For the past ten years, childhood bullying has been heavily discussed in public discourse, through increased news reporting, discussion in awareness campaigns, and court proceedings. The characterization of bullying in the media is symptomatic of this discourse; moreover, it reflects the social construction of bullying. In particular, news media’s emotional and scientific portrayal of bullying has inspired criminalization of the act and defined bullying as a normative trend of deviant behavior—a marked difference from its previous portrayal as an isolated but treatable act. In this paper, I report the findings from a content analysis of articles from mainstream U.S. news sources on lawsuits regarding bullied children, suicides of bullied children, anti-bullying laws, and peer aggression research and prevention. The articles display narrative tropes that emotionally and didactically implicate the reader, and re-appropriate popular notions of psychology to schematize bullying situations. This research demonstrates that the definition and scope of bullying are largely indebted to the representation in the media and people’s relationship thereto. These processes have important implications for bullying’s effects and treatment.
"The Social Construction of Childhood Bullying Through U.S. News Media,"
Journal of Contemporary Anthropology: Vol. 4
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jca/vol4/iss1/3