SA Journal of Education, Volume 38, Supplement 1, October 2018

The geographies of bullying in a secondary school context

Hamilton Ndati Sikhakhane, Nithi Muthukrishna, Melanie Martin


This study, undertaken at a secondary school in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, sought to research bullying – a phenomenon seen globally as a major social problem that has a serious impact on the wellbeing of children and the youth. Participants were eight Grade 10 learners, 4 male and 4 female. The research tradition was a narrative inquiry as the aim was to foreground the participants’ stories of the places and spaces of bullying at the school. Data generation involved individual and focus group interviews. Data was analysed using thematic content analysis guided by theoretical concepts from New Childhood Studies and Children’s Geographies. The findings indicate that bullying is a serious problem at the school and has a negative impact on the wellbeing of children. Children emerged as social actors who were able to provide insight into the kinds of bullying they experienced and how they constructed ‘bullying’ as a phenomenon. The study was able to capture the reality of the children’s experiences of the complex power-laden spaces and places of bullying at the school. The study shows that bullying is situated in a context and an in-depth analysis of context is necessary to capture the intricacies of the phenomenon.

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