The experience of student-to-teacher violation: A phenomenological study on Norwegian teachers being violated by students
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Violations against teachers by students is a little-explored theme in Norwegian schools. Society’s focus is often directed toward violations between students, referred to as bullying, whereas violations against teachers seems a taboo subject. In this study, 14 teachers were interviewed in depth using semistructured, open-ended questions. The sample was identified using the snowball method. All teachers had been violated by students in the form of threats or physical violence. Half of the teachers had been subjected to physical violence and half to threats. The teachers’ age and gender were evenly distributed, and all school levels were represented. The purpose of this study is to describe and understand how teachers experienced unforeseen events related to situations in which pupils exposed them to violations. The thesis is a qualitative study in which the teachers’ subjective experiences are emphasized. The study is theoretically based on phenomenology. Alfred Schütz is selected as the central theoretician to illuminate the reality revealed in the study. The study consists of an exegesis and three articles in English. The exegesis presents the methodical background, literature review, and choice of theory. The first article questions whether it is risky working as a teacher in Norway. Article two focuses on how teachers perceive the principal’s role following infringing episodes. Article three discusses how threats and physical violence affect teachers’ self-understanding. Interpretative phenomenological analysis is the methodological approach. In the analysis, two main themes appeared. (1) Perceived violations of students have a major influence on how teachers interpret their professional role and self-understanding. (2) Teachers are experiencing a lack of support. These findings point to the loss of basic security, a security that is not only linked to the role of teacher but also affects the perception of themselves as individuals. The study shows that teachers’ self-worth is threatened or weakened and in some cases even disrupted. Their experiences may lead teachers to leave their profession, change workplaces, or experience loneliness, lack of solidarity, stigmatization, insecurity, and loss of self.