Action is necessary but not sufficient: the significance of relational context for children in defining bullying
Canty, JB, Action is necessary but not sufficient: the significance of relational context for children in defining bullying, World Anti-Bullying Forum 2017, 7-9 May, Stockholm, Sweden (2017) [Conference Extract]
Children’s use of social media and experiences of online bullying continue to be a concern articulated in popular and research contexts. Across many of these discussions, debates, and definitions, there remains a gap regarding children’s knowledges and methods for making sense of their experiences. Significantly, children's definitions of bullying continue to be routinely marginalised in the context of research and adult-generated intervention strategies. As adults, we have tended to tell children what bullying is rather than ask them what they mean, or what they find troublesome, and then truly listening to the answers. The aim of this study was to investigate children's methods for defining bullying in the context of talk about using social media. The study took an explicit child-centred and participatory approach to generating a rich multimodal data set during fieldwork activities at three schools in the Wellington region of New Zealand. Participants were 10-13 years old and the data was co-produced in classroom activities akin to ordinary classroom interaction. Specific care was taken to avoid priming participants. The data was analysed using a multiple qualitative methods framework for cross-sectional and fine grain analysis, applying constructivist grounded theory and membership categorisation analysis respectively. Unlike adult-centric definitions that focus on behaviour, emerging from the findings from this study was an interactional model for defining bullying comprised of a set of lenses that highlighted key aspects of interactions that participants used to interpret and make sense of these experiences. Participants in this study presented both recipient response and relational context as pivotal contextual elements for interpreting activities. Action by itself was not enough to define an event as bullying. In addition, the findings also illuminated a field of categories for activities that could be hurtful, harmful, or troublesome, and yet others that may be misinterpreted as bullying but were not defined as such by participants. In this presentation, I will focus on the interactions between activity and relational context and their salience to defining bullying in participants' accounts of bullying and other troublesome interactions on social media. The presentation will incorporate empirical data and analysis with some discussion of the theoretical context and implications. I will introduce the interactional model and then focus specifically on the lenses of activity and relational context. I will conclude by exploring some implications from theoretical and practical perspectives of investigating children's knowledges about their experiences and integrating these into how we define bullying.