What Influences Principal Perceptions of Bullying?

Matthew Benjamin Alred, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

Bullying is a wide-spread problem that affects millions of students every day. School bullying is a serious social issue that can have both short-term and long-term devastating effects on the victims, bullies, and bystanders. Federal, state, and local agencies have created policies to address school bullying. However, the school principal has the most pivotal role in reducing the incidents of bullying and appropriately intervening in incidents that do occur. Furthermore, the principal is the most empowered by his or her role to bring about change to the school's climate and culture which are key factors in the prevalence of bullying. The perceptions principals have toward bullying inevitably affect their response to school bullying therefore it is important to investigate.

A quantitative survey-design method was used to conduct the study. This study analyzed the perceptions of 109 Mississippi public school principals through an online survey. The findings of this study show that age, race, gender, level of licensure, years of experience, type of school they work in, or their own involvement in bullying situations as a student did not have a significant effect on the principal's perception of bullying. Additionally based on findings, it is suggested that principals in Mississippi need further bullying intervention training to better identify bullying behaviors.