Educators’ Perceptions of Peer Harassment among Rural Day Secondary Schools Pupils in Gweru, Zimbabwe

Nothabo Shoko


This study was carried out to explore educators’ perceptions of peer harassment among rural day secondary school pupils in Gweru, Zimbabwe. The study was based on the assumption that peer harassment among secondary school pupils is a problem that needs to be prevented and so educators were viewed as critical players in the prevention of the problem hence it was important to understand their perceptions. The study was based on a sample of fifty five educators drawn from five randomly selected rural day secondary schools in Gweru district. The fifty five educators included five school heads who were purposively selected, twenty four female teachers and twenty six male teachers. All the teachers were selected using stratified random sampling. The main findings of the study were that all the educators agreed that nasty jokes, hitting and kicking and social exclusion were forms of peer harassment experienced by their pupils at school. However, their understanding of the effects of peer harassment on the victims’ social development is underpinned by the different perceptions they have about the problem. While the majority of the educators perceived pupils who were subjected to such experiences by other pupils as having their human rights being violated, some of the educators thought that having pupils being subjected to such experiences was socially acceptable and it had positive benefits for the pupils’ socialization. The findings also revealed that there were diverging views when it came to the educators’ perceptions on spreading malicious rumors and sexual harassment among pupils. The divergence of views was based on gender divisions. While female educators perceived sexual harassment as a prevalent form of peer harassment among their pupils, male educators did not perceive it as being prevalent. Further variations in perceptions were also noted between teachers and school heads. While teachers thought peer harassment was a problem among pupils, three out of the five school heads thought teachers were viewing the dynamics of pupils’ interactional processes using concepts that were alien to the Zimbabwean culture. The study concluded that there was a worrying diversity of perceptions among educators which could lead to varied responses in handling issues of peer harassment among pupils. Based on these findings, the study recommends that extensive studies be carried out to establish other stakeholders’ perceptions of peer harassment so to enable authorities to come up with a shared conceptualization of the problem and so enhance the crafting of effective intervention strategies.

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)

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