Main Article Content



Violence directed against teachers remain under-studied within the larger school violence literature. This includes the nature of teacher-on-teacher violence, and the type of support teachers attain from the administrators. Employing the phenomenological qualitative approach, the article seeks to unveil teachers’ and the school administrators ‘lived experiences. Advancing the understanding of the nature of teacher-on-teacher victimisation, aimed at creating adequate awareness of the phenomenon. Five participants, comprising 1 principal, 1 departmental head, and 3 teachers, were purposefully selected. Utilising semi-structured interviews to a mass data and thematic data analysis approach, to categorise themes from the results.  The findings of the study revealed teachers were subjected to threats, verbal abuse, physical attacks, and sexual violence from their colleagues, particularly the administrators.  Most of the participants confirmed that verbal abuse was the most common occurrence, compared to other forms.   The acts of lack of administrative support were established at various levels involving multiple individuals. The district officials, especially IDSO’s, given their proximity to schools, should provide constant support to any form of a reported case of abuse. Class visits are essential to teacher development, and they should be properly conducted, and not used as a mechanism to settle scores.

Article Details

Author Biography



Department of Primary Education; School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, Tshwane University of Technology

School of Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate studies, College of Graduate studies, University of South Africa


Binduko, S. (2013). The role of the principal in maintaining a harmonious working environment: An investigation into “legal staff” bullying by the school management team in Ekurhuleni North District high schools. Unpublished master’s dissertation. Pretoria: University of South Africa.

Blasé, J. & Blasé, J. (2001). Empowering teachers: What successful principals do? (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Blasé, J. & Blasé, J. (2002). The dark side of principal leadership: Teachers’ perspectives of principal mistreatment. Education Administration Quarterly 38 (5): 671-727.

Boyatzis, R.E. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Ing, Lankford, H., Loeb, S. & Wyckoff, J. (2011). The influence of school administrators on teacher retention decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 48: 303-349.

Burton, P. & Leoschut, L. (2013). School violence in South Africa. Results of the 2012 National School Violence Study. Cape Town: Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention.

Cemaloglu, N. (2007a). The exposure of primary school teachers to bullying: An analysis of various variables. Social Behaviour and Personality, 35 (6): 789-802.

Cemaloglu, N. (2007b). The relationship between organizational health and bullying that teachers experience in primary schools in Turkey. Educational Research Quarterly, 31 (2): 3-29.

Cemaloglu, N. (2011). Primary principal’s leadership styles, school organisational health and workplace bullying. Journal of Educational Administration, 49 (5): 495-512.

Coetzee, A. (2017). Workplace violence against educators in public and private schools in Pretoria, Gauteng: A comparative investigation. Unpublished master’s dissertation. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.

Creswell, J.W. & Creswell, J.D. (2018). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, eth ed. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Department of Basic Education (DBE). (2016). Personnel administrative measures (PAM). Government Gazette No: 39684. Pretoria: Government Printers.

Department of Public Service and Administration. (2019). Wellness management: policy for the public service. Pretoria: DPSA.

De Vos, J. (2013). Teachers’ experiences of workplace bullying and its effects on health: developing a multi-level intervention programme. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Potchefstroom: North-West University.

De Wet, N. C. (2010). School principals’ bullying behaviour. Acta Criminologica, 23 (1): 96-117.

De Wet, N. C. (2011). The professional lives of teacher victims of workplace bullying: A narrative analysis. Perspectives in Education, 29 (4): 66-76.

De Wet, N. C. & Jacobs, L. (2013). South African teachers’ exposure to workplace bullying. The Journal for Trans disciplinary Research in Southern Africa, 9 (3): 446-464.

De Wet, N. C. (2014). Educators’ understanding of workplace bullying. South African Journal of Education, 34 (1): 1-16.

De Wet, N. C. & Jacobs, L. (2014). The perpetrators of workplace bullying in schools: A South African Study, Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5 (16): 567-577.

De Wet, N.C. (2021). South African newspapers’ depiction of learner-on-teacher violence. Communicare, 40(2): 21-42.

Dube, B. & Shawe, T.G.J. (2022). Data analysis and interpretation procedures. In Adu, E.O. & Okeke, C.I.O. (Eds). Fundamentals of Research in Humanities, Social Sciences and Science Education. 12(2), 13-29.

Du Plooy-Cilliers, F. (2019). Quantitative data collection. Claremont: Juta.

Einarsen, S. (1999). The nature and causes of bullying at work. International Journal of Manpower, 20 (1/2): 16-27.

Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D. & Cooper, C. (2011). The concept of bullying and harassment at work, (2nd ed.) New York: Taylor and Francis.

Espelage, D. L., Anderman, E. M., Brown, V. E., Jones. A., Lane, K. L., McMahon, S. D., Reddy, L. A. & Reynolds, C. R. (2013). Understanding and preventing violence directed against teachers. American Psychologist, 68 (2): 75-87.

Fahie, D. (2014). Blackboard bullies: workplace bullying in primary schools. Irish Educational Studies, 33: 1-41.

Fahie, D. & Devine, D. (2014). The impact of workplace bullying on primary school teachers and principals, Scandinavian Journal of Education Research, 58 (2): 235-252.

Galand, B., Lecocq, C. & Philipport, P. (2007). School violence and teacher professional disengagement. The British Journal of Educational of Educational Psychology, 77: 465-477.

Gerberich, S.G., Nachreiner, N.M., Ryan, A.D. & Church, T.R. (2014). Case-control Study of Student Perpetrated Physical Violence against Educators. Annals of Epidemiology, 24(3): 325-332.

Klein, J. & Bentolila, A. (2018). Principals bully teachers at schools: causes, examples, and consequences. International Journal of Leadership in Education, (1): 1-19.

Kleinheksel, C. J. (2018). Not just the playground: Adult bullying in the K-12 workplace. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. London: University of London.

Kleinheksel, C. J. & Geisel, R. T. (2019). An examination of adult bullying in the K-12 workplace: Implications for school leaders. School Leadership Review, 14 (1): 1-19.

Kruger, M.M. (2011). Bullying in secondary schools: Teachers’ perspectives and experiences. Unpublished master’s dissertation. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University.

Laws, S., Harper, C. & Marcus, R. (2003). Research for development. London: Sage Publications

Mafora, P. (2013). Learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of principal’s leadership in Soweto secondary schools: a social justice perspective. South African Journal of Education, 33 (3): 1-15.

Mahome M.M. (2017). Violence directed against teachers: A case of Johannesburg district. Unpublished master’s dissertation. Pretoria: Tshwane University of Technology.

Mahome, M.M. (2021). Perpetrators of staff victimisation within the teaching ranks: A socio-ecological perspective. Acta Criminologica: African Journal of Criminology & Victimology, 34(2): 1-25.

Mahome, M.M. & Rampa, S.H. (2019). The prevalence of learner-on-teacher school-based violence: A qualitative study, Acta Criminologica: African Journal of Criminology & Victimology, 32 (2):91-104.

Malahy, S. (2015). Workplace bullying: Teacher-to-teacher. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Pretoria: University of Pretoria.

Masha, A.K. & Eze, I.R. (2022). Selecting your instruments for data collection. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

Mazzarella, J. (2018). Reported experiences of adult-to-adult bullying in K-12 New Jersey schools. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. London: London University.

McMahon, S. D., Martinez, A. & Espelage, D. L. (2014). Violence against teachers: Results from national survey. Psychology in the Schools, 51 (7): 753-765.

McMahon S. D., Martinez, A., Reddy, L. A., Espelage, D. L. & Anderman, E. M. (2017a). Predicting and reducing aggression and violence toward teachers: Extent of the problem and why it matters. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

McMahon, S. D., Reaves, S., McConnell, E., Peist, E. & Ruiz, L. & the APA Task Force on Classroom Violence Directed Against Teachers. (2017b). Ecology of teachers’ experiences with violence and lack of administrative support. American Journal of Community Psychology, 60: 502-515.

McMahon, S.D., Peist, E., Davis, J.O., McConnell, E., Reaves, S., Reddy, L.I., Anderman, E.M. & Espelage, D.L. (2020). Addressing violence against teachers: A social-ecological analysis of teachers’ perspectives. Psychol Schs. 2020; 1-17.

McMahon, S.D., Anderman, E, M., Astor, R.A., Espelage, D.L., Martinez, A., Reddy, L.A., & Worrell, F.C. (2022). Violence Against Educators and School Personnel: Crisis During COVID. Technical Report. New York: American Psychological Association.

Monyepao, N. (2017). The workplace: Another terrain for struggle. Pretoria: Succinct Investments.

Nako, N. & Muthukrishna, N. (2018). Teacher-instigated in school interpersonal violence: Types and prevalence in South African public schools. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 28 (5): 371-374.

Nako, N. & Muthukrishna, N. (2018). Teacher-instigated in school interpersonal violence: Types and prevalence in South African public schools. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 28 (5): 371-374.

Namie, G., Christensen, D. & Phillips, D. (2014). Workplace bullying survey. New York: Workplace Bullying Institute.

Orange, A. (2018). Workplace bullying in schools: Teachers’ perceptions of why they were mistreated. The Educational Forum, 82 (4) 390-405.

Patton, D.U., Hong, J.S., Patel, S., & Kral, M.J. (2017). A systematic review of research strategies used in qualitative studies on school bullying and victimisation. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 18(1), 3-16.

Scotland, H. (2012). Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms. English Language Teaching, 5(9): 1-16.

Silverman, D. (2019). Interpreting qualitative data. London, UK: Sage Publications

Tickle, B. R., Chang, M. & Kim, S. (2011). Administrative support and its mediating effect on US public schools’ teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1): 342-349.

Van der Westhuizen, C.N., & Maree, J.G. (2010). Student teachers’ perceptions of violence in primary schools. Acta Criminologica, 23(2): 1-18.

Wachira, N. & Odhiambo, D. (2021). The politics of teacher unions: strategies and effects. International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Sciences, 5 (1): 1-7.

Wei, C., Gerberich, S. G., Alexander, B. H., Ryan, A. D., Nachreiner, N. M., Mongin, S. J. (2013). Work-related violence against educators in Minnesota: Rates and risks based on the hours exposed. Journal of Safety Research, 44: 73-85.

Woudstra, M.H., Van Rensburg, E.J. & Visser, M. (2018). Learner-to -teacher bullying as potential factor influencing teachers’ mental health. South African Journal of Education, 38(1): 1-10.

Zwane, R.P. (2021). Educators as victims of learner -on -educator violence in South African Schools: A model for countering the violence against teachers. Unpublished PhD Thesis. Pretoria: University of South Africa.