Studying Adult Bullying Behavior Regarding Teachers' Judgment and Perpetration
School bullying, in particular, peer bullying, has been extensively researched (Modecki, et al., 2014). However, adult bullying in schools has been neglected. Whitted and Dupper (2008) found that nearly twice as many students reported they experienced worse bullying from adults than peers. This discrepancy calls us to examine the prevalence and perception of teacher bullying behaviors in schools. In this study, teachers (N = 422, Mage = 47.49, SD = 13.33) responded to an online survey to express their perceptions about 26 different behavioral interactions with students (see Table 1). Our survey includes their judgment of other teachers’ behavior, how they responded when witnessing bullying behaviors and how often they intervened. We also collect teachers’ demographic information. Among responders, 67.3% identified as female and 24.6% as male, 75.6% were White and 6.9% were Black. We performed a principal component analysis on judgments of appropriateness of these behaviors. The analysis identified five factors: harmful (8 items), ambiguously harmful (6 items), disengage/target (4 items), school policy (4 items), and supportive behaviors (4 items). To further understand these results, we also calculated means, standard deviations, and correlation analysis between judgments of appropriateness and teachers’ own engagement in the 26 behaviors. As shown in the figure below, correlations between item pairs are lowest among school policy behavior items and highest among supportive behavior items in general. These results suggest that teachers may be engaging in behaviors dictated by school policy that they do not agree with. We also found different levels of variability among the correlations between judgment and perpetration for the five factors. The most unstable factor, with the highest variance, was Harmful while the most stable factor was supportive. The results of this study suggest that some teachers still conduct bullying behaviors even though they know these behaviors are wrong. It seems that teachers who engage in supportive behaviors with students usually have a positive attitude but we need further evidence to support. This is perhaps the reason that there is high variability in harmful and ambiguously harmful behaviors while there is little variability in supportive behaviors.