Most high school teachers are bullied by their pupils
Half of the bullying took place in the classroom
Bullying is rife in schools, and in more ways than you might think.
A survey at five Tshwane secondary schools found that most teachers reported being bullied by pupils.
And those who were victims of bullies were also more likely to be suffering from anxiety and depression.
Psychologists at the University of Pretoria devised a questionnaire that was completed by 153 teachers — most of them women.
“A high percentage of teachers reported various forms of verbal and physical bullying,” Marit Helen Woudstrea, Estie Janse van Rensburg and Maretha Visser reported in the South African Journal of Education.“Being called hurtful names, experiencing threats, being on the receiving end of sexual comments and having belongings stolen or damaged were the most prominent forms of bullying.
“Approximately 10% of the teachers experienced physical bullying and a smaller number were aware of threats and rumours via electronic media.”Half of the bullying the teachers reported took place in the classroom, and the researchers said: “[This] provides an audience of bystanders, instigators or supporters of the bully, which may make it more compelling for the pupil to engage in intimidating behaviour.
“Being a victim in front of an audience may increase teachers’ adverse experiences.”
The teachers’ responses to the 15 questions they were asked made it clear they experienced anxiety and depression as a result of being bullied, the study found.
“More than half reported borderline (20.5%) or abnormal (31.1%) levels of anxiety. A third ... reported elevated levels of depression in the borderline (21.9%) and abnormal (9.9%) categories.”
The psychologists said teachers should be trained to identify bullies early on and how to improve their relationship and classroom management skills.
“Secondly, mental health services need to be made available to teachers who experience high levels of mental health difficulties.”