A Systematic Review of Research Strategies Used in Qualitative Studies on School Bullying and Victimization

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2017 Jan;18(1):3-16. doi: 10.1177/1524838015588502. Epub 2015 Jun 19.


School bullying and victimization are serious social problems in schools. Most empirical studies on bullying and peer victimization are quantitative and examine the prevalence of bullying, associated risk and protective factors, and negative outcomes. Conversely, there is limited qualitative research on the experiences of children and adolescents related to school bullying and victimization. We review qualitative research on school bullying and victimization published between 2004 and 2014. Twenty-four empirical research studies using qualitative methods were reviewed. We organize the findings from these studies into (1) emic, (2) context specific, (3) iterative, (4) power relations, and (5) naturalistic inquiry. We find that qualitative researchers have focused on elaborating on and explicating the experiences of bully perpetrators, victims, and bystanders in their own words. Directions for research and practice are also discussed.

Keywords: bullying; children; peer victimization; qualitative research; school.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bullying*
  • Child
  • Crime Victims*
  • Empirical Research*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult