Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nadia Nosworthy

Second Advisor

Luana Greulich

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai



Bullying issues are increasing among school-age children worldwide. Children and adolescents involved in bullying as victims, perpetrators, or both are likely to experience negative consequences on their emotional, social, and academic levels (Espelage & Holt, 2001). In spite of the increasing research on bullying in Saudi Arabia, there exists gaps in the literature, especially in the role of individual traits (self-esteem, emotional intelligence) and cognitive processes (moral disengagement) on bullying behavior. Additionally, using modeling analysis to understand the predictive factors affecting bullying involvement processes also filled in some of the gaps in the literature. The current study investigated the prevalence of bullying behavior and gender differences in bullying behavior. In addition, the extent of the relationships among bullying behavior, self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and moral disengagement were examined, including how these variables predicted bullying behavior (victimization/perpetration), and mediated the relationship between moral disengagement and bullying.


The current study was designed as a non-experimental quantitative research analysis, with data collected via survey methodology. The data was collected from 735 high school students (male/female) between 14 and 19 years old who were attending public high schools in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the 2022 academic year. Participants completed a self-report survey measuring their (a) demographic background information, (b) bullying behaviors (BCS-A), (c) moral disengagement (MDS), (d) self-esteem (RSES), and (f) emotional intelligence (WLEIS). Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression to examine gender differences, and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to examine the structure of relationships among the study variables.


Regarding the prevalence of victimization, 20.8% of students reported being involved in verbal bullying, followed by physical bullying victimization (17.1%); cyberbullying victimization (17.3%); and relational bullying (16.9%). Regarding the prevalence of perpetration, verbal bullying was reported by 7.9% of the participants, followed by physical bullying (5.9%); cyberbullying (4.9%), and relational bullying (2.3%). The binary logistic regression analysis indicated there were significant differences in relational bullying victimization and perpetration in favor of females, and physical and verbal bullying victimization and perpetration were significantly different for male students. SEM analysis indicated that the initial model was a poor fit for the data. Therefore, upon some revisions, the SEM model predicted 40% of the variances in bullying behavior. Moral disengagement had a positive direct influence on bullying perpetration. Self-esteem was found to positively predict bullying perpetration and negatively influence bullying victimization. Emotional intelligence had a direct positive influence on self-esteem. Moral disengagement had a negative influence on emotional intelligence and self-esteem. Bullying victimization had a direct and positive impact on bullying perpetration. Mediation analysis indicated there was an indirect effect between moral disengagement and bully victimization through self-esteem and/or emotional intelligence; thus, both significantly mediated the relationship between moral disengagement and bullying victimization. In addition, all direct effects were found to be significant among self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and bullying victimization; significant indirect effects were observed between moral disengagement and bullying perpetration. As a result, partial meditation was evidenced.


The current study contributed to the body of literature by providing a better understanding of the important role of moral disengagement and bullying victimization experiences in predicting bullying involvement among adolescents in Saudi Arabia. The results provide support for the increase of specific protective and preventive factors to control bullying issues in school. Implications for bullying prevention and intervention program makers, educators, mental health professionals, school psychologists, and researchers of bullying behavior were discussed.

Subject Area

Bullying--Saudi Arabia; Abused teenagers--Saudi Arabia; Self-esteem; Emotional intelligence; Moral disengagement


Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."