Teachers' experiences with student bullying in five rural middle schools

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christiaan Jackson Ramsey (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Mary Herzog

Abstract: Bullying is a common form of school violence, which is a major issue of concern for students, parents, teachers, and administrators across the country. Episodes of school violence beginning in the 1990s have created a national focus on school safety and the problems associated with bullying. Schools across the country are attempting to deal with the problem of student bullying by writing anti-bullying policies, instituting bully-prevention programs, and developing character-education programs. Because teachers spend the most time with and around students, they are often the most familiar with the issues their students face. They have the opportunity to observe bullying as it takes place in schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate teacher experiences with student bullying. Data were collected from interviews with 13 different teachers in 5 rural middle schools. Information from the interviews was divided into three domains: Teachers‘ Experiences with Student Bullying; Interventions; and Professional Development and Participation in the Development of Policy. Interviews revealed a diverse set of teacher experiences with student bullying as told through each teacher‘s story. Several common categories emerged from the data including: (a) dimensions of bullying, (b) discrimination and harassment, (c) adolescent behavior and development, (d) the secrecy of bullying, and (e) teachers‘ perceptions. The second domain included interventions which teachers considered to be effective or ineffective. The following types of interventions emerged from the teacher interviews: (a) observation of student behavior, (b) trusting relationship, (c) counseling students, (e) involving others, (f) and unsure how to handle the situation. The last section listed the types of professional development teachers had been exposed to, and whether or not teachers had participated in the development of anti-bullying policy. Information gathered from the interviews revealed that teachers thought bullying was a serious issue for schools and it was important for them to be able to know and recognize bullying when it happens. Teachers also said that bullying can happen in many forms including physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological. They said socialization and the developmental changes middle school students go through tend to compound bullying. Teachers were divided as to the impact of the rural environment on student bullying but agreed that their schools probably experience less bullying than schools serving more urban or suburban populations. The most frequent intervention teachers discussed was the development of a trusting relationship between teachers and students. Teachers also listed team teaching and character-education programs as effective interventions for dealing with student bullying. The interviews revealed that very few teachers had experienced any sort of professional development in relation to student bullying, and very few had been involved with the development of anti-bullying policy.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Bullying, Middle School, Rural
Bullying in schools -- North Carolina
Bullying in schools -- North Carolina -- Prevention
Middle schools -- North Carolina

Email this document to