SHAME MANAGEMENT AND BULLYING: STABILITY AND VARIABILITY OVER TIME
Ahmed, E., Australian National University, Australia
This research investigates the stability of the relationship between shame management and school bullying across a three-year time span (1996-1999). The initial research in 1996 showed that children's shame management skills were implicated as possible risk factors for bullying/ victimization. Bullies were less likely to acknowledge shame, and more likely to displace shame into anger; victims acknowledged shame without displacement, but were more likely to internalize others' rejection of them; bully/victims were less likely to acknowledge shame, were more likely to have self-critical thoughts and to displace their felt shame into anger; and non-bully/ non- victims acknowledged shame with little displacement of it. Data were taken from the Life at School Survey. 368 children completed self-reports of shame management and bullying/ victimization experiences. Findings revealed that children's bullying status was stable depending upon the nature of their shame management styles. Where children's shame management changed over time, their bullying status also changed. Children who maintained comparable shame management styles over time, continued to have the same bullying status. This is a serious problem for children who cannot acknowledge their shame, who view others as rejecting, and/or who displace their shame by blaming others. This paper concludes with an argument that shame management styles are context dependent and transient in nature; they can be shaped in a desirable way if children are given the opportunity and the role models necessary to bring about this change.