Date of Conferral
Eric W. Hickey
New Jersey's high school teachers have many responsibilities to their students: they must educate them, work to mold their strength of character, and protect them from harming each other. The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (ABR), legally fortified these goals by protecting students from harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB), at the state level. Previous research has indicated that incident rates for these negative behaviors are growing globally. This reality has driven the need for intervention and prevention programming; however, few instances of successful implementation exist. An important gap remains in the current literature, as there is still a need to understand the teachers' perceptions of their role as the frontline defenders of anti-bullying policies. The primary area of focus for this qualitative study was on the challenges and supports encountered by teachers responsible for implementing their high school's anti-bullying program. Information was gathered using a phenomenological design through semi-structured, one-on-one interviews of 12 high school educators from three unique school districts. Lived experiences were interpreted using Espelage and Swearer's social-ecological system framework and Darley and Latané's bystander theory framework. The findings from this study gave voice to those responsible for implementing the ABR. Significant findings included policies that require reactive interactions with students where proactive measures would have been preferred, a lack of top-down communication, and ineffective prevention and intervention program training materials. An impetus for implementing policy change was established, and the potential for social change was welcomed through a move toward proactive measures in the school setting.