Learners’ constructions of bullying in a South African school context
Hlophe, Zibeleni L.
Morojele, Pholoho J.
Motsa, Ncamsile D.
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Drawing on social constructionism as a theoretical paradigm, this article foregrounds learners’ voices to depict the profiles of bullies and bullying victims within a cultural context of one coeducational secondary school in Hammarsdale in South Africa. The article uses qualitative data from semi-structured individual and focus group interviews as well as a participatory mapping exercise based on a narrative study of six purposefully sampled Grade 9 learners, aged between 13 and 16 years. The findings denote learners’ social identities such as gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, stature and complexion as critical determinants in the incitement and formation of bully–victim relations. The complex forms, causes and spaces of bullying are highlighted to denote its pervasiveness and the extent of the school’s illpreparedness to effectively respond to bullying incidents. The study recommends education policy and practice reformists foreground learners’ understanding and experiences of bullying as a basis for enhancing social inclusiveness, tolerance and safe schooling environments, for enhanced equitable quality of learning experiences for all the learners.