The nature and prevalence of bullying during the intermediate school phase
This study was conducted to acquire descriptive information regarding the nature and prevalence of school bullying in the intermediate school phase. To achieve this, the Revised Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire (R-OBVQ) was used as a self-report measure to investigate bullying across five different dimensions: exposure to various forms of bullying/harassment; forms of bullying behaviour; where bullying occurs; characteristics of the bullies and whether the social environment had been informed about the bullying. The total sample comprised 360 grade four to six learners from English-medium, single-sex schools in Bloemfontein. To ensure a more homogeneous sample the grade (grades four to six) and race (black and white) of the participants were controlled. All statistical analyses were done by means of frequencies and cross-tabulations using the chi-square statistical test with grade, gender and ethnicity as independent variables. The results were generally similar to those reported by most international studies of school bullying, namely: that self -reported bullying decreases with advancement in grades; that the most prevalent form of bullying is verbal bullying; that boys reported experiencing direct physical bullying more than girls did and that the most likely location for bullying to occur is the playground. Furthermore, boys generally reported being made fun of and teased in a hurtful way, as well as being kicked, hit and pushed more frequently than girls. It was also found that black learners reported experiencing racial bullying significantly more than white learners. Black boys reported experiencing racist bullying more than black girls did. Both girls and boys indicated being bullied most by learners in their own class, with boys also being bullied by learners from higher grades. White learners indicated being bullied most by learners in the same class, whereas black learners reported being bullied equally by learners from the same class and learners from a higher grade. The study also yielded a much higher rate of bullying (56,4%) than those cited in previous South African as well as international research. The high rate of bullying revealed in the study makes it necessary to conduct future research into bullying, as ways need to be found to lessen the deleterious effects of bullying on learners’ school careers, both of the bullies and their victims.
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