Two of our High School Advocates (Rhian and Andre) were interested in the Action Research that had been carried out with High School Boys.
They wanted to explore attitudes, perceptions and experiences of year 7/8 boys in primary school to identify what they thought about issues and about bullying in general.
Our biannual research had shown a high number of 12 year old boys experiencing physical bullying and we wanted to explore this more.
They held five focus groups in five different Primary schools with 5-8 boys in each group.
Snacks were provided and the sessions were recorded through notes and then a write up created.
The feedback from the boys was again really positive and they were keen to be involved in more focus groups or small group discussions.
"It was great that it felt casual and we could learn more about each other's opinions"
Having High School students facilitate the focus groups with support from our CEO made things feel really comfortable and all boys commented that it 'really helped that you weren't adults'
Boys felt like there was not a clear understanding of what bullying actually is (and isn't).
There was agreement that almost everything gets called bullying, especially if someone is physically hurt.
They thought that the research findings showed high numbers of 12 year olds saying they were physically bullied because many teachers and parents label everything bullying, even when it's not.
"It's like they think if they call it bullying then it is more serious"
Three of the Five schools identified that fighting was a problem at their school.
"Fighting, fronting up and setting up for a scrap are big issues here"
Both of these schools also felt that the school did not do enough to deal with fighting or stop it from happening in the first place.
"If someone got punched the teachers wouldn't really do anything about it except put the one who punched in the corridor for 30 minutes"
"Teachers just make things worse. Whoever gets to the teacher first is telling the 'truth' "
This feeling was echoed by the boys from another school who felt that 'good kids' were more likely to be believed and that teachers 'play favourites'
The other 2 schools thought that verbal bullying and relational aggression were more of an issue than physical bullying.
"Physical bullying isn't as common as verbal stuff, even like threats though. People rage and spread rumours"
Over half of the boys were using some kind of Social Media with the most popular being Instagram.
They thought that mean comments and making fun of other people's photos or videos was really common.
"When you get too many dislikes it hurts you"