A Path to Inclusiveness - How Support Groups Can Help Bullied Children and Provide Valuable Experiences to Their Peers.
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Being bullied is associated with anxiety, depression symptoms, and long-time negative health outcomes. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore bullied children’s experiences with support groups as a tool against bullying and how participating in a group affected the children. The sample consisted of 24 children aged 11-13, four of whom were bullied. Four individual and four focus group interviews were conducted at the children’s schools. A Solution-Focused-Approach (SFA) forms the basis on which support groups as an intervention are built. The interview guide was prepared in line with an exploratory design, the questions were open-ended, contained elements of SFA, and with the purpose of gaining an insight into the participants' own experiences. In the process of analyzing the data Graneheim & Lundman`s (2004) model for qualitative content analysis was used. The main theme identified in this study was that support groups provide an opportunity for change and can help children to be included among peers. The bullied children explained how they found it hard to open up about difficulties but experienced that when they did the situation changed. From feeling alone at school, they were included among peers. The changes were made through challenges, encouragement, and support from peers and the school nurse or social teacher. The children participating in the support groups reported a feeling of being selected to do an important job. The fellowship the groups provided, together with the opportunity to help a peer, made them feel good about themselves. They also experienced that contributing could be challenging and a demanding role to play. Both getting support and being part of a support group contributed to inclusion, strength, and valuable experiences. The findings suggest that a systemic approach to bullying is advantageous, emphasizing the importance school nurses and teachers play in bringing about change.