The complexity of teacher- targeted workplace bullying: An analysis for policy


  • L Jacobs, Dr. University of the Free State, South Africa
  • C de Wet, Professor University of the Free State, South Africa



Teachers are often the targets of bullies. Studies have indicated that South African teachers are three times more likely to experience workplace bullying than their peers in other parts of the world. In an earlier study by the authors, 90.8 per cent of educators who took part in a survey indicated that they experience some form of bullying while at work. Compared to this, similar studies found the levels to be much lower: 25.6 per cent in Lithuania and 22.4 per cent in Croatia. Workplace bullying of teachers includes being bullied by other teachers, school managers, learners and the administrative staff at the school. While the vast majority of schools have adopted an anti-bullying policy for the learners, even if only on paper, no clear guidelines exist on teacher-targeted workplace bullying. Teachers are central to any education system. Research shows that workplace bullying negatively affects the teachers and the school. Thus, policies should be put in place to protect employees and effectively deal with incidences. Policies with clear guidelines and procedures for role players should be in line with the legislative framework. We start by giving a synopsis of the current literature on teacher-targeted workplace bullying. We then discuss the South African legal framework that informs the suggested policy development. Thirdly, we draw from the literature on bullying prevention. This will serve as an information base from which national, provincial and school policies can be developed.


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