Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Beabout, Brian

Second Advisor

Broadhurst, Christopher

Third Advisor

Flowers, Alonzo

Fourth Advisor

Matthews, JoAnn


Though many studies have been conducted on bullying and ways to prevent it, there is still little evidence that bullying has been reduced (Bauman, 2008). Since bullying behaviors have become prevalent, incidences of negative outcomes for students who are bullies and victims have increased, hence more discussion of the topic is taking place at school, home, and in the media (Bauman, 2008; Kaiser & Raminsky, 2001; Salmon, James, & Smith, 1998). This study proposes to learn how students make sense of these multiple messages. Through an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith & Osborn, 2003), 8-10 year old students were interviewed through semi-structured interviews, in addition to student drawings and elaborations from the draw-and write-technique (Williams, Wetton, & Moon, 1989). These methods were used to explore student bullying experiences and the process in which they make sense of the education provided to them. The study is framed through Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 1994) ecological systems theory considering the multiple influences that individuals face through systems and their interactions. Data from the semi-structured interviews and the draw-and-write technique were analyzed through coding according to IPA guidelines, compared, and converged. Results showed that students confuse conflict with bullying, and receive conflicting messages about how bullying should be handled. Students are confused by what is the best reaction to a bullying situation due to conflicting messages from school and home, and the possibility of disappointment or trouble if they do not follow suggestions from one or the other. The media had minimal influence on children of this age in regards to bullying.


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