"I Am Not Scared" Project
Children's Bullying Experiences Expressed Through Drawings and Self-Reports
Eleni Andreou, Fotini Bonoti
School Psychology International - SAGE
Bullying, children, drawing, victimization
1 - 20 pages
The aim of the present study was to investigate children’s perceptions of bullying behaviour and victimization that take place in their schools by using two alternative assessment tools, namely self-reported questionnaires and children’s drawings. Given that many children are reluctant to admit having bullied others or being bullied when directly asked, the use of children’s drawings as a complementary assessment tool was considered as this would permit children to express indirectly through their drawings their perceptions of bullying phenomenon.
The participants of this study were 448 children drawn from the 4th to 6th grade classrooms of ten primary schools in an urban area of central Greece serving a broad cross-section of the community in terms of socioeconomic background. The sample consisted of 206 girls and 242 boys, ranging in age from 9- to 12-years-old. The pupils completed some questionnaires about their role in bullying, and then they were asked to draw a scene of peer victimization taking place in their school and mark themselves in case of participation. The drawings produced were coded according to two different dimensions: “self-depiction” (referring to the particular role the child assigned to her/himself in the drawing scene) and “depiction of different aspects of bullying behavior” (referring to the types of victimization that were represented in the drawn scene).
Two hundred and six out of 448 children depicted themselves in the victimization scene, while 424 children portrayed concrete forms of victimization (physical, verbal or both). The analysis of drawings revealed that children depicted themselves in the roles of victim, bully, defender and outsider but not in assistant or reinforcer role. Also, there were found significant sex differences in children’s drawings. Girls tended to draw themselves in more verbal victimization scenes than boys, while boys tended to draw themselves in more physical aggression and mixed (both physical and verbal) scenes. Finally, the results (consonant with other findings) suggested that boys are more likely to be involved in bullying incidents as bullies or victims, though girls are more likely to be defenders of the victim.
The present study examines the bullying phenomenon from a different aspect than usual, thus it is very interesting and noteworthy.
The introduction of the papers consists of the theoretical framework established by previous researches about bullying. As stated, most studies investigating bully/victim problems rely on anonymous self-reports to identify bullies, victims, and outsiders. Yet some bullies do not admit or even realize that their actions are harmful, or they may over-report with pride their quickness to retaliate or under-report, if they realize others might blame them. Victims also misperceive or misreport, perhaps to justify, or deny their situation. Data from teachers can also be misleading, since teachers identify some victims who do not identify themselves, and because (as stated in most studies) children avoid sharing their experiences with them. Therefore, the best approach seems to be a ‘multi-method, which is the aim of the present research.
More specifically, given that many children are reluctant to admit to bullying others or being bullied when directly asked, the use of children’s drawings as a complementary assessment tool was considered as this would permit children to express indirectly through their drawings their perceptions of bullying phenomenon. The methods followed to collect the information needed are fully described in the paper and the statistical analysis is presented as well. Although the results do not support the assumption that drawing is fully associated with established self-report measures of bully/victim behaviours, they do reveal some interesting associations especially related to gender differences (cited in the previous section). Also, some findings suggest that the children’s drawings are likely to be influenced more by stereotypes than by reality, as well as by their drawing competence.
Despite the above, a possible benefit of using children’s drawings as an additional methodological tool to assess bullying experiences is that it can give us useful information for preschool-aged children, in an attempt to stop the phenomenon before it starts.
I Am Not Scared Project
Copyright 2017 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission