PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS’ PERCEPTION OF CYBER BULLYING: A QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS
Teacher-education programs aim to train qualified teachers to help with healthy developments of students not only academically but also psychologically. In order to achieve this aim; planners of the programs establish curriculums which include several components and one part of teacher-education programs is pedagogical formation (Sands & Bishop, 1993). As part of the pedagogical formation education, as well as teaching basic psychology and counseling theories, teacher candidates are reinforced to transfer their professional theoretical knowledge and skills to practical issues which are common in school settings (Karamustafaoğlu, 2009).
School bullying which has been a problem effecting the well-being of the students frequently may be came across at schools by teachers (Olweus, 1993). During their education, pre-service teachers receive information on how they prevent and intervene in school bullying (Nicolaides, Toda, & Smith, 2002). However, as the technology becomes part of our lives, a new type of bullying appears. This new type of bullying is cyber bullying and it is defined as “an aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself” (Smith, Mandavi, Carvalho, & Tippett, 2005). Although cyber bullying is a new type of bullying, its occurrence seems to be common problem in different countries (Erdur-Baker & Kavşut, 2007; Li, 2005; Williams & Guerra, 2007).
Similar to traditional bullying, cyber bullies and cyber victims suffer from problems which affect their psychological well-being and academic achievement (Li, 2005). Some of these problems are feeling disappointed, anger, isolation, depression, anxiety, family and peer problems and low academic achievement (Hinduja & Patchin, 2006). School personnel, teachers in particular, have a crucial role in terms of taking necessary precautions to prevent students from cyber bullying (Beale & Hall, 2007). Teachers, of course, are not being trained to be experts in psychological issues and their interventions. However, teachers are expert observers, and after proper training they can recognize the experiences of cyber bullying and its consequences. Teachers spend a substantial amount of time with students and serve a function of being a bridge between school counselors and students. Moreover, teachers’ participation and support are crucial for successful outcome of any of the programs that would be implemented by the psychological counseling and guidance services. Therefore, it is important to find out, to what extent pre-service teachers are aware of the cyber bullying and what are the pre-service teachers’ attitudes and beliefs towards cyber bullying.
In sum, the aim of the present study is to investigate the knowledge of Turkish pre-service teachers on this new type of bullying. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 pre-service teachers from the guidance class of Faculty of Education. The interviewees were reached according to the typical case sampling strategy. Interview schedule consists of questions on the definition, reasons and consequences of cyber bullying, characteristics of cyber bullies and victims, and reactions to the cyber bullying, prevention and intervention programs. Data was coded, categories were generated by gathering the codes and general themes were determined. Results will be discussed in the light of the literature.