The social ecology of girls' bullying practices: exploratory research in two London schools

Jamal, F; Bonell, C; Harden, A; Lorenc, T; (2015) The social ecology of girls' bullying practices: exploratory research in two London schools. Sociology of health & illness, 37 (5). pp. 731-44. ISSN 0141-9889 DOI:

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This exploratory study adopts a socio-ecological approach to examine the context of school bullying. It asks: (1) what are students' accounts of bullying practices?; (2) how are these enabled and constrained by the school-environment?; (3) how is gender implicated? Qualitative data were collected from girls in two schools in London via focus groups (one in each school; students aged 12-15) and seven semi-structured interviews (in one school; students aged 16-18); and from school policy documents. Our interpretation of girls' accounts, informed by Giddens' structuration theory, suggests that bullying practices were spatially patterned in the schools and often characterised by the regulation of girls' sexuality and sexual-harassment. Repeated acts of aggression were fluid with regard to the bully and victim role, challenging the dominant view of bullying as characterised by consistent disparities in power between individuals. Schools structured bullying behaviour via policies and practices that ignored these forms of abuse and which focused on and may have been complicit in the making of stable 'bully' and 'victim' roles, thus indirectly contributing to the reproduction of unhealthy relationships between students. In terms of gender, traditional gendered and sexual discourses appear to structure the identities of the schools and girls in our study.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Adolescent, *Bullying, Child, Female, Focus Groups, *Gender Identity, Humans, London, Qualitative Research, Sexual Harassment/*psychology, Sexuality/*psychology, *Social Environment, Socioeconomic Factors, Time Factors, Adolescent, Bullying, Child, Female, Focus Groups, Gender Identity, Humans, London, Qualitative Research, Sexual Harassment, psychology, Sexuality, psychology, Social Environment, Socioeconomic Factors, Time Factors
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
Research Centre: Centre for Global Mental Health
Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
PubMed ID: 25655642
Web of Science ID: 357830100006


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