Assessing bullying behaviour of school students through the use of art.

Year: 2001

Author: Betlem, Elisabeth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Bullying behaviour is a pervasive and insidious activity affecting 5% to 18% (Besag, 1989; Rigby and Slee, 1993) of school students reaching their full educational potential. Traditionally studies investigating bullying behaviour have focused on the use of pen and paper tests to identify the 'when', 'where', 'how' and 'how often' bullying behaviour occurs (Bjorkjvist, 1995; Branwaite, 1994, Rigby and Slee 1993). The author proposes an alternative strategy; an art based activity to identify bullying and victim behaviours amongst adolescents in the school years. A Social Constructionist model is deployed to interrogate the conventional use of language in typical pen and paper questionnaires. It will be argued that an analysis of the discourse underlying the questionnaires reveals the limitations of students' self-reporting of direct and indirect bullying. This paper goes onto to argue that art as a non-language dependent means of communication opens up an alternative to the traditional assessment instruments which aim to identify overt bullying behaviour after the event. This project does not aim to develop a new psychology test, but rather to test the usefulness of an art based mechanism to identify students at risk of bullying and victim behaviours.