The complexity of children's involvement in school bullying

Nassem, Elizabeth Mary (2017) The complexity of children's involvement in school bullying. Journal of Children's Services, 12 (4). ISSN 10.1108/JCS-03-2017-0009

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Purpose – The complexity of children’s involvement in school bullying from the child’s perspective is examined.
Design/methodology/approach - A Foucauldian perspective provides a more nuanced approach than traditional understandings to examine the fluidity of power which involves ‘grey’ areas; struggles between pupils, and pupils and teachers; and takes into account systemic factors. Data is drawn from observations, focus groups and individual interviews with children aged 10 – 16.
Findings – Children explained how pupils, teachers and inequalities inherent in school contributed to their involvement. Children felt coerced into reinforcing societal inequalities whereby the ‘vulnerable’ were susceptible to victimisation and pupils can achieve status through bullying. Several working-class males who had learning difficulties felt ‘picked on’ by their peers and teachers, and subsequently retaliated aggressively.
Research limitations/implications – Findings from this relatively small sample provide insight into children’s unique experiences and how they are produced within wider systems of knowledge which differ from traditionally accepted discourses.
Practical implications – Drawing upon the voice of pupils who contribute to developing school strategies to overcome bullying is recommended.
Social implications - Traditional ways of identifying ‘bullies’ can be used to target those already marginalised whilst more sophisticated bullying is usually accepted and approved.
Originality/value - The complexity, fluidity and multi-faceted nature of children’s involvement is highlighted. Children discussed the maltreatment they experienced from pupils and teachers but did not realise how they may have subjected them to bullying.

Item Type: Article
12 October 2017Accepted
December 2017Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bullying, school, children, power, teachers, child’s voice
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-02 - sociology
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-02 - teacher training
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education (C-SPACE)
Depositing User: Elizabeth Nassem
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2017 11:15
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 16:58

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