Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Brett Geier

Second Advisor

Dr. Dennis McCrumb

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Shibler


Bullying, bully prevention, character education, middle school


Bullying is recognized as a barrier that must be addressed by schools to ensure that all students have access to educational opportunities. Due to high accountability with limited resources, schools must identify strategies to address issues such as bullying in a manner that provides the maximum benefit to students. Character education (CE) programs, which contribute to the bullying deterrent of positive school climate, may also lessen bullying through explicit teaching of character traits and prosocial skills.

The purpose of this study is to determine if there is a relationship between utilization of character education and prevalence of bullying in middle schools, to examine the influence of school and student factors that may impact the relationship between character education and bullying, and to investigate elements of character education programs that are associated with reduced prevalence of bullying. Data was collected through self-administered surveys and logistic regression techniques were used to answer the research questions.

This study found that name-calling, rumor-spreading, and physical bullying were the most common forms of bullying reported by middle school students. Cyberbullying through rumors and threats were least common. The results of this study do not support the use of character education as a strategy to reduce the prevalence of bullying in middle schools. The school-level variables of socioeconomic status, size, and locale predict the likelihood of physical bullying, threats, and rumors, respectively. The student-level variables of grade, gender, and race/ ethnicity were significantly related to several forms of bullying. With respect to reported bullying in CE schools, the most impactful character education program component was staff training.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access