Educators’ Perceptions of Characteristics of Male and Female Bullies

Melissa Marie Cafaro, Walden University

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt I dedicate this to my family. I thank them for all of their loving support, for their inspirational moments, and for believing in the beauty of my dream.

I would like to take this time to thank all of the people in my life who have helped me achieve this milestone. To my mother: Without you, I would not know how to be a strong, independent woman who can achieve anything I set my mind to. Thank you for all of your endless love, support, and editing. To my father: Written words cannot express the love and gratitude that I feel for you and all of your support during my academic career. To Dakota: The endless and unconditional love that I receive from you on a daily basis is what has given me the strength to complete this process. I could not have finished without the midnight hugs and snuggles from you. To Dr. Carroll: Thank you for not giving up on me and for all of your support and hard work in helping me to complete my dissertation. To my committee members, Dr. Patterson and Dr. Lyst: Thank you for all of your support, constructive criticism and suggestions to help me put forth my greatest effort and to help me accomplish my most profound goal. To Ron: Thank you for you support and unconditional love throughout this process. Thank you for traveling around the country with me so that I did not have to be alone during my journey. This accomplishment is possible today in part because of your love and support – thank you.


Educators perceive female bullies differently than male bullies. Despite evidence that bullying is a serious problem within schools in the United States, there is little research which focuses on how educators perceive differences and similarities of adolescent bullies based upon the gender of the bully. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine how educators perceive male and female bullies when they are described as exhibiting identical behavior. Goffman’s theory of frames formed the theoretical foundation for this study. The independent variable of this study was gender of bully, and the three dependent variables were internalizing behavior, externalizing behavior, and social skills. Seventy-nine educators read one of two scenarios, featuring either a male bully or a female bully and then completed the Clinical Assessment of Behavior – Teacher Rating Form to reflect how they perceived the personality of the bully depicted in the scenario. The data collected were statistically analyzed using Analysis of Variance, Chi-square tests of independence and regression analyses. The results showed that educators do perceive male and female bullying behavior differently. The female bully was seen as more pathological, displaying higher levels of internalizing and externalizing behaviors whereas the male bully was perceived as exhibiting normal levels of both internalizing and externalizing behavior. There was no difference in perceived social skills. Implications for positive social change are that the results could be used to sensitize teachers about the importance of considering gender issues when intervening in bullying incidents.