Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Educators' Ability to Detect True and False Bullying Statements

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Educators' Ability to Detect True and False Bullying Statements

Article excerpt

The majority of research investigating children's lie-telling behavior has focused on lay people and legal professionals' abilities to detect deception. Fewer researchers have assessed educators' abilities to evaluate the veracity of children's reports of bullying. In this study, educators' abilities to detect true and false accounts of bullying and educators' confidence ratings of their abilities to detect the veracity of children's bulging accounts were examined. Participants (93 educators) were shown video clips of children (between the age of 4 and 8 years) telling true and false statements about being bullied Participants were asked to assess the veracity of the child's bullying statement and rank how confident they felt about their responses. Overall, educators' ability to detect both true and false accounts of bullying was not significantly above chance levels. Regardless of reported years of experience with children, detection rates were approximately the same; educational professionals with fewer years of experience yielded similar detection rates to those with mort experience. In general, educators were not very confident in their abilities to distinguish between children's true and false reports. However, all educators were significantly more confident in their overall ratings of false stories than true stories. While educators are not accurate in detecting deception, the current findings suggest that they may be over confident when assessing false accounts of bullying; condemning students that are falsely accused of bullying could have negative consequences for student, their classmates, and for the teacher. Through understanding educators' perceptions of children's He-telling behavior, especially with respect to bullying, appropriate and effective bullying interventions can be developed by school psychologists in collaboration with educators.

Introduction

Concerns among educational personnel, and parents about bullying behavior are often warranted; researchers have revealed that bullying often leads to serious and detrimental outcomes for victims of bullying incidents (Card & Hodges, 2008; Fekkes, Pijpers, & Vedoove-Vanhorick, 2005). More specifically, researchers have shown that victims of bullying have higher rates of depression, bedwetting, sleep problems, and other health concerns (Fekkes et ai, 2005). Since children spend the majority of their day in school, it is vital that educational personnel (e.g., educators, school psychologists and administration) are not only aware of effective bullying interventions (Fekkes et al., 2005), but are also trained in assessing the veracity of bullying reports.

Often, it is difficult to decipher whether or not a child is being truthful when reporting a bullying incident and it can be extremely challenging for school personnel to recognize when children are exaggerating accounts of victimization. In such situations, educators are challenged to assess the veracity of bullying reports and subsequently decide whether such accounts of bullying merit interventions. Falsely accusing a the student-teacher relationship and lead to penalizing student of bullying could have detrimental consequences for innocent students. Conversely, not providing proper intervention when a student states they are being bullied, but are not believed, may also have negative consequences. While it appears that teachers are confident in their abilities to detect deceptive accounts of bullying (Bauman & Hurley, 2005), research has shown that adults' ability to detect lie- telling behavior is unremarkable, hovering around the level of chance (DePaulo, Stone, & Lassiter, 1985; Ekman & O'Sullivan, 1991; Leach, Lindsay, Koehler, Beaudry, Bala, l

The majority of research investigating children's lietelling behavior has focused on lay people and legal professionals' abilities to detect deception (Leach, Talwar, Lee, Bala, & Lindsay, 2004). …

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