Bullying Amongst Parents and Teachers at an American International School: Informing School Development and Policy

By James, Paul | International Journal of Education, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Bullying Amongst Parents and Teachers at an American International School: Informing School Development and Policy


James, Paul, International Journal of Education


Abstract

This paper has sought to explore the everyday experiences of parent-teacher bullying within a purposefully selected American International school.

The paper utilises a qualitative approach targeting an American International school using a small semi-structured questionnaire creating a focused element of context and flexibility. 12 parents were randomly chosen from 35 that were available and willing to share their needs and experiences and the interview method was used as the data-collecting vehicle. This paper addresses issues raised from parent's experiences of bullying.

The 3 developed research questions were mapped to 6 major themes, and were supported by 13 sub-themes. The presented qualitative data outcomes highlight the various experiences, perspectives and challenges that parent's perceive they face.

The impact of this research suggests that the perceived complexities of dealing with bullying between parents and teachers may be mitigated with appropriate training and specialist guidance leading to the application of 8 outcomes.

Keywords: Bullying, School, International, Parents, Mitigation Strategies

1. Introduction

For many schools, bullying in all its forms is exacted through a backdrop of ordinary school socio-structural lapses that only small proportions of the school inhabitants see, hear or feel its violent backdraftwhich appear to have a negative impact on the physi120cal and mental health of those involved (Fleming and Jacobsen, 2009) often emanating through stress (Cowie and Oztug, 2008). However, difficulties remain as to how to estimate or measure effectively the prevalence of bullying in schools (Espelage and Swearer 2003) or its perceived severity (Delfabbro et al., 2006). Further, many researchers see bullying as a large pervasive problem in schools (Berthold and Hoover, 2000; Nansel et al. 2001) reflecting the theory of social dominance (Hawley, 1999) or a personality trait (Johns, Livson, and Peskin, 2003). For a small proportion of students/teachers and parents in school, across nations (Harel-Fisch et al., 2010) student life continuously revolves around the escape from a bully or the act of intimidation by bullies. Researchers often identify bullying as a behaviour (Nansel et al. 2001) defined as direct - physical (hitting), verbal (threats, laughing), relational (Bauman and Del Rio, 2006) (manipulation of interpersonal relationships) and indirect - cyber-bullying (Craig, Pepler and Blais, 2007) (messaging on-line for the purpose of threatening or harassing an individual). Bullying can also be described as groups Vs. individuals or visa versa; and individuals Vs. individuals. Fundamental to the bullying tactic is the intentional act of aggression through the presumption of power. Bully's persecute because they believe they have an inalienable right to do it reflects the perceived power differential (Craig and Pepler, 2003). This introduces the first research question: In what ways and forms is teacher-parent bullying characterised at this school?

Teacher involvement in bullying most often occurs through incidents between students and focused mainly on physical bullying (Ellis and Shute, 2007). The variance of teacher intervention appears to be related to the teacher's perception of the severity of the bullying (Maunder et al., 2010) - often because of a single episode - but was less likely to intervene in other forms of bullying (Yoon & Kerber, 2003). However, little research has been conducted of bullying between parents and teachers - especially in a private international school. Boulton (2008) suggested that a common reason why parents can feel unsafe in school is through teacher bullying as they had an upper-hand in terms of work-related power. Parent to parent bullying also occurs as any repeated aggressive behaviour or action that is carried out with the intention to hurt, damage or distress another parent (Olweus, 1993) and that although many children feel the effects of bullying not all parents see or feel peer-parent-teacher bullying (Rivers, 2001). …

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