized them-selves, and those ‘‘not-involved’’ who report neither.Personal characteristics such as age, offence typeand sentence length have been found not to predictcategory membership among prisoners [Ireland,2000; Ireland and Ireland, 2000], although therehas been some evidence to indicate that the total(increased) length of time a prisoner has spentin detention throughout their lifetime is associatedwith likelihood to engage in perpetration [Ireland,2002a,b]. This has not, however, proven a consistentfinding across studies [Ireland and Monaghan,2006]. Rather it has been suggested that it is thebehaviors demonstrated  within  a prison that aremore determining factors in predicting membershipof a category, and more so than personal character-istics [Ireland, 2001]. It is this issue in which thisstudy is interested in exploring and, in particular, thebehavioral characteristics associated bully categorymembership.Three types of prison-based behavior have beenexplored in relation to bully categories: drug-related,positive and negative behavior (e.g., aggression andrefusal to follow staff orders) towards staff and/orprisoners. The association of behavioral character-istics with category membership should be expectedif it is acknowledged that membership to a bullycategory is dynamic and should alter over time.Thus it should be expected that behavior, as adynamic and fluid predictor, should be associatedmore clearly than more static measures, such aspersonal characteristics (e.g., sentence length,offence, etc.). Therefore if we accept that membershipto a bully category can alter over time, then weshould expect more dynamic characteristics to assistin terms of category prediction (i.e., behavioralmeasures). Although results have been mixed withregard to the  specific  characteristics associated withcategory membership [e.g., Ireland, 2000], a review  221Characteristics of Prisoners Involved in Bullying Aggr. Behav.  DOI 10.1002/ab  of research indicates a lack of behavioral predictorsfor pure bullies [Ireland and Monaghan, 2006], (lessconsistently) more drug behavior among bully-victims [Ireland, 2000], reduced positive/proactivebehavior for pure victims and reduced negativeand drug-related behavior for those not-involved[Ireland, 2001]. The most consistent finding, how-ever, has been a positive association betweennegative behavior and being a bully-victim [Ireland,2005a].It has been suggested that the use of negativebehavior by bully-victims may be a way of theirattempting to prevent future victimization by com-municating to their peers that they are not an easytarget and thus do not deserve to be stigmatizedsimply as ‘‘victims’’ [Ireland, 2002a]. It alsoincreases their chances of being disciplined by staff and removed from the unit, thus allowing themrespite from their aggressor, while at the same timeensuring they have not ‘‘informed’’ on other prison-ers, which would be a breach of the prisoner code[Tittle, 1969] and may lead to ‘‘justified’’ bullying.‘‘Justified’’ bullying is a way in which the prisonerpeer group can control violations of the prisonercode [Ireland, 2002a], and is a form of bullying inwhich the possibility of   any  social retribution by thepeer group for the bullying is lowered. Avoidanceof ‘‘justified’’ bullying therefore becomes paramount.Behaving in a negative way also helps to ensurethat prisoners are watched more closely by staff. Thisserves to reduce the opportunities that other prison-ers have to bully them by raising the ‘‘danger’’element of the ‘‘effect-danger’’ principle (i.e., byincreasing the risk for detection). Displaying negativebehavior therefore serves an adaptive function forvictims and assists them either to remain on their unitunder closer staff watch, afford them respite byeffecting their removal and/or raise the dangerelement associated with bullying for their actualand potential perpetrator(s) [Ireland, 2002a,b].This explanation of negative behavior as a victimresponse is also consistent with theoretical explana-tions of victim responses in prisons, particularly theargument that there is a  delayed flight response [Ireland, 2005b]. Negative behavior (includingaggression) is thought to serve a similar functionto other victim responses such as self-injury, byengineering a victims’ eventual segregation/removalfrom their peers [Ireland, 2005b]. In a prison whereavoidance strategies are limited by virtue of thephysical environment, immediate flight responsesfrom a threat (such as bullying) are not alwayspossible. By displaying negative behavior, however,bully-victims may encourage their move to aseparate setting, albeit sometime following theactual threat, and thus effecting a delayed flightresponse.Although prison-bullying research has focused onthe form of aggression, the motivations for aggres-sion differ according to whether or not the victim isalso an aggressor. Research on school bullying hasviewed bullying as a proactive form of aggressionwhich is goal driven with elements of planning[Roland and Idøse, 2001]. However, in a prisonsetting, some bullying may also be reactive, invol-ving negative emotions such as anger with anelement of defense [Ireland, 2004]. This argumentis consistent with the view that aggression can beunderpinned by mixed motives, and therefore is notnecessarily either proactively or reactively driven[Bushman and Anderson, 2001]. In prisons, purebullies have been described as aggressors whosebullying includes more proactive elements, whereasbully-victims have been described as more reacti-ve–proactive aggressors [Ireland, 2004], specificallyas individuals whose bullying may include elementsof hostility and anger [Ireland and Archer, 2004],but whose behavior has proactive goals, namelyaggressing towards their peers in order to commu-nicate that they are likely to fight back. In this view,aggressing is an attempt to restore self-image andto prevent stigmatization [Ireland, 2004]. It has beenfurther suggested [Ireland, 2004] that the negativebehavior bully-victims display towards others (staff or prisoners) may be a further example of reactive– proactive behavior.This study explores the incidence of direct andindirect bullying, and the behaviors associated withmembership to a bully-category among a largesample of men and women adult prisoners from anumber of British prisons. Offenders completeda self-report checklist involving a comprehensiveinventory of forms of bullying behavior.We predicted the following:Hypothesis 1. On the basis of the developmentalmodels of aggression and the ‘‘effect-danger’’principle, we predicted that perpetrators wouldreport using indirect aggression more than directaggression.Hypothesis 2. In accordance with the adaptive andproactive function that negative behavior may servefor victims, membership of the bully-victim categorywill be associated with more negative behavior thanis found in the other categories, and specifically thatmembership to the bully-victim category will bepredicted by increased negative behavior.Predictions were not made with regard to thebehavioural characteristics, positive behaviour and 222 Ireland et al. Aggr. Behav.  DOI 10.1002/ab  drug related behaviour, or for the descriptivecharacteristics of age, length of sentence, offenceand length of time served throughout lifetime owingto the lack of previous research supporting these aspredictors [Ireland, 2000; Ireland and Ireland, 2000]and/or inconsistent findings making it difficult topredict a direction [Ireland, 2002a,b; Ireland andMonaghan, 2006]. Similarly, we do not expect tofind gender differences in overall aggression owingto a lack of differences reported in previous prison-based research involving adults [Ireland, 2000].However, we have included these variables in thelater regression analyses in reflection of the fact thatthis study represents the largest dataset collected onadult prisoners (men and women) to date, whereasprevious research has utilized samples sizes in thesmall to moderate range. METHOD Participants Prisoners were sampled from 11 separate prisonsin the UK; five housed women and six housed men.A total of 3,209 questionnaires were distributed with1,812 returned, of which 559 were defaced orincomplete. Thus there were 1,253 completed ques-tionnaires (overall 39% response rate). The totalsample was drawn from closed, medium andmedium-high security settings. 1 Overall prisoner characteristics.  Of the1,253 complete questionnaires, 728 were men and525 women. The mean age was 32.1 years (SD 5 9.9;men,  M  5 32.7, SD 5 10.7; women,  M  5 31.4,SD 5 8.7); 88.8% were White ethnic origin, 3.8%Black, 3.1% Mixed, 2.8% Asian and 1.5% of ‘‘other’’ ethic origin. The average sentence lengthwas 43.6 months (men,  M  5 49.4 vs. women, M  5 34.8) and the average total length of timeserved in a penal institution throughout their liveswas 50 months (men,  M  5 59.7; women,  M  5 27.2).32.6% were serving for a violent offence, 26.7% anacquisitive offence, 18.5% a drug related offence,12.5% other indictable offences, such as motoring,and 9.6% for sex offences (16.4% men vs. 0.4%women). Eight percent were on remand, with 3%serving a life sentence. Measures All prisoners completed the following measure inaddition to questions about their age, ethnic group,sentence length, time spent in prison throughouttheir lifetime, and their current offence. 2 The Direct and Indirect Prisoner behaviorChecklist [DIPC   Ireland, 1999].  This has beenused extensively with men, women, young and adultprisoners [Ireland, 2002a]. Its aim is to assess thepresence or absence of a number of discretebehaviors indicative of bullying or being bullied,without using the term bullying, recognizing theproblems with applying such a term to a prisonerpopulation. A total of 99 items are included as partof the DIPC, 65 of which represent being bullied orof being bullied (32 perpetrator items and 33 victimitems), seven about buying, selling and/or usingdrugs (e.g., ‘‘I have bought or sold cannabis’’), fiveconcerning negative behavior to others (e.g., ‘‘I havebeen abusive to a member of staff’’) and six aboutpositive behavior (e.g., ‘‘I have helped a newprisoner on the wing’’). The remaining items werefillers. Prisoners were asked to identify which itemsthey had engaged in or had occurred to them in theprevious week, by indicating yes or no in each case.Of the being bullied and bullying others items,48 represented direct bullying (24 victim items and24 perpetrator items) and 17 indirect bullying (ninevictim items and eight perpetrator items). Directbullying items comprised ten on physical aggression(e.g., ‘‘I was hit or kicked by another prisoner’’, ‘‘Ihave started a fight’’), 12 that were theft-related(e.g., ‘‘I had some tobacco stolen’’, ‘‘I have stolenanother prisoner’s tobacco’’), 22 that were psycho-logical or verbal (e.g., ‘‘I was called names aboutmy race or color’’, ‘‘I have intimidated someone’’),and four that were sexual (e.g., ‘‘I have been sexuallyharassed’’, ‘‘I have sexually abused/assaulted some-one’’). The 17 items of indirect bullying includedgossiping, spreading rumors, and ostracizing (e.g.,‘‘Someone has tried to turn other prisoners againstme’’, ‘‘I have spread rumors about someone’’). Procedure Ethical approval for the study was obtained fromthe University Ethics Committee and from eachprison, either via local or area service ethicalapproval processes. The need to ensure the anon-ymity of the data collected was emphasized.The sample included all prisoners based on theprison wing or house at the time of the study. Themajority completed the questionnaire on their own, 1 The classification represents the risk the prisoner would pose to thegeneral public should they escape. 2 Analyses relating to the nature and extent of bullying andbehavioral characteristics of bully categories are presented here.Prisoners completed a further series of measures relating to separateresearch questions. These are due to be published separately.  223Characteristics of Prisoners Involved in Bullying Aggr. Behav.  DOI 10.1002/ab
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