ERG SES H 01, Challenges in Education
Bullying is prevalent in our society and has serious detrimental effects on students. Bullying in schools has received attention in research since the 1970’s when Olweus began to study the issue in Norway. Attention was paid to bullying in Ireland in the 1980’s (O’Moore and Hillery, 1989). A huge amount of bullying occurs because of a lack of tolerance for diversity (O’Higgins Norman et al. 2010). According to Smith and Sharp (1994), being different or being vulnerable, are risk factors for being bullied. In addition, “children with special educational needs, often with a physical disability or mild/moderate learning difficulties, are especially at risk of being bullied” (Smith and Sharp, 1994, p.8). The effects of bullying are wide ranging and can even result in suicide. Studies have shown that victims of bullying are more likely than their peers to have suicidal thoughts and suicidal attempts (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). Central to stopping bullying in schools are teachers (Rigby, 2002). Teachers must be well equipped to handle bullying because failure to effectively and consistently intervene could actually make teachers part of the problem (Olweus, 1993). Failure to intervene could simply stem from a lack of understanding of what bullying is and what to do about it. Teacher’s effectiveness of addressing bullying may also be related to their self-efficacy. Bandura (1977) defined self-efficacy as the belief that one can perform a behaviour successfully. When a person has something to accomplish, does that person believe he/she has the ability to achieve that goal? Self-efficacy greatly impacts peoples’ responses to an issue, including what they select to do and the level of effort they take to perform those tasks. A key factor of self-efficacy is locus of control. Bandura (1997) stated a person’s perceived capabilities are regulated by his or her alleged control of events. In turn, the perceived self-efficacy affects human functioning, such as cognition, motivation and mood. Perception drives motivation and subsequent action. Teachers’ experiences, perceptions, thoughts or past actions may potentially color their opinions on bullying and how they perceived their ability or self-efficacy to deal with it. In Ireland, there has been a large amount of research done concerning school bullying. However, missing from the discussion is how teachers understand their duty of care towards young people relative to bullying inside and outside of school. The purpose of the paper is to contribute to the literature on school bullying by opening up the discussion concerning teachers’ perceptions of their duty of care towards young people.
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