Bullying of Individuals with Disabilities on a College Campus: A Qualitative Investigation Open Access
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Bullying of Individuals with Disabilities on a College Campus: A Qualitative StudyThe goal of this qualitative study was to understand how individuals with disabilities on a college campus experience bullying in a large, Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The research consisted of a pilot study of two participants and the main study that comprised of seven participants. All of the participants had documented disabilities at their college. The participants were asked to partake in three, semi-structured interviews that lasted between10-60 minutes. The interviewees discussed past experiences of bullying in elementary and secondary schools, present experiences of bullying at college and how they implemented coping behaviors, and how the bullying experiences influenced future relationships. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed through inductive and deductive coding techniques. The study's results indicated that all of the participants experienced bullying in elementary or secondary schools, and also in college. While all of the participants experienced bullying in college, only five participants experienced bullying directly relating to their disabilities. Both the past and present experiences of bullying influenced how the participants' interacted within the culture of college, specifically in peer relationships and school related activities. These peer relationships provided participants with opportunities to cope with the bullying that was experienced at college, and also provided an opportunity to feel safe in specific environments. If the participants did not feel safe in any environments, they would implement coping behaviors learned from elementary and secondary school environments to cope with the bullying event. These findings address a need to further understand ways in which minorities, specifically individuals with disabilities, experience bullying at college. There is a need for colleges to begin to create and implement bullying prevention policies that are appropriate for their respective institutions. Finally, there is a need for student support services to work together to encourage students to report bullying in safe, anonymous manner that provides an opportunity to cope with the aggressive event.