n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The bully / victim problem in South African primary schools

Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The findings of the investigation which explored the extent and nature of bullying among primary school children in grade four are presented. A total of 60 learners, aged between 9 and 10 years, took part in the study. Information was obtained from learners by means of questions included in a questionnaire, which closely followed the design used by Olweus (1991). Findings indicated that the questionnaire could be used to obtain meaningful responses. The main aim of the investigation was to examine the extent and nature of bullying. The results indicated a high level of reports of being bullied. A quarter of the learners (25%) indicated that they had been bullied at least sometime during the term, while 5 percent responded that the bullying occurred at least once a week and 3 percent that bullying occurred several times a week. There was not much difference in the responses given by boys and girls as to the frequency of being bullied. Reports on bullying others indicate that at least twice as many boys admitted to bullying others than girls. The problem of reported bullying and being bullied thus clearly exists in the group that was surveyed. The further findings on the nature of bullying are also consistent with trends reported by other researchers. Most of the bullying took the form of general name-calling while the use of derogatory names referring to colour and race was also prevalent. Thirty percent of bullied learners experienced this type of treatment. Being physically struck, being threatened and having rumours spread about them were the next most frequent forms of bullying. Other forms of bullying, such as having belongings taken from them, were less frequent. The research confirms some previous findings on gender differences. Firstly, the preponderance of male bullies was confirmed despite the emphasis on nonphysical as well as physical forms of bullying. Secondly, the findings were consistent with trends reported by Besag (1989), namely that girls are likely to be bullied, but not likely to bully.

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