University of Oulu

Understanding young adults’ perception of their childhood bullying and victimization : a phenomenological research

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Author: Wen, Huifang1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : H. Wen, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-05-16
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Reviewer: Järvelä, Maria-Liisa
Räsänen, Rauni
Childhood bullying, and victimization is a worldwide issue in the field of education. We now through research that bullying has longitudinal negative influences upon former victims’ psychological, physical, and economic circumstances decades after the incidence of childhood bullying. However, not enough studies have been conducted to address these longitudinal unfair experiences, including the study of the underlying reasons of its longitudinal continuity upon victims and trans-generational potential through social cognitive theory. Neither has there been enough research focusing on the victims’ perspective, to explore their current cognition of childhood bullying experiences and to find proper guidance and treatment for their PTSD symptoms. Different from previous quantitative studies which reveal the longitudinal psychological consequences correlating their childhood bullying suffering through specific variables, this qualitative research is aimed at giving victims a voice regarding their individual experiences and present a holistic picture of how individuals experienced bullying in childhood and furthermore exploring how can victims empower and heal themselves through cognitive restructuring. Phenomenology is employed to explore and present the subjective reality of their lived experiences. This study examined 7 young adults, aged between 26–30 years, who presently study in the University of Oulu and shared the experience of bullying in childhood. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with snow-ball sampling method was utilized to search for participants accurately and reliably. Despite the different cultural backgrounds, all research participants demonstrated similar types of experiences with comparable symptoms. In my research, bullying victimization is found as a dynamic and reciprocal process during which the victims internalize and reinforce the distorted cognition and automatic thoughts and become emotionally consumed, psychologically tormented, and physically paralyzed to fight back. The mechanism of re-victimization may lie in the continuity of the internalized incorrect cognitions. In this research moral dilemma, Stockholm syndrome, and societal convention that bullying equals “competitive selection” were discussed for future research. Social cognitive theory is applied to analyze the data, while cognitive behavior therapy is recommended to restructure the former victims’ automatic thoughts and distorted cognitions. This research may contribute to academic discussion on the cross-contextual and trans-generational continuity of bullying re-victimization and bullying intervention program.
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