Social representations on bullying in South African school children.
Daley, Tristan Nickolas.
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Objective: Bullying is a major problem in South African schools that has a profound impact on student’s psychological development, social behaviour and quality of education. Social Representation Theory suggests a form of social knowledge production that allows for a unique exploration of the perceived causes and effects of bullying in South African schools. The present study aimed to understand the relevance of social representational thought on the creation and perpetuation of this social issue from the perspective of primary school students. This approach attempted to understand the way in which school children socially construct ideologies with the purpose of stimulating more effective and focused intervention strategies. Recommendations for further research are provided to compliment the current body of research, as well as focused recommendations to the application of this study with the intention of promoting a higher quality of education in schools, as well as reduce the occurrence of a major crime problem in South Africa. Method: A qualitative methodological orientation was used for the present study in the form of exploratory research. Qualitative data were collected from sixteen participants through the use of focused interviews and analyzed using the framework method of analysis. Results: Four major themes emerged and were discussed: 1) Interview demeanour 2) Understandings of bullying 3) Perceptions of bullies and victims 4) Help-seeking behaviour. Conclusions: The results of the present study provide an exploratory overview of the social representations of bullying by South African primary school students; through their understandings of the causes and effects of bullying and pave the way for further research guided by Social Representation theory.