In the present study, we examine the personal belief in a just world
(PBJW) for teachers and learners in predominantly Afrikaans-speaking
South African schools, and the relationship between teachers’ PBJW
and their perception of problem behaviour in the classroom. The
study is informed by national debates of school violence in South
African schools, and international debates on zero-tolerance policies
to address school violence. Our findings suggest that teachers’
PBJW predicts their perception of problem behaviour in classroom
behaviour in four areas, namely challenging authority, disrespecting
rules and authority and teacher negativity. Teachers with a strong
PBJW were more likely to view classroom behaviours as problematic.
Children generally reported that their teachers were fair and just
and liked them. However, boys were more likely to have experienced
trouble with their teachers and to view them as unfair and unjust. We
discuss the significance of the findings in terms of school violence and
also mention gendered interpretations to school violence.