How do teachers and learners in one Durban primary school understand and cope with bullying?
There are evidently high incidences of bullying among learners in schools. The problem is that victims and perpetrators, as well as teachers do not understand what constitutes bullying and are unable to take appropriate action when it occurs. Because of the poor understanding of bullying, incidences remain unreported, and if they are, teachers are unable to deal with them effectively. This study aimed to examine the teacher's and learner' s understanding of bullying and its prevalence in a Durban Primary School, and how they cope with bullying incidents. It investigated the different forms that are commonly found among the boys and girls. Because victims of bullying tend to be boys more than girls and the perpetrators boys, gender socialization theories (Connell, 1996; Fitzclarence 1995) were used to analyse the ways in which the boys and girls understand and cope with bullying. Particular attention was given to the experiences of the grade 7 learners. The study utilised a descriptive survey design, in which qualitative methodologies were used to address the identified research questions. Data was collected through observations, questionnaires, unstructured interviews and conversations. The major findings confirmed that bullying is a problem at the Durban primary school. Firstly boys and girls experience different forms of bullying. Girls experience more indirect forms of bullying, whilst boys experience more direct forms. Secondly, bullying has affected some of the learners to an extent where they stay away from school. The learners are more comfortable speaking to their peers about bullying than their parents and teachers. However, the teachers seem to be largely unaware of the extent and consequences of bullying. One of the major implications of this study is that policies that specifically address bullying in the school need to be developed to curb the problem. In addition, initiatives should be taken to raise the teachers, parents and learners awareness of the phenomenon of bullying and appropriate strategies developed and implemented to curb it.