Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson

Committee Member

Jaclynn Tracy

Committee Member

Theresa Saunders

Committee Member

Yvonne Callaway


Bullying in schools has been a major concern of our society with prevention and intervention focusing on the external environment. Little has been done to understand the attitudes of individuals beyond evaluating pathologies such as depression and deviance. Programs have emphasized a system of social control whereby expectations are established, rules are made, and consequences are enforced. Research shows that bullying continues to affect children in schools, and has increased with the use of electronic methods such as social media, texting, and the like. Delving deeper into internal characteristics of bullies and victims, positive psychology offers a framework to increase positive traits necessary in creating a sense of well-being in early adolescents where resilience outcomes can be achieved. The current study examined character strengths in relation to an individual’s bully status. Utilizing pre-existing surveys, 685 7th and 8th grade students in the rural region of northwest Michigan were evaluated based on perceptions of bullying experiences, as well as on scenarios indicative of the 24 universal character strengths. Results indicated that high self-regulation was significantly linked to averters, and was low in those unable to evade the experience. Hope was high in averters as well, and low in victims, who were also low in gratitude. And prudence and fairness were low in those that bully. These results suggest that these character strengths, particularly hope and self-regulation, are critical strengths that need to be developed in our youth. If we develop them, well-being in individuals will not only be increased, but a decrease in bullying behaviors and perceptions of being bullied will result. These character strengths can be taught and systematic instruction in methods to do so should be incorporated in our schools.