Students’ Reasons for Why They Were Targeted | Stop Pesten NU


Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Students’ Reasons for Why They Were Targeted


The efficacy of youth violence prevention policies, programs, and practices partly depends on understanding the reasons for why students are targeted for victimization. However, what is known about why some students are targeted for victimization over others is limited to researcher-generated reasons and therefore may risk ecological validity. This study used a qualitative open-coding content analyses to make sense of 8531 students’ open-ended responses about the reasons why they were targeted for victimization at school. Results identified 35 commonly reported reasons, many of which are underrepresented in previous literature. Students primarily reported reasons related to relational dynamics, physical characteristics, non-physical personal characteristics, and characteristics external to themselves. These results portray reasons for being targeted as a social phenomenon with both individual and contextual components. Implications for theory, research, and practitioners are discussed.


Taken as a whole, students’ reported reasons for being targeted for victimization offer more theoretically precise specification about reasons for being targeted for victimization to a literature that has largely used researcher-driven data collection methods. Factors such as voice, politics, dating history, and demeanor, among others are largely underrepresented in the existing researcher-driven literature but were reported by students when they were given freedom to share their experiences about why they were targeted for victimization. This clearer specification is useful for prevention initiatives because it offers issues to focus prevention efforts on those that have not been previously observed, and is useful for improving the efficacy of prevention efforts that partly depend on reflecting the array of reasons that students actually experience rather than limited to those reasons that come from researchers’ perceptions of reasons that students likely experience. This study presents contemporary reasons of why students believe they were targeted for victimized paying particular attention to relaying nuanced facets of individual and contextual complexity in which students understand their experiences. Future research and prevention efforts must address this complexity as it fundamentally orients efforts to better fit more students’ experiences for why they were targeted for victimization.

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