The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of a secondary school teacher from Gauteng who was a victim of learner cyber bullying. Cyber bullying of teachers is a relatively under researched phenomenon in South Africa and can be a painful event for many teachers. The ultimate goal of this study was to raise awareness about learner cyber bullying and the effect it had on the emotional and professional well-being of the participant. Awareness about this phenomenon might lead to better support and understanding by different role players such as departments of education, principals, unions, communities, learners, educational psychologists and other teachers.
I followed a qualitative research approach, guided by an interpretivist epistemology. I employed a descriptive case study design and purposefully selected a single secondary school teacher as my unit of analysis. Data for this study was collected through a semi-structured interview with the participant in order to explore his experiences relating to learner cyber bullying. In addition to the semi-structured interview I used observation, field notes, audio recording and a research diary for data collection purposes.
The collected data was analyzed through several phases to establish thematic categories. Twenty six sub-categories of learner cyber bullying were identified from the experiences of the participant which were grouped under six main categories that was discussed and interpreted in order to provide the findings portrayed by the study. The six main categories included: type of cyber bullying experienced, causes of cyber bullying, characteristics of cyber bullies, response to cyber bullying, outcomes after taking action, and results of protective factors.
To ensure the trustworthiness and quality of the data, the study incorporated member checking, peer debriefing and literature control. Based on the findings of the study, I concluded that the teacher experienced learner cyber bulling primary as a negative and painful reality. The cyber bullying incident had a damaging impact on the participant’s emotional and professional well-being. In addition, the study also indicated that the participant, after addressing the cyber bullying incident, experienced some positive outcomes. Being able to share his experiences with the larger teaching community helped him to overcome some of the indignity he experienced due to the learner cyber bullying.
An attempt was made to raise awareness of this phenomenon and to provide effective strategies to prevent and counter its impact on the teaching community. This study can be used as a platform for larger research projects to about the experiences of teachers as victims of cyber bullying.
Mini-dissertation (MEd)--University of Pretoria, 2015.