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Volume 33, pages 220229 (2007)

Characteristics of Male and Female Prisoners Involved
in Bullying Behavior
Jane L. Ireland
, John Archer
, and Christina L. Power
Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
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 two
core aims, rst to explore the nature of bullying in relation to indirect and direct aggression and, second, to explore the predictors
of bully-category membership with particular reference to behavioral characteristics. Participants were adult men (n 5728) and
women (n 5525) prisoners. All completed a behavioral measure of behavior indicative of bullying (Direct and Indirect Prisoner
behavior Checklist, DIPC) that also explored prison-based behavior such as negative acts towards staff or prison rules, positive
acts and drug-related behavior. Indirect aggression was, as predicted, reported more frequently than direct aggression, although
this only held for perpetration. Bully-victims, as predicted, showed more negative behavior. Pure bullies and pure victims also
showed more negative behavior than the other categories. The ndings are discussed in relation to the environment in which
bullying 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. 33:220229, 2007.
2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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Interest in exploring the bullying that occurs
among prisoners has increased markedly since
1999. Between 1999 and 2004, 18 studies have
been published [e.g., Ireland, 1999; Ireland
and Archer, 2004; Ireland and Ireland, 2003; Ire-
land and Power, 2004; Palmer and Farmer, 2002],
with only seven before this. Denitions of
bullying applied to prisons are broadly dened
[Ireland, 2002a, 2005a], with an example of a broad
denition of bullying behavior proposed by Ireland
An individual is being bullied when they are
the victim of direct and/or indirect aggres-
sion happening on a weekly basis, by
the same or different perpetrators. Single
incidences of aggression can be viewed
as bullying, particularly where they are
severe and when the individual either
believes or fears that they are at risk
of future victimization by the same
perpetrator or others. An incident can be
considered bullying if the victim believes
that they have been aggressed towards,
regardless of the actual intention of the
bully. It can also be bullying when
the imbalance of power between the bully
and his/her victim is implied and not
immediately evident. (p 26).
As the eld of prison bullying research has
developed, researchers have become more interested
in furthering understanding concerning the nature
of bullying behavior and the predictive charac-
teristics of those involved. With regard to the
former area, interest has focused in particular on
direct and indirect aggression, with the latter area
beginning to focus on exploring the behaviors
displayed in prison that could potentially predict
bully category membership [Ireland, 2002a, 2005a].
Previous research has been limited by relatively
small sample sizes obtained from a small number
of prisons. This study aims to address this by using
a large sample of adult prisoners from a wider
number of prisons than utilized previously. It
is hoped that this will assist with enhancing the
reliability of ndings.
Published online 3 April 2007 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.
wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/ab.20182
Received 9 June 2005; Accepted 20 May 2006
Grant 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
r 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Research into the nature of prison bullying
initially focused on direct forms, specically theft-
related, physical, sex-related and verbal bullying
[e.g., Connell and Farrington, 1996]. Since 1996 the
focus 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 been
reported to occur to at least the same extent, if not
more frequently, than direct aggression [e.g., Ire-
land, 1999, 2002a; Ireland and Monaghan, 2006].
This reported preference for indirect bullying has
been explained with reference to developmental
models 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 which
indirect aggression is described as complementing
and replacing direct aggression over time. According
to this model, by the age of 15 years indirect
aggression should form a considerable part of an
individuals aggressive repertoire. Since prison
research has focused on older adolescents (aged
over 18) and adults, an overall preference for
indirect aggression should therefore be expected.
However, although this developmental model may
provide a partial explanation, it is not sufcient on
its 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, some
of which can be considered severe (e.g., removal
of privileges, days added onto a sentence). The
perceived benets associated with direct forms of
bullying may not therefore outweigh the potential
costs. Indirect bullying, however, becomes an
effective method of victimizing in prison since it is
less likely to be identied by staff [Ireland and
Monaghan, 2006]. This ts with the effect-danger
principle proposed by Bjo rkqvist [1994], where
aggressors choose a strategy based on an evaluation
of the effect of their aggression in relation to the
personal danger involved. Indirect aggression argu-
ably combines a low-danger element for perpetra-
tors with a desired negative effect on victims, and
thus may become preferred in prison settings to the
more detectable (and costly in terms of penalties)
direct aggression.
The majority of research that has explored direct
and indirect bullying has done so with young and
juvenile offenders [e.g., Ireland and Monaghan,
2006] or combined samples of young and adult
offenders [e.g., Ireland, 1999]. This raises queries
with regard to the potential confounding effect of
developmental differences coupled with the validity
of extrapolating ndings from young to adult
prisoners. By exploring the prevalence of indirect
and direct aggression among a large sample of adult
prisoners, this study aims to determine more
condently if indirect aggression is indeed reported
more frequently than direct by adult perpetrators.
Developing an understanding with regard to the
characteristics associated with perpetration and
victimization in prison is also an area of increasing
interest. Based on a classication similar to those
used in schools [e.g., Craig, 1998], prison researchers
have focused on four bully categories: pure bullies
who report only perpetration, pure victims who
report only victimization, bully-victims who
report bullying others and being victimized them-
selves, and those not-involved who report neither.
Personal characteristics such as age, offence type
and sentence length have been found not to predict
category membership among prisoners [Ireland,
2000; Ireland and Ireland, 2000], although there
has been some evidence to indicate that the total
(increased) length of time a prisoner has spent
in detention throughout their lifetime is associated
with likelihood to engage in perpetration [Ireland,
2002a,b]. This has not, however, proven a consistent
nding across studies [Ireland and Monaghan,
2006]. Rather it has been suggested that it is the
behaviors demonstrated within a prison that are
more determining factors in predicting membership
of a category, and more so than personal character-
istics [Ireland, 2001]. It is this issue in which this
study is interested in exploring and, in particular, the
behavioral characteristics associated bully category
Three types of prison-based behavior have been
explored in relation to bully categories: drug-related,
positive and negative behavior (e.g., aggression and
refusal to follow staff orders) towards staff and/or
prisoners. The association of behavioral character-
istics with category membership should be expected
if it is acknowledged that membership to a bully
category is dynamic and should alter over time.
Thus it should be expected that behavior, as a
dynamic and uid predictor, should be associated
more clearly than more static measures, such as
personal characteristics (e.g., sentence length,
offence, etc.). Therefore if we accept that membership
to a bully category can alter over time, then we
should expect more dynamic characteristics to assist
in terms of category prediction (i.e., behavioral
measures). Although results have been mixed with
regard to the specic characteristics associated with
category membership [e.g., Ireland, 2000], a review
221 Characteristics of Prisoners Involved in Bullying
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
of research indicates a lack of behavioral predictors
for pure bullies [Ireland and Monaghan, 2006], (less
consistently) more drug behavior among bully-
victims [Ireland, 2000], reduced positive/proactive
behavior for pure victims and reduced negative
and drug-related behavior for those not-involved
[Ireland, 2001]. The most consistent nding, how-
ever, has been a positive association between
negative behavior and being a bully-victim [Ireland,
It has been suggested that the use of negative
behavior by bully-victims may be a way of their
attempting to prevent future victimization by com-
municating to their peers that they are not an easy
target and thus do not deserve to be stigmatized
simply as victims [Ireland, 2002a]. It also
increases their chances of being disciplined by staff
and removed from the unit, thus allowing them
respite from their aggressor, while at the same time
ensuring they have not informed on other prison-
ers, which would be a breach of the prisoner code
[Tittle, 1969] and may lead to justied bullying.
Justied bullying is a way in which the prisoner
peer group can control violations of the prisoner
code [Ireland, 2002a], and is a form of bullying in
which the possibility of any social retribution by the
peer group for the bullying is lowered. Avoidance
of justied bullying therefore becomes paramount.
Behaving in a negative way also helps to ensure
that prisoners are watched more closely by staff. This
serves to reduce the opportunities that other prison-
ers have to bully them by raising the danger
element of the effect-danger principle (i.e., by
increasing the risk for detection). Displaying negative
behavior therefore serves an adaptive function for
victims and assists them either to remain on their unit
under closer staff watch, afford them respite by
effecting their removal and/or raise the danger
element associated with bullying for their actual
and potential perpetrator(s) [Ireland, 2002a,b].
This explanation of negative behavior as a victim
response is also consistent with theoretical explana-
tions of victim responses in prisons, particularly the
argument that there is a delayed ight response
[Ireland, 2005b]. Negative behavior (including
aggression) is thought to serve a similar function
to other victim responses such as self-injury, by
engineering a victims eventual segregation/removal
from their peers [Ireland, 2005b]. In a prison where
avoidance strategies are limited by virtue of the
physical environment, immediate ight responses
from a threat (such as bullying) are not always
possible. By displaying negative behavior, however,
bully-victims may encourage their move to a
separate setting, albeit sometime following the
actual threat, and thus effecting a delayed ight
Although prison-bullying research has focused on
the form of aggression, the motivations for aggres-
sion differ according to whether or not the victim is
also an aggressor. Research on school bullying has
viewed bullying as a proactive form of aggression
which is goal driven with elements of planning
[Roland and Idse, 2001]. However, in a prison
setting, some bullying may also be reactive, invol-
ving negative emotions such as anger with an
element of defense [Ireland, 2004]. This argument
is consistent with the view that aggression can be
underpinned by mixed motives, and therefore is not
necessarily either proactively or reactively driven
[Bushman and Anderson, 2001]. In prisons, pure
bullies have been described as aggressors whose
bullying includes more proactive elements, whereas
bully-victims have been described as more reacti-
veproactive aggressors [Ireland, 2004], specically
as individuals whose bullying may include elements
of hostility and anger [Ireland and Archer, 2004],
but whose behavior has proactive goals, namely
aggressing towards their peers in order to commu-
nicate that they are likely to ght back. In this view,
aggressing is an attempt to restore self-image and
to prevent stigmatization [Ireland, 2004]. It has been
further suggested [Ireland, 2004] that the negative
behavior bully-victims display towards others (staff
or prisoners) may be a further example of reactive
proactive behavior.
This study explores the incidence of direct and
indirect bullying, and the behaviors associated with
membership to a bully-category among a large
sample of men and women adult prisoners from a
number of British prisons. Offenders completed
a self-report checklist involving a comprehensive
inventory of forms of bullying behavior.
We predicted the following:
Hypothesis 1. On the basis of the developmental
models of aggression and the effect-danger
principle, we predicted that perpetrators would
report using indirect aggression more than direct
Hypothesis 2. In accordance with the adaptive and
proactive function that negative behavior may serve
for victims, membership of the bully-victim category
will be associated with more negative behavior than
is found in the other categories, and specically that
membership to the bully-victim category will be
predicted by increased negative behavior.
Predictions were not made with regard to the
behavioural characteristics, positive behaviour and
222 Ireland et al.
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
drug related behaviour, or for the descriptive
characteristics of age, length of sentence, offence
and length of time served throughout lifetime owing
to the lack of previous research supporting these as
predictors [Ireland, 2000; Ireland and Ireland, 2000]
and/or inconsistent ndings making it difcult to
predict a direction [Ireland, 2002a,b; Ireland and
Monaghan, 2006]. Similarly, we do not expect to
nd gender differences in overall aggression owing
to a lack of differences reported in previous prison-
based research involving adults [Ireland, 2000].
However, we have included these variables in the
later regression analyses in reection of the fact that
this study represents the largest dataset collected on
adult prisoners (men and women) to date, whereas
previous research has utilized samples sizes in the
small to moderate range.
Prisoners were sampled from 11 separate prisons
in the UK; ve housed women and six housed men.
A total of 3,209 questionnaires were distributed with
1,812 returned, of which 559 were defaced or
incomplete. Thus there were 1,253 completed ques-
tionnaires (overall 39% response rate). The total
sample was drawn from closed, medium and
medium-high security settings.
Overall prisoner characteristics. Of the
1,253 complete questionnaires, 728 were men and
525 women. The mean age was 32.1 years (SD59.9;
men, M532.7, SD510.7; women, M531.4,
SD58.7); 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 length
was 43.6 months (men, M549.4 vs. women,
M534.8) and the average total length of time
served in a penal institution throughout their lives
was 50 months (men, M559.7; women, M527.2).
32.6% were serving for a violent offence, 26.7% an
acquisitive 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.
All prisoners completed the following measure in
addition to questions about their age, ethnic group,
sentence length, time spent in prison throughout
their lifetime, and their current offence.
The Direct and Indirect Prisoner behavior
Checklist [DIPC
Ireland, 1999]. This has been
used extensively with men, women, young and adult
prisoners [Ireland, 2002a]. Its aim is to assess the
presence or absence of a number of discrete
behaviors indicative of bullying or being bullied,
without using the term bullying, recognizing the
problems with applying such a term to a prisoner
population. A total of 99 items are included as part
of the DIPC, 65 of which represent being bullied or
of being bullied (32 perpetrator items and 33 victim
items), seven about buying, selling and/or using
drugs (e.g., I have bought or sold cannabis), ve
concerning negative behavior to others (e.g., I have
been abusive to a member of staff) and six about
positive behavior (e.g., I have helped a new
prisoner on the wing). The remaining items were
llers. Prisoners were asked to identify which items
they had engaged in or had occurred to them in the
previous week, by indicating yes or no in each case.
Of the being bullied and bullying others items,
48 represented direct bullying (24 victim items and
24 perpetrator items) and 17 indirect bullying (nine
victim items and eight perpetrator items). Direct
bullying items comprised ten on physical aggression
(e.g., I was hit or kicked by another prisoner, I
have started a ght), 12 that were theft-related
(e.g., I had some tobacco stolen, I have stolen
another prisoners tobacco), 22 that were psycho-
logical or verbal (e.g., I was called names about
my race or color, I have intimidated someone),
and four that were sexual (e.g., I have been sexually
harassed, I have sexually abused/assaulted some-
one). The 17 items of indirect bullying included
gossiping, spreading rumors, and ostracizing (e.g.,
Someone has tried to turn other prisoners against
me, I have spread rumors about someone).
Ethical approval for the study was obtained from
the University Ethics Committee and from each
prison, either via local or area service ethical
approval processes. The need to ensure the anon-
ymity of the data collected was emphasized.
The sample included all prisoners based on the
prison wing or house at the time of the study. The
majority completed the questionnaire on their own,
The classication represents the risk the prisoner would pose to the
general public should they escape.
Analyses relating to the nature and extent of bullying and
behavioral characteristics of bully categories are presented here.
Prisoners completed a further series of measures relating to separate
research questions. These are due to be published separately.
223 Characteristics of Prisoners Involved in Bullying
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
in their cells. For operational reasons in two
of the prisons, participants were approached
during education or workshop classes. Those
recruited in this way sat separately and were
supervised when they completed the questionnaire.
This method was adopted in another (female) prison
that did not have individual cells. In all the
participating prisons, questionnaires were distribu-
ted at the beginning of a lunchtime lock-up period
(when cell doors were locked) or a training after-
noon when prisoners were locked in their cells for
two hours. Questionnaires were then collected
between one and two hours later.
Participants were asked to insert completed
questionnaires into an unmarked, self-seal
envelope. It was stressed that participants names
or prison numbers were not required, and that the
questionnaire only required basic descriptive
information. All were informed that they had a
period of either one or two hours (depending on
the prison regime) to complete the questionnaires
and that these would be collected at the end of that
Results regarding the overall extent of behavior
indicative of bullying others or of being bullied
are presented rst, with Logit analysis used to
determine the presence of any sex differences and
differences between aggression type (i.e., direct vs.
indirect). These results are followed by the different
groups involved, including the characteristics pre-
dicting group membership using Multinominal
logistic regression.
Perpetration: Behavior Indicative of Bullying
Overall, 42% (39% women, 44% men) reported at
least one item indicative of bullying others: 34%
reported indirect bullying (30% women, 37% men),
and 23% direct bullying (21% women, 24% men).
Overall the score for bullying others was M51.12
(SD52.18, range 018); for direct bullying others
M50.56 (SD51.47, range 013) and indirect
bullying others M50.56 (SD50.98, range 06).
Consistent with the prediction in Hypothesis 1, the
proportion of prisoners reporting indirect aggres-
sion was signicantly higher than the proportion
reporting direct aggression (l50.69, z 55.49,
Po0.01). There were no signicant sex differences in
overall perpetration, its subtypes (e.g., direct,
indirect), or in individual items.
Victimization: Behaviors Indicative
of Being Bullied
Overall, 52% (55% women, 50% men) reported
at least one item on the checklist indicative of being
bullied: 39% reported indirect victimization (41%
women, 38% men), and 37% direct victimization
(40% women, and 34% men). Overall the score for
being bullied was M51.96 (SD53.43, range 025);
for direct being bullied M51.01 (SD52.15, range
020) and indirect being bullied M50.95 (SD51.62,
range 08). There were no signicant sex differences in
the overall proportion of victimization or in any of the
subtypes. Only one item of indirect victimization
showed a sex difference. This was I have been
gossiped about, reported by 26% of women and 14%
of men (l50.77, z 55.3, Po0.001).
Categories Involved in Bullying
and/or Victimization
Participants were categorized into one of the
following: pure bullies, pure victims, bully-victims
and not-involved, with classication into each
category determined on the basis of the DIPC
results: those reporting at least one perpetration
item and no victim items were classied as pure
bullies; those with at least one victim item and no
perpetrator items as pure victims; those reporting
at least one perpetrator and one victim item were
classied as bully-victims and those reporting
no perpetrator or victim items were classied as not-
involved. This method of classication has been
used in several previous studies of prison bullying
[Ireland, 1999, 2001; Ireland and Monaghan, 2006].
Thirty-six percent were classied as not-involved,
following by 29% as bully/victims, 23% as pure
victims and 12% as pure bullies. Pure bullies
and bully/victims were signicantly younger than
those not-involved: age, M530 years, SD57.6;
age, M530.3 years, SD58.2; age, M534.1,
SD511.5 respectively: F(3, 1241) 512.9, Po0.001.
Bully/victims reported signicantly longer histories
of time spent in secure care than pure victims and
those not-involved: M554.5 months, SD553.7;
M538.2, SD546.7; M542.9, SD549.4, respec-
tively: F(3, 1,160) 56.13, Po0.001. Women were
also more likely than men to be classied as pure
victims (28% vs. 19%; l50.30, z 53.3, Po0.01).
Behavioral Characteristics
of Bully Categories: Overall
Table I shows the proportion of prisoners from
the four bully categories reporting at least one
224 Ireland et al.
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
positive, negative or drug-related item, along with their
mean. Three separate ANOVAs were conducted
across bully category (as a between subject factor)
and behavior, i.e. positive, negative or drug-related.
Post hoc Scheffe were conducted to determine the
location of differences between bully categories.
With regard to positive behavior, there was a
signicant univariate effect, F(3, 1253) 528.8, Po0.001.
Post hoc tests indicated that bully/victims reported
signicantly higher levels of positive behavior than
all of the other categories and pure victims reported
higher levels than those not-involved. There were no
differences between pure bullies and pure victims, or
between pure bullies and those not-involved.
With regard to negative behavior, there was a
signicant univariate effect, F(3, 1253) 569.4,
Po0.001. Post hoc tests indicated that bully/victims
reported signicantly higher levels of negative beha-
vior than all of the other categories, as predicted in
Hypothesis 2. Pure bullies reported higher levels than
those not-involved, with pure victims reporting
higher levels than those not-involved. There were
no differences between pure bullies and pure victims.
With regard to drug-related behavior, there
was a signicant univariate effect, F(3, 1253) 556.7,
Po0.001. Post hoc tests indicated that bully/victims
reported signicantly higher levels of drug-related
behavior than all of the other categories, with pure
victims reporting higher levels than those not-
involved. There were no differences between pure
bullies and pure victims, or between those not-
involved and pure bullies.
Regression Analyses
Multinominal logistic regression analysis was
employed to examine two main groups of variables,
personal and prison-based behavioral characteristics.
It was used to assess which, if any, of these
characteristics was signicantly associated with the
probability of belonging to each of the four bully-
categories. The multinominal dependent variable in
each analysis represented the bully-category being
examined (e.g., pure bully (1), pure victim (2), bully-
victim (3) and not-involved (4). The characteristics
age, length of present sentence, length of time served
throughout lifetime, offence (coded as violent; acqui-
sitive; sex-related; drug-related and other), negative,
positive and drug-related behavior (with all behaviors
entered as continuous scores) were entered into
Multinominal logistic regression analyses as potential
predictors. A stepwise regression was employed,
notably forward stepwise, with all predictors entered
into the same analysis, with personal characteristics
entered rst, followed by behavioral ones.
Table II shows the signicant associated charac-
teristics found in this analysis. The overall model
t was signicant (2 log likelihood 1,940.7;
5288.5, Po0.001). The goodness-of-t statistic
(Nagelkerke) was 0.31. Table II indicates that pure
bullies were younger and reported more incidences
of positive, negative and drug-related behavior. Bully-
victims were more likely to be men, were younger, and
reported more incidences of positive, negative and
drug-related behavior. Pure victims were more likely
to be women, and also showed more incidences
of negative and drug-related behavior. Those not-
involved were older, and reported fewer incidences
of positive, negative and drug-related behavior.
Characteristics of Bully Categories:
Men and Women
Tables III and IV show the signicant character-
istics associated with bully category, for men and
TABLE I. Proportion of Prisoners Reporting at Least One Positive, Negative and/or Drug-Related Behavior (% column)
and Overall Ms and SDs. Results are Shown Overall and Across Bully Category
Pure bully n 5156 Pure victim n 5283 Bully-victim n 5368 Not-involved n 5446
Behavior % (n) M (SD) % (n) M (SD) % (n) M (SD) % (n) M (SD)
Positive behavior 87.2 (136) 1.97 (1.24) 86.2
(244) 1.93 (1.25) 92.1
(339) 2.47 (1.35) 84.1 (375) 1.66 (1.17)
Negative behavior 31.4
(49) 0.55 (0.96) 26.9
(76) 0.34 (0.62) 54.9
(202) 0.96 (1.14) 13.2 (59) 0.16 (0.45)
Drug-related behavior 6.4 (10) 0.06 (0.25) 17
(48) 0.19 (0.45) 31.8
(117) 0.44 (0.74) 2.2 (10) 0.02 (0.15)
Pure victims reported higher levels than those not-involved.
Bully/victims reported signicantly higher levels of positive behavior than all of the other categories.
Pure bullies reported higher levels than those not-involved.
Pure victims reporting higher levels than those not-involved.
Bully/victims reported signicantly higher levels of negative behavior than all of the other categories.
Pure victims reported higher levels than those not-involved.
Bully/victims reported signicantly higher levels of drug-related behavior than all of the other categories.
225 Characteristics of Prisoners Involved in Bullying
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
women, respectively. In order to allow some
comparison to be drawn between men and women
it was necessary for a random sample of men to be
removed for this part of the analysis, allowing
therefore for an approximately equal sample size of
men and women to be compared. Thus a random
sample of 204 men was removed for this part of the
analysis. This was achieved using SPSS.
For men, the overall model t was signicant (2
log likelihood 848.3; w
599.4, Po0.001), with
goodness-of-t statistic (Nagelkerke) 0.26. Offence,
age, current sentence length and time spent in secure
care throughout a lifetime did not feature in any of
the models. Only behavioral characteristics featured
in the models.
For women, the overall model t was signicant
(2 log likelihood 912.9, w
5171.8, Po0.001), with
the goodness-of-t statistic (Nagelkerke) 0.30. An
initial model was completed with all predictors
entered. The validity of this initial model t was
poor with unexpected singularities evident. This
indicated a need to recalculate the model excluding
unnecessary predictors. Thus the model was recal-
culated with only behavioral characteristics and age
entered since only these variables reached signicant
in the original (initial) model. The nal model is
shown in Table IV. Only behavioral characteristics
featured in the nal model for women.
There were similarities between men and women
with pure bullies predicted by increased negative
behavior, bully/victims by increased negative, posi-
tive and drug-related behavior, pure victims by
increased drug-related behavior and those
not-involved by decreased negative, drug related
and positive behavior. For women, however,
those not-involved were also predicted by decreased
drug use, with a trend for increased drug use to
represent a predictor for pure bullies. For men, pure
victims were also predicted by increased negative
The current study presented ndings from a
large-scale study into prison bullying, enhan-
cing the reliability of the ndings in comparison
to previous research that has employed more
limited prison samples. Half the sample reported
at least one item of behavior indicative of
being bullied, with just under half reporting at
least one item indicative of bullying others. There
were no sex differences found in relation to either
direct or indirect bullying, a nding consistent
with previous research among adult prisoners
[Ireland, 2000].
Indirect aggression was reported to occur at least
as frequently as direct, with indirect perpetration
being signicantly more common than direct perpe-
tration. This nding is consistent with previous
research [e.g., Ireland, 1999, 2002a; Ireland and
TABLE II. Signicant Characteristics Associated With Each Bully Category for the Overall Sample
Bully-category Variable b SE of b
(z-ratio) Exp (B)
95% CI
for exp B
Marginal effect:
Pure bully Age 0.04 0.014 11.1

0.96 0.9310.982 0.00045

Positive 0.184 0.09 4.09

1.202 1.001.44 0.105

Negative 1.12 0.198 32.1

3.07 2.084.51 0.0011

Drugs 1.34 0.72 3.49
3.81 0.93715.56 0.078
Pure-victim Sex 0.43 0.21 4.31

1.53 1.032.29 0.016

Negative 0.83 0.20 17.3

2.30 1.553.40 0.0082

Drugs 2.84 0.61 21.6

17.2 5.1957.0 0.028

Bully-victim Sex 0.54 0.21 6.32

0.58 0.380.88 0.0053

Age 0.03 0.01 5.72

0.98 0.950.99 0.00058

Positive 0.48 0.08 35.9

1.62 1.391.90 0.0047

Negative 1.31 0.19 49.3

3.72 2.585.37 0.0013

Drugs 3.26 0.61 28.8

26.2 7.9586.3 0.032

Age 0.02 0.01 7.39

1.02 1.001.04 0.0002

Positive 0.28 0.06 19.38

.75 0.660.86 0.0028

Negative 1.11 0.18 40.3

.33 0.230.46 0.0011

Drugs 0.2.81 0.60 22.0

0.06 0.021.04 0.0028

Note. The not-involved group was held as the reference category.
Trend, Po0.06.
Remaining sample held as reference category.



226 Ireland et al.
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
Monaghan, 2006], and consistent with the prediction
made that perpetrators would use indirect aggres-
sion more than direct. This prediction was based on
the effect-danger principle proposed by Bjo rkqvist
[1994] where aggressors choose a strategy based on
an evaluation of the effect of their aggression in
relation to the personal danger involved. Indirect
aggression, in a prison, arguably combines a low-
danger element for perpetrators in terms of detec-
tion by staff [Ireland and Monaghan, 2006], with
a desired negative effect on victims, and thus may
be preferred in prisons to the more detectable (and
costly in terms of penalties) direct aggression.
Alternatively, the preference may be less representa-
tive of effect-danger considerations and associated
more with prisoners simply failing to identify
indirect aggression as aggression [Ireland and
Ireland, 2003] and thus demonstrating an increased
willingness to report it in comparison to more overt
and direct aggression.
Behavioral characteristics were consistently iden-
tied as predictors of membership of the bully-group
categories. Based on previous research, we predicted
that bully-victims would show more negative beha-
vior [Ireland, 2000, 2001]. This study supported this
both with regard to differences across behaviors and
predictors: bully/victims reported higher levels of
negative behavior (as well as drug-related and
positive behavior) than the other groups involved,
with membership to the bully/victim group pre-
dicted by increased negative behavior.
Thus, overall, the study supported the prediction
that bully-victims would demonstrate more disrup-
tive behavior. The nding that they also demon-
strated more involvement in the supply and use of
drugs was consistent with previous research among
adult prisoners [Ireland, 2000, 2001] and applied to
both sexes. However, this study also indicated that
increased negative behavior was an overall predictor
of pure victims and pure bullies, with pure victims
TABLE III. Signicant Characteristics Associated With Each Bully Category For Men
Bully-category Variable b SE of b
(z-ratio) Exp (B)
95% CI
for Exp B
Marginal effect:
Pure bully Negative 1.49 0.29 26.9

4.43 2.527.79 0.00015

Pure victim Negative 1.11 0.28 15.46

3.02 1.745.24 0.00011

Drugs 1.98 0.67 8.65

7.23 1.9326.9 0.0020

Bully-victim Positive 0.35 0.11 10.4

1.42 1.151.76 0.000035

Negative 1.31 0.26 25.14

3.72 2.236.22 0.00013

Drugs 2.43 0.64 14.4

11.3 3.2339.8 0.00024

Negative 1.29 0.25 27.0

0.27 0.170.45 0.00013

Positive 0.24 0.09 6.72

0.78 0.650.94 0.00023

Drugs 2.04 0.63 10.6

0.13 0.44 0.00020

Note. The not-involved group was held as the reference category.
Remaining sample held as reference category.


TABLE IV. Signicant Characteristics Associated With Each Bully Category For Women
Bully-category Variable b SE of b
(z-ratio) Exp (B)
95% CI
for exp B
Marginal effect:
Pure bully Negative 0.79 0.24 10.6

2.21 1.373.57 0.00078

Drugs 1.39 0.74 3.59
4.02 0.9516.9 0.081
Pure victim Drugs 2.56 0.61 17.7

12.98 3.9242.9 0.0003

Bully-victim Positive .59 0.11 27.3

1.80 1.442.26 0.00006

Negative 1.20 0.22 30.8

3.32 2.175.07 0.00012

Drugs 2.96 0.62 23.1

19.3 5.7864.7 0.0003

Not involved
Negative 0.75 0.19 15.6

0.47 0.320.68 0.00007

Positive 0.29 0.09 11.2

0.75 0.630.89 0.00028

Drugs 2.54 0.59 18.1

0.07 0.030.25 0.00025

Note. The not-involved group was held as the reference category.
Trend Po0.06.
Remaining sample held as reference category.

227 Characteristics of Prisoners Involved in Bullying
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
also demonstrating more drug-related behavior,
suggesting that such behavior occurred in all of the
groups involved in bullying behavior. There was less
behavior of this type among the not-involved group.
For both victim (pure victim and bully-victim) and
perpetrator (pure bully) groups, negative behavior
may serve an instrumental function. It represents
a method through which they can raise their status
among peers by demonstrating a capacity to
challenge the out-group, i.e. being abusive to the
staff. This would serve to protect them against
future victimization by communicating to peers their
capacity to aggress, thus further lessening the chance
that they would be considered an easy target
[Ireland, 2002a]. This explanation has been put
forward before in relation to bully-victims [Ireland,
2002a], but the current ndings suggest it could also
be extended to pure victims and pure bullies. For
perpetrator groups, displaying such behavior may
relate more to maintaining already existing status,
however, whereas for victim groups it may be more
focused on accruing status.
Displaying negative behavior to staff also
increases the possibility that both victim groups will
be disciplined and either watched more closely by
staff or be removed from the wing to another
location. The rst outcome would assist in prevent-
ing their victimization [Ireland, 2002a]. The second
would allow a respite for victims while at the same
time preventing them from being subject to justied
bullying from prisoners by avoiding any breach
of the inmate code regarding directly informing on
other prisoners [Ireland, 2002a; Tittle, 1969].
Displaying negative behavior has been described
as serving a protective function for victim groups
[Ireland, 2005a]. For bully-victims acts of bullying
behavior towards other prisoners could serve a
similar function [Ireland, 2002a]. This is consistent
with explanations of victim responses in a prison in
terms of aggression and negative behavior serving
adaptive functions in response to a threat, such as
actual bullying or the risk of bullying [Ireland,
2005b]. Bullying others and/or displaying negative
behavior in response to victimization has been
described as an effective and adaptive method of
social problem-solving in prison [Ireland and
Murray, 2005]. Both forms of behavior reduce the
opportunities that others have to bully a prisoner by
increasing staff attention to them. This in essence
raises the danger element [Bjo rkqvist, 1994] asso-
ciated with others seeking to bully them [Ireland,
2002a]. The notion that aggression and/or disruptive
behavior have adaptive qualities contrasts with
models of social problem-solving (among children)
that consider aggression and related difcult beha-
vior to represent a decit in effective functioning
[Dodge and Crick, 1990]. The current study cannot
establish whether these suggested explanations are
correct since the data were cross-sectional. They do,
however, highlight the need for longitudinal re-
search to explore the development of aggression and
difcult (negative) behavior in both victim cate-
gories, to determine whether victimization leads to
negative behavior or whether negative behavior is a
cue marker for being aggressed towards by others
(i.e., is negative behavior an indication of difculty
in adjustment and thus a potential vulnerability cue
for an aggressor).
Although the current study beneted from a large
sample, it has a number of limitations. The rst
relates to procedural issues regarding administration
of the questionnaires. In four of the 11 establish-
ments, their own psychology departments distribu-
ted and collected the questionnaires using the
procedure described for the overall study. Although
a regression analysis showed that this method did
not signicantly inuence the outcome for bully
(t 50.98) or victim items (t 51.18) reported, it still
remains an identied limitation to acknowledge as a
potential confounding variable. There was also no
assessment made of the literacy levels of prisoners
due to the anonymity of the research. Somewhat
related to this issue regarding anonymity is the
honesty of prisoner responses. Although assured of
anonymity, prisoners might still have been reluctant
to disclose behaviors indicative of being bullied
for fear of reprisals from their aggressors, or fear of
being labeled as a grass. Equally, prisoners might
not have disclosed behaviors indicative of bullying
others for fear of reprisals from the prison
authorities. Overall, this might have led to an
under-estimation of behaviors indicative of bullying.
Such a limitation is largely unavoidable in research
of this nature, and alternative methods of data
collection to self-report, such as record-based data,
have signicant drawbacks [Dyson, 2005]. Record-
based methods in particular are known to greatly
underestimate specic forms of aggression, notably
indirect aggression [Ireland, 2002b].
The data produced by the DIPC is unsuitable for
categorizing groups using a median split or cut-off
analysis. Such an analysis would enable a more
detailed classication: e.g., perpetrators could be
separated into those falling below the median
in terms of aggression frequency and those falling
above [Ireland, 2005a]. The rst author has devel-
oped an alternative version of the DIPC (DIPC-
SCALED) that involves assessment of behavior
228 Ireland et al.
Aggr. Behav. DOI 10.1002/ab
frequency and will therefore enable median splits to
be used. The current study, however, employed a
measure-involving acknowledgement of one or more
items (victim and/or perpetrator) to categorize the
participants. There are limitations with this in that it
does not account for aggression frequency. This is a
method routinely used, however, in prison based
bullying research [e.g., Ireland, 2002a; Palmer and
Farmer, 2002] and accounts for aggression within
a short timeframe (i.e., 1 week) and for single
incidences as aggression as per denitions of
bullying applied to prison samples [Ireland, 2002a].
There are a number of potentially useful areas for
future research, some of which have been indicated
here, for example using a longitudinal design to
determine the developmental trajectory of negative
behaviors in relation to perpetration and victimiza-
tion. Further areas of interest include a need to
explore and rene how individuals are classied into
bully groups. Pursuing alternative methods of
classication in future research would prove of
value, and could perhaps also consider motivations
and frequency in their denition of bullying sub-
groups [Ireland, 2005a].
Thanks are extended to all the prisoners who took
part and the staff who provided assistance. Thanks
are expressed in particular to Carol Smith, Johanna
Blake, Lorraine Mosson and the Scottish Prison
Service for the coordination of data collection
within their services. The views contained within
this article are those of the researchers and not of the
Grant Authority, HM Prison Service or the Scottish
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