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Education Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 258181, 15 pages
Research Article

Third Graders' Perceptions on Moral Behaviour on Bullying If They Had the Infinite Powers of Superhero Defenders

Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, 00180 Helsinki, Finland

Received 26 February 2012; Revised 17 May 2012; Accepted 27 May 2012

Academic Editor: Kirsi Tirri

Copyright © 2012 Juha Johansson and Markku S. Hannula. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bullying is a serious moral concern affecting the victim's welfare and achievement in school. Lately, research on bullying phenomenon has led to successful procedures in which passive bystanders are asked to become defenders of the victims of bullying. This case study explores children's perceptions on moral behaviour on bullying and, moreover, what type of moral voice they would express if they had the infinite powers and means of superhero defenders. Children created masks, posters, and flags for ideal superheroes and described their personalities. In addition, they drew comic strips about the skills they wish to teach new hero students in superhero school. The results indicate that children's moral voices can be divided primarily into justice and care. In addition, some expressed also the dark voice of the vigilante. Findings suggest that superheroes offer one tool for educators and children to ponder about the role of defenders for the victims of bullying. The topic focuses on the core of school life, relationships between pupils, and their moral development. Sixteen third grade children (aged 9-10) from a primary school in Finland took part in the study. The results for two of the children are presented in detail as the basis for discussion.