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Teacher’s responses to student bullying Cholewka, Sheena Marie

Abstract

This study investigated teachers’ responses to student bullying. Of specific interest was whether or not teachers’ responses to student bullying varied according to the type of bullying, the nature of the power differential between the students involved, teacher gender, and student gender. With a fully crossed repeated measures design, secondary school teachers’ reactions (N = 133) were assessed on the same dependent variables repeatedly across six unique hypothetical bullying vignettes that varied in terms of the type of bullying (physical, verbal, and social), perpetrated by same sex peers (either female or male students) who exhibited different types of power advantages over the victimized student (physical or social). For each vignette, teachers were asked to describe their perceptions of the seriousness of the behavior, their identification of incident as bullying, their judgments of an existing rule or policy regarding such behavior, the acceptability of bullying in the absence of a rule or policy, the likelihood of intervention, and their proposed responses. Results indicated that the type of bullying involved-physical, social, verbal-was critical in determining teachers’ responses to bullying. Generally, teachers were more responsive to verbal bullying than physical bullying and, in turn, more responsive to physical bullying than social bullying. In particular, verbal bullying was more likely to be perceived as serious, more likely to considered for intervention, and more likely to be reported or deferred to others, especially relative to social bullying. The discussion of the major findings considers implications for educational practice and research.

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