n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Educators as bullies

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



The scarcity of research on the educator-on-learner bullying (ELB), as well as the legal, moral, psychological and educational imperatives necessitated this study. It has been established by contemporary studies that educators are bullying their learners under the guise of ignorance and/or abusive disciplinary practices. The aim of this study is to add to the limited body of knowledge on ELB. The participants comprised 18 educators from the Free State Province, South Africa. Data on bullying were collected by means of questionnaires in which a number of open-ended questions were asked. Inductive content analysis was used to analyse the data. The main findings of the study are: (1) ELB is educators' relentless, pitiless verbal, emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse of power which aims to distress and publicly humiliate disempowered, vulnerable learners. (2) Abusive disciplinary strategies; a lack of classroom management, teaching skills and subject knowledge, as well as personality traits, such as a lust for power and a lack of empathy were identified as educator related reasons for ELB. Learners' behaviour, intellectual abilities and personality traits were also identified as risk factors for ELB. (3) The creation of awareness of ELB and the will to act against perpetrators, whether punitive or restorative, are fundamental to addressing ELB.

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