Safe spaces? A social-ecological perspective on student perceptions of safety in the environment of the school canteen
This article presents the results of research of the spaces of school canteen. The investigation suggests that negative peer interactions
that compromise student safety and wellbeing often occur in spaces at school that are not easily visible, not adequately monitored, overcrowded and/or relatively unstructured. In a large online survey conducted in Swedish schools, a small proportion of students indicated that they felt unsafe in the school canteen. As the canteen is often reported to be a space where negative peer interactions, such as harassment, bullying and other forms of school violence, occur, but little is known about why negative peer interactions occur there, the authors were particularly interested in exploring why some students perceived their school canteen to be an unsafe space. Taking a social-ecological perspective, the team of researchers tries to investigate why students reported feeling unsafe in the environment of the school canteen. All in all 1,547 responses from students in Swedish schools in grades 3–6 (ages 9–12) were analysed. The analysis identified four key themes: Space constraints, Time restrictions, The risk of social blunders and The negative actions of others. In matters of student safety and wellbeing, the authors argue that it is not only important to consider the social context, but also how that context is interconnected with environmental and structural elements.
Paul Horton currently works at the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning (IBL), Linköping University. His main research interests are school bullying, schooling, power relations, gender, and sexuality. His current research focus is on understanding how school bullying is related to the social, institutional, cultural, and historical contexts within which it occurs.
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