Scores of teachers bully their colleagues – study

2014-04-08 13:28

The University of the Free State’s education faculty has found that a huge percentage of teachers have been victims of workplace bullying by co-workers and managers.

“South African teachers are working in toxic environments characterised by disgruntled, overworked and stressed teachers,” school of education studies lecturer Dr Lynette Jacobs said today.

The research is based the correct and complete replies of about 1 000 teachers who were asked to fill in questionnaires.

Originally, about 2 700 teachers, at all school levels in urban, township, informal settlements, rural and farm schools, were asked to complete a 43-question survey.

The study found about 90% of the respondents were victims of workplace bullying by school colleagues and school management during the 12 months before the study.

The bullying acts included direct shunning, having untrue things said about them, verbal abuse, threats and ridicule, insults and teasing, damaging of possessions, as well as physical violence.

University of the Free State school for open learning researcher Professor Corene de Wet said research on workplace bullying in occupations identified teaching as a high-risk job.

“Yet, there is a lack of research on workplace bullying among teachers.”

Workplace bullying in the study was identified as colleague behaviour causing isolation, teacher behaviour undermining the professional status of another teacher, behaviour undermining the person, and direct negative behaviour.

The report found nearly 84% of teachers suffered from behaviour undermining their professional status, followed by acts to cause isolation (80.3%).

Jacobs said workplace bullying seemed to be a very serious problem in South African schools, compared to Croatia, Lithuania, Turkey, Norway and the UK.

She said teachers worked in “toxic” environments characterised by high levels of pupil-on-pupil and pupil-on-teacher violence and bullying.

Some school communities were also fraught with moral degradation, racial conflict, violence, lawlessness and economic despair.

“In schools where despair and disrespect prevail, teachers often turn on one another,” she said.

The report concluded that teachers were key role-players in rescuing the country’s failing education system.

It suggested teachers were emotionally destroying one another, rather than working together for the greater good.

The study was recently published in The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.