Watson Chronicle

WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Education Updates and Features

Professor and Middle School Teacher Study Bullying; Article Published in September

Monday, November 03, 2014

WCE professor Robert Smith and South Brunswick Middle School teacher Kayce Smith recently conducted teacher and student surveys to assess the extent of bullying in a middle school.

School safety is an issue of national concern and bullying is a topic frequently discussed as education leaders look for ways to make schools safer. In North Carolina, the School Violence Protection Act of 2009 requires school districts to create policy statements that define bullying and to outline bullying prevention strategies, but there is little data available to measure the extent of the problem and the consistency and effectiveness of actions taken to address it.

In fall 2012, while enrolled in the Secondary M.Ed. program, Kayce Smith conducted an independent study to learn about the incidents of bullying at the middle school at which she taught. With the approval of school administrators, and under the guidance of Robert Smith, she developed and administered a teacher survey about bullying. Questions were designed to measure the frequency of observed bullying, locations on campus where it occurs and the extent to which teachers address bullying with students formally and informally.

Forty-eight of the school’s 55 teachers participated in the survey. Seventy-nine percent of respondents stated that they observed bullying incidences between one and three times per week. In addition, although 77 percent of teachers said they were confident in responding to incidences of bullying, forty-four percent reported they would like additional resources or guidance on the topic and 65 percent said the school should be doing more to reduce bullying instances.

The teacher survey provided evidence of a need for additional information. The next step was a  student survey. The survey was distributed to 800 students and 620 responded. One-third of the students reported that they had been victims of bullying, and 80 percent said they see bullying occurring at school.

After survey results were shared, a student task force was created to serve as a watch group at the school. Responsibilities of the group, named “Cougar Watch,” are to monitor bullying and report incidents to teachers.

Robert Smith and Kayce Smith wrote an article about their research titled “Creating the Cougar Watch: Learning to be Proactive Against Bullying in Schools.” It was published inMiddle School Journal in September.

View the article here: www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet.aspx?ArtMID=888&ArticleID=441

Kayce Smith and Robert Smith also authored an OpEd about bullying that appeared in theStarNews on Aug. 28.

View the OpEd here: www.starnewsonline.com/article/20140828/ARTICLES/140829655/-1/editorial?Title=Kayce-Smith-and-Robert-Smith-Schools-should-be-safe-for-everyone