An investigation of the different forms of bullying amongst grade 10 learners in South African schools: a case study of three schools in the Western Cape
Memoh, Constance Ning
MetadataShow full item record
Bullying is rife at South African schools. Previous studies published in 2008 revealed the frequency of bullying amongst high school learners to be 36% in Cape Town and 41% at national level of the total number of high school learners who participated in the investigation. This behaviour amongst learners hampers efforts to raise educational standards and improve schools in our country. Besides, the vicious cycle of bully/victim relationships has a negative influence on individual learners. In South Africa, bullying behaviour in schools has been found to lead to problems such as a low self-esteem, low academic performance, absenteeism, depression, and consequently school dropout. In this study the frequency and different forms of bullying experienced by learners in South African schools were investigated using questionnaires, individual interviews, and focus group interviews with grade 10 learners and their teachers at three selected schools in the Western Cape. Questionnaires were administered to two grade 10 classes in each of the three selected schools. Analysis of the questionnaires was followed by two sets of interviews: individual interviews with one female grade 10 learner and one male grade 10 learner at each of the three selected schools, and focus group interviews with two male grade 10 teachers and two female grade 10 teachers in each school. The findings confirm that bullying is rampant in the three selected schools. A mean of 96% of the respondents reported that bullying happens at their school. In addition, a mean of 38% of the respondents stated that bullying happens every day at their school. Furthermore, all the different types of bullying, that is, physical, verbal, emotional, and cyber-bullying, occur at the three selected schools, and each of them is influenced by individual and contextual factors. However, this investigation discovered that the most flexible and influential cause of peer bullying is the contextual (that is, ‘inside of school’) factors. This study also revealed that learners at the three selected schools experience various consequences of bullying such as lowering of self-esteem, high rates of absenteeism, self-harm, inability to make progress in their studies, insecurity, and isolation of victims. Finally, some recommendations to address the issue of school bullying are made in respect of schools, teachers, parents and learners. Recommendations are also made in respect of future research on bullying.