Theme: Inclusion, pupil voice; behaviour Page 1
Prospects of adolescent students collaborating with teachers in addressing issues of bullying and conflict in schools Rigby, K., and Bagshaw, D., University of South Australia, Australia Educational Psychology, Vol. 23. No. 5. 2003 How do adolescent students view working with teachers to combat bullying?
Advice to schools on how to counter bullying generally emphasises the need for a whole school approach, which involves collaboration between staff, students and students' parents. This Australian study examined whether adolescent students wanted to collaborate with teachers to combat bullying in schools. Two separate large-scale student questionnaire surveys were conducted. The first study involved 12,625 students aged ten, fourteen and sixteen; the second study involved 632 fourteen year olds. The researchers found that adolescent students had largely negative views about teachers' efforts to combat bullying. Around 40% of fourteen year olds thought teachers were not interested in stopping bullying and less than 50% thought that teachers were effective at resolving student conflicts. Students who were themselves bullies or victims of bullying, were more likely than the others to have misgivings about their teachers' abilities to resolve conflicts effectively. Fourteen year olds were more opposed to working together with their teachers to stop bullying than their older and younger peers, though the girls were more positive than the boys about students and staff working together. The researchers concluded with suggestions for how to increase adolescent students' readiness to collaborate with teachers to combat bullying. Keywords Australia; Pupils; Teachers; Parents; Primary schools; Secondary schools; Bullying; Collaboration; Attitudes; Beliefs; Inclusion Page 2 What did the researchers want to find out? Did students think teachers were interested in stopping bullying and helpful at resolving conflicts? Did students want to work with teachers to stop bullying in schools? How did the researchers explain the differences in students' views? What kinds of bullying did the students report on? How can adolescents' readiness to collaborate with teachers to combat bullying be increased? How was the study designed? What are the implications of the study? Where can I find out more? Page 3 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11
What did the researchers want to find out?
They found many students had misgivings about working with teachers:
. that involves students and teachers working together. yelling at students and picking on them (which was viewed by the students as bullying). far from being effective in resolving conflict. did not listen to students and did not understand their problems.
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Did students want to work with teachers to stop bullying in schools?
The researchers investigated whether the students wanted to work with their teachers to reduce school bullying. teachers were helpful at resolving conflicts between students. viewed teachers' abilities to address bullying and whether the views of adolescents differed distinctively with age. around 40% of students were negative about their teachers' abilities to resolve conflicts. and those students who were inclined to bully others at school were particularly critical of teachers. made matters worse by acting inappropriately and contributing to the problem by for instance. Page 4
Did students think teachers were interested in stopping bullying and helpful at resolving conflicts?
When they examined student views on whether their teachers were interested in taking action against bullying. around 20% of the students felt that teachers. around 20% of the students felt that most teachers did not treat all students with respect. Overall. the researchers found: • • around 40% of fourteen year old boys and girls felt that teachers were not really interested. doubting their ability to act fairly. and students and staff should work together to stop bullying. the students who were victims of bullying tended to be more negative than other students about teachers' abilities to resolve conflicts. and the proportion of fourteen year old students who felt teachers were not interested in stopping bullying was around double that of ten year olds and slightly higher than sixteen year olds. the researchers aimed to find out whether there is a realistic basis for a whole school approach to combating bullying.The researchers wanted to know whether adolescent school students thought: • • • teachers were interested in stopping bullying.
Overall. or only sometimes interested in stopping bullying.
The researchers also wanted to find out how students who were bullies themselves or victims of bullying. No significant difference was found in the results for boys and girls. The researchers found: • • • less than 50% of fourteen year olds believed that most teachers acted in a helpful way in addressing conflict.
around 70% of ten year olds and 60% of sixteen year olds favoured working with teachers. felt pupils and staff should work together to stop bullying. a higher proportion of girls than boys for all three age groups.
How did the researchers explain the differences in students' views?
The researchers suggested some reasons why student views on teachers’ ability to resolve conflict varied according to the ages of the students. may account for the commonly reported finding that victimised students prefer to seek help from their peers or parents. and Australian secondary schools are generally less oriented than primary schools towards providing emotional and social support for children with personal problems.nearly 70% of students reported having been bullied verbally by other students. but higher for boys than girls . • physical bullying was less common.around 46% of boys and 18% of girls reported such treatment.
. verbal and indirect forms of bullying and it was explained that it is "not bullying when two young people of about the same strength have the odd fight or quarrel". where there is a strong focus on PSHE and behaviour management). • indirect bullying (being excluded) was reported by 30% of boys and 34% of girls.
They explained the negative view victims and bullies held of their teachers in the following ways: • • that victims of bullying were less inclined to see teachers as potential helpers in conflicts. and that students who bully others tend to be critical of teachers is unsurprising as they would be inclined to see teachers as potential enemies who would punish them if they were caught. fourteen year olds are less trusting of institutional authority. Students were asked to indicate how often they had been bullied and how often they bullied others in each of the three ways.only 12% were directly opposed to the ideas. The researchers found bullying behaviour was widespread amongst the fourteen year olds studied: • verbal bullying was experienced more than other kinds . and students who were either bullies or victims of bullying tended to oppose working with teachers.• • • • Page 6
around half of fourteen year olds felt staff and students should work together to stop bullying . These included: • • • dealing with the social problems of younger children may be easier than dealing with adolescent social problems. fourteen year old students tended to be more unwilling to work with teachers to counter bullying than either primary aged pupils or older secondary students . but a substantial number were clearly uncommitted. preferring to talk to their peers about bullying. (This may be less likely in the UK.
What kinds of bullying did the students report on?
The researchers provided the following definition of bullying to give the students a clear understanding of the term: "Bullying is when a stronger person deliberately and repeatedly hurts someone who is weaker". Examples were given of physical.
based on research evidence. from seven secondary schools.standards. should be made available to help teachers develop the necessary skills to promote adolescents' confidence in teachers' ability to deal with conflict and bullying.•
bullying others.around 72% of boys and 51% of girls reported bullying others verbally. from a total of 166 Australian secondary schools. monitoring the behaviour of students involved in the problem and sustained contact with parents. The students who participated took part because their schools were interested in obtaining bullying related information about their students.
. questionnaires were answered anonymously by students in their classrooms. The researchers reviewed the students' responses to two questions: • do you think teachers are interested in stopping bullying? • do you think students and teachers should work together to stop bullying? A different questionnaire was used in the second part of the study with a new.
How can adolescents' readiness to collaborate with teachers to combat bullying be increased?
The researchers suggested that their findings indicated that schools may find using a whole school approach to bullying is unsuccessful because many adolescent students are either opposed to collaborating with teachers to combat bullying or are unsure whether they want to collaborate. smaller group of students.uk/research/digests/WedMar171608022004/? view=amzRsStandard) • teachers may have to change their strategies. Three age groups were focused upon: 1062 ten year olds. (Click here to view digest by Salmavili on Peer led intervention campaign against school bullying http://www.it is important that teacher intervention does not make matters worse. The sample comprised 632 Year 9 students. or by working with an anti-bullying committee of students. The researchers made the following suggestions for how to increase students' readiness to collaborate with teachers to counter bullying: • teachers need to demonstrate that teacher intervention is much more likely to result in satisfactory outcomes for the students they are helping . and • training. Differences between girls' and boys' views were noted. for example by working closely with students who are prepared to collaborate. 'no blame' approach. 43% of boys and 14% of girls reported physically bullying other students and 28% of boys and 23% of girls reported indirectly bullying others. who could give support and credibility to the teachers' efforts. Page 9
How was the study designed?
This study had two parts. For both parts. The first part of the study consisted of a re-analysis of students' responses to a questionnaire administered four to eight years earlier than the present study. children who have informed teachers should be protected . The sample of students was drawn from the much wider original sample.dfes. • where non-punitive approaches are considered inappropriate (such as repeated and extreme forms of bullying).this may require close and continued surveillance. 7091 fourteen year olds and 4472 sixteen year olds. • teachers could work with students who have bullied others. using a non-punitive.gov. particularly verbal bullying was widespread .
'Bullying in Scottish secondary schools'. such as: drama and role play. the authors began to ask the following questions about implications for practitioners:
would it help your school to work with pupils.html Another article by Andrew Mellor (1990).net/schoolstaff. The site also contains helpful advice for students and parents.ac. Could older students act as role models in acting in partnership with teachers to tackle bullying? would professional development for teachers encourage them to share ideas on effective ways of reducing bullying.antibullying. describes children's bullying experiences and identifies some successful coping strategies.The questions were designed to find out whether or not students thought teachers helped to resolve conflicts between students and whether their views were related to their experiences as victims or bullies. teaching assistants. aimed at helping them to resolve conflicts between students effectively and at encouraging adolescents in particular to work with teachers or to take large scale initiatives themselves within school frameworks?
Where can I find out more?
The Scottish council for research in education (SCRE) centre at the University of Glasgow provides extensive information for schools and parents about bullying. improving links with parents. the' no-blame' approach and peer counselling).uk/spotlight/spotlight23. gives advice to schools for how to construct pupil questionnaires.ac. teachers and parents to find out the extent of bullying (how much is taking place.scre. lunchtime supervisors and others as appropriate.ac. It can be viewed at: http://www.uk/spotlight/spotlight43.html The 'anti-bullying network' has a comprehensive web site with useful information on. using drama and role play. where and when it occurs etc) and identify possible strategies for jointly tackling bullying? For help with constructing questionnaires etc. would it be helpful in your school to offer professional development for teachers. The site can be found at: http://www. questionnaire surveys.scre. see Where can I find out more? could your school do more to raise awareness of bullying and show the school's commitment to tackling the issue prior to adolescence. Page 10
What are the implications of the study?
In completing this digest. awareness raising poster campaigns. school and classroom strategies for reducing bullying (such as. It can be viewed at: http://www.htm
. positive discipline and peer counselling? (See Where can I find out more? for information about these strategies). 'Finding out about bullying'. for example. a 'noblame' approach. 'circle time'.scre.uk/bully/ Andrew Mellor's (1993) article. This can be viewed at: http://www.
http://www. how to formulate a whole-school policy and the 'anti-bullying pack for schools'. primary author of the paper featured in this digest.uk/ has general advice for children who are being bullied and their parents. gives further details of his research and useful information on topics such as intervention strategies and developing an anti-bullying policy (using a questionnaire designed for teachers as a starting point). It is a recent description of a method of intervention used widely in schools in England as well as other countries. problem pages and further links.edu.co.education.gov.bullying.uk/bullying/ Dr Ken Rigby. can be found on the DfES web site at: http://www.au/bullying/ . A paper by Anatol Pikas describing the Method of Shared Concern can also be found on this site.unisa.The web site.
.dfes. More information about handling bullying. on his web site at: http://www.