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The Multifaceted Role of Teachers in Bullying Victimization and the Interplay with Peer Relations

Boek - Dissertatie

Children's right to be protected from all forms of violence is seriously threatened by the problem of bullying in schools. Being the target of repeated and intentional aggressive acts by more powerful peers is related to a wide range of detrimental outcomes in the short and long run. Therefore, bullying prevention and intervention are crucial. Adopting a socio-ecological perspective, this dissertation aims to gain insight into two facets of the understudied role of teachers in bullying victimization: teachers' affective relationships with students and teachers' responses to bullying. Additionally, as students interact simultaneously with teachers and peers in classrooms, this dissertation aims to shed light on the role of peer relations and the interplay with teacher-student relations in predicting victimization. Two main objectives are investigated in four studies in the fourth to sixth grade of elementary school. In Part I, two longitudinal studies (N1 = 692; N2 = 930) aim to provide more insight into the role of affective teacher-student relationships and peer relationships in relational and physical bullying victimization. Whereas Study 1 adopts a variable-oriented approach and investigates transactional associations among these variables, Study 2 adopts a person-oriented approach and examines differences in teacher-student and peer relations between empirically-derived victimization trajectory classes. In Part II, two experimental vignette studies (N3 = 251; N4 = 910) aim to unravel whether perceived teacher responses to bullying affect students' bullying-related cognitions (e.g., teacher bullying attitudes) that are hypothesized to mediate the relation between teacher responses and bullying processes. In Part I, we demonstrate that peer and teacher-student relationships uniquely contribute to bullying victimization over time (Chapter 1). Low social status in the classroom is linked with more victimization across the school year (Chapter 1, Chapter 2). Additionally, low-quality teacher-student relationships earlier in the school year predict more victimization later on (Chapter 1). Thus, a first way to prevent and reduce bullying is ensuring positive social relations in the classroom. In Part II, we demonstrate that teachers' responses to bullying influence students' bullying-related cognitions (Chapter 3, Chapter 4). Especially active responses in which bullies are corrected have strong effects on student cognitions, and can, in turn, have beneficial effects on bullying processes in the classroom. Thus, a second way to prevent and reduce bullying is to increase teachers' awareness regarding the possible effects of their responses to bullying on student cognitions, and to ensure that teachers are well-prepared to respond effectively. The dissertation presents several avenues for future research to shed further light on the multifaceted role of teachers in bullying victimization in order to promote the well-being of children at school.
Jaar van publicatie:2021