SCHOOL BULLYING: STUDENTS PERSPECTIVES FROM A TANZANIAN SECONDARY SCHOOL
Aim The current study was designed to qualitatively examine secondary school students’ understanding of bullying practices and how gender is involved in bullying in a Tanzanian secondary school. Theory The theoretical frameworks that are used in the current study are Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977) and Social Dominance Theory (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). Social learning theory explains bullying behaviour in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between bullying behaviour and environmental influences while Social Dominance theory explains the desire for power, dominance and oppression as a key factor that fuels bullying behaviour. Methods The study focused on both girls and boys, 10 students (5 girls & 5 boys), 13- 17 years old. The present study involved both individual and focus group interviews, focus group interviews were homogeneous in terms of gender. Data was analysed through thematic analysis and showed different understanding of bullying practices and how gender is involved in bullying in school. Results Students reported bullying practices through corporal punishment and imbalance of power between teachers and students. The study further found that disciplinary acts such as corporal punishment in schools teach students aggressive behaviours. A different bullying practice was found between boys and girls. Girls claimed to be bullied by both male teachers and students, especially in science subjects. Gender roles influenced by cultural expectations are claimed to explain male teachers and students bullying girls. Gender roles in schools expect boys to master science subjects, while girls are expected to master artistic subjects. However, some girls studying science subjects have not been given enough attention by male science teachers and are laughed at and teased by fellow male students, who assume that girls cannot do science or compete with boys in science subjects. Results seem indicative of a school culture that is conducive to bullying behaviours. The study draws out the implications of this conclusion for antibullying interventions.