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Graphic Vignettes

A New Arts-Based Research Method to Detect Bullying

This new arts-based method is designed to detect bullying by encouraging people to start difficult conversations. Graphic vignettes look like unfinished comic strips which school children and teachers complete in a creative way sharing personal stories. Art-making helps participants feel safe to face and work through negative emotions and unpleasant memories.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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Target group
June 2020

About the innovation

Developing a new method to detect bullying

What we do?

When designing graphic vignettes we analysed the most common types of school bullying situations and presented them as simple graphic episodes that formed the basis of the vignettes. Each participant worked with the set of vignettes individually for 20 minutes. They could write and draw anything in order to create their own unique stories. Following this creative work participants were then invited for an in-depth interview. Most participants easily went back and forth from discussing the vignettes’ characters and abstract ideas to revealing deeply personal experiences and feelings. With the help of graphic vignettes participants were able to share real bullying situations that took place in their schools, discussing their nature and how students and teachers dealt with them.

Graphic vignettes proved to be a useful tool for comparative research highlighting how differently bullying can be understood and perceived by different people. In view of this, the new method could make a particularly valuable contribution to cross-cultural and international research. So far, graphic vignettes have been successfully piloted in Russia and Switzerland.

Why we do it?

Even though bullying is a perennial problem, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of it. Moreover, numerous intervention programs yield only modest results. This could be related to the fact that spotting and addressing bullying presents a serious challenge, as school children often avoid reporting cases of bulling due to the fear of retaliation and further escalation of peer aggression against them.

The sensitive nature of the issue prompted us to develop and test a new creative method. Arts-based research methodologies were born out of psychological therapy and counseling, which makes them powerful tools in sensitive research, as they help participants feel safe to face and work through negative emotions, unpleasant memories, and even trauma. Creative activities facilitate the exploration of non-linguistic dimensions, expression of the unsayable, and the uncovering of new layers of meaning. Having this in mind, we decided to create a new method that would facilitates creative reflection helping participants not only with locating deep-seated thoughts and realizing unexpressed feelings but also with articulating them.

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