Masters Thesis

The impact of prior peer abuse on pre-service teachers

This study examines the impact of prior peer abuse on pre-service teachers in a secondary education teacher credentialing program. Peer abuse, also known as bullying, can have profound and long-lasting effects on victims. During adolescence in particular, when social development has young people seeking a feeling of belonging in a group of their peers, even seemingly minor slights such as exclusion or teasing can be devastating. Adolescents quickly acquire sophistication in their ability to interact with their peers through a growing understanding of others’ intentions, and this can contribute to masterful manipulation and subsequent damage to the social status of individuals embedded in elaborate social networks. The effects of peer abuse can linger into victims’ adulthood; even when the abuse has long since ceased, individuals may feel more timid in social interactions or more reluctant to trust their peers. For adults who work in education, this can have unique consequences, causing them to view peer abuse among their students differently than adults who have not been victims of bullying. I developed and administered a survey to a cohort of secondary education teacher credential candidates to determine the details of their experiences as victims of peer abuse and the ways in which they believe such victimization will affect how they address bullying in their own classrooms. The results I obtained from this survey were coded for content and qualitatively analyzed in order to provide insight to teacher education programs about how best to address issues of peer abuse in their curricula.