Death of a school friend – How young people cope and what helps

Finger-Berry, Bianca (2015) Death of a school friend – How young people cope and what helps. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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It is not uncommon for children and young people to experience the death of a friend in their school community. However, current research literature on children's experiences of bereavement tends to focus on death within the child/young person's family and far less is known about their experience and the support they might receive from school following the death of a peer. The purpose of this research is to understand better children's experiences following the death of a friend at school and the support that schools currently offer to young people in this situation. It draws upon the theoretical framework of the New Studies of Childhood, where children are seen as active participants in society, actively shaping their own world. The research is based on a case study approach, and uses semi-structured interviews with four staff and five young people, aged 13 – 21, as well as a visual ethnography of two R.I.P sites relating to the deaths of 2 pupils. Difficulties with gatekeepers and ethical challenges to researching a topic as sensitive as this are a key part of discussions in this thesis. The data was thematically analysed. Staff and young people's views on teaching death and bereavement in the curriculum were explored in the context of the literature and current policy. The study discovered that social networking can serve as a support mechanism for young people. It found evidence of young people experiencing continuing bonds with their deceased friend. Post traumatic growth, valuing life and appreciating positive relationships with friends and family were significant findings. The study contributes to a better understanding of key factors in supporting young people following peer bereavement and identifies positive aspects of long-term impact. It is hoped that schools will consider the findings of this research to inform their practice and provide more effective support to young people bereaved of a friend. It aims to encourage other researchers to engage with children and young people bereaved of a school friend to explore further how schools can help.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2015 15:41
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2015 15:41


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