Contrasting views on bullying in schools Which views on bullying influence teachers intervention strategies? This question is discussed on the basis of the findings of my empirical study of that aspect of bullying that has to do with the position of the teacher (a quantitative survey of the teachers' staff room, observations, interviews and analysis of explicit ‘bullying-politics'). I found contradictions in teachers' definitions of the phenomenon of bullying, in how they describe causality and furthermore in how they would attempt to solve a specific and complicated bullying case. The informants describe ‘bullying' in general terms that include group dynamic signs, when pressed for a causal explanation, or asked how they would handle a specific case. Most commonly, however, their focus is on the individual bully. In this, the teachers' positions seem to follow the commonplace conception of what causes bullying. That conception is reinforced by the fact that bullying research is primarily rooted in individual psychology and less in social psychology, or sociology. The mono-causal focus on the individual prefigures intervention: It is left to victims and their families to deal with damages, and frequently, school bullying policies focus on punishment. This can be illustrated by a brief review of some well-known cases of ‘College killers'. I want to explore some socio-cultural aspects on bullying which challenge or compliment the commonplace conception: Bullying as a complex group phenomenon; Bullying as a route to acceptance as a pupil (cultural conditions); Bullying as a construction of community; Bullying as an expression of the contradiction between formal and informal space; Bullying as a ‘negotiation' of power and finally bullying as a peer-to-peer phenomenon and ‘Bullying as longing for belonging". These perspectives may give options for anti-bullying strategies which aim at the classroom communities and not only the individuals.
Main Research Area:
Ecologies of Diversities: The developmental and historical interarticulation of human mediational forms, 2008