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Want soms zijn kinderen gewoon de experts: Een participatief onderzoek naar het perspectief van 11- en 12-jarigen op het verschijnsel cyberpesten en naar manieren om het verschijnsel terug te dringen

Baas, Niels (2010) Want soms zijn kinderen gewoon de experts: Een participatief onderzoek naar het perspectief van 11- en 12-jarigen op het verschijnsel cyberpesten en naar manieren om het verschijnsel terug te dringen.

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Abstract:Cyberbullying is an emerging problem, mainly present among children. Although our knowledge about cyberbullying is still growing, most of this knowledge is not created by children themselves. A missed chance, because children are probably the only real experts who can teach us more about the phenomenon. For this reason, the main purpose of our research project was to give children, aged 11 and 12, a voice about cyberbullying and about ways to deal with the problem. To give the children a real chance to participate in the project, we made use of a relatively new method called participatory research. An approach focused on the active participation of children in as many phases of a research project as possible. The second purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of this approach in the specific context of this project. For six weeks, four groups, with a total of twenty eight children, aged 11 and 12 participated in the project, in which they tried to find as much information as possible about cyberbullying and about ways to deal with the problem. Between the meetings the children were sent home with some tasks to prepare them for the next meeting. The groups, consisting of seven children per group and the researcher met once a week to discuss a particular aspect of cyberbullying. During the meetings the children were perceived as the experts who could teach the researcher and each other more about cyberbullying. For the evaluation of the usefulness of the participatory approach, two instruments were used. The first was a journal which the researcher filled in after every meeting. The second was an evaluation questionaire aimed at measuring the children’s opinions about the research project. The children completed the questionnaire in the last meeting. An important outcome was that the terminology used in the literature, with terms like “masquerade”, “flaming”, but also “cyberbullying” was not clear enough. The children preferred to speak in terms like “online bullying”, or to define particular actions like “hacking” and “name calling”. When speaking in this terminology with the children we found that as much as one in two children was or had been a victim of online bullying. Anonimity seems to be one of the most important aspects that children use for defining a boundary between cyberbullying and traditional forms of bullying. The boundary between online bullying and online teasing rests on the principle of the perpetrator’s intention and not so much on impact on a victim. For this reason we argue that possibly cyberbulies are not aware of the damage they create. A notable findind is that more and more victims of cyberbullying are themselves blamed by their peers for the fact that they are a victim. After all it was the victim himself/herself who put the strange picture or the weird profile text online. This is a wrong assumption that has to be stopped. Another development that has to be stopped is the fact that children start to respect the traditional bully because of the “coward” image of the cyberbully. Adults who want to help a victim are advised not to take direct action, but to seriously listen to the victim, to support the victim and to involve the victim in every decision that affects him/her. It is not the knowledge about the Internet or about cyberbullying that children find most important. It is dialogue and deliberation that the children want and need. Finally the children made clear that they want to be involved in the battle against cyberbullying. They want to start action groups or have meetings (like the ones in this project). A finding which can only be supported, because it can lead to better interventions, higher involvement of children and a “cyberbullying is not done” climate. The participatory approach with children appeared to be succesful. One sign for this conclusion was the fact that the children were very content about the project and even wanted to launch new projects themselves. Although the children were a little bit disappointed about the fact that they could not choose the research subject, they found the subject relevant enough and were content about the level of involvement and the way they had opportunities to participate. A positive outcome was that the attitude of children about cyberbullying became more negative as the project progressed. For example, the children started to say things like “cyberbullying is bad and should be stopped” and they created anti-cyberbullying logos and videos. The children also declared that they would not be a cyberbully in the future and would assist a victim in the need of help. Finally the children stated that they had learnt a lot about cyberbullying and about ways to deal with the problem. Researchers who consider participative research with children are advised to apply a playful approach, with graphically attractive instruments. They should also give the children as much freedom and responsibilities as possible. It is also advised to give the children some tasks after every meeting which can help them prepare for the next meeting. The fact that children can consult classmates for completing the tasks can also increase their perception of responsibility. Finally the rule applied in this research called the “No Names Rule” appeared to be a succes. The children were told to make personal stories unpersonal, by replacing the real names with fictional names. An approach that seemed like a game and was therefore liked.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/60429
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