This exploratory study adopts a socio-ecological approach to examine the context of school bullying. It asks: (1) what are students' accounts of bullying practices?; (2) how are these enabled and constrained by the school-environment?; (3) how is gender implicated? Qualitative data were collected from girls in two schools in London via focus groups (one in each school; students aged 12-15) and seven semi-structured interviews (in one school; students aged 16-18); and from school policy documents. Our interpretation of girls' accounts, informed by Giddens' structuration theory, suggests that bullying practices were spatially patterned in the schools and often characterised by the regulation of girls' sexuality and sexual-harassment. Repeated acts of aggression were fluid with regard to the bully and victim role, challenging the dominant view of bullying as characterised by consistent disparities in power between individuals. Schools structured bullying behaviour via policies and practices that ignored these forms of abuse and which focused on and may have been complicit in the making of stable 'bully' and 'victim' roles, thus indirectly contributing to the reproduction of unhealthy relationships between students. In terms of gender, traditional gendered and sexual discourses appear to structure the identities of the schools and girls in our study
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