Violence in South Africa is not only prevalent in society and the home environment, but is also present in the workplace. Although substantial research has been conducted into school violence and learner-focused, school-based violence, the study set out to determine the nature and extent of workplace violence that educators face; identify the effects and consequences of workplace violence on victims; profile educators as victims of workplace violence with specific reference to gender, age and occupational level; and determine the presence and role of policies and educator participation in managing and preventing educator-targeted violence. The comparative investigation further established difference in such experiences between private and public secondary schools.
In pursuit of the objectives of the study, 274 self-administered questionnaires were delivered to three public and three private secondary schools in Gauteng after both probability and non-probability sampling methods were employed. A total of 122 completed questionnaires were returned. Using descriptive and inferential data analysis, by means of the Mann-Whitney U test and the Kruskal-Wallis H test, relationships, differences and similarities were determined. Both univariate and bivariate data are displayed in multiple formats. Evident from the results and corroborating existing literature, educators in the study reported having experienced both physical and non-physical (verbal and social) violence, although the survey findings indicate the latter to be dominant. Notably, educators are victimised by various perpetrators and the opportunity to become victimised is greatest during classes, especially in public schools.
Educator-targeted violence appears to be the result of multiple interrelated contextual factors that result in a fear for personal safety and far-reaching personal and professional consequences for educators. The profile of educators as victims verified and further exposed various risk factors in terms of demographics and background. Female educators, unmarried educators, public school educators, educators working for long periods of time and educators with lower educational achievements presented greater risk of victimisation. Similarly, female educators and public school educators experienced deficits in power and control. In terms of the public and private divide, significant associations indicated that educators in public schools were more likely to experience physical violence, verbal violence, bullying and vandalism by learners thus justifying their increased likelihood of feeling threatened in the workplace, considering their school at high risk of violence, and viewing workplace violence as a serious problem. Furthermore, with a higher chance of victimisation by not being heard, favouritism and overcrowding, public school respondents were more likely to report lower levels of involvement in decision-making regarding school
issues, which consequently affected their sense of power and control in the workplace and increased their risk of victimisation. The majority of respondents indicated having neither been provided with material(s) related to workplace violence nor having received training with regards to the phenomenon (in particular female respondents) therefore the researcher recommends, amongst others, an increase in training and the dissemination of information regarding workplace violence against educators, both in the school setting and among the community.