UBC Theses and Dissertations
Do teacher responses to peer victimization differ based on victim emotional and bahvioural problems? Lee, Matthew
Peer victimization is a socio-ecological phenomenon that impacts the victim, perpetrator(s), and bystanders. Most bullying occurs at school, where teachers play a vital role in responding when it occurs. Youth with emotional or behavioural problems, who are already at risk for peer relationship problems, are more likely to be victims of bullying than their typically developing schoolmates. The present study is an investigation of how teachers perceive and respond to youth frequently targeted for victimization: those who display emotional and behavioural problems. A between-group experiment was carried out with a sample of 289 teachers of grades 1 through 7. Teachers watched one of six videos depicting either a male or female student who displayed either externalizing, internalizing, or typical student behaviours and then is verbally and socially abused by peers, the most common form of bullying experienced by students (e.g., Hymel, 2021). Teachers then reported on their perceptions of what occurred and how they would respond to the bullying. Teachers reported high intentions to intervene across experimental conditions, with greater likelihood of intervening indirectly (e.g.,consulting staff, referring to counsellor) with victims who displayed externalizing and internalizing behaviour than those displaying typical student behaviour. Teachers reported less sympathy and more responsibility for being bullied for students who displayed impulsive/defiant (externalizing) behaviours. Teachers also reported greater likelihood of reprimanding victims and empathizing with bullies, and less intention to refer bullies to administrators in scenarios with externalizing victims than either internalizing or typical victims. Results highlight the high salience and vulnerability of students to differential treatment from teachers in the case of peer bullying. Findings are discussed in relation to implications for children at risk of peer victimization and teacher training initiatives.
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