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Bullying and the Politics of 'Telling'

Christine Oliver and Mano Candappa
Oxford Review of Education
Vol. 33, No. 1 (Feb., 2007), pp. 71-86
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4618697
Page Count: 16
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Bullying and the Politics of 'Telling'
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Abstract

This paper reports on a study of pupils' views about tackling bullying and discusses the findings in the context of related research on 'telling' and other coping strategies. The research was undertaken in two related phases. In the first phase, in-depth focus groups were conducted with pupils in Years 5 and 8 in twelve participating schools across England. This was followed by a questionnaire survey of all pupils in Years 5 and 8 in the same schools. In total, 230 pupils participated in the initial focus group stage of the research and 953 pupils participated in the questionnaire survey. Young people's perceptions concerning the relative effectiveness of different options for tackling bullying, and the responses of others (peers, teachers, parents and other adults) to reports of bullying, were discussed. Pupils reported a reluctance to tell adults, particularly teachers, about their experiences of bullying, and this tendency increased with age. Only a third of pupils in Year 8 (31%) reported that they would find talking to a teacher about bullying 'quite easy' or 'very easy', compared with just over half of pupils in Year 5 (51%). Pupils' willingness to tell parents also declined over time. However, the likelihood of telling friends remained consistently high. This suggests that telling friends is perceived as a less risky option by both age groups, but pupils become increasing wary of telling parents and teachers as they get older. Reluctance to tell may be attributable to a variety of factors. Adult responses that were perceived as ineffective, insensitive or excessive were highlighted, as was the influence of peer cultures that discourage 'telling tales' to adults, or other help-seeking behaviours. The implications of the findings for developments in anti-bullying policy and practice are also discussed.

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