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Difficult boys likelier to be bullied in mainstream schools

Difficult boys more likely to be bullied in mainstream schools

August 27, 2012

Difficult students are more likely to be bullied at mainstream schools than at special residential schools, a University of Canterbury research has found.

PhD student Eva Brown Hajdukova said one of the most prevalent themes that emerged in her research was that of bullying.

``Most of the boys believed that they were victims of bullying in mainstream schools, and to a lesser extent at the residential school, and they described their negative responses to this and their desire for revenge and protection,’’ Brown Hajdukova said.

The Minister of Education Hekia Parata is expected to announce the future of the country’s four residential schools tomorrow.

Brown Hajdukova was a finalist in the UC’s thesis-in-three minutes competition last week. She said the boys she interviewed believed the anti-bullying system used by the residential school worked well as the issues were dealt with and often positively resolved.

The majority of boys perceived bullying issues to be more prevalent in mainstream schools due to a lack of rules and discipline, as well as limited staff supervision in the places where bullying behaviour was occurring and little enforcement of negative consequences for bullying behaviours.

``These are just two of the many socially important and poignant themes emerging from the interviews. There are patterns to be found in the stories of these students. Most of these boys perceived themselves as bearers of the ‘naughty and challenging student’ label and believed that on many occasions they were treated unfairly in mainstream schools because of their misbehaviour in the past.

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``They also called for better understanding and acceptance, and underlined the need to be listened to and liked by their teachers and peers. Learning difficulties and limited assistance from teachers in dealing with their special educational needs were reported by the majority of the boys as a part of their mainstream schooling experience.

``They often found the schoolwork too difficult and thus experienced frustration and anger that often led to negative behaviours and school disaffection. In contrast, they believed that they were provided with better support and help with their difficulties in the residential school and thus were able to improve their behavioural and educational outcomes.’’

The students interviewed provided unique insights into their schooling experiences. Brown Hajdukova’s research will produce recommendations on effective practices for working with students who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and will allow them to experience a greater level of success and acceptance in mainstream schools.

Working with students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties made Brown Hajdukova realise there was a great need for their voices to be heard as they could provide valuable insights into their schooling experiences.

``These insights can raise a number of critical issues pertinent to effective practice and possibly indicate potential solutions. Most of the boys I interviewed were relaxed, open and expressed themselves confidently. They clearly appreciated the opportunity to be listened to.

``It was not unusual for these boys to say ‘thank you’ to me at the end of the interviews and most of them welcomed the prospect of talking to me again as they seemed honoured to be asked about their opinions and views.

``Interestingly, they spoke with great honesty about their behaviour and their views of the residential and mainstream schools they attended. In many ways the boys were impressive both for their insights and high level of self-reflection.’’


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