Forgiveness among college students with past bullying victimization experiences
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Current literature has highlighted the positive associations between forgiveness and mental health, and the negative associations between childhood bullying victimization experiences and individuals’ psychological functioning. However, little is known about the how students with childhood bullying victimization experiences understand forgiveness, or the relationship between forgiveness and students’ college experience and mental health. In this study, 15 senior year college students from a Northeastern university who reported bullying victimization experiences prior to college participated in semi-structured interviews and described their past bullying victimization, their college experience as well as their perspectives on forgiveness. Analysis of the interviews identified (a) the negative impact of bullying victimization; (b) forgiveness as a coping strategy; (c) forgiveness as a situational construct, as well as key facilitators of forgiveness among college students reporting past bullying victimization experiences. A model of forgiveness among college students with past bullying victimization experiences is proposed, and implications of these findings for theory, research, and practice are discussed.