Teachers' perceptions of bullying: An investigation of reported characteristic behaviors and the likelihood of intervention in response to overtly and relationally aggressive behavior

Date of Completion

January 2006


Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology




Bullying has been and continues to be a widespread problem with numerous deleterious and long-term effects for all those involved. In recent years, the construct has been explored in greater depth, resulting in the identification of various forms of bullying behavior, some of which may be differentially characteristic of male versus female schoolchildren. Despite the recent surge of attention directed at bullying prevention and intervention efforts within the school setting, remarkably little research exists which has explored the perspectives of teachers. Given the importance of teachers' roles with respect to these efforts, it seems logical that an exploration of their current perceptions might serve to inform the success of program implementation as well as present the possibility of generating alternatives to those programs presently available. The purpose of the present study was to explore the perceptions of teachers so as to gain insight about the behaviors they characterize as typical of male and female bullies, as well as to establish the reported likelihood of intervention in response to different types (i.e., overt versus relational) of bullying behaviors. In light of the established gender differences with respect to bullying and the commonplace occurrence of various forms of aggression during the pre-adolescent period, teachers of middle school students participated in this study. Results suggested that teachers are likely to identify male and female students as bullies to different degrees, and that the likelihood of intervention may be related to the type of bullying behavior, as well as the gender of the teacher. Further, specific intervention strategies employed may differ based on the type of behavior, the gender of the teacher, and the gender of the bully. Limitations of the study, suggestions for future research, and implications for practice are also presented and discussed herein. ^