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Workplace bullying can cause a toxic teaching environment
2014-04-15

A study done by the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Education exposed how teachers in South Africa fall victim to bullying in the workplace on a daily basis.

This study by Prof Corene de Wet from our School of Open Learning and Dr Lynette Jacobs from our School of Education Studies, exposed the commonness of workplace bullying (WPB) among teachers.

More than 2 700 teachers, from all school levels in urban, township, informal settlements, rural and farm schools, took part in a 43-question survey. Teachers from eight provinces were included in the study.

About 90% of the respondents were victims of WPB by school colleagues and/or management during the 12 months that preceded the study.

These acts included direct shunning, having untrue things said about them, verbal abuse, threats and ridicule, insults and teasing, damaging of possessions as well as physical violence.

Dr Jacobs says WPB is an extremely serious problem in some South African schools, compared to the occurrence in other countries.

“South African teachers are working in ‘toxic’ environments characterised by disgruntled, overworked and stressed teachers. There often are high levels of learner-on-learner and learner-on-educator violence and bullying, communities fraught with moral degradation, racial conflict, violence, lawlessness and economic despair. In schools where despair and disrespect prevail, teachers often turn on one another,” she says.

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