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This article concerns teacher related bullying at school. For bullying involving lecturers in higher education see Bullying in academia.

School teachers are commonly the subject of bullying but they are also sometimes the originators of bullying within a school environment.


Comprehensive research carried out in the UK found that teaching was one of the occupations at highest risk from bullying:[1]

  • 15.5% of teachers stating they were currently being bullied
  • 35.4% saying they had been bullied over the last five years.

In another survey, the Economic and Social Research Institute found bullying to be more prevalent in schools (13.8pc) than other workplaces (7.9pc).[2]

Complex dynamics

Parsons identifies teacher bullying as often being part of a wider bullying culture within a school, with a complex web of dynamics such as:[3]

  • teachers may be bullied by: other teachers, students,[4] office staff, principals,[5] school governors and/or parents
  • teachers may bully: other teachers, students[6] and/or parents
  • bullying teachers may themselves get bullied by others in turn

Staffroom bullying

A common manifestation of teacher bullying is staffroom bullying where teachers are bullied by other teachers or school managers.[2][7][8][9][10][11]


Bullying of teachers can take many forms in order to harass and intimidate including:[12]

Bullies often exploit positions of seniority over the colleagues they are intimidating (see rankism) by:[12]

  • criticising their work
  • making unreasonable demands on workload (see setting up to fail)
  • sarcasm and jokes aimed at the victim
  • undermining them by over-ruling their decisions and views.

In some cases, teachers are ignored and isolated by colleagues in the staffroom or turned down for promotion or training courses (see silent treatment).[12]


The possible impacts of bullying on teachers include:

In pop culture

Teachers being protrayed as bullies have made into popular culture, along with works with teachers being bullied by other teachers, students, and even the principal.

  • Films
    • Kids in America, a group of students with help from some teachers tries to stop their bully of a principal from becoming Superintendent, realizing the harm she can cause
    • Matilda (film), based on the novel of the same name, a student with psychokinesis helps her follow students and a teacher to stop a cruel principal's regin of terror in the school.
    • The Breakfast Club, Principal Vernon is often seen as a bully to the students serving detention.
    • Mr. Woodcock, the film focuses on a man who is outraged that his former gym teacher, who bullied him and his classmates, is about to become his stepfather.
  • TV
    • ICarly, there has been episodes, like IHave My Principals, where Ms. Francine Briggs and Mr. Howard clearly bully students, including the main characters, one of whom, Sam, is a bully herself. Mr. Devlin and Lauren Ackerman also bullied the students.
    • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Mr. Sweeney, a science teacher, appears to be evil until the third season, where he appears to reform himself to the point of saving his students from Vice Principal Harvey Crubbs, who also bullies the students, mainly the main characters.
    • Glee, the jocks bully the Glee club by giving them slushie facials but so does Sue Sylvester the Cheerios coach (season 1 and 2)
  • Music
    • Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 by Pink Floyd - the song tells the story about a student dreams about getting revenge against the abusive teachers.

See also


  1. Hoel, H. & Cooper, C.L. Destructive Conflict and Bullying at Work, Sponsored by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation, Manchester School of Management, UMIST (2000)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 BULLYING in the staffroom is having a deeply traumatic effect on some teachers and their families, new research reveals. Irish Independent April 14, 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Parsons L Bullied Teacher, Bullied Student: How to Recognize the Bullying Culture in Your School and What to Do About It (2005)
  4. Terry AA Teachers as targets of bullying by their pupils : a study to investigate incidence British Journal of Educational Psychology 1998, Vol 68, No 2, Pages 255-268
  5. de Wet C The Reasons for and the Impact of Principal-on-Teacher Bullying on the Victims' Private and Professional Lives - Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, Vol 26 No 7 Pages 1450-1459 Oct 2010
  6. McEvoy A Teachers Who Bully Students: Patterns and Policy Implications - Hamilton Fish Institute’s Persistently Safe Schools Conference, Philadelphia, September 11-14, 2005
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Field T Staffroom bullying The Times Educational Supplement (TES) Magazine 21 June 2002
  8. Strickland S Bullies in the staff room The Independent 23 November 1995
  9. Dean C Call to beat the staffroom bullies The Times Educational Supplement (TES) 16 April 2004
  10. Being bullied in the staffroom BBC News 20 November 2006
  11. McCall B Staffroom suffering Education Guardian, 20 November 2006
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Lepkowska D The shocking stories of teacher-on-teacher bullying Secondary Education News (SecEd) 11 Nov 2010
  13. Munday K The Bullying of Teachers Through the Use of Formal Disciplinary Procedures 2003

Further reading


Academic papers

External links

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Articles related to Abuse

Types of bullying

Forms of bullying


Related concepts

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