Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.3, 1999. pp. 413429

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A Disk by Mail Survey of Pupils in Primary Schools: Data Quality and Logistics

Computer-assisted self-reporting and disk by mail (DBM) surveys are less widespread than other forms of computer-assisted data collection, and they are generally restricted to special populations. The Netherlands has the unique situation that each primary school has at least one PC, thanks to a government-sponsored project to enhance computer literacy. Thus, when we were faced with the challenge of a survey among young children on bullying in schools, we decided to implement a disk by mail survey.
Our main reason for using computer-assisted self-administered questionnaires (CSAQ) is the extremely sensitive nature of questions about bullying. Pupils are very reluctant to talk about bullying, even to their parents and teachers. CSAQ enhances the feeling of privacy, and in general does well with questions of a sensitive nature. In designing the questionnaires, we tried to make them as simple and attractive as possible.
Diskettes were sent to 106 Dutch primary schools for use on levels five, six, seven, and eight (pupils aged 8-12). The pupils were surveyed individually, using self-administered computer-assisted questionnaires. The questionnaire focussed on attitudes to bullying and actual bullying (either as victim or as culprit).
We were able to show that: (1) a DBM survey can be successfully implemented in Dutch primary schools; (2) children from the age of eight years can successfully complete a computer-assisted self-interview, and enjoy it; (3) the cited advantages of computer-assisted data collection (less item nonresponse, less social desirability) also hold when the subjects are children; (4) DBM results in less costs for each completed and returned questionnaire.

Bullying; young children; CSAQ; CASI; DBM; acceptance; item nonresponse; social desirability; costs.

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