‘Tyrannical spaces: young people, bullying and urban neighbourhoods’

Barry Percy-Smith, Hugh Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


We consider the street experiences of a group of urban children living in a large East Midlands town in the UK. Our attention focuses upon an issue that has seldom been examined, neighbourhood bullying. We highlight how some children, through their propinquity within neighbourhood spaces, clash and collide to such an extent that their experiences of a locality become severely blighted. For these unfortunate young people local environments are tyrannical spaces, defined in terms of 'no-go areas', danger and threat. These are not remarkable geographies, however, and we suggest that like many school environments, where bullying has increasingly been recognised and disclosed, within many localities there is a 'hidden' geography of fear waiting to be uncovered. The paper is organised into five parts: first, we briefly examine the concept of bullying, particularly in relation to young people in schools; secondly, we extend these ideas into a neighbourhood context drawing upon recent ideas of 'self', 'other' and microgeographies; thirdly, we outline the research project from which this article emerges; fourthly, we look at some empirical evidence from an urban case study that draws attention to the form and consequences of neighbourhood bullying; lastly, we discuss the relevance of these findings to future policy and practice, particularly in relation to the management of neighbourhood spaces. We propose that systematically applied local strategies to tackle bullying within neighbourhoods are needed, particularly those which engage young people and adults together through a whole community approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-63
Number of pages15
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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