This cyber-research study involves a qualitative, textual analysis of the first 475 messages (as of December 31st, 2002) and the last 475 messages (as of August 30th, 2006) posted on the Canadian-based anti-bullying Web site, www.bullying.org. The 950 messages—from bullies, bully-victims, victims, bystanders, parents, school personnel, and many others—were categorized and coded in NVivo, a computer software package used in qualitative research. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed, including grounded theory, content analysis, discourse analysis, narrative analysis, and statistical analysis in the SPSS. A number of the “truisms” about school bullying—e.g., that it is more widespread or more virulent today than it was in the past—are challenged through an in-depth examination of 125 narrative accounts of bullying dating back over 20 years ago (some from over 60 years ago). This provides a longitudinal perspective that is invariably missing from contemporary school-based studies. The study adds new insights into the nature and level of violence involved in female bullying, and questions whether female bullying has really changed all that much through the years. It sheds new light on why bully-victims routinely appear in lower numbers in school-based samples than they do in “real life”, by demonstrating that many self-portrayed “victims” actually engage in bullying activities themselves. While the negative consequences of bullying are usually highlighted by researchers, this cyber-research study shows that bullying sometimes has neutral or even positive outcomes. An explanation is also offered for why anti-bullying programs have routinely produced negligible to modest results at best. Although this cyber-research study employed a “grounded theory” approach, the research findings offer new empirical support for explanations of bullying involving theoretical constructs such as social capital, social support, status and stigma (labelling theory) and institutional anomie theory.
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Thesis advisor: Burtch, Brian
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