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Youth, violence and vulnerability. A study of adolescents' experiences of harassment and other violations in the school environment

Research project
Active research
Project size
2 200 000
Project period
2017 - 2020
Project owner
Department of education, communication and learning

Financier
The Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority

Short description

The study is based on interviews with students in ninth grade and was conducted in six classes at four different schools. The schools represent different parts of the Swedish school reality, in that they are located in the countryside, in a working environment and in an urban suburb. Based on the students' stories, three main themes related to threats and violence in the school day have been identified. In order to create security at school, the importance of trusting relationships and committed adults is highlighted as essential. The adults that the students have known for a long time and with whom they have an established relationship are described as important persons. It is also to these adults that they turn if they have any kind of problem.

About the project

The school environment is the place in society where young people face by far the greatest risk of falling victim to harassment and violence. It is relatively common that children and adolescents face threats of violence both at and near their schools. Research shows that harassment and intimidation in the school environment rarely lead to the filing of formal reports or practical interventions. Studies also show that harassment and threats often have a negative effect on the psychosocial health of children and adolescents. However, we know very little about young people’s own experiences in this area.

Against this background, the study aims to explore adolescents’ strategies to handle situations in which they or peers fall victim to various forms of violence in the school environment. Another objective is to examine the strategies adolescents use to receive support and assistance from the school in cases of violence, their experiences of receiving support in said situations and what type of support they want from the school. The relationship between this information and aspects such as gender, class and ethnicity is also investigated.

The study is based on observations from school council meetings and focus group/individual interviews with 9th graders. By assessing and bringing attention to personal accounts of physical violence and other violations in the school environment, the project aims to generate new knowledge about how schools can handle and support children and adolescents when it comes to these types of issues.

Project members

Ylva Odenbring, associate professor and project leader
Department of education, communication and learning

Thomas Johansson, professor
Department of education, communication and learning