n Education as Change - The culture of bullying at a primary school

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1682-3206
  • E-ISSN: 1947-9417
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This study focused on understanding how the unique culture of a particular primary school influenced bullying, by identifying and thickly describing the values, norms, beliefs and attitudes of the various members of the community that contributed towards and sustained bullying behaviour. The findings are based on a critical ethnographic study of Hillside Primary School A pseudonym, an upmarket governmental school situated in Gauteng, which was purposefully selected for the study. The design allowed the researchers into the here and now perspectives of the participants at Hillside Primary School, through participant observation, once a week, over a period of approximately two terms. Data sources included interview detailed field notes, interview transcripts, questionnaires, photographs, learners' drawings and various documents produced by the school. The emerging data were continuously analysed through the constant comparative method. The findings indicate that bullying is a complex phenomenon that is interwoven into numerous values and norms of an authoritarian culture. The findings also indicate that the researched school appears to have a conflicted culture underlying bullying, conflicted in the sense that an overriding authoritarian ethos has prevented the school from implementing democratic procedures effectively. This has disempowered rather than empowered members of the community, thus unwittingly contributed to the vicious cycle of bullying.

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