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Home > News > 2019 > September > Teacher-targeted bullying – university study needs member input

Teacher-targeted bullying – university study needs member input

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  • In April 2019, researchers from La Trobe University published Teacher Targeted Bullying and Harassment by Students and Parents which found overwhelming evidence of teachers with ongoing incidence of teacher targeted bulling and harassment by students and parents (TTBH).
  • 80 per cent of respondents had experienced TTBH in the last 9-12 months preceding the survey and 85.2 per cent felt there was a problem with TTBH in Australian schools.  
  • Our union encourages all members to participate in the second phase of research which is now open.

Professional and personal impacts

In April 2019, researchers from La Trobe University published Teacher Targeted Bullying and Harassment by Students and Parents which analysed teachers’ experiences of feeling bullied and victimised while working in Australian public and independent schools.

80 per cent of respondents have experienced bulling and harassment in the last 9-12 months preceding the survey and 85.2 per cent felt there was a problem with parent and student TTBH in Australian schools. 

While evidence suggests there are disturbingly high incidence of TTBH, the negative impacts on teacher safety and wellbeing are largely ignored across Australia. 

Currently, teachers are the second occupation most at risk of serious work-related mental health condition claims – behind defence force members, fire fighters and police – according to Safe Work Australia.

The research is thought to be the first of its kind in Australia, after researchers found a paucity of research, government reports, policy and media items focusing on teacher safety and wellbeing as opposed to that of students. 

Contrary to traditional perceptions of teachers being in a position of power in the classroom, and therefore more likely to be the instigators of bullying and harassment, evidence suggests teachers often feel powerless in the classroom and TTBH by parents and students is a common daily occurrence. 

Being sworn or yelled at is the most common form of student TTBH experienced by teachers, with 10 per cent of respondents reporting they have been hit or punched by a student in the last year. 

Of the incidents recorded, the most common forms of parent TTBH were parents verbally disparaging a teacher (15.2 per cent) and yelling (14.4 per cent), with 8.8 per cent reporting a parent standing over or invading their personal space. 

Not only is this a serious workplace health and safety issue regarding physical and psychological injury, it is reflective of the larger issue of professional respect afforded to teachers by society.

Many teachers feel compromised by reporting incidences of TTBH as they feel their professional capacity will be questioned. 

Tell your story

The second phase of research is now open for submissions and IEUA-QNT members are encouraged to add their voice to this research. 

It aims to better understand the prevalence and outcomes of student and parental teacher targeted bullying and harassment in Australian East Coast schools as well as what policies exist and their effectiveness in tackling this issue. 

All registered primary and secondary teachers along the Australian East Coast (QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC or TAS), or those who have been registered within the last two years, who are between 21-70 can participate. 

Members can either take a short ten-minute survey and/or take part in an online one-on-one interview. 

To participate in the survey, click here.

If you would like to take part in an interview, click here

For more information visit, www.ttbhau.com or contact the chief investigator (Dr Paulina Billet) on 5444 7241 or 9479 2395 or email p.billet@latrobe.edu.au 


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.