Exploring the Bullying Behaviors and Coping Mechanisms in Undergraduates: A Phenomenological Study


  • Sharik Zamir Assistant Professor, Sukkur IBA University, Sindh, PAKISTAN
  • Sumaira Zia M. Phil Scholar, Department of Education, Sukkur IBA University, Pakistan




bullying behavior, coping mechanism, victim, bully, bully-victim, bystander


This qualitative study aimed at investigating the direct or indirect experiences of bullying behavior and coping mechanisms opted by university students during their academic life. The philosophical view of the study comprised constructivist and interpretivist paradigms. The snow-ball technique of purposive sampling criteria was used wherein open-ended survey was distributed to one person who further invited another instance of bullying behavior which ended up with 150 bullying incidents. After a close examination, only 20 incidents were found complete and met the requirement for further investigation. The data were thematically analyzed which yielded five themes: malign and non-malign bullying experiences; perceived bullying behaviors among students; popular forms of bullying; major causes of bullying; functional and non-functional; and coping strategies. Moreover, survived, assisted, rescued, and lost were other bullying behaviors that potential participants narrated. The findings revealed assisted behaviour as the most demanding and preferably exhibited behaviour of the victims. Furthermore, this study identified the functional and non-functional strategies opted by students to mitigate the effects of bullying episodes. Similarly, the functional coping strategies included: help-seeking, avoidance, self-defense, and self-acceptance. Whereas, counterattack, surrender, and quitting were the non-functional coping strategies. Thus, this study contributed in understanding the lived experiences, current circumstances, and needs or desires of bullied students, and help future victims who were saved by their parents and/or teachers, but wanted to change their attitude by educating their kids against this societal challenge. The analysis of the role of parents, teachers, media, and social milieu in promoting bullying behaviors among students could be a future dimension for study.