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Learners’ understanding and experiences of bullying at a primary school in the Western Cape
This study aimed to determine learners' understanding and experiences of the different types of bullying and to examine the extent of bullying and roles they have been exposed to in various types of bullying. The research question was: What are primary school learners. understanding and experiences of bullying? Literature indicates that bullying can be executed in direct and indirect forms (Olweus, 1993:10; Boulton et al., 2002:354; Hunter & Boyle, 2002:324; Piskin, 2003:556; Lee, 2004:9). Direct bullying can be defined as relatively open attacks on a victim (Boulton et al., 2002:354) that are carried out face to face and may include pushing, kicking and fighting (Lee, 2004:10). Indirect bullying can be defined as being more subtle and less direct (Boulton et al., 2002:354) and will include behaviour such as social isolation and exclusion from a group. This study used the Olweus Intervention Method (1995), which offers a theoretical framework that could help the researcher find meaning in respect of the roles of the bully, victim and bystander. Urie Bronfenbrenner.s ecological theory (Bronfenbrenner,1998:993-1027) of human development was used as a lens for understanding bullying. Bronfenbrenner places child development within four different interacting levels, for example, the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem (Sigelman & Schaffer, 1995:87). The researcher used a mixed-method research design as it could provide a better understanding of how learners understand their experiences of bullying . whether they were the victim, bully or witness. The total sample comprised 296 Intermediate Phase learners. The study began with a quantitative method, testing the understanding of concepts, and using a questionnaire for learners, and thereafter concluded with a qualitative method comprising a small number of learners (interviews with a focus group), exploring their experiences of bullying. The quantitative data was analysed by means of descriptive statistics to present simple summaries about the sample and the measures. The responses were recorded in frequency tables and percentages were calculated to determine general trends. The qualitative data was systematically organised into themes and patterns to bring meaning to the themes by telling a story. Information obtained from respondents was treated as highly confidential and the research findings were presented with integrity. The results indicated that most learners have not been exposed to bullying as victims, although a high number of incidences were reported. Older boys were mostly involved in incidences of physical violence. Of significance is the fact that the main kind of bullying was that of emotional bullying. Table 4.7 shows that mostly boys are teased (37.0%), while Table 4.16 shows teasing others mostly occurs between learners of the same age (30.4%). On the other hand, Table 4.17 reveals that mostly girls are prone to spread rumours about others (17.5%) of the same age as themselves (26%) and fall prey to this type of emotional bullying.
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