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, 36 (1), 64-70

Physical and Emotional Abuse of Primary School Children by Teachers

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Physical and Emotional Abuse of Primary School Children by Teachers

D Theoklitou et al. Child Abuse Negl.

Abstract

The existence of child abuse is unfortunately a reality of contemporary society. Although various organizations and researchers have been making progress in the struggle against abuse, it has not been decisively dealt with thus far. Most of the research on abuse has focused on the abuse of children in their family environment.

Objective: The aim of the present study was the investigation of abuse in the school environment and the effects of the gender and school grade of pupils, as well as the gender of teachers on the various forms of abuse.

Methods: The study utilized a questionnaire with a 5-point rating scale, with questions concerning physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect, which was completed in class by a sample of schoolchildren. The sample consisted of 1,339 pupils in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade of primary school in the Republic of Cyprus, who lived in both urban and rural areas. Two pilot studies were conducted initially to ensure the appropriateness of the questionnaire. Permission to conduct the study was gained by the headmasters of the schools, and authorization to participate in the study was granted by the students' parents.

Results: More than half (52.9%) of the pupils reported neglect, almost a third (33.1%) reported emotional abuse, and almost one tenth (9.6%) reported physical abuse. The results of the statistical analysis revealed statistically significant differences between the 2 genders (p<.001), with boys being the most vulnerable group, with regards to all forms of abuse, but no significant differences between the 3 grades and the teachers' gender (p>.05). There were no significant differences between the 2 genders, the 3 grades and the teachers' gender with regards to the frequency of any form of abuse (p>.05).

Conclusions: The gender of the pupils seems to be related to abuse, since more boys than girls reported being victims of abuse, while abuse is not depended on the school grade, or the teacher's gender. The findings from this study may justify some concern on behalf of the Ministry of Education, but also from educators and parents in the Republic of Cyprus.

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