Gifted Children's Communication about Bullying: Understanding the Experience
Jumper, Rachel Leah
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The purpose of this study was to examine gifted middle school children's communication about bullying. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, differences between gifted and non-gifted children regarding amount and type of bullying experienced were examined, as well as specifically exploring gifted children's communication about bullying. A total of 344 students, 145 boys and 199 girls, participated in the quantitative survey. These children completed The Olweus Revised Bully/Victim Scale. Children completing the survey were asked questions regarding the types, amounts, locations, and disclosure of bullying. These responses were analyzed through chi-square tests and analysis of variance. A total of 26 gifted children, 13 boys and 13 girls, participated in the focus group/interview. These children were asked to answer questions regarding what bullying consists of when it occurs, who it happens to, and who they talk to about bullying. The data from the focus groups was transcribed and a grounded approach was used to discover themes. Quantitative analysis revealed that gifted children reported higher rates of weekly bullying than other children. Gifted children reported experiencing higher amounts of name calling than other children, but there are no other differences regarding different forms of bullying. Gifted children were not more likely to tell adults about bullying, but were more likely to disclose bullying to peers than other children. Finally, it was found that children having at least one good friend were less likely to be bullied. Qualitative results led to the emergence of several themes discussed by gifted children. Gifted children reported on the complexities of bullying, the importance of adults in preventing the occurrence of bullying, the likelihood of people who are "different" being bullied, and the internal sadness of bullies. Additionally, trust emerged as an important theme for telling others about bullying. Parents, teachers, and friends were all seen as possible avenues for disclosure, but each had advantages and disadvantages. Results highlight the importance of recognizing gifted children as particularly vulnerable to bullying. Additionally, the present study reveals the importance of adults in preventing bullying, as well as the critical role peers can play in buffering the effects of bullying.