Teacher Perceptions of Responses to Identity-based Peer Exclusion: The UK piece of an International Puzzle

  • Maunder, R. (Author)
  • Lucy Betts (Author)
  • Samuel Bennett (Author)
  • Leyla De Amicis (Author)
  • Anke Görzig (Author)
  • Claire Monks (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsConference Presentation


Teachers play a critical role in addressing bullying that occurs between peers in school contexts (Colpin et al, 2021; Yoon & Bauman, 2014). How teachers perceive these situations, and the way they respond has implications for young people (Burger et al, 2022), so it is important to know about their practices. Previous research has indicated that teacher attitudes and intervention can be affected by various factors, including individual characteristics such as gender and ethnicity (Yoon et al, 2016), levels of empathy (Fischer et al, 2021), school climate (Kollerová et al, 2021) and how serious they perceived the incident to by (Bell & Willis, 2016).

Identity-based peer exclusion, also known as bias-based bullying or stigma-based bullying (Price et al, 2019), is a distinct form of bullying whereby children and young people are excluded by their peers due to their stigmatised identities. Being targeted due to minority status (based on dimensions such as race, sexuality, gender, appearance, and disability) shows higher bullying prevalence and is associated with pervasive effects (Price et al, 2019). However, less is known about teacher perceptions and responses to different forms of identity-based exclusion compared to other types of bullying.

This overall project builds our understanding of teacher responses on a global scale through collaborative research being undertaken in over 15 countries. The aim is to investigate how teacher perceptions of and responses to identity-based exclusion differ as a function of the type of identity depicted, whether these trends differ between countries, and how factors such as teacher perceptions, experience and school context contribute. In this paper, we report on the progress and initial findings from the UK strand specifically.

Primary and Secondary school educators residing in the UK (including teachers, teaching assistants and trainee teachers and former teachers) have been, and are still being, recruited via a combination of social media, snowball sampling, external events/organisations and personal contacts.
Using a between-groups design via an online survey, educators were randomly allocated to one of four comparable vignettes depicting an incident of identity-based peer exclusion (based on ethnic or cultural background, academic difficulties, appearance, or gender-expression) between students in their class. They were asked about their perceptions of the interaction, including items relating to empathy (e.g., ‘I would feel sympathy for Student Z.’), responsibility (e.g., ‘I consider it to be part of my professional responsibility to resolve these situations whenever they occur.’) and self-efficacy (e.g., ‘I am confident in my ability to resolve this type of situation.’). Participants also completed questions regarding their likely response to the interaction (adapted from Troop-Gordon & Ladd’s, 2015 Classroom Management Questionnaire, and expanded to include strategies previous reported by teachers in research, as well research as well as strategies suggested as best practices for addressing identity-based bullying). Participants also completed the Horizontal/vertical and individualist/collectivist dimensions of culture questionnaire (Sivadas et al., 2008) and finally the Teachers' expected stigma by association/expected consequences of stigma by association (adapted from Boyes et al, 2013). Further questions addressed their socio-demographic characteristics as well as information about their school.

Data collection for the study is ongoing until 2023. Analysis will focus on comparing teacher perceptions and responses based on the type of identity-based exclusion depicted in the vignettes, comparing teachers by educational stage (primary vs secondary; trainee vs qualified) and examining the contribution of demographic variables.
We will explore differences in teacher’s responses between the types of identities depicted for exclusion. Taking a socio-ecological approach data will be linked with teachers’, school and regional measures of diversity matching the types of identities shown in the scenario (e.g., regional and school makeup of ethnicity, disability or sexuality, teachers’ identities). Further moderating and mediating factors such as teacher’s empathy and self-efficacy as well as other socio-demographic factors will be taken into account.

The paper will provide insight into the early findings of UK teacher responses to identity-based exclusion as part of the wider international investigation. Initial conclusions based on the emerging trends will be presented

Implications for research/practice
The findings will aid our understanding of how teachers view identify-based exclusion and will aid the work in developing intervention and prevention programmes.
Bullying policies and intervention in schools need to be suitably tailored for issues relating to identity and prejudice.

Selected references
Bell, K. J. S. & Willis, W. G. (2016). Teacher perceptions of bullying among youth. The Journal of Educational Research, 109(2), 159-168.
Mark E. Boyes , Sally J. Mason & Lucie D. Cluver (2013) Validation of a brief stigma-by-association scale for use with HIV/AIDS-affected youth in South Africa, AIDS Care, 25:2, 215-222
Burger, C., Strohmeier, D. & Kollerova, L. (2022). Teachers can make a difference in bullying: effects of teacher interventions on students’ adoption of bully, victim, bully-victim or defender roles across time. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 52, 2312-2327.
Colpin, H., Bauman, S & Menesini, E. (2021). Teachers’ responses to bullying: Unravelling their consequences and antecedents. Introduction to the special issue. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 18(6), 781-797.
Fischer, S. M., Wachs, S. & Bilz, L. (2021). Teachers’ empathy and likelihood of intervention in hypothetical relational and retrospectively reported bullying situations. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 18(6), 896-911.
Kollerova, L., Soukup, P., Strohmeier, D. & Caravita, S. C. S. (2021). Teachers’ active responses to bullying: does the school collegial climate make a difference? European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 18(6), 912-927.
Price, M., Hill, N. E., Liang, B. & Perella, J. (2019). Teacher relationships and adolescents experiencing identity-based victimization: what matters for whom among stigmatized adolescents. School Mental Health, 11, 790-806.
Sivadas, E., Bruvold, N. T., & Nelson, M. R. (2008). A reduced version of the horizontal and vertical individualism and collectivism scale: A four-country assessment. Journal of Business Research, 61(3), 201-210.Troop-Gordon, W. & Ladd, G. W. (2015). Teachers’ Victimization-Related Beliefs and Strategies: Associations with Students’ Aggressive Behavior and Peer Victimization. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43, 45-60.
Yoon, J. & Bauman, S. (2014). Teachers: A critical but overlooked component of bullying prevention and intervention. Theory into Practice, 53(4), 308-314.
Yoon, J., Sulkowski, M. L. & Bauman, S. A. (2016). Teachers’ responses to bullying incidents: effects of teacher characteristics and contexts. Journal of School Violence, 15(1), 91-113.
Period25 Oct 2023
Event titleWorld Anti-Bullying Forum 2023
Event typeConference
LocationRaleigh, United StatesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational