05 SES 09, Bullying, School Drop-out, and Addiction
Education has become increasingly important for young people trying to establish a place in society. To complete school, and not drop out, has become one of the conditions to succeed in Norway as well as in the rest of the western world. Despite efforts the number of dropouts have been quite stable over the last ten years. Most studies view school dropout primarily as a consequence of individual or structural problems that marginalise young people. According to Rumberger (2011), those who drop out are part of a social group of marginalised youth defined by “an array of factors”. Others like Fine (1991) and Brown and Rodriguez (2009) emphasise the interactions between the individual student and their surroundings.
We follow up the findings in Bunting & Moshuus (2017a, b) about dropout in upper secondary school in Norway, seen from the youth’s perspective. The data showed that the reasons for dropping out was complex processes from an early age, and a lot of the youths mentioned bullying as one of these factors. Our research question is: What do young people tell us about being bullied at school, in the process of dropping out?
According to Dan Olweus (1997) a person is bullied when being repeatedly over time subjected to negative actions (Olweus, 1997). This established an understanding that bullying is about, somebody injuring someone else either mentally or physically, the action is intentional, the action is repeated over time, and there is imbalance in the power relationship. Roles are often assigned as bully and victim, and explanations and actions are directed primarily to the individual participant(s). Schott and Søndergaard (2014:13) has a different approach, emphasizing the importance of complex social processes in understanding bullying. They underline that the “old” understanding often minimize the contextual aspects and the adult's responsibility for the organization of an inclusive learning environment often get reduced, and find that to see bullying as a part of complex social processes where adults are responsible and the importance of belonging to and in a community is the central. In this way bullying is part of a socially mediated process where the exclusion is extreme, regardless whether it was intended/experienced or not. Bullying is then seen a social phenomenon that occurs between people and affects human social needs. When the focus shifts from individual aggression as a trait to contextual factors, such as childhood upbringing in home, daycare, school and leisure, it will creates opportunities to identify contextual challenges and sustaining factors that frame the bullying process. The child's individual differences are still part of the social processes, but the main focus is on action, and change directed at the relational processes and contextual factors (Kofoed & Søndergaard, 2009). International research emphasize the effect bullying has on young people's health and quality of life. Nearly 50% of adults who sought help at a psychiatric clinic, had been bullied in school. The worse the bullying the more serious the anxiety and depression (Fosse 2006). Bullying is a risk factor for mental health problems (Arseneault, Walsch, Trzesniewski, Newcombe, Caspi & Moffit, 2006). This means that where bullying occurs, health will deteriorate and the experience to «coping with life» get bad conditions.
The project use longitudinal method and indirect qualitative approach, following 70 youth from 2013-2023. The interviews are conducted in a way that resemble ethnographic fieldwork collecting an in-depth knowledge of the individual life stories. The method is based on narrative theory and hermeneutics, where every interview is treated as participant observations (Moshuus & Eide, 2016), used when the informants do not share the same context and where these different contexts make up contested ground (Bourgois, 1998). Of the recruited youth from Telemark County in risk positions, one half of the group is at risk of experiencing drop out, while the other half already dropped out of school. The selection of youth is described as having “a vulnerable position” defined here as in-risk positions for workfare measures. Workfare is defined by the Regional Welfare State Measures (NAV services, Education system measures) based on the assumption that being outside the labour market is negative for the individual and harmful for society as whole. All the youth recruited for this study come from the Grenland Region. All belonged, when starting their schooling, the risk-group for experiencing drop out situations, abandoning the education. Following the findings in national out-come research on youth in the transition from education to labour market, we have singled out and recruited youth attending particular vocational training programs (Markussen 2012). Approx. half the recruited group of youth have already dropped out of school when the research project made contact. The youth in this article are those that have volunteered stories about bullying, coming from both the groups. To get a rich and complex description of these individual experiences we have the young people several times over the last five years, and we employ interview methods that resemble ethnographic fieldwork. The study is conducted making use of a qualitative interview method based on narrative theory (Mattingly & Garro 2000) and hermeneutics (Geertz 1973, 1983) where every interview is treated as participant observations.
The purpose of the article is to voice the young people’s perspective of bullying, both being explicitly described and as underlying stories of exclusion and marginalization. So far the findings are that many of the use experiencing difficulties or dropping out of upper secondary school has or are still experiencing bullying. Some of them describe situations as far back as primary school. Another aspect of the young people’s stories are also the lack of relationships with teachers friends and sometimes also family. Descriptions of belonging or being part of the local community is lacking. Most of them have parents little or no education, some of the young people are struggling with mental issues or substances. This article tries to give the stories behind the bullying and drop-out, from the young people perspective and through their expressed lifestories. Schools have for many years worked with bullying, and national programs have been implemented. Their stories reveal also the lack of help against being bullied, or that the help actually in their opinion worsen the situation. As one young man explained, it was when the bullying was becoming physical that the teachers reacted. From their stories, it can seem like the schools have not taken their problems seriously enough, or have not taken measures that have had the impact as intended.
Arseneault, L., Walsch, E., Trzesniewski, K., Newcombe, R., Caspi, A. & Moffitt, T. (2006). "Bullying victimization uniquely contributes to adjustment problems in young children: a nationally representative cohort study." Pediatrics 118(1), 130-138. Bourgois, P. (1998). The moral economies of homeless heroin addicts:confronting ethnography, HIV risk, and everyday violence in San Francisco shooting encampments. Substance use & misuse 33.1: 2323-2351. Brown, T. M. & Rodriguez, L. F. (2009). School and the co-construction of dropout. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 22(2), 221–242. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09518390802005570 Bunting, M. & Moshuus, G. (2017). Young peoples’ own stories about dropping out in Norway: An indirect qualitative approach. I: Acta Didactica Norge. Vol. 11, Nr. 2, Art. 3. https://www.journals.uio.no/index.php/adno/article/view/3182 Bunting, M. & Moshuus, G. (2017). Framing Narratives: Youth and Schooling, Silencing and Dissent. I: Studia Paedagogica. vol. 21, n. 4, 2016. http://www.phil.muni.cz/journals/index.php/studia-paedagogica/article/view/1569/1831 Bunting, M., Halvorsen, T. og Moshuus, G. (2017). Three Types of Tightrope Dance in the Comeback Process Preliminary Findings from a Longitudinal Study of... In: International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET). Vol. 4, Issue 2, August 2017, 146-163. Fine, M. (1991). Framing dropouts. Notes on the politics of an urban public high school. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Kooed, J. & Søndergaard, D. M. (2009). Mobning gentænkt. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag. Moshuus, G. H & Eide, K. (2016). The Indirect Approach: How to Discover Context When Studying Marginal Youth. In: International journal of qualitative methods, vol.15, nr.1, s.1-10 Olweus, D. (1997). Mobbing i skolen : hva vi vet og hva vi kan gjøre. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Rumberger, R. W. (2011). Dropping out. Why students drop out of high school and what can be done about it. London: Harvard University Press. Schott, R. M. & Søndergaard, D. M. (2014). School bullying: New theories in context: Cambridge University Press. Ttofi, M. M., Farrington, D. P., Lösel, F. & Loeber, R. (2011). The predictive efficiency of school bullying versus later offending: A systematic/meta‐analytic review of longitudinal studies. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 21(2), 80-89.
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