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Teachers' Perceived Barriers to Effective Bullying Intervention

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Despite the critical role teachers play in the management and reduction of bullying in schools (Craig, Henderson, & Murphy, 2000; Frey, Jones, Hirschstein, & Edstrom, 2011; Nicolaides, Toda, & Smith, 2002), minimal research has been conducted examining teachers’ responses to these negative behaviors (Bauman & Hurley, 2005; Marshall, Varjas, Meyers, Graybill, & Skoczylas, 2009; Sairanen & Pfeffer, 2011; Yoon & Kerber, 2003). Moreover, a critical topic lacking in the literature is the identification of potential barriers (e.g., difficulty identifying bullying, lack of time to address these behaviors) inhibiting teachers from successful intervention. The purpose of this exploratory study was to assess teachers’ perceived barriers to effective bullying intervention, as well as to examine potential relationships between how teachers reported responding to bullying and perceived barriers to successful intervention. Individual in-depth qualitative interviews with 30 fourth through eighth grade teachers were used to determine teachers’ responses and perceived barriers to bullying interventions. Inductive and deductive approaches to data analysis (LeCompte & Schensul, 1999; Nastasi & Schensul, 2005; Varjas, Nastasi, Moore, & Jayasena, 2005) were used to explore teachers’ self-reported barriers. Teachers described the presence of numerous barriers that challenged their ability to consistently and effectively respond to bullying. Qualitative results indicated that these barriers occurred on multiple levels and included the following four major themes: student-, teacher-, school- and sociocultural-based barriers. Further, quantitative analyses were used to investigate potential relationships between teachers’ self-reported responses to bullying and perceived barriers. No systematic relationships were evident. That is, teachers reported responding to bullying similarly regardless of their perceived barriers to effective intervention. Implications for improving and informing anti-bullying efforts aimed at eliminating these barriers and increasing the likelihood of teacher intervention are discussed. Future research ideas also are suggested.

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