25 SES 01 A, Children's participation and teachers' perceptions and practices
The study examines whether and how primary school teachers who work in low and high SES schools name and mobilise their students’ rights in the digital world. Specifically, it explores whether primary school teachers are exposed to children’s online behaviour, whether these teachers term practices that they encounter as derogation of children’s rights, to whom do teachers ascribe responsibility for the harm, and how do they respond. The study also examines whether and how teachers’ perceptions and practices are intertwined with the school’s SES level.
Extensive research on children’s Internet behaviour has focused on adolescents, neglecting younger children. Thus, the focus of the current research is on primary schools. Additionally, the research sheds new light on the interconnections of SES status and school policies regarding students’ Internet behaviour. As children’s extra-school behavior lays at the margins of teachers’ professional responsibilities, this context enables a robust inquiry into teachers’ commitment to the mobilisation of students’ rights. The study is part of a broader project, which explores both students’ and parents’ perceptions of children’s’ rights in the digital world.
Educators’ Involvement in Students’ Online Behaviour
Whereas children’s digital lives offer them many benefits, the network also exposes children to practices that derogate their rights and enable them to derogate others’ rights. Most studies on educators’ involvement in their students’ online behaviour have focused on educators’ knowledge about students’ online behaviour and about the policies and practices that may facilitate addressing online injury. These studies have shown that educators lack knowledge about students’ online behaviour and, despite their concerns about online injury, they lack sufficient tools to address this problem or are unaware of the available tools (Cassidy, Brown, & Jackson., 2012; Eden, Heiman, & Olenik-Shemesh, 2013; Young, Tully, & Ramirez, 2017). Only few studies have examined educators’ responses to online injuries incurred by their students. DeSmet et al. (2015) identified four clusters of educators who address cases of cyberbullying. The referrers seek help from professionals; the disengaged donot view cyberbullying as a problem; the concerned provide support, initiate conversations, and share their concerns with parents; and the use all means use all existing methods to address cyberbullying. Stauffer et al. (2012) found that teachers do not routinely report to parents about online violence despite their belief that parental involvement is the best preventive strategy. None of the aforementioned studies used conceptual frameworks based on children’s rights, nor did they inquire into the reasons for educators’ willingness to be involved in their students’ online behaviour.
Rights Consciousness, Rights Mobilisation, and SES
The term rights consciousness describes the capacity to name injuries and difficulties as a violation of rights (Merry, 2003; Morrill et al., 2010). It is the first step in the legal mobilisation process, which refers to the ways people use the legal system to solve their problems (Fleury-Steiner & Nielsen, 2006). Felstiner, Abel, and Sarat (1980) conceptualized three steps in this process: naming obstacles as rights’ violations, blaming the offender for the victim’s condition, and claiming rights. Various studies have indicated that rights consciousness and mobilisation of rights are intertwined with knowledge about rights (McCann, 2006; Merry, 2003) and previous experiences of rights, with some of these experiences and knowledge influenced by individuals’ social location (Hirsh & Lyons, 2010; Morrill et al., 2010; Nielsen, 2015).
Studies exploring the impact of children’s SES on their socialisation have shed light on the socioeconomic gaps in children’s sense of entitlement and in teachers’ differential academic and disciplinary responses to children from high and low SES (Calarco, 2011; Lareau, 2002, 2003). These gaps have ramifications for the mobilisation of children’s rights.
Methods The research employed a qualitative research methodology. It was conducted in four Jewish secular schools in Israel, characterized by low and high SES. Two of the schools – A and B – represent high SES, and the other two – C and D – represent low SES. We selected the schools according to various features reflective of their SES status, such as the municipality, the neighbourhood, and the school’s Nurturing Index, according to the Ministry of Education. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 homeroom teachers of third- to sixth-grade classes (students aged 9-12). The interviews were conducted in person, lasted from 30–60 minutes, and took place at the schools. The interview protocol included questions about teachers’ presence in students’ online world and their knowledge about its different spaces, teachers’ perceptions of online injuries as derogation of children’s rights, teachers’ legal knowledge about online injuries, teachers’ perceptions of their responsibility to address online injuries, and teacher’ educational and disciplinary responses to online injuries. All interviews were recorded and transcribed. We also collected and analysed documents, such as school codes, classroom codes, and teaching materials. The research procedures were approved by the Ministry of Education (approval no. 10674) and by the IRB of our university (approval no. 452/18). The initial coding scheme focused on the themes of naming, blaming, and claiming, in accordance with the literature review (Felstiner, Abel, & Sarat, 1980). To ensure reliability, each of the authors reviewed the transcriptions independently and recorded ideas for subcategories. The third stage included comparisons between the schools.
Conclusions The findings indicated that most teachers indicated their concern regarding online injuries but did not name these injuries in terms of rights and almost none referred to the law or to school regulations. The school’s SES did not seem to influence teachers’ inclination to name students’ rights; in other words, SES was not revealed as a factor of relevance to teachers’ rights consciousness. However, as teachers discussed the next steps in the legal mobilisation process and reached the blaming and claiming stages, the analysis revealed SES differences. All teachers blamed various agents who purportedly created the problem or prevented solutions, including parents, students, and the Ministry of Education. However, teachers from the low SES schools directed the blame at a wider circle of agents, and their blaming was more forceful. The SES differences were also discerned in the claiming stage. Most teachers from the low SES schools argued that they should not intervene in incidents that transpired online, whereas all teachers from the high SES schools believed that addressing online injuries comprised part of their professional role. Additionally, whereas teachers from the low SES schools were relatively passive in responding to online injuries and focused on deterrence strategies, teachers from the high SES schools were substantially more active and also treated children as active agents who participate in the regulation of their online behaviour. Our study shows that SES differences in mobilisation of students’ rights concern not only teachers’ attitudes towards different students, but also teachers’ perceptions of their professional role and their autonomy. Students from low SES schools, who typically lack sufficient cultural capital to mobilize their rights (Calarco, 2011; Lareau, 2002), cannot count on their teachers to assist them in overcoming barriers to rights mobilisations. The study highlights the importance of context when researching student online behaviour
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