Arts-based method to detect school bullying

May 18, 2020

Co-authors Daria Hanolainen and Elena Semenova created and tested an experimental method of graphical vignettes - a set of incomplete comic strips which kids are asked to complete using their own creative vision. The paper discusses possible applications for the method.

To assess potential bullying episodes, the researchers tried to represent the most widespread types of bullying in graphical form.

13 girls and 6 boys aged 15 - 16 were asked to pass the comic strip test; thus, bullying could be studied as a group phenomenon.

Each of the respondents was given a set of four vignettes and asked to complete them in 20 minutes. They could write or draw whatever they wished. In the interview, the researchers avoided the term "bullying" and some associated words of Russian language to give the young people the freedom to assess the school atmosphere without loaded questions.

This new methodology adds to the existing number of instruments to research sensitive topics. The results show that graphical vignettes indeed provide an outlet for schoolchildren to formulate what's important for them personally.

The co-authors note, "We made an effort to make this experiment friendly for the kids and to explain to them who we are and what we do as scientists, while emphasizing how important their contribution is for us. Seeing the transparency of our approach and the value of our work, they showed readiness to cooperate. Thanks to their creative work with vignettes, the teenagers could relay important opinions. Some kids emphasized their inability to speak with teachers or adults about aggressors in their classes because of the fear to be misunderstood and to trigger an escalation of bullying."

The authors conclude that kids can openly discuss their problems and traumatic experiences with the use of the proposed methodology. Peer reviews note the uniqueness of their work.

This research will be presented during the forthcoming International Forum on Teacher Education at Kazan Federal University (27th May - 9th June 2020).

Kazan Federal University

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