Student reports of physical and psychological maltreatment in schools: An under-explored aspect of student victimization in schools
Purpose. This study examined the extent to which students reported that adults in a school setting had mistreated them. Specifically, this study provides findings on the students' perceptions of the extent to which they were the victims of physical maltreatment and psychological maltreatment during their school careers. The study investigated whether the types or frequency of maltreatment was related to demographic characteristics of the student (i.e., race and gender).
Methods. The sample (n = 50) was composed of students in alternative education schools in the southeastern U.S. during the 2004-2005 school year. Students reported the frequency and types of maltreatment involving adult educators they experienced on a likert type questionnaire. Students also described their worst school experience.
Results. Eighty-six percent of students (n = 43) reported at least one incident of physical maltreatment by an adult educator; 88% (n = 44) reported at least one incident of psychological maltreatment. Minority students reported experiencing more physical and psychological maltreatment than whites. The most frequently reported types of maltreatment perpetrated by adult educators included being: prohibited from using the bathroom, grabbed, pushed, yelled at, unfairly disciplined, and isolated from peers. Sixty-four percent (n = 29) of students reported that an adult was involved in their worst school experience. Of these students, 19 (43%) reported that the experience upset him/her "a lot". Students' descriptions included being: pushed into vending machines, being told by a teacher that she dressed like a "whore," being forced to urinate on himself because an educator refused to permit him to go to the bathroom, and being cussed at by a bus driver.
Implications. Results from this study indicated that students experience a range of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of adult educators. The findings suggest that additional protections are needed in schools to prevent educators from misusing their positions of authority. Social workers should advocate for the inclusion of information about adult to student maltreatment in school violence prevention programs. Findings suggest that adult to student maltreatment in schools must be more thoroughly and systematically investigated in future research.
0340: Educational sociology