SA Journal of Education, Vol 42, No 2 (2022)

Qualitative exploration of workplace demands, resources and bullying among teachers in South African schools: Implications for individual and organisational well being

Colleen Bernstein, Toni Paige Batchelor


The aim of the study reported on here was to examine workplace bullying among teachers in South African schools. The research was framed by the Job Demands-Resources Model which was utilised to determine the extent of demands and resources that teachers experience and the implications thereof for creating an environment that fosters bullying and the effect of such bullying on teachers and schools. A qualitative interpretative research design was utilised. Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with 13 teachers. Thematic Content Analysis (TCA) was used to interpret the data. The findings reveal that teachers work in an environment characterised by excessive demands with ever increasing workloads and a lack of supportive resources. This environment fosters stress, anger, frustration and aggression, and increases perpetration of bullying acts, as teachers turn upon one another. The findings in this study indicate that in the aftermath of bullying, feelings of incompetence, emotional exhaustion, depression and anxiety manifest. Furthermore, teachers reported engaging in withdrawal behaviour and expressing an increased desire to leave the profession. The results of this study have serious implications for teachers’ well being and their willingness to remain within the profession. In order to protect the well being of teachers and the overall integrity of schools there is an urgent need to increase resources and interventions to create a more conducive and healthy work environment. The need for resource provision and a re examination of demands becomes even more evident during the era of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

ORCiD iD of author:
Colleen Bernstein -

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