Emporia State Research Studies Vol. 52, Iss. 1-2
Special Issue (1) on Bullying: January 2019 Issue 2: January 2019
Artwork “Variables” by Roberta Eichenberg
Emporia State Research Studies Volume 52, Nos. 1 and 2 January, 2019 Volume 1: Special Issue on Bullying Amanda P. Brabec, George B. Yancy, C. D. Daniels, Jacoda L. Barger, and Henry Wijata: Contrapower harassment of professors by college students
Martha Lann and George B. Yancey: A cry for justice: Talking with workplace bullying victims Sonja Ezell: Combating marginalization through diversity-based book clubs
Xiuyi Guan and George B. Yancey: Cross-cultural differences in how performance appraisals are experienced
Rochelle Rowley and Gary Wyatt: The more things change, the more they stay the same: An analysis of cyberbullying experiences among college students
Connie Phelps, Ashley Beason-Manes, and Amy Lockman: Covert aggression and gifted adolescent girls
Volume 2 Thomas Richardson: On a mission for the Nation: A microhistory of Fr. Francis X. Weninger, S.J.
Paul D. Bland, Edwin Church, Amanda Lickteig, and Mingchu Neal Luo: When a frontier Kansas superintendent of schools caused a lynching
Connie Phelps and James S. Aber: Editorial Changes for ESRS
Connie Phelps, James S. Aber, and Michael Smith: ESRS reviewers from 2015-2019
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 1, p. 1-6 (2019)
Contrapower harassment of professors by college students AMANDA P. BRABEC,1 GEORGE B. YANCEY,2 C. D. DANIELS,1 JACODA L. BARGER1 AND HENRY WIJATA1 1. Emporia State University: A. Brabec <firstname.lastname@example.org>, C. D. Daniels <email@example.com>, J. L. Barger <firstname.lastname@example.org>, H. Wijata <email@example.com> 2. Southeast Missouri State University <firstname.lastname@example.org> This study investigated contrapower harassment by asking whether university students bullied their professors, how student bullying of faculty manifested, and the proneness of student bullying toward some types of professors more than others. Forty-five participants volunteered to complete an online survey consisting of 23 closed- and open-ended questions. Of those participants, 11 professors agreed to a follow-up semi-structured interview. Results showed that while not all professors reported student bullying, the majority of professors (51%) in our sample did. The most frequent types of student bullying were pressure to change grades and rude and insulting emails. Gender significantly related to student bullying with women more often the target than their male peers. The open-ended questions and follow-up interviews found contrapower harassment with students bullying their university professors occurred. This type of bullying presents a relatively new topic of interest that warrants further research using randomized sampling methodology. Keywords: contrapower harassment, bullying, college students, university faculty.
INTRODUCTION Although bullying behaviors are evident throughout the world (Chapell et al., 2006), research on bullying as a social issue has developed during the past few decades. When a person hears the word bullying, one may easily imagine a child aggressor on the playground pushing around and verbally teasing a child victim. Yet bullying extends well beyond the playground. Bullying exists in home environments, between genders, among cultural or ethnic groups, in the workplace, and the more recent phenomenon—through cyberspace. As with other social problems, bullying seems hard to prevent and difficult to address efficiently. Part of the problem may relate to the absence of a universal definition of bullying. For this study, we used Bassett’s (2007) definition of bullying: cruelty deliberately aimed at others with the intent of gaining power by inflicting psychological and/or physical pain. LITERATURE REVIEW Most psychological and physical bullying falls into one of two categories: direct or indirect (Olweus, 1993). Direct bullying includes actions such as physical and verbal aggression, teasing, and cyberbullying; indirect bullying includes behaviors like alienation, social isolation, and social ostracism (Larsen, 2014). Moreover, relational bullying occurs with lying, gossip, rumors, and social exclusion, whereas reputational bullying someone intends to harm a person’s social reputation. Batsche and Porter (2006) categorized direct bullying as proactive and reactive. Proactive bullying is object or persondirected, whereas reactive bullying occurs in response to anger or frustration.
Chapell et al. (2006) found bullying behaviors occur more commonly in younger individuals for both the bully and the victim with the rate of occurrence decreasing as most students mature. Verbal bullying is more common than social bullying (e.g., damaging one’s reputation), and physical bullying is the least common in elementary school, high school, and college (Chapell et al., 2006). Keelan, Schenk, McNally, and Fremouw (2014) discussed the interpersonal worlds of bullies. Predictors of bullies included peers who participated in illegal activities, psychological aggression, a tendency toward physical assault, and sexual coercion in relationships. The homes of bullies typically had lower cohesion, expressiveness, organization, control, social orientation, and higher conflict; bullies reported more psychological manipulation and sexual coercion from their romantic partners. Although the majority of bullying occurred mostly in school and sometimes is linked to the home environment, bullying did not cease after school years. Chapell et al. (2006) found the roles of bullies and victims remained fairly stable over time. Over half of their participants who bullied in high school also bullied in college. These college bullies then became adults who bullied adults in the workplace (Cooper, Einarsen, Hoel, & Zapf, 2003; Glendenning, 2001; Vega & Comer, 2005) and included bullying of faculty in the academic workplace (Halbur, 2005; Lewis, 2004; Nelson & Lambert, 2001). Bullying often aligned with sexism and racism (Lester, 2009)with bullied individuals often being women in the workplace(Lester, 2009; Lewis, 2004). Lewis found underreporting in workplace bullying associated in part due to the impact of shame (Lewis, 2004). As adults, employers expect employees to handle social situations on their own with bullying often seen as trivial issues that should not
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 concern adults. Accordingly, many workplace environments do not have policies in place to protect employees from bullying. Lester (2009) found a perceived power imbalance between the perpetrator and the victim enabled bullying among co-workers and faculty members at the university level. Typically, perpetrators either seek power over others or have power over others due to a supervisory role. Contrapower harassment refers to a situation in which an individual with lesser power within an institution harasses an individual with greater power (Lampman, Phelps, Bancroft, & Beneke, 2008). Contrapower harassment typically takes the form of disrespect, hostility, and violence; when threatened, these individuals desire retaliation. Lampman et al. (2008) suggested contrapower harassment occurred in both the workplace and at the university level as a result of a consumer attitude and Generation Me. Due to the high tuition rates, college students often developed a consumer attitude that entitled them to an education where faculty members served the needs of students. This consumer attitude could result in students taking drastic measures to ensure instructors give them what they want, often at the instructor’s expense. College students who use contrapower harassment demonstrated a Generation Me attitude, meaning that they were more self-centered and had higher self-esteem (Lampman et al., 2008). Rather than taking responsibility to earn them, students believed instructors should give them good grades because they paid so much money in tuition. Regardless of age, gender, race, or status, victims of bullying may experience anxiety, depression, high levels of stress or chronic stress, stress-related illness, feelings of inferiority, worthlessness, powerlessness, and a sense of terror (Lampman et al., 2008; Lester, 2009; Lewis, 2004). Victims’ experiences of bullying affect their mental health and can impact their physical well-being. Moreover, many physical ailments victims experience may result from the emotional impact of bullying (e.g., an individual suffering from anxiety and depression may also experience feelings of exhaustion). This study investigated the occurrence of college students bullying professors in universities and examined bullying behaviors that included physical and verbal threat, rude or insulting emails, stalking, or sexual comments. We also considered bully characteristics by gender (male, female) and academic level (graduate, undergraduate, or mixed) and the physical setting as private or public (office or classroom). We investigated how institutions dealt with instances of bullying. Our three research questions included: Do university students bully their professors? If so, how does the bullying manifest itself? Are some types of professors more prone to bullying than others?
2 METHODOLOGY Participants Forty-five faculty members teaching at two Midwestern universities volunteered to complete the survey. The participants’ teaching experience ranged from 1 year to 37 years, with a median of 17.5 years. Participants included men (56%) and women (44%) and both tenured (55%) and untenured (45%) status. Academic ranks included full professors (20%), associate professors (35%), assistant professors (20%), instructors (15%), adjunct (15%), and teaching assistants (5%). Academic disciplines included Education (27%), Business (5%), Liberal Arts and Sciences (46%), Library/Information Management (5%), Health professions (7%), and Other (10%). Faculty members taught undergraduate students (26%), graduate students (12%), or a blend of undergraduate and graduate students (62%). Thus, the majority of the participants attained tenure at the associate professor rank and taught both undergraduates and graduate students in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Materials We developed a 23-item online survey for university professors with 12 closed-ended questions (e.g., Have you ever been bullied by a college student in your career?) and 11 open-ended questions (e.g., What steps would you like to see taken at your university to address bullying?). We investigated three aspects of bullying: instances of bullying by students (e.g., Have you ever been bullied by a college student?), type of bullying behavior (e.g., Have you received rude or insulting email messages from a student?), and perspectives about bullying in their school (e.g., Did you feel you had support from your administration?). The 12 closedended items were yes-no questions about different types of bullying: stalking, verbal remarks, grade pressure, etc. A Cronbach’s alpha of 0.79 indicated internal consistency as a measure of bullying experiences for the 12 closed-ended items. We asked respondents whether they would agree to a followup interview about their experiences with students bullying professors. We secured agreement and made face-to-face interview appointments with 11 participants. The interview was semi-structured and lasted between 30 minutes to an hour. We recorded and transcribed the interviews verbatim. We asked professors to elaborate their responses and report incidents that the survey questions triggered for them in order to note their perception and experience of bullying Additionally, we asked participants about the amount of support received from an immediate administrator.
Brabec, Yancey, Daniels, Barger and Wijata Procedure We sent the 23-item online survey to two Midwestern universities. Although encouraged to complete all items, participants could opt out of items if they wished to do so. We collected survey data on an Excel spreadsheet that automatically uploaded their responses after each submission. Participants who agreed to the post-survey interviews provided the researchers with an email address. We contacted these participants through email to arrange the time and place for the interview. Prior to each interview, we asked the participants for permission to audio-record the interview and assigned interviews participant numbers. After the interviews, we transcribed the data and deleted all the audio recordings. RESULTS The majority (51%) of professors answered yes to our first research survey question, Do students bully university professors? While not every participant experienced student bullying, the majority of the sample did, which confirmed our first research question. Table 1 shows the survey results that address the second research question, How does bullying manifest? Types of bullying demonstrated a wide variety of behaviors with frequency ranging from pressure to change grades (57%) to physical threats (29%) to stalking (2%). For example, participants responded yes (54%) to the question, Have you received rude or insulting email messages from a student? One participant stated: Students have written to complain about my class or a particular assignment. At times I brush off rudeness as the students not knowing that they need to be professional in their emails, but sometimes the students are simply rude. Recently a student emailed to threaten that his parents (his father is a lawyer, he told me) would sue the university if he did not graduate on time. Respondents (29%) said that they have felt physically threatened. One participant elaborated on a response: The one undergrad demanding an A became red in the face, leaned over my desk toward me, shouted and pounded on the desk. A department chair recalled an incident of a student bullying a professor, for example, one time a very large male student behaved inappropriately in classâ€”putting his hand down his pants (baggy shorts), interrupting my colleague and speaking loudly and off topic. She was physically intimidated by this student. Participants (56.8%) reported strong pressure to increase or change a grade by a college student. Nearly half (48.8%) thought having high standards, difficulty getting good grades, increased the probability of bullying. One participant stated: Students receive much pressure from their parents for higher grades, as college tuition has skyrocketed. We
3 are also regularly being sent very strong signals from administrators to dumb down our standards and pass every student so that graduation rates will increase so that they will not lose funding. I am to the point of awarding Ds merely for enrolling in the course, so that students will not have to show up or perform any work to receiving a passing grade. That way, administrators, state legislators, parents, and students are much happier. We can thus have credentialed students, as opposed to being actually educated. The semi-structured interview questions permitted specific examples of students bullying their professors. The bullying tactics took place both in person and/or online. Their experiences indicated feelings of anger, frustration, physical threats, and incompetence. One professor felt physically threatened when stalked by a student. Followed by a hooded person with a book bag throughout the campus and then town, the respondent called for a ride and drove around town for one hour, afraid to go home. Another story revealed feelings of anger and frustration. The professor did not receive proper communication from the department chair after students approached the chair with complaints about the professor. The students told the chair that they already communicated their concerns with the professor. The chair decided to remove the professor from teaching the class. The professor was blindsided and unaware of student complaints. This event caused confusion and frustration, resulting in the professor submitting a letter of resignation. Another story demonstrated anger and frustration caused by an outburst in class leading a professor to seek help from other colleagues. As the professor was teaching class, a student demonstrated disrespect by talking to another student during lecture. When called out, the student replied, I was just telling her that being in this class is just like a giant shot of Novocain. After discussing the incident with colleagues, the professor wrote a letter requesting the student withdraw from the class. We examined the relationship between our demographic variables and the 12-item bullying scale to address our third research question, Are some professors more prone to bullying than others? We found gender significantly related to bullying experiences, t(32) = 3.87, p = 0.001. Female professors averaged 4.86 instances compared to the male average of 1.95 experiences. Female professors typically answered yes to 5 of the 12 closed-ended items in Table 1, while male professors answered yes to only 2 of the 12 items. Thus, students more frequently targeted women than their male peers in the survey closed-ended item results. An examination of Table 2 shows women experienced significantly (p < 0.001) more bullying from students than men except in the form of written sexual comments or propositions where they were equal. Also, women reported more bullying at
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019
Table 1. Manifestation of bullying.
Table 2. Bullying by gender. *Chi-Square significant at 0.01 level; **Chi-Square significant at 0.001 level.
Have you ever been pressured to increase or change a grade by a college student?
Have you received rude or insulting Email messages from a student?
Have you ever been bullied by a college student?
Have you ever been pressured to increase or change a grade by a college student?
Have you received rude or insulting Email messages from a student?
Have you ever been bullied by a college student?**
Have you experienced bullying from more than one student?*
Have you ever felt physically threatened?
Have you experienced bullying from more than one student?
Have you ever felt physically threatened?
Have you experienced derogatory remarks made by a student on websites, such as Rate My Professor, Facebook, or in a newspaper article?
Have you experienced derogatory remarks made by a student on websites, such as Rate My Professor, Facebook, or in a newspaper article?
Have you been bullied in a college classroom?*
Have you been bullied in a college classroom?
Have you ever felt concern for your safety as a result of being bullied by a college student? Have you received written sexual comments or propositions from a college student?
Did the bullying take the form of sexist comments?
Have you received obscene phone calls which you believed was a college student?
Have you been stalked by a college student?
Have you ever felt concern for your safety as a result of being bullied by a college student?
Have you received written sexual comments or propositions from a college student?
Did the bullying take the form of sexist comments?
Have you received obscene phone calls which you believed was a college student?
Have you been stalked by a college student?
significant levels by more than one student (p < 0.01) and in the classroom environment (p < 0.01) than did men. We found no significant difference, t(33) = 1.89, p = 0.07, between tenured and untenured professors who experienced bullying by students; however, the mean (M = 4.00) for tenured professors was higher than the average number of experiences for non-tenured professors (M = 2.41). Faculty rank also seemed unrelated to bullying, r = -0.23, p = 0.18. The negative correlation indicated that professors with higher rank (e.g., full professors) tended to experience more bullying than those in lower academic ranks. For academic disciplines, we formed three groups for participants: Liberal Arts and Sciences, Education, and Other for remaining academic disciplines. There were no significant differences in bullying, F(2, 31) = 0.73, p = 0.49, among Education (3.75), Liberal Arts and Sciences (3.31), and Other (2.17). For type of student (undergraduate, graduate, mixed), there were no significant differences, F(2, 32) = 0.86, p = 0.43. The number of instances for bullying varied by professors who taught only graduate students (M = 4.5), undergraduates (M = 3.6), or mixed undergraduate and graduate students (M = 2.81).
Although not a research question, we asked how participants dealt with bullying experiences. Solutions included confronting the student (61%), filing a formal complaint with the department chair (21%), reporting to an intervention team (14%), reporting to the student advisor (11%), calling security for an escort to the faculty member’s car (7%), and a variety of other (32%). One participant stated: I have never felt that there was any real support for faculty in these cases, and I have always done everything I can to deal with them myself. The general atmosphere in academia . . . is that students are helpless innocents, at the mercy of vicious and cruel faculty, and that faculty can always change students’ behavior if they just give the students what they demand. Why bother trying to get help? Anything less than a clear and imminent physical threat with written or recorded evidence will be dismissed as ‘being too sensitive’ or ‘needing to let it go.’ We asked the participants if they thought grading leniently would lessen bullying with more responding no (59%) than yes (41%). Professors without instances of bullying believed easy grading would reduce bullying while professors with bullying experience believed easy grading would increase bullying. Next, we asked participants if they thought maintaining high standards and a difficult grading system increased bullying, and they replied with nearly equal
Brabec, Yancey, Daniels, Barger and Wijata responses (51% no, 49% yes). Their responses related significantly according to whether respondents experienced student bullying or not. We also asked the participants if they had ever witnessed bullying of a colleague with 29% responding yes, and 71% answering no. When we asked the 29% what they did when encountering bullying of colleagues, the most frequent response was to confront the student. Finally, we asked the participants if they felt bullying was a problem at their university. Most (62%) responded no, but 38% said yes. Those without bullying experiences (14%) believed it was a problem, and professors with bullying experiences (65%) thought student bullying of faculty problematic. One participant found: Students know if they yell loud enough they will get what they want. College has become all about the money and not the quality of student. It is no longer a place of ‘higher education’ but a service industry where the ‘customer is always right.’ The 11 open-ended questions shed light on the respondent’s personal experience. As one faculty member stated: One day, I started lecturing. This person got a bag of carrots that are very crunchy and … I had to stop and say, ‘What are you eating? Get rid of that right now.’ To me, that was intentional. The problem with this is it takes a lot of energy from you. DISCUSSION This study investigated the occurrence of contrapower harassment with students bullying professors at the university level. Research suggests a paucity of studies about contrapower harassment at the post-secondary level. According to Lampman et al. (2008), professors encounter bullying due to a sense of entitlement that students develop while attending college. Lewis (2004) found bullying in the workplace goes unreported, partly due to shame, which may limit research studies. Our survey results found college students bully university faculty. About half of our participants experienced bullying in the form of rude or insulting emails, and pressure to change grades. They believed maintaining high standards and difficulty getting good grades increased the probability of bullying, and grading leniently helped to avoid bullying situations. About a quarter of the participants experienced physical threats and knew of derogatory remarks posted on websites. Although this study included more men than women respondents, we found female professors experienced significantly more bullying than their male colleagues. Semistructured interviews further supported our finding that college students bully university faculty.
5 Contrapower harassment affected participants’ physical and emotional health in long-lasting ways. A professor stated, I actually did turn in my resignation. Because I felt so judged, in a derogatory, naive way that I thought, you know, maybe this is my response. Professors experienced high levels of stress: I have had several instances where I have felt threatened, but one incidence in particular stands out. I had a student take my class three times. Each time she took the class, she refused to follow the requirements. When I did not accept her explanation and excuse her from the assignments, then she would send rude, threatening emails. At one point she called me an idiot. She also asked me if I had ever taught before and even asked me if she needed to come to [campus] to show me how to teach. My chair became involved and the student also lashed out at her asking why she thought she should be involved. She would ask me to call and when I would, she would not answer the phone. Then she would accuse me of refusing to help her with her problem. It was very stressful! Lewis (2004) found victims experienced emotions of powerlessness and a sense of terror. One participant stated: . . . I have also been called names by students for giving them homework assignments or for denying them points because they cheated on writing assignments. Students— veryfew—have gotten right into my face and shouted at me. Honestly speaking, I don’t know what to do in these situations, so I do nothing, I do not think that it is right not to stand up for myself, but I feel powerless because I feel unsupported . . . Although universities may have bullying policies in place, the procedures may fail to address student bullying of their professors. Without policies to protect them, how can professors effectively handle bullying when they become the victim? Semi-structured interviews suggested an idea that successfully involved a face-to-face meeting with all faculty members bullied by a particular student. Initially, each faculty member shared their experience of the student’s behavior, then stated as a group they would no longer tolerate those behaviors in their classes. If a change was not made, the faculty member would initiate a student withdrawal. After this intervention the student’s bullying behaviors ceased in all classes. LIMITATIONS Limitations of the study include a small sample size from two Midwestern universities. Since research indicates women experience bullying more frequently, the study needed equal representation from male and female participants in a
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 randomized sampling to gain a clarity on female professor encounters with student bullying. Online surveys tend to have low response rates, and our survey received a 10% response rate. Professors without bullying experiences might have been less likely to respond to the survey. Paper and pencil surveys may or may not have gleaned more responses. The emotional overlay of bullying experiences might have inhibited individuals from sharing. Revised survey questions reflecting the sensitive nature of the topic might impact participants to respond or elaborate their experiences with specific examples. With limited research on student bullying of university professors, more research on this form of contrapower harassment could raise awareness of the struggles professors face with students who bully them. Students who bully in P-12 grades may carry these behaviors with them into college and workplace. Effective bullying interventions need to address contrapower harassment for students who bully their professors as well as students who bully each other. The movement in higher education toward online courses opens up the vulnerability of professors as victims of cyberbullying. A larger issue concerns the increasing consumer attitude of students who feel entitled to good grades because they pay high tuition rates. Contrapower harassment harms the mental health of professors. Future research needs to consider implications of professors who leave higher education as a result of contrapower harassment. Though limited, our survey and semi-structured interviews verified the existence of contrapower harassment of faculty bullied by their students. The paucity of the research studies may either reflect the phenomenon is uncommon or unrecognized as a form of bullying. Nevertheless, universities need procedures in place to support faculty when students bully them. Procedural steps might come under the purview of the academic departments and/or administrative offices that prevent crises. Administrators and department chairs need ongoing training in bullying on campus, and faculty need to reach consensus about contrapower harassment within their own departments. CONCLUSION There has been considerable research in bullying in grades K12 for a number of years with the resultant development of schoolwide programs to prevent bullying. Additionally, there has been a great deal of research of bullying in the workplace. Interestingly, there has been little research at the university level, particularly with students bullying professors. Forms of bullying at this level are similar to other forums. Our research reported frequent instances of student bullying behaviors in the form of rude or insulting emails, physical and verbal threats, and intimidation with professors experiencing verbal, relational,
6 and cyberbullying. More serious bullying incidents, such as stalking, made professors feel threatened and unsafe. Contrapower harassment of students bullying professors forms a relatively new topic of interest needing further research. Universities need to develop policies, procedures, and interventions for both the bullies and professors in order to create and maintain a safe campus environment. REFERENCES Basset, J. M. (2007). Teachers’ lived experiences of bullying. ProQuest Information and Learning Company. Batsche, G. M., & Porter, L. J. (2006). Bullying. Children’s needs III: Development, prevention, and intervention. Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists. Chapell, M. S., Hasselman, S. L., Kitchin, T., Lomon, S. N., Maclever, K. W, & Sarullo, P. L. (2006). Bullying in elementary school, high school, and college. Adolescence, 41(164), 633-48. Cooper, C., Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., & Zapf, D. (Eds.) (2003). Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Glendenning, P. M. (2001). Workplace bullying: Curing the cancer of the American workplace. Public Personnel Management, 30, 269-286. Halbur,, K. V. (2005). Bullying in the academic workplace. Academic Leader, 21, 3-7. Keelan, C. M., Schenk, A. M., McNally, M. R., & Fremouw, W. J. (2014). The interpersonal worlds of bullies: Parents, peers, and partners. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(7), 1338-1353. Lampman, C., Phelps, A., Bancroft, S., & Beneke, M. (2008). Contrapower harassment in academia: A survey of faculty experience with student incivility, bullying, and sexual attention. Sex Roles, 60, 331-346. Larsen, K. M. (2014). Bystanders and bullying: A reflective examination of college students’ experiences. Retrieved from https://scholar.utc.edu/honors-theses/12 Lester, J. (2009). Not your child’s playground: Workplace bullying among community college faculty. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 33(5), 442-262. Lewis, D. (2004). Bullying at work: The impact of shame among university and college lecturers. British Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 32(3), 281-298. Nelson, E. D., & Lambert, R. D. (2001). Sticks, stones, and semantics: The ivory tower bully’s vocabulary of motives. Qualitative Sociology, 24(1), 83-106. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Vega, G., & Comer, D. R. (2005). Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break your spirit: Bullying in the workplace. Journal of business Ethics, 58, 101-109.
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 1, p. 7-20 (2019)
A cry for justice: Talking with workplace bullying victims MARTHA LANN1 AND GEORGE B. YANCEY2 1. Oklahoma State University <email@example.com> 2. Southeast Missouri State University <firstname.lastname@example.org> The effects of workplace bullying on ten victims were investigated using an open-ended interview guided by 12 questions. Most of the participants were emotionally distraught years after the bullying. Physical health problems resulting from the harassment were also common with most participants. Gender differences were found in the methods used by participants to stop the bullying. Most of the men preferred direct confrontation while most of the women relied on avoidance. Most of the participants developed a belief in karma to help them cope and develop a sense of closure. Many were pleased, many years later, to see their bullies having difficulties in life. Not only was the experience of bullying distressing, all of the participants noted the lack of organizational support in helping them deal with the bullying situation. It is the researchers’ hope that studies such as this one will empower victims of workplace bullying and facilitate social change to help workplaces be physically and emotionally safer for employees. Keywords: workplace bullying, work harassment, hostile work environment, mobbing. CHANGING
America experienced a sea change in its attitudes towards sexual harassment during 2017. Time magazine noted this by naming “The Silence Breakers: The Voices that Launched a Movement” its 2017 Person of the Year (Zacharek, Dockterman, & Edwards, 2017). As Zarkov and Davis (2018) observed: Hardly a day has passed since the accusations of sexual harassment against US film producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017 without a new allegation being made. Powerful men – producers, actors, directors, politicians, well-known TV anchors, journalists and sports doctors – have been publicly accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape by a growing number of women. (p. 3) However, the fall of famous men for sexual harassment began before Harvey Weinstein. One tipping point was October 16, 2014, when the comedian Hannibal Buress poked fun at Bill Cosby’s message to black America, “Pull your pants up, black people—I was on TV in the ’80s,” and then he added “Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.” Although Cosby had previously been accused, Burris’ comedy routine went viral on the Internet and over 50 women came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape. He was tried for rape in 2017 and found guilty in 2018 after a retrial. In 2016, Roger Ailes lost his job at Fox News followed by Bill O’Reilly’s departure at the beginning of 2017 for years of sexually harassment. During the 2016 presidential primaries, 19 women accused the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, of sexual assault and harassment. Thus, the zeitgeist had already started to change before the Weinstein stories broke in the New York Times (Kantor & Twohey, 2017) and the New Yorker (Farrow, 2017) in October 2017.
Perhaps the Weinstein revelations added some high octane fuel to the movement because of the fame and high status of the victims. Zarkov and Davis (2018) noted: Within days after the first accusations against Weinstein appeared in the media, women who had had similar experiences began to use the #MeToo platform to tell their story. Since then #MeToo has become a global phenomenon, spreading from the US to the UK, Canada, Australia, Israel, India and beyond. The end is nowhere in sight. (p. 3) The #MeToo movement encourages women to use social media to tell their stories of sexual assault and harassment. The goal is to raise awareness of the breadth of the problem in our society. It goes by other names and other languages in other countries. There is also the Time’s Up movement which advocates for gender parity and has built a legal defense fund that supports lower-income women seeking justice for sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. While most of the victims who have come forward are women, men have come forward too. The best example of this trend are men who claimed Kevin Spacey made inappropriate sexual advances on them when they were young, underage actors. The real energy behind the movement is fueled by the sheer amount of sexual harassment women experience at work. In their comprehensive study of workplace harassment in the United States, Feldblum and Lipnic (2016) concluded that 25% to 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Even the lowest estimate would mean that at least one in four women have been harassed. Based on a Wall Street Journal – NBC poll, Radnofsky (2017) reported 48% of the female respondents said that they had been sexually harassed
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 at work. Also, 41% of the male respondents said that they had witnessed sexual harassment occur at work. Whichever statistic is used, it is a problem of epidemic proportions. Combined with the mistreatment are feelings of having no means to effectively fight back. As Margaret Atwood (2018) recently expressed: The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn’t get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective, and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? (para. 14) Atwood (2018) expressed an underlying issue in the movement: Furthermore, I believe that in order to have civil and human rights for women there have to be civil and human rights, period, including the right to fundamental justice, just as for women to have the vote, there has to be a vote. (para. 5)
8 internationally as well as in the United States (Vartia & Hyyti, 2002). Workplace bullying is defined as anything which creates a hostile work environment (Salin, 2001), includes verbal, non-verbal or physical aggression (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006) in which one or several individuals, termed victims feel they are on the receiving end of abusive treatment from one or several persons, in other words, bullies (Hoel, Cooper & Faragher, 2004). Lutgen-Sandvik (2006) reported a prevalence rate of workplace bullying in the United States of 28% to 36%, with an average of 25% in organizations reporting workplace abuse of their employees. Bullied workers reported that on-going workplace bullying lasted about 18-20 months, on average. Namie and Namie (2009) reported a prevalence rate of 37%, which would mean that 54 million employees in the United States are bullied in the workplace. In a study of 29 organizations in Leicester, England, 15% of the employees surveyed reported that they had been bullied over the previous year and 28% during the previous five years (Dawood, 2013). Abuse of power
She is concerned with the accused denied a right to due process, a discussion for another day. While the changing zeitgeist deals mainly with exposing powerful men who have sexually harassed and/or assaulted those in less powerful positions, some victim stories recall incidents of non-sexual bullying, physical intimidation, emotional and psychological abuse. The purpose of this paper is to explore a wide variety of bullying incidents in the workplace. RESEARCH ON WORKPLACE BULLYING While bullying in the workplace is probably endemic of the human condition, European social scientists have studied workplace bullying since the mid-1980s when researchers from Scandinavian countries and Germany started investigating the prevalence and types of workplace bullying (Salin, 2001). Swedish researchers began studying bullying in their schoolyards in the 1960s, which eventually led to workplace bullying research in the 1980s. Researchers from Norway and Finland termed it “workplace harassment” (Hodson, Roseigno & Lopez, 2006). Heinz Leymann (1990), a German physician and psychiatrist working as a family therapist specializing in family conflicts, noticed the same patterns in his adult patients as displayed by the bullied children in the schoolyard and decided to expand his work to include bullying in the workplace. Leymann used the word “mobbing” in 1986 to describe these behaviors in his book, and the term is still used in Northern Europe today (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008). The British BBC broadcast a series about the subject, calling it “Bullying at Work” (Ferris, 2009). Regardless of whether it is called harassment, mobbing, or bullying, it is a serious problem in the workplace
Power is at the heart of the definition of workplace bullying. Frequently, bullying occurs in a hierarchical situation, where the abuser misuses his or her positional power to bully a subordinate (Liefooghe & Mackenzie-Davey, 2001), such as those in low-status service positions. Bullying may run rampant from overbearing supervisors and pressures to increase production (Hodson, Roseigno & Lopez, 2006). Power or dominance may also be displayed by peers through intimidation and harassment (Liefooghe & Mackenzie-Davey, 2001; Matthiesen & Einarsen, 2001). Strandmark and Hallberg (2007) conducted a study using grounded theory methodology and the theme of “struggling for power” emerged as the core or strongest theme. In some industries, power over others is even seen as a normal way to conduct business. For example, commercial kitchens are often a breeding ground for abusive behaviors where tantrums, verbal abuse, humiliation and coercion abound (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008). In Namie and Namie’s 2009 study, most of the bullies (72%) had supervisory responsibilities, while most of the victims (55%) were nonsupervisory employees. However, 35% of the victims were supervisors. Negative impacts on employee health and well-being Bullying may jeopardize the health and well-being of victims and cause psychological problems to come to the surface (Vartia & Hyyti, 2002). MacIntosh (2005) reported that multiple physical problems were seen in victims, including cardiovascular disease, long-term fatigue, headaches, dry throat, gastrointestinal problems, weight loss or gain, sleep
Lann and Yancey disturbances, hyper-vigilance, loss of energy and impotence. The psychological problems that arise are likewise varied. Tension and stress intensifies with the presence of bullies (MacIntosh, 2005). Confidence may be crushed and may take victims years to recover (Schachner Chanen, 1999). Anxiety and depression (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006; O’Brennan, Bradshaw, & Sawyer, 2008), frustration (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006), lack of concentration (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006; MacIntosh, 2005), insecurity, loneliness (O’Brennan, Bradshaw, & Sawyer, 2008), alcohol abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (LutgenSandvik, 2006) are some of the symptoms seen in clinical practices. Disturbingly, suicide is not uncommon with victims of workplace bullying (Strandmark & Hallberg, 2007). Dawood (2013) noted that a number of the victims in her study experienced harmful effects to their physical and psychological health. In addition, some victims also suffered poorer job performance or problems in their personal life as a result of being bullied at work. Some bullying tactics affect victims more than others. The tactics that are most damaging to a person’s self-concept and that fuel more retaliation are public humiliation, unfair accusations, and insults (Lee, 2006). These tactics may decrease the victims’ self-esteem and self-confidence and leave them feeling put down (Strandmark & Halberg, 2007, Tehrani, 2012), guilty with self-contempt (Tehrani, 2012), and that the abuse may be totally their own fault (Strandmark & Halberg, 2007). Self-doubt in the victim has also been shown to mediate the impact of bullying on physical health (Matthiesen & Einarsen, 2001). Thus, bullying tactics that employ personal insults that increase the victim’s self-doubts increase the probability that the victim will suffer serious health problems. Gender differences There are typically two groups of bullying tactics, indirect aggression and direct aggression. Indirect aggression is covert or concealed while direct aggression is overt or blatant (Lee, 2006; Liefooghe & Mackenzie-Davey, 2001). Women abuse in more indirect ways (Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir, 2004; Strandmark & Hallberg, 2007), which may be a result of their lack of physical strength. They learn verbal and social aggressive tactics (Strandmark & Hallberg, 2007) to hide their aggression with indirect bullying in order to protect themselves and to continue bullying their victims (Lee, 2006). Victims may doubt themselves and wonder whether the abuse is even occurring when abusers use indirect bullying. These tactics are less confrontational; victims may be unable to confirm bullying really exists, much less do anything about it (Lee, 2006). Any resistance to bullying by the victim may be framed as causing trouble or insubordination, and the bully may blame the victim as instigating all of the trouble (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006). Indirect tactics may not seem like bullying because the bully does it in such a way as to make it look like it is normal or innocent, and
9 the bully may be hidden or unidentified and protected from reprisal while continuing to abuse (Lee, 2006). Bullying usually starts with covert or indirect aggression and leads to direct or overt tactics, the second type of bullying (Lee, 2006). Men especially use direct, overt, and aggressive tactics to bully their victims which may eventually lead to physical aggression (Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir, 2004). Overt tactics include threatening the victim with the loss of his or her job, public humiliation, screaming, taking false credit for victim’s work (Lee, 2006), throwing things in the victim’s work area, yelling profanities, aggressive body language, unchecked anger, trespassing on personal property, and imposing on personal time, such as demanding work after hours and incessant telephone call intrusions at home after work (MacIntosh, 2005). There are also distinct gender differences with resistance to workplace bullying. Men use more direct resistance tactics and women use more indirect resistance strategies. Men tend to use externalizing problem solving and fight back more than women using an assertive approach. Men confront the bully more often compared to women who tend to avoid the bully. Men are more abused with physical aggression than women, and they handle the problem in direct and physical ways. Female victims tend to use internalizing resistance tactics to cope, such as stress recognition, which includes crying. They seek help from others such as friends, parents, or teachers. Women are more likely to tell of the abuse and seek help than men (Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir, 2004). The role of witnesses Many more people witness bullying than are themselves direct victims (Tehrani, 2012). Many workers (80%) in the United States are witnesses to bullying (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006). Witnesses also suffer with lower job satisfaction, less productivity, higher stress levels, and depression (Einarsen, Hoel, Zaph & Cooper, 2003). Intervening in a bullying situation may cause the witness to lose social standing and be bullied along with the victim (Tehrani, 2012). Sympathy fatigue can set in and witnesses may become agitated and disappointed if the victim ignores the problem and does not take appropriate action (Tehrani, 2012). When bullies feel they have support from the witnesses, they justify bullying by diffusion of responsibility. While bullying is a terrible thing to witness, it is good to have many witnesses (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006), if the witnesses are willing to come forward and report. Tehrani (2012) suggests that those who witness bullying are in the best position to end it. Witnesses or other victims may come together to become a collective voice, discuss the abuse, and provide a means of support and validation for the victim. Collective resistance to abuse reduces bullying as workers agree there is unacceptable behavior and band together to
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 make a difference (Hoel, Cooper, & Faragher, 2004). Witnesses help in other ways by sharing information about job opportunities in other companies and sharing stories about other past victims who are happy elsewhere, even though they may have taken a cut in pay. This cohesion of victims and witnesses helps to stop the “pitting of one against another,” which the bully may instigate. This cohesion also gives strength to the victims and helps them to report the abuse to the authorities and sometimes helps the organization realize there is real workplace bullying taking place in the organization (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006). Of course, some of the advantages of having witnesses evaporate if the organization fails to respond to the employees’ reports of bullying. Bully and victim personality profiles Researchers have found that some personality traits may predict victimization and bullying behavior (Salin, 2001). Bullies tend to be more extroverted than victims (Matthiesen & Einarsen, 2001). One facet of extroversion that may be detrimental to good working relationships is the facet of dominance, characterized by striving for superiority, control, and influence over others (Driskell, Salas, Goodwin & O’Shea, 2006). Workplace bullies set out for vengeance and work to right the injustices they feel others caused by their words or actions (Ferris, 2009). Samnani (2012) suggested bullies engage in a lot of revenge thoughts and plans, which may be driven by high levels of ego and possibly narcissism. Bullies may even be psychopathic or at least have a large number of psychopathic traits (Ferris, 2009). Victims are more conscientious, overachieving (Lind, Glaso, Pallesen & Einarsen, 2009; MacIntosh, 2005; Matthiesen & Einarsen, 2001), and submissive than bullies (MacIntosh, 2005). Victims with high conscientiousness have even been labeled as “provocative” victims, irritating the bully by their perfectionistic ways, such as demonstrating organizational skills, adhering to the rules, maintaining high morals, and appearing to patronize others. Post-traumatic stress disorder is often overlooked in victims, and they are often misdiagnosed as having borderline personality disorder (Namie & Namie, 2009). Interestingly, those who are repeatedly bullied sometimes learn to develop a cynical attitude about their situation as a coping strategy. In a study by Matthiesen and Einarsen (2001), victims who reported the greater number of bullying instances were lower in psychosomatic problems than those who reported fewer instances. This may explain why many victims choose not to report abuse. Perhaps they cynically conclude, “What do you expect, that’s just the way things are.” Perhaps the changing zeitgeist previously discussed is overdue, and cynical attitudes may now be replaced with a more empowered attitude of “that is not the way things should be.”
10 Organizational repercussions Bullying in the workplace impacts the environment with decreased employee morale, productivity (Schachner Chanen, 1999), and job satisfaction (Vartia & Hyyti, 2002). Individuals may fear that if they speak up, they will also be abused. This fear causes work teams to suffer (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006) through inhibition in team performance (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008; Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir, 2004). The victim shows up for work but with less motivation, productivity, and poorer quality of work. This may cost organizations 7.5-10 times the costs of absenteeism (Ferris, 2009). This type of resistance provides bullies ammunition to complain about the victim’s laziness and poor performance (Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir, 2004). The organization may turn a blind eye to the abuse and fail to address the bullying issue because they are busy blaming the victim for lowered work performance and possibly becoming a troublemaker (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006). Bullying not only affects morale in the organization, it may also have negative effects on the organization’s productivity. Highly educated men rate their work ability lower after they have been bullied (Vartia & Hyyti, 2002). Innovation (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008; Giorgi, Ando, Arenas, Shoss, & Leon-Perez, 2013), morale, and organizational citizenship behaviors are affected as victims lose their incentives, learn to keep quiet, and let the bully take control. Their silence creates less flexibility in the organization, promotes less competition, and limits the number of quality recruits available for the organization (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008). Victims have higher absenteeism and turnover rates, and these earlier retirements place financial burdens on the organization (Salin, 2001). Remediation The most common resistance tactic in the beginning of abuse is to talk with the abuser (Lee, 2006). The victim may start with rational thoughts of solving the problem through conferencing with the bully and trying to work things out (Lee, 2006; LutgenSandvik, 2006). If the abuser continues, the victim may try to counter the attacks with his or her own aggressive arguments. This usually makes things worse, and the bully has ammunition to continue and fight even harder. Victims become efficient in maneuvering around the bully and finding other jobs in the organization far from the bully (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2006). If the aggression continues, the victim will want to leave the organization altogether (Lee, 2006). Anti-bullying policies must be implemented to make the abuse known and eliminated. Direct action may be taken to start coaching sessions and other interventions for the bully. Researchers advocate cognitive, moral development, training courses to promote ethical decision making (Trevino & Youngblood, 1990) and other
Lann and Yancey training programs that create respectful workplaces (Ferris, 2009). METHOD Researchers’ stance This study employed critical ethnography methodology. Traditionally, rather than praise or discredit the cultures examined, ethnographers seek to convey factual information about the culture (Madison, 2005). A common method of data collection used by ethnographers is to observe and interact with participants. Narratives, life histories, audio and video recordings, and photographs are common in ethnographic data collection. Critical ethnography is a combination of critical theory and ethnography—ethnography with a social purpose. Critical ethnographers investigate unfairness or injustice within a group or a culture. The purpose of the research illuminates unjust situations in order to eliminate them (Madison, 2005). Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Squire, and Newell (2004) pointed out that a critical ethnographer is a social change agent as well as scientific observer. Within the critical ethnology framework, we listened to the participants’ stories with a sympathetic ear. We were aware that most of the victims occupied positions of less power than their abusers. We did not study the role the victim might have played in the abuse situation. Nor did we seek out the bullies to hear their side of the story as participants in the study. Our focus concerned social injustice encountered by the victims who experienced bullying in the workplace. Participants The 10 participants were all victims of workplace bullying and employed in or near Stillwater, Oklahoma. The lead author approached co-workers, friends, and relatives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and asked them if they had been victims of workplace bulling and if they would be interested in participating in her research. Those who answered yes were enlisted as participants in the study. They ranged in age from 23 to 59. Three were men and seven were women. Measures Workplace bullying questionnaire. All of the participants were asked 12 open-ended questions with the lead researcher asking a number of follow up and probing questions to elicit more detail. Below are the 12 questions that were used as a guideline for each interview: 1. Tell me about when you were bullied at work. What were your main concerns? 2. Did your boss or organization respond in any way to the bullying? 3. Do you think the bully had more power than you? 4. How do you define power?
11 5. How did the bullying make you feel emotionally? 6. Did the bullying affect you in any way physically? 7. Were there any witnesses to the bullying, and if there were, what were their responses? 8. Did the bullying affect your relationships with your colleagues at work? 9. Did the bullying affect your family life? 10. Do you think you should have done anything differently? 11. Do you think the bullying affected the organization? If so, how? 12. What do you think organizations should do to stop workplace bullying? Procedures Initial data collection. Due to the sensitive nature of the study, it was important for the lead author to build rapport and trust with participants so they would feel safe enough to explore each question in depth. To build rapport with each participant, the primary investigator reviewed informed consent documents so that participants would understand that their confidentiality would be protected. The interviews were conducted in locations that ensured privacy. Each interview was semi-structured. The interviewer initiated the conversation for each item and advanced to the next item when participants concluded their remarks. Many participants were more comfortable with the structured questions. The interviewer avoided leading questions that might reveal potential biases or promote personal opinions. The primary investigator encouraged elaboration and probed for details when appropriate. Interviews began by asking victims to tell the story of their abuse in their own words from beginning to end. Each interview lasted approximately one hour. All interviews were audiotaped to ensure the accuracy of the transcriptions of all interviews. Building initial grounded theory. The term grounded theory was coined by sociologists Glaser and Strauss (1967) to describe their methodology studying institutional care of the terminally ill. According to Charmaz (1996, p. 32), “The hallmark of grounded theory studies consists of the researcher deriving his or her analytic categories directly from the data, not from preconceived concepts or hypotheses” (p. 32). In other words, the results are grounded in the data secured during the study. Charmaz (1996) described the process of building a grounded theory study: You start with individual cases, incidents or experiences and develop progressively more abstract conceptual categories to synthesize, to explain and to understand your data and to identify patterned relationships within it. (p. 22)
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 When initially reviewing the data, we coded each transcript by summarizing phrases with similar meanings into as few words as possible. After the initial coding of the data, we went back through the data to develop higher order conceptual themes to synthesize the participants’ experiences. For example, one of the first things we noticed was the prevalence of many negative emotions, such as frustration, anxiety, anger, sadness, helplessness, and humiliation. As we reexamined these negative emotions, we noted connections. For example, not only did the negative emotions flow from the bullying experiences, but they were often followed by physical ailments which formed another grouping. Also, some victims noticed that the negative emotions not only inhibited their health, but also the quality of their work, their work life, and their family and personal lives as well. In the end, we observed a number of interconnected themes. Second data collection and building a final grounded theory. We asked the participants to review the initial grounded theory that emerged to make sure it corresponded with their view of reality. This step helped us avoid unintentionally imposing personal perspectives when analyzing and interpreting data. Reporting results. We organized results around the multiple themes that emerged from the data. To build the themes, we used examples from the participants’ stories so the participants expressed reality in their own voices. Creswell (2007) discussed the narrative research process: The basic purpose of phenomenology is to reduce individual experience with a phenomenon to a description of the universal essence. … The inquirer then collects data from persons who have experienced the phenomenon and develops a composite description of the essence of the experience for all of the individuals. (p. 58) To support this type of research in industrial-organizational psychology, Weiss and Rupp (2011) argued for a more personcentric work psychology that explored “the person in all his or her subjectivity” (p. 84). They felt that most of the research studies in industrial-organizational psychology viewed employees as abstractions, as objects with a given amount of organizational commitment, job satisfaction, or job performance. What was lost was the lived experience, what it felt like to work or experience a particular event such as getting bullied at work. In our literature review, we came across many quantitative studies that examined the types and prevalence of workplace bullying; however, few articles described the victim’s personal experience. RESULTS Initial themes Bullying behavior. As one participant eloquently put it, “I guess there’s a lot of ways a person can be bullied or harassed.”
12 Most of the participants were not physically intimidated, although some were. What the bullies had in common was a desire to dominate (everything had to be done their way) and punish (when it was not done their way). Here are some examples of the varieties of bullying: “No matter what you did, it was wrong. … It’s just the people who were higher up were the bullies. … They just had more connections in the social structure. It’s all about being up there. They knew more people. They were really spiteful about it.” The bully “had a habit of bullying me and other employees by using foul language and a tough guy approach.” “She thought she could just do whatever she wanted to us. She did not care. She didn’t care who it hurt or anything.” “At first they weren’t trying to hurt me, it was just intimidation. One of my coworkers would come up and say ‘excuse me’ and push me. I didn’t think much about it until it became a habit. After three days in a row I thought this wasn’t right. The worst thing that happened was when one of my coworkers got poisoned. I was on the floor and she came out of the break room. She ran over to me and another coworker. She was trying to talk to us and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. She was holding her throat and I couldn’t understand her. She had her drink and said something was in it. Her throat and mouth was burning. I called the ambulance and they took her to the hospital. They had to pump her stomach. It was a cleaning chemical the guys at work had put in her drink. I believe they thought it was my drink because I always brought a drink and the other lady hardly ever brought one. But on that day she brought one. I think they were trying to poison me. The lady was threatened if she told anyone about it she would be fired. They told us to hush up about the poisoning and go back to work. That was all they did. The guys who did it were relatives to the boss so they were protected.” “One of my supervisors would come up behind me while I was standing at the gut table. I didn’t think much of it at first but he kept doing it and getting closer and closer. I finally just walked away from the table and just got away. He would approach me at the bar even with my husband there off a little bit. He said if I wanted to move up the ladder I could … Then he made a move for me. I told him in no uncertain words I definitely loved my husband and I would never do that with him. He left me alone after that. It was awful. He was a real jerk. So, there a lot of different ways people can bully people.”
Lann and Yancey Negative emotions. Regardless of what bullying looked like, it affected the participants’ lives tremendously, producing negative emotions and lower life satisfaction. The participants expressed feeling frustration, anxiety, anger, sadness, helplessness, and humiliation as a result of bullying. Here are some of the ways the participants expressed their sadness, anxiety, anger, and fear. “I cried all the time. She made me cry all the time.” “I started shaking before I even got to work. I would be so upset by the time I got to work and I hadn’t even got into the building yet.” “I cried a lot. It was a terrible time in my life.” “There were some days I would be furious and some days I would just cry.”
13 and family life of some participants. For some, the physical complaints led to monetary costs because of lost wages due to absenteeism and medical costs due to doctor’s visits and medical tests. Sometimes their children or spouses suffered. Having a parent with a psychological or physical ailment could be disheartening to a child or spouse. Also, some of the spouses of the victims had to take up the slack during times of incapacity and do more than they would normally, which placed a strain on the whole family. Here are two examples of the repercussions on family life. “I was so upset. I couldn’t even be a good mother to my boys. My boys would ask me why I was so sad and upset. I didn’t want to do anything with them. I didn’t want to cook or anything else.” “My husband got really tired of hearing me gripe over and over and over. But you had to vent. If you couldn’t tell your husband who could you tell?”
“It just made me mad, just really, really mad.” “Pissed off. Yeah, it made me want to get even, vindictive. It made me want to be vindictive. It made me not trust a lot of people.” “I was terrified. Terrified, oh my gosh. I was terrified of her. I did everything in my power to stay away from her. … I was terrified of her and I’m still terrified of her if I run into her today. As soon as you see her you just start shaking. I mean it’s just like you are so scared.” Physical ailments. Oftentimes, the negative emotions, such as depression and helplessness, led to physical problems such as problems sleeping, upset stomachs, ulcers, and high blood pressure. Here are some quotes about the physical problems the participants suffered.
Gender differences. Another theme that developed was that men and women’s reaction to bullying was somewhat different. The male participants were more willing to fight back, while most of the female participants used more avoidant behaviors. The men wanted to solve the problem once and for all with one major blowout, while the women preferred to seek peace by maintaining distance or avoiding the bully. Here are comments from two men. “He just made me mad. So I was going to confront him and take care of it. I was going to kick his butt.” “I should have knocked the crap out of him the first time it happened. That would have stopped it all.” Here are comments from three women.
“I couldn’t sleep very well at all. I work at night so I have to get some sleep. I couldn’t eat much. I felt terrible.”
“When my safety became an issue, then I decided that I needed to look for employment somewhere else.”
“I was angry and irritated, which probably raised my blood pressure.”
“I did everything in my power to stay away from her. I just did my job until it was time to go home. I didn’t even want to go to the time clock to clock out, but we all had to be there.”
“Sometimes when I would see her, my stomach would start turning over.”
“So any excuse I had, I missed work a couple of days a month because it took such a toll.”
“I’ve always had issues with depression anyway, so anything like that can push you into it. I don’t know if it was a result of it, but at the end of my employment there, I developed an ulcer.”
On the other hand, here is one women who responded to bullying with violent intent.
Financial and family consequences. The negative emotions and physical ailments were not only detrimental to the participants’ work lives, but negatively impacted the finances
“I was going after her and I had a knife in my hand. My supervisor grabbed me, threw me down and I punched him. I gave him a black eye.”
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 Never again. Another major theme was the rejection of accepting any future bullying in any place of employment. All the participants vowed to immediately take action from future bullying through organizational support, and if a reasonable response would not be taken, participants intend to terminate their employment quickly. Every participant agreed that any future bullying would not be tolerated. The experience of being a workplace bullying victim was so damaging to their lives that any sign of bullying in the future would be quickly addressed by enlisting help from higher management and leaving the job if management did not respond in an appropriate manner. The participants agreed they would never let a bully in the workplace have such dominance over them again. They would rather separate themselves from the bully and work in a humane work environment, even if it meant a pay cut, accepting a downward move in position, or finding employment elsewhere. “I will never be bullied again, I’ll quit. That was hell. I don’t ever want to go through that again. I would rather flip hamburgers for a living.” “I won’t put up with it again even if I don’t have a job.” “I won’t be patient with him the next time I see him. I’ll knock the crap out of him. It’s been three years since I’ve seen him, but I’ll yet knock the crap out of him.” Karma. Most participants believed in karma. They believed the bully would get what he or she deserved in the end. The participants took pleasure in knowing that some of the bullies suffered later in life. Here are some examples of their thoughts. “She ended up having a massive heart attack and getting paralyzed on the left side. So she kind of got her payback on that. She’s in a wheelchair right now, because she can’t walk. I know that it’s cruel to laugh, but I thought she deserved it, because of what she did to everybody else.” “It was very satisfying to run into her a couple of years ago and learn that she had been fired.” “The reason she was terminated is because the supervisor was retiring and the person who was taking over her job asked that the supervisor’s last duty before she took over would be to fire the bully. The new supervisor had also been bullied and had documented it with the original supervisor and nothing had ever been done even back then. So, it was nice that the organization had the elimination of a bully. If it had been taken care of much earlier a lot of good people wouldn’t have been run off by one bad apple. That’s pretty much all I have to say on that.”
14 “She worked quite a few years but eventually got fired. It comes back to them. Oh yeah, it goes around in circles.” Lost production and employee turnover. Many of the participants commented on how the bully’s behavior not only affected them, but the work team and/or the organization as well. A loss of productivity and turnover were two issues that emerged, as can be seen in the following comments. “We worked in the gut room together and I know it affected them. When she and I would get in to words, yelling back and forth, production went down because nobody was working. Everybody was watching us. Then we had to hurry and get caught up because the line kept coming, the intestines kept coming whether we cut them up or not. We had to hurry and get it done and I think we screwed up quite a few. So I think production went down when we would argue. Then on days that she was gone, because she was in another area or I was in another area, it was great. We had no problems.” “They just make you feel terrible. They make you not want to go to work.” “When a person has been abused over and over and nothing has been done about it, they will just sit back and think well I’m not going to bust my butt to help this organization when they are just letting me be hurt and hurt. So they just start doing what they’re supposed to do and nothing more.” “He would say that was why the brigade can’t keep any good people because there were too many people trying to play political games. It runs all the good people off. That’s what happens when people are bullied. They do, they run people off. That’s exactly what happens. They just leave. They can’t fight it because the bullying is just too powerful. It’s just too pervasive. The bullies are good at it.” “But she wasn’t just being mean to all her co-workers. She was being mean to everybody in the building. From the secretary on the first floor, all of the big boss secretaries, to all the people upstairs on my floor, she was mean to them and running everybody off. Our bosses did not believe it. There were several who did quit their jobs because of her.” “Several other people left because of the bullying.” The need for more organizational responsibility. One theme that was common to every story was how each organization allowed the bullying to continue. Many of the participants reported the bullying behavior but were either not believed or
Lann and Yancey simply told to put up with it. Sometimes a co-worker would report the bullying, “Another staff member tried and tried. She went to the director with documentation of the bullying and the director did nothing.” This led to feelings of helplessness. As one participant put it, “I should have probably went to a higher authority, but I don‘t know if that would have worked either.” Every participant spoke to the need for their organization to take more responsibility to end the bullying. Here are some of their comments. “They should not allow a negative situation to continue, especially when it’s a repeated situation.” “They need to make it a mandate that it’s unacceptable. They should allow people to lodge a complaint and then have a consultation and discussion. They should not allow a negative situation to continue especially when it’s a repeated situation. When it’s the same person that innumerable people are having a problem with, that should be a clue in the face that’s there is one problem, one common denominator. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. It does take an effective boss to deal with the situation.” “Stand up for the worker that works really, really hard. Stop letting people bully. They should hear both sides and make a little ruling instead of saying she’s right because she is your boss. They should stand up for the little guy when they are in the right and other person is in the wrong.” “They should enforce the standards that they set for themselves. The standards they set are on the surface.” “I think if they get told that someone is bullying they need to separate those two people. I think they need to suspend the bully. If that doesn’t work, I think they should fire them. I’m sorry but there’s no reason to bully anybody. There’s no reason to be mean. You can be strict but don’t be downright emotionally and mentally mean to people.” “When an employee tells them this is going on they need to check into it better. They need to even if they have to spy on that person. They need to check it out. They need to talk to everyone in the building. They need to check it out. They need to get rid of people like that.” “They ought to screen their people better. If one gets by and they get more than two reports, they ought to terminate them. I don’t think it will happen because a lot of organizations like a boss to act that way.”
15 Second data collection and a final grounded theory The lead author revisited many of the participants to see if they agreed with the initial grounded theory because the goal was to express their view of reality. Most of the participants agreed with the themes and felt the themes portrayed a correct understanding of the bullying situation they endured. However, a surprising finding developed with the male participants in the second data collection. The men said that they had not been humiliated by the bully. While all of the participants, men and women, agreed that bullying produced negative emotions such as intense frustration, sadness, anxiety, and anger; the men refused to think of themselves as victims and said they did not feel humiliation for being bullied. However, some did feel humiliation because they were physically passive and did not become physically aggressive with the bully. They were also adamant about never being bullied again. The participants validated with the second theme of physical ailments due to workplace bullying. They lived that awful experience and remember how it affected them physically. Female participants had a wider range of symptoms of physical problems and were more willing to talk about them. Male participants were less willing to admit the bullying affected them physically, especially in the second data collection. One man said it may have raised his blood pressure some but that was about all. The participants validated the theme of gender differences as the way men and women handle bullying and some provided additional examples. One man was even more willing to physically fight his bully years after the bullying. Another man had to remind himself he was a preacher in order to remain calm and not want to fight. Female participants remained the same with seeking help quickly from higher authorities in the organization and vowing to leave the organization as soon as possible if bullying occurred again. However, one woman attempted an attack on her tormentor with a knife, so we do not want to overgeneralize the gender differences in responding to instances of workplace bullying. Most of the participants had some regrets. One man wished even more that he had fought back physically with his bully, while others wished they had been more assertive and told a superior about the bullying. Many of the participants regretted staying in the job as long as they did, but felt they left when the opportunity arose. All participants continued to agree, and even more adamantly in the second data collection, that they would never be a victim again. They knew there were employment opportunities elsewhere, and they were willing to leave any organization that tolerated bullying. Hindsight is 20/20 vision, and the participants developed plans to prevent bullying in the future.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 There was a theme from the initial grounded theory with which the participants did not agree. While the participants recognized the role of the bully’s positional power, most participants believed the bully had no real power over them. During the second data collection when the participants discussed power, they were even more convinced the bully had no real power over them, even positional power. Just a few weeks between the initial interviews and the second data collection made a difference in the participants’ views of the amount of domination and power the bullies exercised over them. In the second data collection, they tended to view bullies as annoying miscreants to rebuff. The participants later said bullies had no real power over them; however, when interviews were initially taken, the participants felt less powerful, more subjugated, and more helpless. It was as if the process of talking about it helped them shake off the psychological domination and power bullies held over them. They seemed to gain back a sense of empowerment. Perhaps the process of talking and letting go during interview conversations had therapeutic effect on the participants. Maybe they came to as sense of closure by realizing that the problem rested with the bully and rather than themselves. The research on the effectiveness of talking about traumatic events, however, is mixed. For example, Rose and Bisson (1998) found that it was harmful as often as it was helpful. So it would be inappropriate to generalize results from our 10 participants. Participants validated the final theme of revenge/karma in the second data collection. The participants continued to believe that what goes around comes around, that the bullies will eventually get what they deserve and pay for their abusive behaviors. They believed that bullies cannot treat people badly and ultimately still have a good life. DISCUSSION A goal of this study redressed the imbalance in industrialorganizational psychology research which tends to favor quantitative studies and add something more “person-centric” to the literature (Weiss & Rupp, 2011). By describing the huge emotional impact workplace bullying may have on its victims in first-person narrative, we feel that we have shown a complementary, qualitative light on this problem. We thank the brave participants who shared their stories. We hope our qualitative data describing the destructive impact of workplace bullying in the victims’ own voices added an emotional depth to the story of workplace bullying absent in quantitative data. When the breadth of the problem indicated thorough quantitative data and the depth of the problem shown through qualitative data are combined, the findings seem both sobering and tragic. For many Americans, the act of going to work is a living nightmare.
16 The typical American spends most of his or her adult life devoted to work. Thus, the quality of a person’s life is strongly influenced by the quality of his or her work life. It has been established that dissatisfied workers are more likely to leave their organizations (Lambert, Hogan, & Barton, 2001; Mobley, 1977; Tett & Meyer, 1993) and are less committed to their organizations (Allen & Meyer, 1996). Thus, workplace bullying is not only a human problem, it is also a business problem, and perhaps a large-scale business problem. While we were struck by the gender differences that emerged in our study, this finding was consistent with previous research. The men in this study were more likely to handle problems on their own compared to the women who sought help from bosses, co-workers, and/or family members. The men in this study were also more willing, and almost anxious to use, physical force to end the bullying. In Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir’s (2004) study of 398 participants, men sought help less often than women and used more assertive, confrontational tactics in response to bullying. Two out of the three men in this present study were also reluctant to identify as a victim of bullying and only recognized themselves as a victim when the situation was close to blows. The third man in this study refused to identify himself as a victim of sexual harassment even when he had to physically backup or evade the bully’s advances. Ólafsson & Jóhannsdóttir (2004) found that the prevalence rates of workplace bullying were higher for men when they filled out workplace bullying scales that measured bullying behaviors, but the prevalence rates were lower when they filled out selfidentification scales. In other words, men may be more likely to see some forms of workplace bullying as a normal part of the job. As Lutgen-Sandvik, Tracy, and Alberts (2007) suggested, employees in the United States may not recognize bullying or may see it as a normal way to conduct business. One man in the present study said some tactics labeled as bullying are called a management style, and he is encouraged to practice them. He said some employees perform better under this tough-guy approach and his company and his boss wants him to behave in an authoritarian manner. When bullying is seen as just another part of the job, prevalence rates will continue to be lower than what they might otherwise be. Lutgen-Sandvik, Tracy, and Alberts (2007) also reported that employees may not even know bullying exists. They may interpret victimization as weakness or passivity and reject self-labeling themselves as a victim. Men in their study were reluctant to label themselves as victims compared to the women. This may be due in part to cultural factors in the United States where men value independence and strength. The participants in our study were relieved to learn of the term workplace bullying. The participants said this term described
Lann and Yancey
what they went through and said it was one of the most terrible times of their lives.
more stories and perhaps a more representative picture of bullying at work.
Although the participants vowed to never be bullied again, the older victims were more likely to wait it out and bide their time. These participants were near retirement and willing to endure the situation until they could leave. They depended on the benefits the organization provides, especially the health insurance, and did not want to lose this advantage of the workplace. This may be one reason older victims became passive and blew it off when they were bullied. A younger participant left the organization where she had been bullied only to experience it again. She left that job and kept to her word to move on to another job if she was bullied again. Another young participant experienced bullying after the initial interview and she immediately confronted the bully. She was called into a superior’s office and was afraid she would receive a writeup. When they just talked, the participant was surprised and relieved when things were straightened out and things ran smoothly afterwards.
An area of future research that interests us is how talking about the bullying experience may help victims reconstruct their experience so that they can let go of some of the negative emotions and develop effective plans to deal with future bullying that leave them feeling more empowered. While companies need to take steps to recognize and reduce bullying, they also need to help the victims of bullying recover.
Participants used confrontation, riding it out, and leaving the organization as ways to cope with bullying in the workplace. Our study also showed a strong belief in karma, revenge, or belief in a just world for most of the participants. It would be interesting to examine how effective a belief in a just world is as a coping mechanism for people who have been wronged in the workplace. In the spirit of critical ethnography, the lead author went over study results with her previous organization’s human resources department. As a result, this organization now has an antiworkplace bullying policy in place. The employees have a name for such behaviors, can identify them, and are encouraged to report them. Employee training is essential to reduce workplace bullying, as well as consequences for workplace bullies, whether administrative such as firing or developmental such as training. Limitations and suggestions for future research One limitation of the study was the inexperience of the lead author in interviewing skills. The first few interviews were shorter as she did not probe sufficiently. With some guidance, she inquired deeper into the participants’ stories, and the participants revealed much information that exposed the depths of the bullying they had experienced. Another limitation of this study was the small number of participants. Also, all of the participants came from the same geographic region. With 10 participants, the amount of interview data was substantial, but it was difficult to generalize the findings to workers in other states and other situations. A larger and more heterogeneous sample could have yielded
Research is needed to help victims relieve the distress they live in both during and after bullying. How much psychological help do victims receive from their employer in dealing with the aftermath of bullying? While the mental health profession knows a great deal about how to help people deal with stress and trauma, sometimes the very people who are in a position to help may add to the victim’s burden. Ferris (2004) writes that victims may be harmed more than benefited if they are ignored or reprimanded by their company’s Employee Assistance Program. Victims may feel helpless if the programs that are designed to help them fail to do so. It is then as if the last resort is gone. Another area of research that interests us is the harm of bullying to the well-being of the victim’s families. What are the social costs? How does workplace bullying affect marital satisfaction and child development? Practical implications While the main goal of this study examined how traumatizing bullying in the workplace could be to victims, we would like to explore possible and needed solutions. Research has shown that bullying is tolerated in many companies. For example, The Workplace Bullying Institute (2007) survey of 400 respondents reported employers did nothing to stop the bullying 53% of the time, retaliated against the person who reported the bullying 71% of the time, and that victims who filed complaints lost their jobs 24% of the time (Namie & Namie, 2009). Research has also shown these kind of work environments lead to greater absenteeism and turnover (Salin, 2001), lowered productivity (Vartia & Hyyti, 2002), less innovation (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008; Giorgi et al., 2013), and poorer recruitment (Bloisi & Hoel, 2008). Johnny Taylor (2018), the current CEO of the Society of Human Resources Management, asked in a recent issue of HR Magazine, “Where was HR?” He responded to his own question by stating that it is not a matter of policy: Given that nearly every U.S. organization (98 percent) has a sexual harassment policy, clearly the problem is bigger than policy; it’s a matter of culture. (p. 4) All of the participants in our study found their organizations failed to protect them from the bullying behaviors of peers or supervisors. If the phenomenon is all about the organizational
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 culture, as Taylor (2018) suggests, then the issue lies ultimately with the organizational leadership. According to Winkler and Lee (2018), “Ethical behavior is critical to organizational success … The CEO creates the culture and instills it in the leadership, which in turn infuses it throughout the rest of the organization” (p. 23). In response to Taylor’s question, “Where was HR?” Winkler and Lee (2018) found ethical practice is one of the nine competencies that HR professionals are supposed to possess. Some of the behaviors related to this competency are (a) driving the corporate ethical environment, (b) influencing others to behave in an ethical manner, (c) performing as an ethical role model, and (d) influencing managerial integrity and accountability (p. 22). Thus, many HR executives and senior leaders must accept responsibility for failing to create an ethical culture at their organizations. Hopefully, the #MeToo movement will be a wakeup call for them to do better in the future. Unfortunately, victims of workplace bullying do not always have the luxury of working within an ethical organization. Victims of workplace bullying should not try to fight back on their own because standing up for one’s rights may sometimes intensify the abuse. Instead, it is better to seek help. Victims should talk with other co-workers for any verification of past abuse experiences and try to gain solidarity with them. They should document the abuse with events, dates, and what was done to stop the abuse. This information needs to be shared with the organization’s human resources department, whose job it is to investigate and deal with workplace bullying. When dealing with a workplace bully, a victim may want to take advantage of his or her organization’s Employee Assistance Program to receive therapy for the emotional repercussions of abuse. If the victim finds that his or her organization will not admit that bullying is taking place, or if the organization fails to adequately deal with the problem, the victim should diligently look for alternate employment. However, Lutgen-Sandvik (2006) argued that leaving the organization could be framed as a win-win solution for both parties. The victim sees it as an escape from a horrible situation while the bully sees it as a win, glad to have the troublemaker gone. The organization may see it as a disgruntled employee leave as it does not have to look into accusations of bullying. However, the remaining employees may suffer when the victim withdraws from the organization because the bully may now turn his or her abuse on them. So employees leaving a hostile workplace might not be an optimal organizational solution. One path for reducing bullying is for the organization to exercise more due diligence when making selection and promotion decisions. In addition to selecting employees and promoting managers based on their job competence, it is also important to assess the candidates’ fit with the organizational culture, assuming that the organization promotes an ethical, humane
18 culture. Once employed or promoted, the organization should have measures that reflect ethical behavior on its employees’ performance appraisal instruments. Data should be collected employees’ ethical behaviors as well as their job performance. For example, subordinates could be asked to annually evaluate their supervisor’s management practices. This would allow the company to pick up on abusive behavior and deal with it before it becomes chronic. Another path to reducing bullying is for the organization to mandate training for all employees on what constitutes and how to recognize bullying, harassment, or abuse; how to handle and report it; and, how bullies may seek help on changing their behaviors. Human resource departments often fail in their investigations of workplace bullying and harassment. If the human resource department is unwilling to conduct an investigation because it does not believe the accuser, is biased against the accuser, or is protecting a powerful executive, the legal consequences could be disastrous. However, Meinert (2018) points out that many poor investigations are the result of poor preparation rather than poor intentions. Meinert makes the following four suggestions: Make a plan. HR needs an investigative plan. Decide on the scope of the investigation and the main question that needs to be answered. Decide on who will conduct the investigation, who will be interviewed, and what evidence such as personnel data need to be collected. Interview questions should be prepared in advance of the interviews. As Meinert (2018) found, “While the EEOC recommends ‘prompt’ investigation when harassment claims are made, that doesn’t mean you should speed through it” (p. 37). It is better to get it right which means slow down enough to make a plan and get organized. Stay neutral. Meinert (2018) strongly recommends hiring a third party to conduct the investigation. This is especially true if the person being accused is higher in the organizational chart than the top HR executive. If a third party cannot be found, Meinert recommends training investigators with mock investigations so that they will learn how to remain objective. Do not label the parties as “victim” or “bully” or “harasser” because such labels could lead to asking loaded questions or collecting data in a biased fashion. It is important to not only seek out evidence that might confirm the accuser’s claims, it is equally as important to seek out evidence that might negate the accuser’s claims. It is important to examine the accused party’s work history for previous complaints. It is equally as important to examine the possible motives the accuser might have for fabricating his or her claims. Of course, it is critical to maintain careful notes and document everything. Also, while those interviewed should be asked to
Lann and Yancey keep their comments confidential, Meinert (2018) recommends not mandating it because employees cannot be prohibited from discussing working conditions, including investigations, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Make a decision. Eventually, the investigation needs to lead to a decision, based on the “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases. Write a report. The report should not only include the evidence collected, but the decision, the reason for the decision, and any disciplinary actions and/or future preventative actions. Meinert points out that poorly conducted investigations not only increase the chances for unjust decisions, but they also leave employees feeling that the organizations does not really care about them. Organizational leaders need to take the initiative to create safer working environments. REFERENCES Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1996). Affective, continuance, and normative commitment to the organization: An examination of construct validity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 49, 252-276. Atwood, M. (2018, January 13). Am I a bad feminist? The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail. com/opinion/am-i-a-bad-feminist/article37591823/ Barab, S., Thomas, M., Dodge, T., Squire, K., & Newell, N. (2004). Critical design ethnography: Designing for change. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 35(2), 254-268. Bloisi, W., & Hoel, H. (2008). Abusive work practices and bullying among chefs: A review of the literature. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 27, 649656. Charmaz, K. (1996). The search for meanings - grounded theory. In J. A. Smith, R. Harre, & L. Van Langenhove (Eds.), Rethinking methods in psychology (pp. 27-49). London: Sage Publications. Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Dawood, S. R. S. (2013). Prevalence and forms of workplace bullying in the voluntary sector: Is there a need for concern? Voluntary Sector Review, 4(1), 55-76. Driskell, J., Salas, E., Goodwin, G., & O’Shea, P. (2006). What makes a good team player? Personality and team effectiveness. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice, 10, 249-271. Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. (2003). Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. London, England: Taylor and Francis, 62-78.
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Vol. 52, no. 1, p. 21-24 (2019)
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Combating marginalization through diversity-based book clubs SONJA EZELL Early Childhood, Emporia State University <email@example.com> As universities enroll increasingly diverse student populations, fill tenure track positions with minority status faculty, and hire staff members conscientiously, they need transformative narratives and culturally sensitive dialogs as adaptive changes. The Diversity and Inclusion Office in a small university in the Midwest initiated a Diversity Book Club to promote conversations among students, faculty, and staff on issues related to race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. A faculty member of color examined Diversity Book Club selections during a two-year time frame for culturally courageous responses to stigmatization among diverse groups and recommended practices to combat marginalization among multicultural populations on university campuses. Cultural competence describes the ability to think, feel, and act in ways that are respectful of cultural diversity. Courage, a metaphor for internal strength, reflects kindness, advocacy, compassion, and civilityâ€”a spirit of humanity that can strengthen our resolve to take action, seek change, and empower others to take action and seek change. Keywords: diversity, marginalization, stigmatization, literacy, multicultural, and book clubs. INTRODUCTION Marginalization or stigmatization from oneâ€™s peer group at any level results in a profound impact on an individualâ€™s social and emotional well-being. The agency of marginalization or stigmatization places individuals in powerless or unimportant positions within a society or group (Merriam-Webster, 2018). Stigmatization or marginalization centered within methods, policies, and behaviors that convey contempt and dominance are not always easy to recognize. In general, marginalization or stigmatization focuses on less powerful targets who cannot easily defend themselves. Many children and adolescents belong to at least one stigmatized group, whether a Black or Latino boy in a school, immigrant or refugee, gay or lesbian teen, or a girl in a physics class (Brown, 2017). At some point, marginalization or the bullhorns of cultural bullying impacts most youth. Stigmatization, or its contemporary, open rejection on the basis of race/ethnicity, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity can have long-term academic, psychological, and social repercussions (Brown, 2017). DIVERSITY-BASED BOOK CLUBS How overt or covert non-acceptance impacts individuals depends on the resources and support systems they have in place to cope with off-setting events. Individuals can experience an uncommon sense of agency in their own lives through diversity-based book clubs. As readers and conversationalists hearing multiple perspectives, they can initiate positive changes to improve an unwieldy system to ensure that all individuals feel safe and valued. Diversity-based book clubs allow participants to better comprehend multicultural texts, raise questions, transcend traditional beliefs, and engage multiple viewpoints (Blum, Lipsett, & Yocom, 2014).
Through social interaction, dialogue, and conversation with their peers, participants gain valuable knowledge and understandings about multicultural literature. Athanases and Larrabee (2003) found students who read and discuss diversitybased texts develop the capacity to think about culture and diversity in complex ways. A learning space, such as a diversitybased book club presents participants with new ideas that empower them to advocate for themselves and others. Diversity-based book clubs support participants in developing values, attitudes, behaviors and actions that are crucial for learning and life. WINDOWS AND MIRRORS Diversity-based book selections present deeply alive, vibrant and rich venues for personal reflection and safe encounters with diverse perspectives and cultures. Diversity-based readings function both as windows onto the world and mirrors reflecting the reader back to oneself. As windows, participants may view and better understand other people, places, and cultures in our global society (Bishop, 1990). As mirrors, reading selections invite participants to examine and affirm their identities in complexly diverse societies. University campuses with diversity-based book clubs offer participants multicultural lenses to view the world with forethought, sensitivity and appreciation. Diversity-based book clubs engage participants by identifying social tools to combat marginalization on university campuses. Most literacy professionals agree reading represents a transformational activity with the capacity to increase empathy, improve self-esteem, and offer hope for positive change. Bibliotherapy powerfully impacts individuals who experience emotional catharsis through reading selections while gaining
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 insight about their own life experiences. By selecting diverse literary works including novels, short stories, and biographies, the process of bibliotherapy can assist readers on their journey of self-discovery and growth as citizens of the world. Universities can create a culture that supports academic achievement and social and emotional development by developing authentic learning experiences such as diversitybased book clubs where participants feel safe to take risks when challenged by new ideas and perspectives. USING LITERACY TO LIGHT THE WAY A small university in the Midwest initiated a Diversity Book Club to promote dialogue among students, faculty, and staff on issues related to race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. The university Diversity and Inclusion Office organized a Diversity Book Club with weekly meetings of about 90 minutes in duration in the late afternoon throughout the fall and spring semesters. The Diversity and Inclusion Office provided multicultural books selections free of charge to students and by donation to faculty and staff members. Each book included a bookmark listing the dates and times for the weekly meetings and the reading assignment pages. Students of all academic classifications, ranging from freshmen to seniors as well as faculty, administration and staff attended weekly book sessions. Undergraduate students represented various colleges and departments across campus. They expressed their intention to major in education, counseling, criminal justice, or history and typically related their motivation to attend a diversitybased book club to a strong personal interest in the book topic. University administration established the diversity-based book club to stimulate dialogue and provide a safe space for students who experienced marginalization in various environments. While the Diversity Book Club might weave together strands of public discourse to stir cultural courage and encourage positive change, it also served as a venue to address hurtful personal experiences and societal attacks related to marginalization.
22 encouraged deep exploration of courage, diversity, cultural competence and the harsh realities of stigmatization. Table 1 presents an overview of the selected multicultural texts and the associated social tools identified by participants to overcome marginalization. HisPanic The nonfictional book, HisPanic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U. S. explored issues related to concerns of many Americans about illegal immigration (Rivera, 2008). Within this framework, Rivera noted similarities between hostilities demonstrated by anti-immigrant groups and vices directed toward against earlier generations of Irish and Italian immigrants. The narrative established that Hispanic Americans and undocumented individuals living in America as targets of bullying behaviors. Rivera based stigmatization of Hispanic groups on the perception that immigrants pose a threat to national security. He identified the on-going practice of routinely detaining certain groups of “boat people” and their immediate repatriation as a contentious issue among Americans. To counter the oppressive layer of stigmatization that establishes a hostile environment and exacerbates differences, Rivera evoked cultural courage in his readers through group advocacy and awareness campaigns. He recommended a resolution inviting deeper conversations and sound governing policies to promote a more inclusive environment and combat the bullying climate of you don’t belong here. As Rivera noted, immigration needs recognition as part of the complex process that makes America a unique country. Diversity Book Club participants both empathized with difficulties immigrants face and repatriation practices of governing states. They questioned the distinctions between legal and illegal immigration status and their associated policies and practices. Some participants shared key milestone memories from their high school years highlighting the advantages of legal immigration status which include the ability to secure a driver’s license.
COURAGEOUS BOOK CONVERSATIONS Table 1. Multicultural texts and marginalization.
To promote courageous conversations and develop understandings to counter marginalization, Diversity Book Club members at a small university in the Midwest read, discussed, and pondered over the multicultural books selections. A faculty member of color attended weekly discussions over a two-year period and examined outcomes related to marginalization from the following readings: HisPanic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U. S. by Geraldo Rivera; Choking on Silence: A Memoir by Paul B. Tripp, and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The Director of Student Diversity Program
Book club selection
HisPanic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S. by Geraldo Rivera
Group advocacy Awareness campaigns
Choking on Silence: A Memoir by Paul Tripp
Registered student organizations (RSO) Planned social mixers
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Organized rallies Community advocates/ High profile speakers
Ezell Choking on silence The nonfictional book, Choking on Silence: A Memoir by Paul B. Tripp (2012), presented a powerful narrative about an individual forced to live an inauthentic life during his career service in the United States Navy. Tripp shared his poignant journey as a marginalized individual during a grueling nineyear investigation for suspected homosexuality toward someone with an authentic identity while serving as a Naval Officer. The memoir recounted marginalization the LGBTQ community experienced while serving their country in the United States military. Tripp showed how policies governing the US military perpetrated this marginalization. He told his story so others would know just how fiercely the military targeted homosexuals who desired to serve their country. He clearly articulated that he has no desire to return to living as a married homosexual male in a heterosexual world and reminded us of our responsibility to speak up and take a stand against any institutions that denies individuals their fundamental rights to live their life openly and honestly. To pierce the suffocating layer of stigmatization that forces secrets and creates a threatening climate of non-acceptance, diversity-based registered student organizations and planned social mixers create opportunities to develop cultural courage. Individuals gathering and sharing their authentic stories collective help erode the platform of rejection experienced as a marginalized member of a stigmatized group in society. Diversity Book Club participants expressed both surprise and dismay regarding the cloaked silence forced upon individuals in the LGBTQ community who served in the armed forces. However, they appreciated that things have changed in the military and that they are accepting of all individuals. The New Jim Crow Michelle Alexander (2010) wrote a gripping account of the caste-like correctional system, in the nonfictional text, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Throughout generations of African American families, the United States penal system locked millions of African Americans behind bars. Their incarceration relegated them to a parallel social universe without the right to vote, protection from discrimination in employment, and access to education and public benefits. Alexanderâ€™s narrative demonstrated stigmatization of African Americans perpetrated across generations of African Americans through the United States correctional system. Alexander shared the powerful story of Jarvious Cotton, a young African-American male, who cannot vote. Jarvious represented the fifth generation of African American males in his family unable to vote. Alexander drew a parallel between legal discrimination in todayâ€™s penal system and the Jim Crow laws mandating racial discrimination against African Americans in the late 19th century up through the 1960s.
23 To erode the hinges of institutionalized marginalization that results in discrimination and exclusionary laws and practices that stigmatizes those who have paid their debt to society; the cultural competencies of organized rallies and other public platforms are needed to flame the embers of courage. A resolve to address the stigmatization is to host planned rallies and program events featuring high-profile speakers to address community concerns about the inequalities of the criminal justice system. Alexander (2010) challenged readers to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America. Diversity Book Club participants exchanged dialogue about on-going conflict often featured in the news. They questioned the merit of punitive loss of individual rights and benefits for marginalized individuals after they served their time. RECOMMENDATIONS The Diversity Book Club provided marginalized students a platform to share their stories and experiences with others in order to make a meaningful difference. After reading each book selection, participants engaged in courageous conversations and planned how to create a campus environment more accepting of diverse populations. They developed the following recommendations for administration, staff, faculty, and students to develop a more inclusive environment. Administration and staff First, universities need to develop and support policies that prevent or discourage marginalization among diverse populations. Administrators who arrange campus-wide conversations about marginalization set the tone from the top by valuing and modeling behaviors that welcome all individuals at the university. Administrators can ensure compliance with state and federal laws protecting their constituents with minority status. Staff members who respond to student questions about financial aid, immigration status, and on-campus student assistance services such as the counseling center support diverse studentsâ€™ unique journey of self-discovery and acceptance. As staff members encounter students, they may find some with low self-esteem resulting from stigmatizing experiences. Confidentiality forms a crucial component when referring students for services. Faculty and students Faculty members possess powerful knowledge and skills to combat marginalization on university campuses. Their ability to deliver academic content in a multitude of formats coupled with engaging technology ensures all students receive the opportunity to learn and earn degrees. Faculty members who
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 integrate diverse perspectives and narratives in their teaching communicate positive interactions with learners from varying backgrounds and environments in the academic community. Student members and their peers in the same learning environment need opportunities to engage with one another. These efforts require a range of experiences from the comfort of meeting individuals more similar to yourself to the challenge of extending a friendly handshake to those different from themselves. Engaging events on campus might include social mixers, diversity lectures and symposiums featuring guest speakers from diverse groups. The Diversity Book Club provide an intimate and safe environment to share experiences, practice skills and articulate issues needed to combat marginalization. The process of reading about diverse groups through carefully vetted book selections introduces Diversity Book Club participants who encounter less familiar voices and perspectives changes individuals from the inside, and they develop powerful potential as change agents on the university campus. CONCLUSION Diversity Book Club selections from multicultural literature bridge the reader’s insight and understanding with bruising battles and stigmatization that diverse groups encourager. Since diversity of experiences form an essential component of the human experience, the microcosm of humanity found in the university campus should play a central role in teaching and learning activities (Gay, 2013). Diversity Book Clubs can foster an avenue to discuss marginalization through the lens of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomics, language, religion, and sexual orientation. Diversity Book Club discussions offer students, faculty, staff and administration a safe space to explore culturally diverse elements within the pages of carefully vetted selections (Gunn, Bennett, & Leung, 2014). Diversity Book Club participants need meaningful ways to share and demonstrate cultural courage as a significant manifestation of their work to ensure a real and sustainable future against marginalization of diverse groups in the university environment. Recently, a professional organization for high ability learners spotlighted a diversity-based theme with a nationally known keynoter during its annual convention
24 on the university campus. Faculty and students, staff and administration supported the convention and attended the diversity-based keynote without charge. Recognized Student Organizations, P-20 teachers, program coordinators and psychologists openly discussed the need for students of color and equity in opportunities for P-20 learners during the keynote and breakout sessions with a diversity focus. Emblematic of the social tools identified during the on-going Diversity Book Study, this event and others to follow provide hope for enduring change on the university campus to combat marginalization with cultural courage. REFERENCES Alexander, M. (2010). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: New Press. Athanases, S. Z., & Larrabee, T. G. (2003). Toward a consistent stance in teaching for equity: Learning to advocate for lesbian-and gay-identified youth. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 237-261. Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and using books for the classroom, 6(3), ix-xi. Blum, H. T., Lipsett, L. R., & Yocom, D. J. (2014). Literature circles a tool for self-determination in one middle school inclusive classroom. Remedial and Special Education, 23(2), 99-108. Brown, C. S. (2017). Discrimination in childhood and adolescence: A developmental intergroup approach. Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis. Gay, G. (2013). Teaching to and through cultural diversity. Curriculum Inquiry, 43(10), 48-70. Gunn, A. A., Bennett, S. V., & Leung, C. L. (2014). Preservice teachers’ “revelations and connections”: Fostering deep conversations while reading multicultural literature. Journal of Contemporary Research in Education, 3(1/2), 37-52. Merriam-Webster. (2018). Marginalize. Retrieved from https: //www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/marginalize Rivera, G. (2008). Hispanic: Why Americans fear Hispanics in the US. New York, NY: Celebra. Tripp, P. B. (2012). Choking on silence: A memoir. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace.
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 1, p. 25-33 (2019)
Cross-cultural differences in how performance appraisals are experienced Xiuyi Guan1 and George B. Yancey2 1. Liaoning Normal University, Dalian, China <firstname.lastname@example.org> 2. Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri <email@example.com> Performance appraisals are a universal business practice. However, because of cultural differences in what motivates employees and in communication styles, we wondered if there might be East-West differences in the performance appraisal experience. We surveyed 211 Chinese employees, including 40 supervisors, and 148 American employees, including 51 supervisors. We found that the Americans received more lenient annual performance appraisals. Also, the correlation between one’s performance appraisal rating and one’s satisfaction with the feedback received from one’s supervisor was positive for the Americans and negative for the Chinese. In addition, American managers indicated a greater preference for using positive feedback, while Chinese managers indicated a greater preference for using negative feedback. A better understanding of the ways cultural values influence how communication is given and received could benefit multinational corporations and other cross-cultural organizations in training their members to work more effectively with people from different cultures. Keywords: cross cultural values, employee motivation, managerial feedback, performance appraisal. INTRODUCTION Li (2010) reported 1,600,000 Chinese immigrants living in the United States as immigrants in 2008. Since 2010, China became the fourth largest source of immigration for the United States. Conversely, Americans have also made inroads into China. Many American companies view China as their number one investment opportunity (Bloomberg, 2015). A survey by the US-China Business Council (2012) found human resource management the number one ongoing problem for American companies working with a Chinese workforce. Specifically, American companies needed help recruiting new Chinese employees and keeping them as valuable employees in their organizations. As the popular press (e.g., Harvard Business Review, New York Times, New Yorker) noted, performance appraisal forms a perennial issue with which human resource managers struggle (Cappelli & Tavis, 2016; Patrick, 2014; Vara, 2015). Longenecker, Sims, and Gioia (1987) argued that performance appraisal becomes a political process wherein managers seem more concerned with managing their relationships with their subordinates than with providing accurate feedback. Moreover, leniency error remains one of the most common rating errors in performance appraisal (PA). Leniency error exists when raters provide overly positive feedback resulting in almost all employees rated as above average (Saal & Knight, 1988). Field studies showed Western managers tended to make leniency errors during performance appraisal feedback with subordinates (Jawahar & Williams, 1997). Farh, Dobbins, and Cheng (1991) found that Taiwanese employees evaluated themselves lower than their supervisors’
rating, whereas Western employees evaluated themselves higher than their supervisors’ rating. This tendency suggested more openness among East Asians to exploring their weaknesses. Farh, Dobbins, and Cheng (1991) explained lower self-ratings in Taiwan by comparing the lower value East Asian employees place on personal goals with the higher value they place on work-related goals such as training and relationships with co-workers. People from East Asian countries tend to value their success through relationships with their families, colleagues, and whole societies. Thus, a low rating might prompt East Asian employees to consider their performance as an opportunity to help the team, by improving in the lowrated area. In Western countries, however, individuals value their success primarily on their personal behavior and projects. In the Western context, a low rating might deliver a more direct blow to one’s sense of self. Thus, we expected Chinese supervisors might worry less about their subordinates’ response to critical feedback when compared with American supervisors and their subordinates. This expectation led to our first hypothesis. Hypothesis 1. American employees will receive more lenient performance ratings from their supervisors than the Chinese employees will from their supervisors. Heine et al. (2001) argued that, generally, North Americans view themselves as independent, unique, and relatively immutable individuals. They define themselves through a distinctive set of attributions and qualities built internally through their previous positive behaviors. They prefer a positive focus as motivation. On the other hand, East Asians view themselves as interdependent, embedded, and malleable. Their beliefs stem from Confucianism in which people evaluate
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 themselves through an understanding of their role in the situation. When evaluating themselves, people in East Asian cultures tend to compare themselves with other people. They focus improvement of their overall performance on the correction of wrong things, mistakes, or negative parts in their previous performance as the best way to help the team. In another words, East Asians tend to motivate themselves by improving their performance failures. Self-efficacy refers to the belief individuals place in their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance (Bandura, 1994). Lab studies with university students showed North Americans and East Asians reacted differently to selfefficacy feedback. When told they performed above average, North Americans tried even harder at that task. When told they performed below average, however, North Americans relaxed their efforts on the task. East Asians reacted in the opposite direction. Individuals evaluated as superior performers relaxed on the task while those who informed of inferior performance tried harder (Heine et al., 2001). Thus, East Asians tend to appreciate negative feedback and feel motivated while North Americans may respond to negative feedback with less appreciation and lower motivation. Eaton and Dembo (1997) found Asian American students demonstrated significantly lower levels of self-efficacy than non-Asian American students did. However, Asian American students performed significantly better than non-Asian American students did. They argued that Asian American students wanted high achievement because they feared academic failure. Eaton and Dembo (1997) found self-efficacy the strongest reason non-Asian American students achieved their goals. The fear of academic failure might reflect the value Asian-Americans place on collectivism when they take responsibility for their families and communities’ reputations rather than only their own reputations. They view the needs and expectations of family and community much more importantly than their personal desires. Asian cultures focus more on goals that the group values more than their personal goals. While their collectivistic belief to overcome failure may seem more stressful, it also yields higher performance. When Nease, Mudgett, and Quinones (1999) compared individuals with low self-efficacy and individuals with high self-efficacy, they found individuals with high self-efficacy decreased acceptance of performance feedback when they received repeated negative performance feedback. Their study suggested individuals with high self-efficacy and individuals with low self-efficacy both demonstrated consistent beliefs about themselves. Therefore, when receiving evaluations or feedback that differed too much from their own evaluation, they questioned the accuracy of the evaluation or feedback. Because Westerners tend to demonstrate higher self-efficacy,
26 they might respond less openly to negative feedback. This observation led to our second and third hypotheses. Hypothesis 2. The relationship between the leniency of the employees’ supervisory rating and the employees’ motivation to improve after receiving performance appraisal feedback will be moderated by the employee’s country. American employees will be more motivated by lenient feedback, while Chinese employees will be more motivated by severe feedback. Hypothesis 3. The relationship between rating leniency and employees’ satisfaction with their performance appraisal feedback will be moderated by the employees’ country. American employees will be more satisfied with lenient feedback, while Chinese employees’ will be more satisfied with severe feedback. Just as American employees demonstrate a more individualistic culture and Chinese employees a more collectivistic culture, the two societies also show differences in their preferences for power distance (Hofstede, 2001). Hofstede (2011) defined power distance as the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally (p. 9). Because East Asian countries accept higher power distance in their work relationships, East Asian managers tend to provide less direct feedback than their Western counterparts do (Chong, 2007). In high power distance cultures, people are more likely to play their role according to their position in the social hierarchy. On the other hand, people in the low power distance cultures seem less concerned about their social status and the hierarchy level. Chong found that American managers scored significantly higher on listening, organizing, providing clear information, receiving unbiased information, training, coaching, delegating, appraising people, disciplining, and counseling than their East Asian manager counterparts. Ng, Koh, Ang, Kennedy, and Chan (2011) found East Asians managers felt more responsibility for their employees’ development on the job than taking care of the supervisorsubordinate relationship. Pointing out areas for improvement trumped concerns about hurting subordinates’ feelings. Because subordinates demonstrated more openness to negative feedback and greater power distance in the supervisor-subordinate relationship in the East and their belief in the efficacy of negative feedback, we expected East Asian managers to feel more comfortable providing their subordinates with critical feedback when compared to Western managers. This led to our fourth hypothesis. Hypothesis 4. Chinese supervisors will have a more positive attitude toward the use of negative feedback to improve subordinate performance than the American supervisors, who will have a greater preference for positive feedback.
Guan and Yancey METHODS Participants We used convenience sampling to select participants for both the American and Chinese groups in this study. In America, we asked human resource managers from organizations in a single Midwestern town for permission to survey their employees. In China, a colleague of the first author collected surveys from employees in organizations located in a single coastal city in Northeast China. We collected 148 surveys in America and 211 surveys in China. In America, 69.2% of the sample were women, 29.4% were men, and 1.4% described their gender as other. In China, 62.5% of the sample were women and 37.5% were men. The American sample was older than the Chinese sample with 69.9% of participants 40 years or older and 30.1% younger than 40 years. In China, only 22.2% were 40 years or older and 77.8% of the sample younger than 40 years. In America, 65.7% of the sample described themselves as European American and 34.3% described themselves as belonging to a minority racial or ethnic group. In China, 86.7% of the sample described themselves as Han Chinese and 13.3% described themselves as a Chinese minority. While the overall American sample was smaller, it had more supervisors than the Chinese sample: 51 American supervisors (37.0% of the American sample) compared to 40 Chinese supervisors (19.3% of the Chinese sample). Measures We first created the instruments described below in English and then translated them into Chinese to ensure a similar availability for both American and Chinese participants. To check the reliability of the translations, we translated the instruments from English to Chinese by means of the backtranslation method (Berry, Poortinga, Segall, & Dasen, 1992). The translation team consisted of three Chinese students who had lived in the United States for at least three years. The first member translated the instruments from English into Chinese. The second member translated the instrument from Chinese into English. Then the third member repeated the first process. With each iteration, the team looked for translations that did not work well. They worked as a team until they reached consensus regarding the best translation for the Chinese version of the instruments. Country. We determined employeesâ€™ country based on the survey language. We delivered American surveys in English and Chinese surveys in Chinese. Supervisorsâ€™ leniency and severity bias. We measured supervisor leniency and severity bias with a single item. First, we asked subordinates whether their performance was compared to peers or to a standard of excellence on their
27 performance appraisals. We then simply asked them how evaluators rated them, either compared to their peers or compared to a standard of excellence, on their last performance appraisal. Participants rated this item on a seven-point Likert scale with scores ranging from much below average to much above average. Participants without evaluations or an awareness of their performance could indicate this. Interestingly, we found that 95% of the American workers were compared to a standard of excellence and only 5% reported a comparison with peers. However, for Chinese workers, 69% reported comparison to a standard of excellence and 31% were compared to peers. In a pilot test of this measure, we asked 10 employees at an American organization to report their last job performance rating. We then asked them the same question a week later and found the test-retest reliability measured 0.82. Because of the pilot test, we changed the scale from a six-point scale to a seven-point scale because several participants noted the need for a neutral or average rating in the middle (see the Appendix for a copy of the instrument). Subordinate motivation to perform better after performance appraisal feedback. To measure subordinate motivation to perform better after performance appraisal feedback, we asked subordinates if they agreed or disagreed with four statements using a seven-point Likert scale with ratings from strongly disagree to strongly agree. On the first three statements, subordinates claimed they felt motivated by their performance appraisal. On the fourth statement, however, they felt demotivated by their performance appraisal. We then reverse scored the last item in a pilot test with the same 10 employees from the American organization who completed this measure twice with a week in between the two scorings. We found the test-retest reliability measured 0.89 (see the Appendix for a copy of the instrument). Subordinate satisfaction with their performance appraisal. To measure subordinate satisfaction with their performance appraisal, we asked subordinates if they agreed or disagreed with four statements using a seven-point Likert scale with ratings from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Subordinates expressed satisfaction with the content the supervisor provided during the subordinateâ€™s last performance appraisal (it was fair and accurate) on three statements. On a fourth statement, however, they expressed dissatisfaction. We then reverse scored this item in a pilot test with the same 10 employees from an American organization who completed the measure twice with a week in between the two scorings. We found the test-retest reliability measured 0.86 (see the Appendix for a copy of the instrument). Supervisor attitude about the effectiveness of negative feedback. To measure supervisor attitude about the
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 effectiveness of negative feedback, we initially created four statements measured by a seven-point Likert scale with ratings from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The statements examined whether managers preferred giving positive or critical feedback, and specifically, which type of feedback they thought most motivating for their subordinates. Two of the items favored giving one’s subordinates positive feedback and the other two items favored giving one’s subordinates negative or critical feedback. We reverse scored the two critical feedback items so that a high score indicated that the supervisor preferred positive feedback, while a low score indicated supervisor preferred critical feedback. In a pilot test, we asked four supervisors from the American organization to complete this measure twice with a week in between the scorings. The test-retest reliability of our four-item instrument measured a disparate -0.33. Upon review, we found that two of the questions contained multiple parts. We consequently reworded these questions with more simple and direct phrasing that increased the length of this section from four to six items (see the Appendix for a copy of the instrument). Procedure Participants in both American and Chinese groups received a survey packet that included a cover letter, a copy of the full survey, and return envelope. We asked participants to read the cover letter explaining the nature of the survey and respond whether they agreed or did not agree to participate. If they agreed, we handed them a clean survey to complete and instructed them not to write their names anywhere on the survey. Finally, we instructed the participants to place their completed surveys in the envelope provided and securely seal it. In America, participants who completed the survey immediately returned their sealed envelopes in person. Participants who needed more time mailed their completed surveys in a prestamped envelope one or two days later. In China, our colleague collected, scanned, and emailed completed surveys to us as pdf files.
28 The survey data did not support our second hypothesis, the relationship between the leniency of the employees’ supervisory rating and the employees’ motivation to improve after receiving performance appraisal feedback will be moderated by the employee’s country. American employees will be more motivated by lenient feedback, while Chinese employees will be more motivated by severe feedback. The relationship between employees’ performance rating and their motivation to improve after receiving performance appraisal feedback was not significantly more positive for the American employees (r = 0.04) compared to the Chinese employees (r = -0.08). Using Fisher’s r to z transformation to compare the two correlations, we did not find a significance difference (z = 1.06, p > 0.05). The survey results supported our third hypothesis, the relationship between rating leniency and employees’ satisfaction with their performance appraisal feedback will be moderated by the employees’ country. American employees will be more satisfied with lenient feedback, while Chinese employees’ will be more satisfied with severe feedback. The relationship between employees’ performance rating and their satisfaction with performance appraisal feedback proved significantly more positive for American employees (r = 0.10) when compared to Chinese employees (r = -0.21). Using Fisher’s r to z transformation to compare the two correlations, we found a significance difference (z = 2.76, p < 0.01) between American and Chinese satisfaction with severe feedback. Unlike American employees, Chinese workers evaluated critical feedback as superior in accuracy and fairness compared to praise of their performance. Results supported our fourth hypothesis, Chinese supervisors will have a more positive attitude toward the use of negative feedback to improve subordinate performance than the American supervisors, who will have a greater preference for positive feedback (t(87) = 6.58, p < 0.001). American supervisors demonstrated significantly more positive attitudes toward positive feedback (M = 4.8, SD = 0.68) to improve subordinate performance than did the Chinese supervisors (M = 3.9, SD = 0.61).
RESULTS DISCUSSION Survey results supported our first hypothesis, American employees will receive more lenient performance ratings from their supervisors than the Chinese employees will from their supervisors (t(338) = 5.41, p < 0.001). American employees received more lenient performance evaluations (M = 5.9, SD = 1.45) than the Chinese employees (M = 5.1, SD = 1.64). However, on a seven-point scale with a four rating average performance, both American and Chinese workers received above average performance ratings.
When compared with Chinese employees, we found American employees received more lenient performance appraisal ratings from their supervisors. Our findings align with Jawahar and Williams (1997) who found Western managers tend to commit leniency errors when providing their subordinates with performance appraisal feedback. Ng, Koh, Ang, Kennedy, and Chan (2011) wrote that raters from the East and the West express two main concerns: helping ratees improve their performance and improving the relationship between raters
Guan and Yancey and ratees. Although American and Chinese managers have the same goals for performance feedback, they may not use the same psychological strategies. In laboratory studies with university students, Heine, Kitayama, Lehman, Takata, Ide, Leung, and Matsumoto (2001) found American and Japanese students reacted differently to self-efficacy feedback. When told that they performed above average, Americans students tried harder while the Japanese relaxed their efforts. When told that they performed below average, American students relaxed their efforts while Japanese students tried harder. If Western and Eastern employees respond similarly to these students, then American supervisors could find higher ratings motivate improvement in their subordinates’ performance. They might also feel that higher ratings more likely to improve the quality of the relationship between them and their subordinates. On the other hand, Chinese managers might find constructive criticism the best way to motivate their employees and build trusting relationships. These tendencies may relate to cultural differences such as individualism among Americans and collectivism in Chinese societies. Western countries such as America demonstrate individualistic cultures that focus more on individual accomplishment and self-interest when compared to Eastern cultures that more often consider group interests (Earley, Gibson, & Chen, 1999; Hofstede, 2001). Writing about Western employees, David (2011) suggested favorable performance feedback for employees needing to improve previous performance evaluations. At the same time, however, supervisors need to provide employees with suggestions to improve their performance. Supervisors need to sandwich positive and negative feedback by starting with positive evaluation, then telling employee what needs to change (negative evaluation) to improve performance, and finishing with an overall positive conclusion for the employee. While positive performance evaluations motivate Western subordinates to try harder, negative feedback does not, it just decreases their motivation (Barron & Sackett, 2008). We were unable to find studies from a Chinese or Eastern perspective suggesting supervisors include positive evaluations in the performance feedback to help employees improve performance. Moreover, Bond, Wang, Leung, and Giacalone (1985) found that collectivistic Chinese employees prefer critical performance feedback. Expectations in collectivistic cultures direct duty more toward the group than toward oneself. Therefore, when Chinese employees receives negative feedback, they may worry about letting the team down and feel more motivated to improve. On the other hand, American employees may feel personally criticized by negative feedback. Kashima and Triandis (1986) found that American students are more prone to self-serving bias than Japanese students. According to Fournier (2016), self-serving bias is the common human tendency to attribute one’s successes to
29 personal characteristics, and one’s failures to factors beyond one’s control. When Americans received negative evaluations, they blamed it on external causes (e.g., my boss is a jerk) while the Japanese participants were more likely to attribute the negative evaluations to internal causes (e.g., I screwed up) (Kashima & Triandis, 1986). The person with the lower selfserving bias would be more likely to accept responsibility and want to do something to reverse the negative evaluation. In addition, because the Chinese people value collectivism, they evaluate their behaviors, self-efficacy, and goal setting within a group context. They desire agreement with each other in order to enhance group harmony (Bandura, 1997). Therefore, when they receive a lower rating of their performance evaluation, they strive to figure out the negative parts of their performance and improve them to ensure their performance does not hurt their team or group performance in the future. Although the second hypothesis was unsupported, American employees who received higher ratings from their supervisors demonstrated a slight tendency to feel more motivated by their performance appraisal feedback, whereas Chinese employees with higher ratings on their performance appraisal feedback showed a slight tendency toward less motivation. Although not significant, these results seem consistent with recommended motivational strategies. Our data showing higher employee ratings were slightly more motivating somewhat supports Western managers who find positive feedback motivates employees. The data that lower ratings were slightly more motivating somewhat supports Eastern managers who believe negative feedback motivates employees more. However, these interpretations seem tentative. Ashford and Cummings (1983) found people from collectivist cultures valued performance feedback that could improve later performance. Heine, Kitayama, Lehman, Takata, Ide, Leung, and Matsumoto (2001) argued that Westerners viewed themselves as independent, unique, and relatively immutable. Their research on how Western and Eastern students responded differently to self-efficacy feedback indicated students tended to use their previous positive behaviors to build their self-efficacy. When receiving a positive evaluation, American employees would probably demonstrate more confidence about successful performance in the future. However, Easterners would less likely focus on the positive aspects when they perform tasks. They also want to know the weaker parts of their work. They believe that to improve performance, it is necessary to improve the negative parts. A Chinese expression describes this tendency: how much water a kit will hold depends on how long the shortest piece of batten is, meaning people who want more water in their kit need to lengthen the shortest piece of batten. Application of this aphorism to our study could help us to understand why Chinese employees need to identify the shortest battens in their performance, so they can improve future performance.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 Results for our third hypothesis suggested differences between American employees and Chinese employees in their satisfaction with receiving lenient performance appraisal feedback. Delivering lenient performance appraisal feedback to American employees related to higher satisfaction with performance feedback. However, delivering lenient performance appraisal feedback to Chinese employees related to lower satisfaction with performance feedback. Ng, Koh, Ang, Kennedy, and Chan (2011) found that raters from the East and the West both have two main concerns: helping ratees to improve their performance and improving the relationship between raters and ratees. Delivering lenient feedback to Americans related slightly to higher satisfaction with their performance reviews. This tendency could subsequently improve the quality of subordinate-supervisor relationships in America. On the other hand, delivering feedback that is more critical to Chinese employees seemed an even better predictor of higher satisfaction with their performance reviews, which in turn could improve the quality of the subordinatesupervisor relationship. Study results support our fourth hypothesis. American supervisors demonstrated significantly more positive attitudes toward using positive feedback to improve subordinate performance than their Chinese supervisor counterparts. This finding supports the perspective that American and Chinese supervisors employ different psychological strategies when providing feedback to their subordinates. American supervisors who used more lenient evaluations showed a keener understanding of their subordinates, while Chinese supervisors who used more critical evaluations showed an equally keen understanding of their subordinates. We also found that almost all of the American performance appraisal instruments (95%) compared employees to a standard of excellence. On the other hand, only 69% of the Chinese performance appraisal instruments compared employees to a standard of excellence. In China, 31% of the participants reported that they were compared to peers on their performance appraisal instrument. This finding ties back to Heine, Kitayama, Lehman, Takata, Ide, Leung, and Matsumotoâ€™s (2001) observation that whereas North Americans view themselves as independent, unique, and relatively immutable, East Asians view themselves as interdependent, embedded and malleable. Thus, people in East Asian cultures tend to evaluate themselves by comparing themselves with other people so they can improve the negative parts of their previous performance to best to help the team. LIMITATIONS Since we conducted a correlational study, we were unable to uncover any causal relationships from an internal validity perspective. For example, American workers who reported more
30 satisfaction with higher appraisals did not imply that giving American workers higher appraisals increased their appraisal satisfaction. Similarly, Chinese workers who reported more satisfaction with lower appraisals did not mean lower appraisals increased their appraisal satisfaction. Another limitation of internal validity of our study related to instrumentation. Because we used instruments developed for the study, they lacked full validation. Future research may need measures more fully validated. From an external validity perspective, our study used convenient samples, another limitation. Due to their large size, both America and China have different cultures in different states and areas. For example, the American participants in our study were from the Midwest where people hold traditional values. Perhaps the results would differ if data were collected from coastal regions. These participants also lived in a small Midwestern town. The Chinese participants lived in a large city in the northern China with many international businesses. Nonetheless, participants from this town hold more traditional Chinese values than other large Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou. Future studies might sample employee populations from cities of different sizes and cultural values in both America and China. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS Our findings could provide valuable assistance for American companies training their American supervisors working in China on communicating performance to their Chinese employees. Our study could also help Chinese supervisors working in American companies to motivate American employees through their satisfaction with performance appraisal feedback. Specifically, American supervisors working in northern China would need to point out negative aspects of their Chinese employeesâ€™ performance appraisal feedback in order to improve performance and satisfaction with their appraisal feedback. Conversely, Chinese supervisors working in Midwestern America would need to understand that lenient ratings for American employeesâ€™ performance may result in higher satisfaction with performance appraisal feedback. REFERENCES Ashford, S. J., & Cummings, L. L. (1983). Feedback as an individual resource: Personal strategies of creating information. Organizational Behavior & Human Performance, 32(3), 370-398. doi:10.1016/00305073(83)90156-3 Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Behavior. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Guan and Yancey Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: WH Freeman/Times Books/ Henry Holt & Co. Barron, L. G., & Sackett, P. R. (2008). Asian variability in performance rating modesty and leniency bias. Human Performance, 21(3), 277-290. doi:10.1080/ 08959280802137754 Berry, J. W., Poortinga, Y. H., Segall, M. H., & Dasen, P. R. (1992). Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Bloomberg. (2015). Record number of U.S. companies call China top bet, survey shows. Retrieved from http:// www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-04/recordnumber-of-u-s-companies-call-china-top-bet-surveyshows Bond, M. H., Wang, K., Leong, K., & Giacalone, R. A. (1985). How are responses to verbal insult related to cultural collectivism and power distance? Journal of CrossCultural Psychology, 16(1): 111-127. doi:10.1177/ 0022002185016001009 Cappelli, P., & Tavis, A. (2016, October). The performance management revolution. Harvard Business Review, 94(10). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-performancemanagement-revolution Chong, E. (2007). Managerial competency appraisal: A crosscultural study of American and East Asian managers. Journal of Business Research, 61(3), 191-200. doi: 10.1016/ j.jbusres.2007.06.007 David, E. (2011). Examining the role of narrative performance appraisal comments on performance change. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Houston, Houston, TX. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 6428. Earley, P. C., Gibson, C. B., & Chen, C. C. (1999). “How did I do?” versus “how did we do?” cultural contrasts of performance feedback use and self-efficacy. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 30(5), 594-619. doi:10.1177/ 0022022199030005003 Eaton, M. J., & Dembo, M. H. (1997). Differences in the motivational beliefs of Asian American and Non-Asian students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(3), 433440. doi:10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.523 Farh, J., Dobbins, G. H., & Cheng, B. (1991). Cultural relativity in action: A comparison of self-rating made by Chinese and U.S. workers. Personnel Psychology, 44(1), 129-147. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.1991.tb00693.x Fournier, G. (2016). Self-serving bias. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/self-servingbias/ Heine, S. J., Kitayama, S., Lehman, D. R., Takata, T., Ide, E., Leung, C., & Matsumoto, H. (2001). Divergent
31 consequences of success and failure in Japan and North America: An investigation of self-improving motivations and malleable selves. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(4), 599-615. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2069 Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede Model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/ 2307-0919.1014 Jawahar, I. M., & Williams, C. R. (1997). Where all the children are above average: The performance appraisal purpose effect. Personnel Psychology, 50(4), 905-925. Kashima, Y, & Triandis, H. C. (1986). The self-serving bias in attributions as a coping strategy: A cross-cultural study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 17, 83-97. Li, Z. (2010, May 18). China became the fourth largest immigration country of the United States. News 163. Retrieved from http://news.163.com/10/0518/22/ 670FT1I5000146BD.html Longenecker, C. O., Sims Jr, H. P., & Gioia, D. A. (1987). Behind the mask: The politics of employee appraisal. The Academy of Management Executive (1987-1989), 183-193. Nease, A. A., Mudgett, B. O., & Quiñones, M. A. (1999). Relationships among feedback sign, self-efficacy, and acceptance of performance feedback. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(5), 806-814. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.84.5.806 Ng, K., Koh, C., Ang, S., Kennedy, J. C., & Chan, K. (2011). Rating leniency and halo in multisource feedback ratings: Testing cultural assumptions of power distance and individualism-collectivism. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 1033-1044. doi: 10.1037/a0023368 Patrick, J. (2014, January 24). 10 reasons performance reviews don’t work. New York Times. Retrieved from https:// boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/10-reasonsperformance-reviews-dont-work/ Saal, F. E., & Knight, P. A. (1988). Industrial/organizational psychology: Science and practice. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole Publishing Co. US-China Business Council. (2012). USCBC 2012 China business environment survey results: Continued growth and profitability; tempered optimism due to rising costs, competition, and market barriers. Retrieved from https:/ /www.uschina.org/sites/default/files/uscbc-2012-membersurvey-results.pdf Vara, V. (2015, July 24). The push against performance reviews. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www. newyorker.com/business/currency/the-push-againstperformance-reviews
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019
APPENDIX To assess Supervisors’ Leniency and Severity Bias, we created English and Chinese versions of the following measure of performance. Here is the English version. Performance Appraisal Questions for Subordinates 1. On your organization’s performance appraisal instrument, are subordinates compared to their peers or are they compared to a standard of excellence? [ ] Peers
[ ] a Standard of Excellence
If you answered “Peers,” then answer question 2 below. If you answered “a Standard of Excellence,” then answer question 3 below. If your organization’s rating scale was not exactly the scale below, or if you cannot clearly remember how you were evaluated, simply make your best estimate. 2. On your last performance review, how were you rated compared to your peers? [ ] Much below average [ ] Below average [ ] Slightly below average
[ ] Average
[ ] Slightly above average [ ] Above average [ ] Much above average
[ ] I have not been reviewed
[ ] It was not made clear to me how I compared to my peers
3. On your last performance review, how were you rated compared the standard? Did you fail to meet expectations (below average), meet expectations (average), or exceed expectations (above average)? [ ] Much below average [ ] Below average [ ] Slightly below average
[ ] Average
[ ] Slightly above average [ ] Above average [ ] Much above average
[ ] I have not been reviewed
[ ] It was not made clear to me how I compared to the standard
To assess Subordinates’ Motivation to Perform Better after Performance Appraisal Feedback, we created English and Chinese versions of the following four items. Here is the English version. Performance Appraisal Questions Directions: Please indicate the degree to which you disagree or agree with the following statements. Circle a number between 1 (strongly disagree) and 7 (strongly agree) for each statement.
Guan and Yancey
33 Strongly disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
1. As a result of my last job performance review, I feel more motivated to improve my performance.
2. As a result of my last job performance review, I feel more confident that I will be able to improve my performance.
3. As a result of my last job performance review, I feel more pressure to improve my performance.
4. The suggestions made by my supervisor during my last job performance review actually reduced my motivation to improve my performance.
Performance appraisal statements
To assess Subordinatesâ€™ Satisfaction with Their Performance Appraisal, we added four more items, in English and Chinese. Here are those items in English. Performance appraisal statements
Neither agree nor disagree
5. I feel that my last job performance review was a fair appraisal of my overall performance.
6. I feel that my supervisor overlooked important factors that impacted my performance.
7. I feel that my supervisor's depiction of my performance in my last job performance review was accurate.
8. I was satisfied with my last job performance review.
To assess Supervisorsâ€™ Attitude about the Effectiveness of Negative Feedback, we created English and Chinese versions of the following six items. Here is the English version. Performance Appraisal Questions for Supervisors Directions: Do not answer these questions unless you are a supervisor. If you are a supervisor, please indicate the degree to which you disagree or agree with the following statements. Circle a number between 1 (strongly disagree) and 7 (strongly agree) for each statement. Performance appraisal statements
Neither agree nor disagree
1. When discussing job performance with a subordinate, I prefer to focus more on the positive aspects of his or her performance rather than the negative.
2. When evaluating a subordinate, if you are too positive, his or her motivation to improve will be lower.
3. Most of my subordinates respond better to positive feedback than to negative feedback.
4. I am more comfortable telling my subordinates the areas in which they need to improve, rather than telling them about their strengths.
5. It is important to inform subordinates about their weaknesses.
6. My subordinates respond better to negative feedback than to positive feedback.
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 1, p. 34-42 (2019)
The more things change, the more they stay the same: An analysis of cyberbullying experiences among college students ROCHELLE ROWLEY1 AND GARY WYATT2 1. Sociology, Anthropology, and Crime and Delinquency Studies, Emporia State University <firstname.lastname@example.org> 2. Honors College, Emporia State University <email@example.com> We examined cyberbullying experiences of 133 first-year university students enrolled full-time at a medium-sized public university in the Midwest by analyzing their responses to an electronic questionnaire. When asked if students had ever been the target of harmful acts committed by people using social media, 59% of the respondents reported in the affirmative. Further analysis found cyberbullying is a gendered phenomenon with females as the majority in their roles as both victims and perpetrators. Thematic analysis of survey responses confirms that for most victims, the experience was short in duration, involved ex-friends who spread rumors and lies, caused emotional pain, and often occurred as a result of breakups with boyfriends or same-gender friendships and the accompanying peer-group realignment. The results indicate social media extends emotional bullying, historically limited to face-to-face interactions, into cyberspace. Social media then provides an additional venue for perpetrators to engage in bullying as a phenomenon that has always occurred. Keywords: cyberbullying, bullying, social media, gender, adolescents, intimate relationships. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, we provide a brief review of the literature on cyberbullying to highlight the prevalence, stability, and consequences of this phenomenon and compare it with traditional face-to-face bullying. Second, we report the results of an online questionnaire conducted with 133 first-year students at a medium-sized university in the Midwest who reported if they had been victims of cyberbullying, and for those who had, to describe what happened to them. The major contributions of this study are the dissemination of college cyberbullying experiences and the categorization of cyberbullying by themes. Because gender and age are important elements, we included them as controls in the study. The definition used for cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. PREVALENCE The media provides tragic stories about cyberbullying and its consequences; most notably, cyberbullied teen suicides (Dakss, 2005; Dahler, 2013; Kim & Leventhal, 2008). These reports warn against the growing trend of cyberbullying and the misery it would inflict if action is not taken. Of particular concern in the literature is the prevalence of cyberbullying as epidemic with an increasing list of victims and perpetrators and the allocation of funding needed to prevent cyberbullying. From 2007 to 2010, Olweus (2012) conducted two large-scale studies, one in the United States and one in Norway. Based on
these studies, Olweus concluded that the prevalence of cyberbullying, the reported escalation in its rates and the increase in the number of victims and perpetrators were greatly exaggerated by the media and less-than-competent researchers. He found cyberbullying occurs much less frequently than traditional face-to-face bullying and its rates are remarkably stable over time. He claimed the best evidence does not support the belief that the number of victims and bullies is escalating. Consistent with other research findings (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004; Hinduja & Patchin, 2012), Olweus (2012) found the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying tended to be victims and perpetrators of traditional bullying as well. He concluded that â€œbullyingâ€? itself was the underlying problem, and that rather than singling out cyberbullying as a unique phenomenon, it was merely another form of bullying used by the same bullies towards the same victims. Olweusâ€™s findings contrast with Rivers and Noret (2010) who studied northern England students from 2002-2006. They found an increase in reported cyberbullying activity; however, they did not account for this increase as a by-product of an intensification in anti-bullying programs in the schools. Hinduja and Patchin (2012) contended Olweus (2012) overstated the claim that other researchers found dramatic increases in cyberbullying. Hinduja and Patchin (2012) reviewed 35 papers published in peer-reviewed journals that placed the percent of cyberbullied teens at 24%, higher than the Olweus reports; moreover, they were unable to find research documenting an increase in the amount of cyberbullying. However, Rigby and Smith (2011), Wolak, Mitchell, and Finkelhor (2007), and Kim and Leventhal (2008) all reported increases in cyberbullying when compared to traditional bullying.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 UNIQUE VICTIMS AND PERPETRATORS Hinduja and Patchin (2012) agreed with Olweus regarding the overlap between cyberbullied and face-to-face bullied victims and their perpetrators: It appears that, with this phenomenon, we are often dealing with a population of targets who are doubly susceptible to victimization—both online and off—and a population of aggressors who do not discriminate when it comes to whom they mistreat—and where. (p. 51) Cyberbullying, they concluded, is neither “an epidemic nor a rarity” (p. 67). Guerra, Williamson, and Sadek (2012) used focus groups to gather perspectives from adolescents about bullying and found adolescents used cyberbullying as a coping mechanism for boredom and as an extension of bullying that occurred at school. Menesini (2012) and Smith (2012) found while there is an overlap between traditional bullying and cyberbullying, there were distinctions between the two types of bullying. They contended characteristics of cyberbullying rendered it different from traditional bullying. Such characteristics included, but were not limited to, the need for some technological expertise on the part of the perpetrator, distance of the victim from the perpetrator, lack of an immediate audience who witnessed the event first-hand who then granted heightened esteem to the perpetrator, and the difficulty for victims to escape from cyberbullying. PERSON AND ENVIRONMENT Much of the research on bullying credits psychological deficiencies of the perpetrator as its instigating cause. Referencing Olweus’s working on bullying, for example, the American Psychological Association (2004) lists the following characteristics of bullies: (a) strong need to dominate and subdue others, (b) impulsive and easily angered, (c) defiant and aggressive towards adults, and (d) lacking in empathy. Despite the focus on individual deficiencies as the cause of aggressive behavior in teens, Faris and Felmlee (2011) found the position students occupied in school-based peer hierarchies was a significant predictor of aggressive behavior. Teens who reported engaging in the highest levels of aggressive behavior were those who occupied central positions in the school’s status hierarchy, and they used aggression as a tool to maintain and/or advance their positions. Those at the top of the hierarchy did not need to use aggression and those at the bottom saw no point in using it. Aggression, including bullying, therefore, was determined not only by psychological deficiencies but by position in the social structure as well. In an extension of their initial research, Faris and Felmlee (2014) reported many bullies were relatively popular, well-adjusted
35 students who used bullying as a tool to advance their status. Furthermore, their research found a new set of victims: reasonably popular, well-adjusted students who were targeted because they were viewed as a threat or potential threat to the bully’s status advancement. Therefore, this implied there was actually a reason for those at the top of the hierarchy to bully those at the center who attempted to reach the top tier. Faris and Felmlee’s (2011, 2014) findings are similar to a study by Milner (2004), whose exhaustive study of school-based social hierarchies of American high school students led him to the following conclusion: A teenager’s status in the eyes of his or her peers is extremely important to most adolescents … because they have so little real economic or political power. They must attend school for most of the day and they have only very limited influence on what happens there. … They do, however, have one crucial kind of power: the power to create an informal social world in which they evaluate one another (italics added). That is, they can and do create their own status systems—usually based on criteria that are quite different from those promoted by parents or teachers. In short, the main kind of power teenagers have is status power. (p. 4) Status power Milner (2004) found status power was not “expansive.” By that he meant status was in short supply; there was only enough of it for a few, and the competition for it was fierce. Given the intensity of this social reality, the potential for bullying as a tool for status power was quite real in middle and high school environments. In other words, bullying was a product of the social environment in which teens lived and, as Faris and Felmlee (2011, 2014) found, the positions they occupied in that environment. Merten (1997) reported another example of this social environment aspect. He offered a gendered interpretation of “meanness” as a tool female teens used to balance the tension between status and equality existing in school-based peer hierarchies. In his analysis of a clique of popular yet mean adolescent girls, he found spreading rumors, gossiping, and other forms of emotional violence, were used to maintain group boundaries, because, among other things, direct physical assaults were considered inappropriate for females. As later indicated by the Faris and Felmlee (2011, 2014) and Milner (2004) studies, Merten (1997) used the sociological perspective to make sense of school-based bullying by locating its locus in social structural realities rather than psychological deficiencies. Thus, the cause of any type of bullying could not be reduced to psychological deficiencies alone, as Olweus (2012) and others suggested. This focus did not imply the
Rowley and Wyatt removal of psychological deficiencies as a way to interpret and study bullying; rather, it provided another aspect to the literature. Gender Researchers from a variety of disciplines identified differences between male and female aggression. For example, Beran (2012) found males were more likely to be physically aggressive while female aggression was more likely to involve indirect, more emotional attacks through the use of peer groups. Such attacks involved “creat[ing] mean names, gossip, and com[ing] up with ways of letting the girl know that she is rejected from the peer group” (p.1). This was often done through the use of social media sites or texting. In support of Merten’s notion of gender expectations (2004), Beran (2012) found: “At the core of these differences are children’s and, indeed, societal beliefs about acceptable behaviors for boys and girls” (p. 2). Guerra and colleagues (2012) reported students’ perceptions of bullying by girls more associated with attacks on girls rumored to hone in on a significant other or to gain a higher status in popularity. Because cyberbullying involved attacks that are more typical of female aggression (non-physical), it was not surprising that victimization trends reflected this tendency. Cappadocai, Craig, and Pepler (2013) found adolescent females in Canada reported higher levels of cybervictimization than did adolescent males, which was consistent with findings by Slonje, Smith, and Friesen (2012) in a study conducted in Europe. As with other studies, they found considerable overlap between cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Finally, they reported relationships between victimization and depression, physical illnesses, substance use, academic problems, truancy and aggression. CONSEQUENCES Chang and his colleagues (2013) reported Taiwanese adolescents who were victims of cyberbullying experienced lower self-esteem and greater risk for serious depression. Hemphill and colleagues (2011) found Australian teens victimized by cyberbullying reported heightened levels of binge drinking and depression. Bogart and her colleagues (2014) found victims experienced poor physical and mental health years after the bullying stopped. They also found youth most susceptible to negative effects were those who experienced prolonged episodes of cyberbullying. While the impact of traditional bullying was discussed in each of these studies, the main emphasis was specifically on the impact of cyberbullying. The impact of traditional and cyberbullying was found detrimental to individuals and society as a whole.
36 Based on our review of the literature, we concluded the following about cyberbullying: (a) traditional bullying occurs at higher rates than cyberbullying; (b) cyberbullying rates seem stable over time with little evidence of an epidemic; (c) the structure of adolescent life at school is conducive to bullying and other forms of aggression as teens compete for status power; (d) females are more likely to be involved in cyberbullying as both perpetrators and victims; and (e) the short- and long-term consequences of victimization include depression, physical illness, low self-esteem, truancy and diminished academic performance. The significance of this study is that it provided detailed descriptions of actual events that the respondents experienced. We gave victims a voice as they described what happened to them, and we examined their stories to determine if any general themes associated with their cyberbullying experiences existed. METHOD In spring 2012, we emailed a questionnaire measuring experiences with cyberbullying to 796 first-year students attending a medium sized university in the Midwest: 465 (58%) were female and 333 (42%) were male. After an initial email and one reminder, 133 students completed and returned the questionnaire for a 17% response rate. Since this response rate was low, generalizing results to a larger population was problematic. We also believed respondents were more likely to have experienced victimization than non-respondents which may have led to response bias. While we acknowledge these issues, we found a thematic analysis of the descriptions of victimization valuable, as were the reported consequences of victimization. Accordingly, we provided some cautionary conclusions about victimization. The questionnaire presented respondents with a definition of cyberbullying and asked them to respond to a series of questions. Cyberbullying was defined as harmful acts committed by people using computers or cell phones. Such acts could include spreading untrue rumors about you, posting or sending pictures designed to humiliate you, sending threats or insults to you and about you using email, text messages, chat rooms, or other forms of social media. We then asked respondents a host of questions about the experience (see Appendix A for questionnaire items). We coded transcripts of cyberbullying stories provided by the respondents by analyzing the message of each story section or sentence. Once all of the stories were coded, we defined emerging themes through the repetition of codes that included similarities and differences as well as through what was omitted (Ryan & Bernard, 2003). Each member of the
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 research team independently reviewed transcripts to discover emerging themes. A team of four undergraduate researchers and two senior researchers discussed, analyzed, and refined the themes until the entire team reached verbal consensus, which then established inter-rater reliability. When the research team was unable to quickly agree on a theme, the theme was either dropped from the analysis or incorporated into existing themes. No significant themes were removed as a result of this process.
37 Table 1. Percentages of sample demographics and characteristics.
Victimized respondents reported 69% (N=55) of the attacks involved spreading untrue, hurtful rumors; 58% (N=46) involved sending or posting threats and insults using email, text messages, chat rooms, Facebook or other social network sites; 19% (N=15) of incidents involved posting or sending pictures designed to humiliate victims; 15% (N=12) involved unauthorized use of victimâ€™s identity; 6.3% (N=5) involved other attacks; finally, 2.5% (N=2) involved posting humiliating videos. Because respondents could indicate more than one type of incident, the combined percentage of victimization totaled more than 100%. Table 1 indicates the majority of survey respondents (58%) who reported victimization by bullying were primarily bullied for less than one month (71%); typically bullied by a friend or ex- friend (77%), and the experiences usually occurred during the middle and high school years when respondents were between 12 to 14 years of age. The demographics of the survey respondents were overwhelmingly white (87%), straight (94%), and US citizens (98%). THEMATIC ANALYSIS We anticipated three themes that actually emerged from the data: (a) perpetrators bullied victims within intimate relationships such as friends or dating partners; (b) motivation for bullying was to gain the perpetrator power and control and
<a few days
<12 years old
RESULTS Respondents were female (75%; N=100), male (24%; N=32) and transgender (1%; N=1). Of the 133 respondents, 59% (N=78) reported they had been the victim of cyberbullying. Because this percentage was more than twice as high as reported in other studies and because we received a 17% response rate, we considered a significant response bias from cyberbullied students as those more likely to complete and return the questionnaire. Among females, 67% (N=67) reported victimization while males, only 31% (N=10) reported victimization (X2= 14.17, p < 0.001). Thus, despite our concern about response bias, our results supported higher victimization among females which was consistent with the findings in other studies.
Relationship to perpetrator
Age of victimization
12-14 years old
15-18 years old
>18 years old
Native American/ Pacific Islander
Rowley and Wyatt (c) bullying occurred with both cyber and traditional face-toface methods. However, one unexpected theme also emerged in the stories: respondents all mentioned at least one perpetrator, at least one victim, and a triggering event. While some stories included a concluding solution or event, not all respondents appeared to have achieved closure. Perpetrators were defined as those individuals who instigated the bullying, victims were defined as those who were targets of the bullying, and a triggering event referred to the supposed purpose for the bullying. Theme one: Bullying occurs in post-intimate relationships
38 Another significant finding from respondent stories emerged as perpetrators who tried to create a sense of fear and worthlessness in the victims: •
I was on Facebook and a chat message popped up with a guy that I went to elementary school with but had not seen or talked to him in years. He then starts telling me [my] how I am ugly, fat, that no one likes me, etc. One girl who was my best friend decided she didn’t want to be my friend anymore …. She turned all of our friends against me … & then harassed me & threatened me over text messaging.
The majority of respondents identified a former romantic partner and/or former friend as the bullying offender. Here are sample excerpts of their stories:
These story excerpts illustrated the use of threatening statements on social media with an intent to control or humiliate the victims.
Theme three: Cyberbullies are face-to-face bullies
• • •
My ‘friend’ called me a slut …. She also said that she hope I fail … and to have a horrible year. We were friends but now we’re not … the people involved refuse to explain it to me … After a bad breakup, a boyfriend posted stuff about me on Myspace … Lame! […]he took a really, really embarrassing picture of me and posted it on Twitter and I cried for days.
Their stories indicated the bullying triggered the end of the friendship, and the victim initiated the conclusion of the intimate relationship. All of the stories that were associated with an ex-partner included post-relationship bullying.
Although survey instructions asked for instances of cyberbullying, many of the stories included references to combined methods of traditional face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying, as indicated through these stories excerpts: • Untrue things were yelled at me in classes and posted over Facebook. … • … her girlfriend beat me up and later threatened my life via text message. These stories suggest the continuation of bullying through digital means by the same perpetrator rather than a new bully.
Theme two: Perpetrators seek power and control Theme four: Victims stories lack help-seeking The primary motivation for bullying occurred when perpetrators humiliated former friends or those whom they had dated as a result of jealousy of another person or possible loss of social status, as evidenced in these stories: • •
A girl at my school would call me poor and make fun of me. There was an account made in my name with a fake e-mail address that had all my contact information, pictures of me, and fake things about my life. None of the information was set to private and anyone could see it. It made me sound like a whore.… I do believe there was jealousy behind the motivation of the girl that made the page. She always seemed jealous of mine and my best friend’s friendship.
Perpetrators attempted to humiliate victims through the spread of rumors and/or lies, catfishing (hacking someone’s account and posting on their behalf or creating another site with their name) their social media, or posting questionable pictures of the victim.
Respondent stories mentioned only three instances when they sought help with their bullying experiences. One respondent reported calling police; another sought help from school administrators, and another sought help from parents. The victim called the police because the perpetrator had slashed my tires; another victim contacted school administrators because she threatened my life, and a respondent asked for help from her parents because of a fake profile (catfishing) created in her name. DISCUSSION Our first theme, bullying occurs in post-intimate relationships, yielded a disturbing finding connecting bullying and intimate partner violence (Corvo & deLara, 2010; Coyne & Monks, 2011; Espelage & Holt, 2007; Fredland, 2008; Josephson & Pepler, 2012). When the relationship between the bully and victim was romantic, Hertzog, Harpel, and Rowley (2016) found a difference in perceptions among students, their parents, and school staff on whether to categorize behaviors
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 as bullying or dating violence. Whether the behavior evaluated was deemed bullying or dating violence, researchers found a clear connection between the two categories with bullying behaviors serving as precursors to dating violence among adolescents (Corvo & de Lara, 2010; Foshee et al., 2014; Josephson & Pepler, 2012). Respondent stories on friendship bullying demonstrated dominance in same-sex groups. When relationships were romantic, our second theme, bullies seek power and control, may represent sexual selection theory as well as the typical power and control theory. Without additional information provided from perpetrators, it was difficult to determine motivation; however, previous work on student perceptions of bullying by Guerra and her colleagues (2012) indicated a power and control aspect of heterosexual relationships needed both to maintain one’s own relationship with a partner and to destroy the partner’s potential relationships with a significant other. We found a multitude of instances of bullying expressed through rumors and lies, both in traditional face-to-face and cyberbullying forms, which suggested Merten’s (1997) findings that perpetrators desire to maintain group boundaries through bullying were still accurate. Although Faris and Felmlee’s (2011) suggested perpetrators used bullying to maintain or gain a position in the social structure, their aggressive behaviors may actually be more associated with the need to maintain or gain a sexual selection status among peers. The large number of stories associated with ex-romantic partners demonstrated sexual selection theory, as heterosexual individuals found more mates through attraction based on physical characteristics and social dominance (Maccoby, 1998). Individuals who were able to dominate same-sex groups were able to improve their social status and their desirability among members of the opposite-sex group (Pellegrini & Long, 2003). As indicated in the studies conducted by Hinduja and Patchin (2012) and Olweus (2012), our findings suggested an overlap between cyberbullying and traditional face-to-face bullying. Those who were victimized through digital means tended also to be bullied through more traditional methods. Our third theme demonstrated this finding: Cyberbullies are traditional bullies. Perpetrators used cyberbullying as a means to continue the traditional face-to-face bullying already occurring against the victims. Although media reported cyberbullying occurring because technology created opportunities for novice bullies, our findings suggested otherwise. Our data also supported the findings of Cappadocai, Craig, and Pepler (2013) who found adolescent females were victims of cyberbullying more frequently than males. Similarly to Beran (2012), we concluded the gender-based frequency was related to the expectation that physical violence was not socially acceptable for females.
39 The final theme of our study, lack of victims seeking help, was disheartening. Adolescence was a time when assistance from more experienced individuals was highly valuable. Many novel situations occurred during this developmental time period, and most adolescents lacked the experience necessary to appropriately navigate them. In all three examples of helpseeking, there was a technical problem addressed: damaged property, fear, and removal of unwanted information. Not once did anyone report seeking help for more adaptive problems such as relationship entitlement or belonging and acceptance. Research suggested adolescents, especially low-risk adolescents (Gould, Velting, Kleinman, Lucas, Thomas, & Chung, 2004), sought help from those most similar to them— other adolescents—which was considered inadequate help (Ocampo, Shelley, & Jaycox, 2007). LIMITATIONS This study contains some limitations; primarily, the ability to generalize findings due to the low response rate. Although response bias was possible, as students who had experienced bullying may have been more likely to self-select to the survey invitation, their reporting actually became a positive outcome as a result of our attempt to secure stories about bullying. By knowing the survey addressed bullying, respondents who behaved as perpetrators may have been impacted in socially desirable ways such as putting oneself in the position of the victim. As the survey was taken anonymously, bias to reflect social desirability was unlikely a problem. Another limitation of this study was the cross-sectional, convenience sampling aspect of participants. Adding more respondents from other locations would strengthen the study, as would replicated studies with more adolescents and young adults. Regardless of these limitations, the findings imply the need to focus prevention efforts on bullying as a whole rather than pinpointing a specific modality of bullying. As cyberbullying may occur as an extension of traditional bullying, policies associated with bullying should also incorporate cyberbullying aspects. For example, one of the troublesome issues with cyberbullying was the constant access to technology, in school classrooms. As one teacher explained it (personal communication): •
instead of paying attention to me in class, they are busy reading Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or whatever they are up to these days and when the bell rings they are ready to confront the latest bully or boy/girlfriend about such and such.
Additionally, a focus on building healthy relationships may clearly connect with the reduction of bullying, as much of the reported bullying surrounded aspects associated with the breakup of intimate partner relationships.
Rowley and Wyatt
Dahler, D. (2013). 12-year-old’s suicide spotlights cyberbullying threat. CBS News Online. Retrieved http:// www.cbsnews.com/news/12-year-olds-suicide-spotlightscyberbullying- threat/ Dakss, B. (2005). Cyber-bullying growing. CBS News Online. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cyberbullying-growing/ Espalage, D., & Holt, M. (2007). Dating violence and sexual harassment across the bully-victim continuum among middle and high school students. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 36, 799-811. Faris, R., & Felmlee, D. (2011). Status struggles: Network centrality and gender segregation in same- and crossgender aggression. American Sociological Review, 76(1), 48-73. Faris, R., & Felmlee, D. (2014). Casualties of social combat: School networks of peer victimization and their consequences. American Sociological Review, 79(2), 228-257. Fredland, N.M. (2008). Sexual bullying: Addressing the gap between bullying and dating violence. Advances in Nursing Science, 31(2), 95-105. Foshee, V. A., Reyes, H. L. M., Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Basile, K. C., Chang, L.-Y., Faris, R., & Ennett, S. T. (2014). Bullying as a Longitudinal Predictor of Adolescent Dating Violence. The Journal of Adolescent Health/ : Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 55(3), 439–444. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.03.004 Gould, M. S., Velting, D., Kleinman, M., Lucas, C., Thomas, J.G., & Chung, M. (2004). Teenagers’ attitudes about coping strategies and help-seeking behavior for suicidality. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(9), 1124-1133. doi: 10.1097/ 07.chi.0000132811.06547.31 Guerra, N. G., Williamson, A. A., & Sadek, S. (2012). Youth perspectives on bullying in adolescence. The Prevention Researcher, 19(3), 14-16. Hemphill, S.A., Kotevski A., Herrenkohl, T.I., Bond, L., Kim, M. L., Toumbourou, J. W., & Catalono, R. F. (2011). Longitudinal consequences of adolescent bullying perpetration and victimisation: A study of students in Victoria, Australia. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 21(2), 107-16. Hertzog, J. L., Harple, T., & Rowley, R.L. (2016). Is it bullying, teen dating violence, or both? Student, school staff, & parent perceptions. Children and Schools, 38(1), 21-29. doi:10.1093/cs/cdv037 Hinduja, S., & Patching, J.W. (2012). Cyberbullying: Neither an epidemic nor a rarity. European Journal of Developmental Psychology 9(5), 539-43. In Hinduja, S. (2009). Bullying Beyond the School Yard. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Josephson, W., & Pepler, D. (2012). Bullying: A stepping stone to dating aggression? International Journal of Adolescent Medicine & Health, 24, 37-47.
Future investigations and prevention work would benefit greatly by studying the hierarchies of school structure and climate in order to learn how to change them from an institutional climate to an environment that encourages other control differentials than power among all participants. This solution, however, is problematic in the current American school structure and institutional climate. For example, class sizes are increasing due to budget constraints and school closings. Entire populations in middle schools and high schools are also expanding. This expansion within the confines of existing building capacity and economic resources facilitates an environment that perpetuates learning requiring considerable power and control within a hierarchical structure. Thus, more rigorous and aggressive means of changing the social norms in schools are needed. Perkins, Craig, and Perkins (2011) found displaying posters that lowered the acceptance of bullying helped reduce bullying behaviors in school. If costeffective efforts such as poster displays helped, what might more intensive projects such as student groups, peer mentoring, and drama productions accomplish in schools to prevent all modalities of bullying? REFERENCES American Psychological Association. (2004). School bullying is nothing new, but psychologists identify new ways to prevent it. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association. Retrieved from (http://www.apa.org/ research/action/bullying.aspx Beran, T. (2012). Bullying: What are the differences between boys and girls and how you can help. Retrieved from h t t p : / / w w w. e d u c a t i o n . c o m / r e f e r e n c e / a r t i c l e / Ref_Bullying_Differences_17898/ Bogart, L. M., Elliott, M. N., Klein, D. J., Tortolero, S. R., Mrug, S., Peskin, M. F., Davies, S. L., Schink, E. T., & Schuster, M. A. (2014). Peer victimization in fifth grade and health in tenth grade. Pediatrics, 133(3), 440-47. Cappadocia, M. C., Craig, W. M., & Pepler, D. (2013). Cyberbullying: Prevalence, stability, and risk factors during adolescents. Canadian Journal of Social Psychology, 28(2), 171-92. Chang, F. C., Lee, C. M., Chiu, C. H., His, W. Y., Huang, T. F., & Pan, Y. C. (2013). Relationships among cyberbullying, school bullying, and mental health in Taiwanese adolescents. Journal of School Health, 83(6), 454-62. Corvo, K., & deLara, E. (2010). Towards an integrated theory of relational violence: Is bullying a risk factor for domestic violence? Aggression & Violent Behavior, 15, 181-190. Coyne, I., & Monks, C. (2011). An overview of bullying and abuse across settings. In C. Monks & I. Coyne (Eds.), Bullying in Different Contexts (pp. 231-256). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 Kim, Y. S., & Leventhal, B. (2008). Bullying and suicide. A review. International Journal of Adolescent Medical Health, 20(2), 133-154. Maccoby, E. E. (1998). The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Menesini, E. (2012). Cyberbullying: The right value of the phenomenon. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(5), 544-452. Merten, D. E. (1997). The meaning of meanness: Popularity, competition, and conflict among junior high school girls. Sociology of Education, 70(3), 175-191. Milner, M. (2004). Freaks, geeks, and cool kids. New York: Routledge. Ocampo, B.W., Shelley, G. A., & Jaycox, L. H. (2007). Latino teens talk about help seeking and help giving in relation to dating violence. Violence Against Women 13(2), 172189. doi: 10.1177/1077801206296982 Olweus, D. (2012). Cyberbullying: An overrated phenomenon? European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(5), 520-538. Pellegrini, A. D. & Long, J.D. (2003). A sexual selection theory longitudinal analysis of sexual segregation and integration in early adolescence. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 85, 257-278. Perkins, H.W., Craig, D.W., & Perkins, J.M. (2011). Using social norms to reduce bullying: A research intervention among adolescents in five middle schools. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 14(5), 703-722. Rigby, K., & Smith, P.K. (2011). Is school bullying really on the rise? Social Psychology of Education, 14(4), 441-455. Rivers, I., & Noret, N. (2010). “I H8 U”: Findings from a fiveyear study of text and email bullying. British Educational Research Journal, 36(4), 643-671. Ryan, G. W. and Bernard, H. R. (2003). Techniques to identifying themes. Field Methods, 15(1), 85-109. Slonje, R., Smith, P. K., & Frisen, A. (2012). The nature of cyberbullying, and strategies for prevention. Computers in Human Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.05.024 Smith, P. (2012). Cyberbullying: Challenges and opportunities for a research program—a response to Olweus (2012). European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(5), 553-558. Wolak, J., Mitchell, K.J., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Does online harassment constitute bullying? An exploration of online harassment by known peers and online-only contacts, Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 51-58. Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors, and targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1308-1316.
41 APPENDIX A Cyberbullying Questionnaire Please take a few moments to respond to the following questions about cyberbullying. Your responses will be kept confidential and they will help us better understand this behavior and its consequences. Q1. Have you ever been the target of harmful acts committed by people using computers or cell phones? Such acts could include spreading untrue rumors about you, posting or sending pictures designed to humiliate you, sending threats or insults to you and about you using email, text messages, chat rooms, or other forms of social media. A. Yes B. No (If no, please skip to Question 9.) Q2. A. B. C. D.
E. F. G. Q3. A. B. C. D. E. Q4. A. B. C. Q5.
Did these harmful acts include: (check all that apply) Spreading untrue, hurtful rumors about you using social media (e-mail, text messaging, Facebook, etc.). Posting or sending pictures designed to humiliate you. Posting humiliating video about you on YouTube or other such sites. Sending or posting threats, insults and the like, using email, text messages, chat rooms, Facebook profiles or other social networking sites. Unauthorized use of identity and accounts. Harmful attacks outside of regular gaming strategy on gaming sites. Other, please specify. Did these harmful acts occur: Only once or for a short period of time—less than a few days? For a moderate period of time—more than a few days but less than a month? For a considerable period of time—between one month and several months? For an entire year? For more than one year? Can you describe your relationship with the people who committed these acts? Friend(s)/Ex-Friend(s) Acquaintance(s) Stranger(s) In most public school environments, some students are more “popular” than others in that they tend to have more friends and social influence. In general, would you say that the individual, or individuals, who committed these harmful acts against you, were more popular than you were?
Rowley and Wyatt A. B.
How old were you when these acts took place?
Would you describe what happened in as much detail as you can? If there are too many harmful acts for you to remember, or if it would take too long to describe them all, please describe the act or acts that you remember best.
A. B. C. D. E. F.
As a result of these harmful acts, did you experience any of the following consequences? (Choose all that apply.) There were no consequences. It was no big deal. Emotional Pain (humiliation, fear, anger) Social Pain (feeling alone, vulnerable and isolated) Questioning Your Self-worth Physical Injury (physical injury and pain) Other, Please Specify
What is your current age?
42 Q10. Are you: A. Male B. Female Q11. Do you consider yourself to be: A. Straight B. Gay or Lesbian C. Bisexual D. Transgendered E. Other, Please Specify Q12. What is your country of citizenship? Q13. Do you consider yourself to be: A. White/Caucasian B. Black/African American C. Latino/Hispanic D. Native American/Pacific Islander E. Asian American F. Asian G. Middle Eastern H. Other, Please Specify Thank you for your time and effort in completing and submitting this questionnaire.
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 1, p. 43-66 (2019)
Covert aggression and gifted adolescent girls Connie Phelps,1 Ashley Beason-Manes2 and Amy Lockman3 1. The Teachers College, Emporia State University <firstname.lastname@example.org> 2. Topeka Collegiate <email@example.com> 3. Olathe Public Schools <firstname.lastname@example.org> While considerable research exists on bullying among P-20 students, few studies address bullying and gifted student populations in P-12 schools. Moreover, studies on covert aggression and gifted student populations are unknown. This exploratory study modified A Survey of Gifted Eighth Graders About Bullying (Peterson & Ray, 2006a, 2006b) and examined reflective covert aggression experiences of gifted adolescent girls with their gifted and non-exceptional female peers. Participants included 27 gifted adolescent girls from two suburban secondary schools in the Midwest who completed a 10-item Reflective Questionnaire and attended Structured Group Interviews conducted by the research team. Participants tallied instances, both experienced and observed, for eight topics of covert aggression in grades six through eight and included short narrative responses on their subjective experiences. Participants then discussed their subjective experience responses during Structured Group Interviews with their gifted girl peers. Tallied incidents (N = 1037) showed increased prevalence during the transition from grade six to grade seven, decreased prevalence between gifted girl peers in a homogeneous environment, and peak prevalence in grade seven. Incidents of covert aggression between gifted girls and their non-exceptional peers accounted for 65% of the total number tallied. The most prevalent topics of covert aggression included grades, intelligence, and name-calling. The subjective experience responses showed covert aggression between gifted girls and their non-exceptional peers related to their differentness while incidents between gifted girls focused on competitive topics of intelligence and grades. Gifted adolescent girls found empathy and support for their high abilities among their intellectual peers. Keywords: covert aggression, relational aggression, bullying, adolescence, gifted girls. COVERT AGGRESSION AND GIFTED ADOLESCENT GIRLS Intervention and prevention programs to counter bullying behaviors in P-20 education proliferated with the new millennium, perhaps due to media attention captured through specific instances across the United States. Cross (2001b) found the media portrayed schools as unsafe places in the minds of children. Olweus (2003) observed bullying gained interest in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. Despite interventions, some particularly persistent forms of bullying such as cyberbullying continued to rise (Rigby & Smith, 2011). Due to the ongoing concern of bullying in P-20 schools and its detrimental effects on students and learning, administrators, counselors, and teachers worked together to prevent, identify, and eliminate bullying in P-20 schools. While research provided considerable information about bullying addressed prevalence, participants, and impact, only a few studies informed practices on both bullying and gifted student populations in P-20 schools. Instances of bullying involve a bully and a victim where an imbalance of power dynamic exists. According to Olweus (2003), a bully intentionally inflicts, or attempts to inflict, injury or discomfort on someone else (p. 12). The recipient of the injury or discomfort then becomes the victim. Definitions of bullies vary in their inclusiveness of aggressive behaviors. For example, Cross (2001a) expanded the traditional definition
of a bully as a person who uses any approach including, but not limited to, intimidation (physical, emotional, verbal), positional authority, relational authority, or societal authority to create limiting effects on anotherâ€™s behaviors, thoughts, or feelings (p. 36). Olweus (2003) described bullying as negative actions that might include physical contact or verbal interactions, but it also occurred through more indirect approaches means including making mean faces or gestures, spreading rumors, or excluding someone from a group (p. 13). In this study, we addressed the indirect form of negative actions known as covert aggression or relational aggression. Research on bullying in P-20 school environments often examined entire student populations by age, grade levels, and/ or gender differences from the perspective of social sciences, educators, mental health professionals, psychologists and counselors. Most studies proposed responsive and preventative interventions in P-20 schools for general student populations. Peterson and Ray (2006b) examined literature on bullying and found no studies on gifted student populations. Given the lack of empirical studies on gifted students and bullying, our study examined gifted adolescent girls and their reflections of covert aggression observed and/or experienced in grades six and seven between their intellectual and nonexceptional peers. As a result, we hoped to increase awareness of gifted adolescent girls and their subjective experiences with
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman covert aggression to provide safer, more inclusive environments for them to achieve their academic potential in P-20 schools. LITERATURE REVIEW Given the relative lack of research on bullying and giftedness, we incorporated literature from the broader field of bullying and P-20 student populations to provide context for gifted adolescent girls and covert aggression. These studies included bullying and adolescence, bullying among gifted students, bullying and gender, covert aggression and P-12 girls, and recommended prevention and intervention strategies for bullying. Bullying and adolescence Studies on bullying within the general student population often sampled a wide range of grade levels, including lower elementary, upper elementary, middle/junior high, and high school age groups. Estell et al. (2009) found “late elementary school years are a time when classroom social dynamics may be particularly important to bullying and victimization” (p. 136). They found social dynamics played an important role in the culture of bullying since popularity often determined social groups and the subsequent victimization of classmates. Students who identified with aggressive peers increased the possibility of others considering them bullies as a result of those associations. Tabor and Woloshyn (2011) examined bullying within popular adolescent literature and noted characters presented in television shows, movies, and books often associated female beauty with cruelty and meanness. The Tabor and Woloshyn study showed “popularity is largely defined by social status which is a primary concern for all the main characters … the most popular characters are those who are physically attractive with an ideal body image” (p. 230). Tabor and Woloshyn found striking similarities between the characterization of adolescent girls and school social structures in fiction where adolescents girls encountered bullying behaviors ranging from relational to physical aggression in schools. Bullying among gifted students A groundbreaking study on bullying in eighth grade gifted student populations (Peterson & Ray, 2006a, 2006b) examined their retrospective experiences in roles both as bullies and as victims. According to Estell et al. (2009), gifted students “tend to have patterns of social behavior, peer acceptance, and peer affiliations that are distinct” (p. 137) from their chronological age peers in general education. Peterson and Ray (2006a) found the gifted student victimization related more to differentness
44 than intellectual ability (p. 258). A gifted student participant in the Peterson and Ray (2006a) subjective experience study suggested jealousy might have caused much of the bullying gifted students faced compared to their non-exceptional peers (p. 257). Peterson and Ray (2006b) found “teasing about intelligence and grades was at its peak in grades 7 and 8, reflecting the literature and perhaps reflecting increasing awareness of achievement differences in the peer culture” (p. 160). Peterson and Ray reported emotional impact peaked in grades five (13%) and six (11%) with ratings of a lot and statistical significance about intelligence highest in grade seven. Peters and Bain (2011) suggested different reasons for the victimization of gifted students and their non-exceptional peers, as “gifted students were rated as less aggressive and less likely to be victims of aggression compared to the nongifted students” (p. 628). Wood and Craigen (2011) suggested gifted students faced a choice between embracing their intellectual ability and enjoying social popularity among their peers. They found gifted students might “experience frustration, anger, and disappointment in their quest to find like-minded peers or in response to being misunderstood and rejected by the sameage peers” (p. 844). Estell et al. (2009) found gifted students as likely to bully or to experience bullying by their intellectual peers, and their non-exceptional peers as more likely to bully and to encounter bullying. Moreover, teachers tended to view gifted students more prominently within the school’s social culture and considered them less likely to bully than their nonexceptional peers. Peterson and Ray (2006a) found “giftedness is associated with a unique vulnerability to bullying … but [gifted victims] assume responsibility for resolving it themselves” (p. 257). Their intellectual ability to resolve conflicts and apply coping strategies may explain why educators often perceived gifted students less likely as either perpetrators or as victims of bullying behaviors. Bullying and gender Although the traditional definition of physical bullying might conjure up the physicality of older boys stuffing younger boys in school lockers, girls engage in bullying as well. Peterson and Ray (2006b) reported “a higher percentage of gifted males than gifted females … were bullied and were bullies” (p. 160). However, the Peterson and Ray survey included nine types of overt aggression including name-calling, pushing/shoving and teasing rather than less direct or covert types of aggression often associated with females. Peterson and Ray found prevalence rates of overt bullying and gifted girls peaked in grades five through eight at 38%-39%. Instances of traditional bullying of gifted girls peaked at two to three experiences in grades six through eight with prevalence rates of 15%-16% (p. 155).
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 Tabor and Woloshyn (2011) examined bullying portrayed in adolescent literature and found boys and girls engaged in and responded to bullying experiences differently. Male characters engaged primarily in overt, physical types of bullying. However, mean girls engaged in both overt bullying such as tripping and shoving as well as covert aggression by making snide comments, excluding certain girls, and humiliating their victims. Tabor and Woloshyn examined fictional characters who seemed to reflect adolescent culture today. They found boys engaged in physical bullying that represented how boys should act (e.g., tough, strong). Girls, however, used humiliation and exclusion to maintain how girls should look (e.g., attractive, fashionable). Fictional main characters reflect self-esteem and self-concepts accordingly, with vulnerability and selfconsciousness. In these ways, fictional characters mirror contemporary discussions about boys as bullies and girls as mean girls (p. 239).
45 vigilance to prevent covert aggression and intervene more effectively when it occurs. Peterson and Ray (2006a) observed, “… only adults have the power to address the power imbalance inherent in bullying and to create prevention programs” (p. 265). Peterson and Ray (2006b) suggested gifted facilitators and school counselors establish small groups or support groups that address issues for both bullies and victims in safe environments. These groups “can help children to improve interpersonal skills, acknowledge the perspectives of others, solve social problems, express feelings, feel heard, and interact more effectively with peers” (p. 162). Cross (2001b) recommended gifted facilitators, classroom teachers, school counselors, principals, and parents recognize their ability to address bullying both inside and outside of school because victims of bullying need adult advocates to help them address and cope with experiences of victimization.
Covert aggression and P-20 girls PURPOSE OF STUDY Although covert aggression occurs in all student populations, fewer studies examined covert than overt aggression in schools. A possible explanation for fewer studies might relate to the less obvious and non-physical form of bullying that might escape notice by parents and school officials. Olweus (2003) considered less overt forms of bullying “as harmful and distressing as more direct and open forms of harassment” (p. 13). Olweus found physical bullying occurred far less frequently among all populations of school-aged girls as girls more often engaged in negative behaviors such as excluding individuals from social groups or occasions, manipulating friendships, and spreading rumors about one another. Peterson and Ray (2006a) found grade eight gifted students reluctant to classify nonphysical teasing and name-calling as bullying; however, gifted students reported extreme distress from nonphysical aggression and stated verbal bullying “takes its toll” (p. 259). Prevention and intervention strategies Studies on bullying in P-20 populations often recommended prevention and intervention strategies for homes, schools, and communities. These strategies included increasing awareness that they could make a different in the lives of students who experienced bullying. Cross (2001a) recommended an expanded and more inclusive definition of bullying with both overt and covert negative behaviors and both intentional and unintentional victimization. Peterson and Ray (2006b) found coping strategies most helpful, in descending order, included “family, friends, self, no one, teachers, personal belongings, God, and counselors” (p. 159) which indicated gifted students often coped with their bullying experiences without the assistance of teachers or counselors. Their prioritization suggested school officials might increase
Despite media attention through Mean Girls and Queen Bees and Wannabes, little research addressed P-20 gifted populations, and few studies examined covert aggression in broadly defined student groups. Webb (2016) and Robinson and Noble (1991) found gifted students might be at risk for developing internalized disorders such as depression and anxiety in response to social stressors. Two key studies (Peterson & Ray, 2006a, 2006b) researched the gifted exceptionality population and traditional forms of bullying. Informal, anecdotal observations from gifted facilitators suggested gifted adolescent girls experienced covert aggression at school, yet the literature lacked studies on gifted adolescent girls and their subjective experiences with covert aggression at secondary levels. This study adapted the non-standardized A Survey of Gifted Eighth Graders About Bullying (Peterson & Ray, 2006a, 2006b) instrument to examine the reflected experiences of gifted adolescent girls and covert aggression with their gifted and non-exceptional girl peers. We formulated one research question measuring the prevalence of covert aggression in grades six through eight and a second question evaluating the subjective experience of gifted adolescent girls and covert aggression: •
How many instances of covert aggression did gifted adolescent girls observe and/or experience in eight specific topics between gifted/non-exceptional and gifted/gifted girl exceptionality groups in grades six through eight?
How did gifted adolescent girls view their subjective experiences with covert aggression related to eight specific topics between gifted/non-exceptional and gifted/
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman gifted girl exceptionality groups in grades six through eight? Given the Peterson and Ray (2006b) finding that prevalence peaked in grades six through eight, we anticipated practical significance for (a) lower prevalence of covert aggression between gifted/gifted adolescent girls in grades six and seven, and (b) greater prevalence between gifted/non-exceptional girls in grades six and seven. METHODS Pilot studies The primary investigator conducted two pilot studies with adolescent gifted students at a nearby middle school and high school to test the Reflective Questionnaire as an adapted Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) survey with similar topics and short narrative responses. After the pilot studies, the primary researcher added a Structured Group Interview to probe subjective experience short narrative responses on the Reflective Questionnaire. Since the pilot studies included male participants as convenience samples, Reflective Questionnaire written instructions included the possibility of gifted male adolescents observing covert aggression between gifted/ gifted and gifted/non-exceptional girl peers. Although the Reflective Questionnaire remained unchanged following the pilot studies, the 27 participants in the present study included only gifted adolescent girls. Participants The primary investigator invited two graduate students from a Gifted Special Education university program employed as fulltime gifted facilitators to participate in independent study field research. The primary investigator required the co-researchers to secure written school administrative approval from their respective middle and high schools and subsequently submitted an application to the university institutional research board to work with human subjects. When approved, the gifted facilitators distributed informed consent forms stating the purpose of study, explaining the research procedure, and ensuring the privacy for each potential participant. The consent form stated volunteers could withdraw from the study at any point without reprisal or penalty. Volunteers under the age of 18 returned consent forms signed by their parent/guardians. Since all identified gifted girls in the two schools received invitations to participate in the study, all volunteers received an equal chance of selection. Although 30 subjects volunteered to participate, this study reported results only for the 27 subjects who completed the Reflective Questionnaire and engaged in the Structured Group Interview from two secondary suburban schools. Eleven girls attended grades seven and eight at a middle school of 1000 students. Sixteen participants
46 attended grades 9 through 12 at a high school of 550 students. All participants qualified for special education gifted services provided through a resource room. Participant ages ranged from 12 to 18. Qualified participants from the middle school and high school located in two separate geographic regions formed the sample for the study. Procedure Reflective Questionnaire. We invited gifted adolescent girls who returned signed informed consents to complete the 10item Reflective Questionnaire. Gifted facilitators supervised participants who completed the Reflective Questionnaire individually and anonymously in the resource room or in a quiet separate room, according to their preference, during their seminar class period. Participants who selected a quiet space received supervision and responses to their questions about the Reflective Questionnaire. All participants received the same definition and explanation of covert aggression, and all participants received the same instructions to complete the Reflective Questionnaire. The instructions asked participants to tally the number of instances of covert aggression they either observed and/or experienced for eight topics of covert aggression in grades six through eight for items one and two. They tallied instances between gifted/non-exceptional and gifted/gifted girl peers as separate questionnaire items. Items 3 through 10 explored the subjective experience of covert aggression through short written narratives. Participants submitted their completed Reflective Questionnaires without discussion of results or recording their names. The gifted facilitators checked questionnaires for completion and coded individual questionnaires by grade level and school. They ensured privacy by placing completed questionnaires inside sealed envelopes secured in locked classroom file cabinets. Structured Group Interview. After tabulating instances of covert aggression in grades six through eight between gifted/ non-exceptional and gifted/gifted peers and providing short written narrative responses, the research team analyzed the data for patterns and trends. The primary researcher formulated questions based on the written narrative responses for items 3 through 10 to probe their subjective experiences with covert aggression based on the Reflective Questionnaire written narrative responses. Gifted facilitators scheduled Structured Group Interviews at their respective schools in the gifted resource room during a 50-minute seminar class. Participants sat in a semi-circle of chairs during the Structured Group Interviews, and they spoke without coercion or identifying information other than their grade level and school name. The primary researcher gently probed written narrative responses from the Reflective Questionnaires while the gifted facilitator typed participant comments on a notebook computer. We conducted the Structured Group Interviews without recording the sessions to encourage open discussion on sensitive topics.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019
The research team ensured privacy and confidentiality in the resource room with a closed door, and participants attended without identifying information such as nametags. The gifted facilitators typed responses saved on a dedicated flash drive stored in locked classroom file cabinets.
students in 11 states. The Peterson and Ray survey asked participants, both male and female, to mark incidents for overt types of bullying behaviors such as hitting, pushing, stealing, and threats experienced from Kindergarten through grade eight.
Statistical Significance. As an adaptation of the Peterson and Ray (2006b) study, we examined instances of covert aggression tallied on the Reflective Questionnaire from item one for the gifted/gifted group and item two for the gifted/non-exceptional group. We conducted the study in the spring semester and limited statistical analysis to grades six and seven, as most prevalently reported in the Peterson and Ray (2006b) study. We removed grade eight from the statistical analysis to ensure a more complete reflection from participants who had nearly completed grade seven.
The Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) survey included 15 types bullying and an “other” response. The types included namecalling, pushing/shoving, knocking books to the floor, hitting/ punching, seven types of teasing, damaging possessions, taking possessions, beating up, and threats/intimidation. Because covert aggression occurs less openly and possibly more frequently, we adapted our Reflective Questionnaire to include eight topics derived from the Peterson and Ray survey: grades, intelligence, name calling, personal appearance, family, social status, possessions, and other (specify). Given the smaller participant size and scope of study, we broadened the grade level parameters of participants from grade 8 to include grades 7 through 12. We also limited reflective covert incidents to grades six through eight. Given the less physical nature of covert aggression and its association with adolescent girls, we limited gender participation to gifted adolescent girls.
We selected four independent variables—grade six, grade seven, gifted girls, and non-exceptional peers. One of the two secondary schools contained only grades seven and eight, so the grade six and grade seven variables provided an opportunity to examine covert aggression during the transition from elementary school at grade six to middle school in grade seven. The dependent variable measured the prevalence of covert aggression, both experienced and/or observed, between gifted adolescent girls and their non-exceptional peers in grade six and grade seven. To determine statistical significance in a relatively small sample size (N = 27), we considered effect size. For example, an effect size of 0.04, alpha level of 0.05, and power of 0.80 required a minimum sample size of N = 12. We used two-way repeated measures ANOVA to examine the four independent variables of grade levels and peer groups with an alpha level of .05 measuring statistical significance. The four variables violated normality tests with each distribution positively skewed. Although all four variables contained one or two outliers, dropping the outliers would have eliminated participants who frequently experienced covert aggression. We used repeated measures as a robust test against the assumption of normality violation. We also considered the possibility that a larger sample size in future studies might correct the normalcy violation. For these reasons, we used the data as collected in the Reflective Questionnaire items one and two. Instruments Reflective questionnaire. Prior to the two pilot studies, the primary researcher contacted the Peterson and Ray research team and received an electronic copy of A Survey of Gifted Eighth Graders About Bullying (2006a, 2006b) as the basis for the adapted Reflective Questionnaire. The 24-item Peterson and Ray retrospective survey measured prevalence and effects of bullying from reflected experiences of 432 grade eight gifted
The Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) survey instrument gathered information about participants’ physical characteristics and family demographics in order to investigate grade eight gifted students as both as perpetrators and victims. Our Reflective Questionnaire, however, included only the date, age, grade level, and gender without physical descriptions or family member status. Peterson and Ray also studied violent thoughts and deeds of gifted students, while we investigated covert aggression between two exceptionality groups, gifted/ gifted and gifted/non-exceptional adolescent girls. Participants in our study remained anonymous without identifying or defining information recorded on the Reflective Questionnaire (see Appendix A). The Reflective Questionnaire defined covert aggression as incidents when individuals manipulate relationships as an attempt to control power among peers. Examples of covert aggression listed on the Reflective Questionnaire included talking behind someone’s back, spreading rumors or gossip, and pretended friendship. The written instructions asked participants to tally the number of instances of covert aggression, both experienced and/or observed as separate columns for grades six through eight with gifted/gifted girls as item one and gifted/non-exceptional girls as item two. Both the Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) survey and Reflective Questionnaire instruments gathered quantitative data on prevalence and the subjective experience with written narrative items. Both instruments asked participants to identify the worst instance, effect on their lives, whether they told anyone and the subsequent response, if any, to their telling someone.
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman
Peterson and Ray constructed their non-standardized survey based on their extensive collective experiences as school counselors and from research literature on bullying, primarily outside the field of gifted education. Structured Group Interview. The Structured Group Interview used written narrative from the Reflective Questionnaire to probe the subjective experience of participants with covert aggression. Based on written narrative from Reflective Questionnaire items 3 through 10, the research team formulated interview questions regarding the worst incident, specific examples, comparisons between gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups, effect on their lives, and coping strategies. A specific example of a question emerging from short written narrative responses related to hazing in the gifted/gifted group at the high school when new girls arrived from another school and received gifted services with an established group of gifted girls. RESULTS Our study investigated the prevalence of covert aggression and subjective experience of gifted adolescent girls with gifted/ gifted and gifted/non-exceptional groups reflected from grades six through eight. To examine prevalence, we tabulated incidents for eight topics on Reflective Questionnaire items one and two. Participants tallied reflected incidents for the eight topics as observed and experienced in two separate columns from grades six through eight. However, we combined the observed and experienced for each of the eight topics in our results to gain a more comprehensive understanding of prevalence. Because only one participant noted an incident in the “other” topic, we eliminated the “other” topic from further analysis and/or discussion in our study. Participants tallied instances for covert aggression in the gifted/gifted group for item one and the gifted/non-exceptional group for item two. We examined prevalence of covert aggression by topic, grade level, and exceptionality group.
Figure 1. Number and percentage of instances by topic. Topic and exceptionality group. We examined topics and exceptionality groups and found most incidents (N = 672, 65%) occurred in the gifted/non-exceptional group with nearly half as many (N = 365, 35%) occurring in the gifted/gifted group. Name-calling (19%) scored highest in the gifted/nonexceptional group, and intelligence (23%) scored most prevalently in the gifted/gifted group. Social status (18%) scored as the second most prevalent topic in gifted/nonexceptional, and grades (17%) ranked second in the gifted/ gifted group. A pattern began to emerge with academic topics (intelligence and grades) scoring highest in the gifted/gifted group, and more traditional (name-calling) or personal topics (social status) ranking highest in the gifted/non-exceptional group (see Figure 2). The possessions and family topics scored lowest in both groups. Intelligence and social status showed the most variance in the two groups with 7% higher prevalence for intelligence in the gifted/gifted group and 5% higher prevalence for social status in the gifted/non-exceptional group.
Prevalence by topic, exceptionality group, and grade level Covert aggression topic. Of the 1037 total incidents reflected by 27 participants in both gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups from grades six through eight, intelligence and name-calling (18%) scored equally with 187 incidents as the most prevalent topics, followed by grades as the second most prevalent topic (18%) with two fewer incidents. The next most prevalent topics included social status (16%) and appearance (15%). Possessions (11%) and family (4%) scored as the least prevalent topics of covert aggression. Participants reflected incidents related to personal qualities such as academic ability, name-calling, and social status more frequently than external elements such as possessions and families (see Figure 1).
Figure 2. Number of instances by topic and exceptionality group.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 Grade level and exceptionality group. We examined covert aggression by grade level and exceptional group. Grade seven showed the most incidents in both groups with similar prevalence (38%) in both exceptionality groups. The grade six gifted/non-exceptionality group (33%) scored higher than the grade six gifted/gifted group (30%). The eighth grade gifted/ non-exceptional group (29%) scored the lowest but similarly to the sixth grade gifted/gifted group (30%). Prevalence ranged from 110 incidents in the grade six gifted/gifted group to 255 incidents in the grade eight gifted/non-exceptional group. Covert aggression incidents occurred 5% to 8% more prevalently in both groups in grade seven than for both groups in grade six. Incidents occurred 6% to 9% more prevalently in grade seven than for both groups in grade eight (see Figure 3). Topic and grade level. We examined the total number of incidents (N = 1037) by topic during grades six, seven, and eight. Across all three grades, topics with 60 or more incidents included name-calling in grade seven (N = 74), grades and social status in grade seven (N = 71), intelligence and grades in grade six (N = 64), intelligence in grade seven (N = 66), and appearance in grade seven (N = 60). Topics with 50-59 incidents included intelligence in grade eight (N = 57), name-calling in grade six (N = 57), social status in grade eight (N = 51), and grades in grade 8 (N = 50). During grades six through eight, possessions and family consistently ranked lowest with 36 to 38 incidents for possessions and 13 incidents for family in all grades (see Figure 4).
Figure 4. Number of incidents by topic and grade level. by grade six (N = 329), and the lowest incidents in grade eight (N = 315). The number of incidents ranged from 315 to 393 with 78 more incidents in grade seven than in grade 8 and 64 incidents in grade 7 than in grade 6 (see Figure 5).
Middle school grades. The Peterson and Ray (2006b) prevalence findings peaked in middle school, so we examined the total number of incidents (N = 1037) across grades six, seven, and eight. The pattern across the grade levels resembled the Peterson and Ray findings. Covert aggressive incidents occurred most prevalently in grade seven (N = 393), followed
Prevalence by grade level. Although grade seven showed the most prevalence overall, we examined the relative prevalence in grades six through eight using percentages within grade levels. First, we determined the two most prevalent topics for each grade level. Then we compared those two topics across the three grade levels by percentages. In grade six, grades and intelligence topics scored equally (20%) as the most prevalent topics. In grade seven, name-calling (19%) ranked highest followed by equal scores for grades and social status (18%). Intelligence and name-calling (18%) scored highest in grade eight. Comparing those percentages across the three grade levels, the grades and intelligence (20%) topics in grade six emerged as the prevalent topics, followed by name-calling (19%) in grade seven. The remaining topics, grades and social status
Figure 3. Number of instances by grade level and exceptionality group.
Figure 5. Number and percentages of instances by grade level.
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman (18%) in grade seven, and intelligence and name-calling (18%) in grade eight, ranked next. This relative ranking of prevalence provided perspective on covert aggression behaviors as they occurred both within and across the grade levels (see Figures 6, 7, and 8).
Figure 6. Number and percentage of instances by topic in grade 6.
50 Experienced and observed in grades six through eight. Because covert aggression occurs less openly than other forms of bullying, we asked participants to tally instances both observed and experienced in gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups. With 27 participants, we found 1037 incidents, observed and/or experienced, in the gifted/gifted and gifted/non-exceptional groups reflected during grades six through eight. Participants at the middle school participants (N = 11) experienced and/or observed 574 incidents, and participants from the high school (N = 16) experienced and/or observed 463 incidents. Although we found similar trends for observed and/or experienced incidents in the middle school and high school, we analyzed only the high school incidents (N = 463). In the observed column, intelligence (7%) ranked highest in the gifted/gifted group and name-calling (7%) highest in the gifted/non-exceptional group. In the experienced column, intelligence (6%) ranked highest in the gifted/gifted group and grades (8%) highest in the gifted/non-exceptional group. Participants in the high school marked the grades topic experienced and name-calling topic observed the topics in grades six through eight (see Figure 9). Statistical and Practical Significance
Figure 7. Number and percentage of instances by topic in grade 7.
Figure 8. Number and percentage of instances by topic in grade 8.
We anticipated a higher prevalence of covert aggression in the gifted/non-exceptional group in grades six and seven and lower prevalence in the gifted/gifted group in grades six and seven. We tabulated tally marks for Reflective Questionnaire items one and two to determine the total number of incidents in grades six and seven. With grade six, grade seven, gifted/ non-exceptional and gifted/gifted as variables, we calculated a two-way ANOVA with repeated measures (within subjects factors) using = 0.05. The results showed the Grade X Giftedness interaction as not significant, F(1, 26) = 0.68, p = 0.417. Lacking significant interaction between variables, we considered main effects. Although we anticipated no significant difference in prevalence of covert aggression between grades
Figure 9. Number of instances observed and experienced by exceptionality group in grades 6-8 for high school N = 16.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019
six and seven, the main effect of Grade was statistically significant, F(1, 26) = 4.72 and p = 0.039 (see Table 1). The results also showed a statistically significant main effect for Giftedness, F(1, 26) = 564.90, p < 0.0001 (see Table 1). We found a statistically significant difference for prevalence in grades six and seven in the gifted/non-exceptional group. The results showed a higher prevalence of covert aggression in the gifted/non-exceptional group (M = 9.037, SD = 5.188) and lower prevalence in the gifted/gifted group (M = 4.463, SD = 4.088). The results also showed higher prevalence of covert aggression in grade seven (M = 7.259, SD = 4.57) than in grade six (M = 6.241, SD = 6.206) (see Table 2). We did not report effect size for Grade X Giftedness interaction because the analysis showed no statistical significance. Results indicated a small, = 0.19 effect size for the Grade variable, and large, = 0.98, effect size for the Giftedness variable. From a practical perspective, the difference between gifted/ non-exceptional and gifted/gifted groups in both grades six and grade seven showed the most significance. The results also showed a difference overall between grades six and grade seven. Subjective Experience Reflective Questionnaire. The research team organized narrative written responses from Reflective Questionnaire items 3-10 by grade level. Reflective Questionnaire item three asked participants to identify the worst instance of covert aggression experienced in the gifted/gifted and gifted/non-exceptional groups from grades six through eight. Four participants from grades seven and eight related feelings of awkwardness or embarrassment when coming or going to the resource room. Seven participants from grades seven and eight indicated nothing really bad or the normal stuff. A grade eight participant stated, I didn’t really see anything that bad. I came from a different school, and it wasn’t that bad there either. Six participants from grades seven, eight, and nine noted namecalling behaviors such as geeks, nerds, or retards and talking about people behind their backs in the gifted/non-exceptional group. A grade 11 participant observed gifted kids who ganged up on another gifted girl calling her names in French that Table 1. Main effects and interaction. Source
Table 2. Prevalence by grade level and giftedness. Source
Grade 6 gifted
Grade 6 nonexceptional
Grade 7 gifted
Grade 7 nonexceptional
she didn’t understand. A grade 11 participant noted popular girls who asked, Why’d all the nerds dress up for Nerd Day? Another grade 11 participant indicated new kids to the program were hazed if they were too weird. Regular kids were instantly liked. A grade 12 participant experienced jealousy from non-exceptional peers who accused us of getting to do special stuff and extra activities. Another grade 12 participant summarized trends and patterns in covert aggression as who is smarter in the gifted/gifted group and more personal or material things in the gifted/non-exceptional group. Reflective Questionnaire item four asked participants to comment on the effect of the worst experience of covert aggression on their lives. A seventh grade participant specified talking behind people’s backs and felt glad about good friends who don’t do that to me. An eighth grade participant indicated she and her friends talked about the embarrassment they felt when they had to walk in front of everyone to leave and go to gifted. However, another grade eight participant and her friends learned to joke that I’m on my way to ISS each time I go for gifted. Other grade eight girls felt hurt because some popular girls called us retards. Another eighth grade gifted girl stated, I’ve been called a nerd before, and it wasn’t meant nicely. A ninth grade participant felt embarrassed by her giftedness and tried to hide her intelligence. A 10th grade gifted girl learned not to push the gifted things onto people and to not identify myself as gifted. Another grade 10 girl stated, I have breakdowns when I don’t perform as well as some other students. Only one participant in grade seven told anyone about the worst incident of covert aggression (item five). She talked
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman casually to her mother at home who helped me think about that I would do in that situation. Four participants in grades seven and eight indicated they talked among themselves about covert aggression incidents. A grade 10 participant stated, others may have known, but I would only tell if asked. Items six through nine explored patterns and trends and similarities and differences in gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups. Participants in high school commented more frequently on these items than middle school participants. A grade 10 participant stated, we [gifted girls] understand that other kids have talents in other areas. Another 10th grade participant found if you do badly on schoolwork with gifted girls, they empathize with feelings of failure because they’ve been there before too. A 12th grade participant stated, aggression between gifted girls is usually a challenge over who is smarter. Another 12th grade gifted girl found gifted boys and girls were always recognized as the “smart kids,” and we all stuck together. A grade 12 gifted girl stated, my gifted friends were always around to help me with any problem. With gifted/non-exceptional peers, an eighth grade participant stated, my friends and I aren’t cool. When hearing from her friends of name-calling incidents, she stated, they don’t realize how much it hurts people’s feelings. A 12th grade participant stated, non-gifted girls seem to experience more drama. Another grade 12 gifted girl observed, gifted and nonexceptional girls, the aggression is over more personal or material things. Yet another 12th grade girl found nonexceptional girls would always compare their grades to ours. If someone got a higher score than you on a test or worksheet they would brag about it (see Appendix B). Structured Group Interviews. All participants (N = 27) who completed the Reflective Questionnaire also attended a Structured Group Interview at their respective schools. We grouped individual responses by Middle School Grades 7-8 (N = 11) and High School Grades 9-12 (N = 16). The primary investigator conducted the interviews while the school gifted facilitator typed responses on a notebook computer. The initial question probed Reflective Questionnaire item three written response about the worst incidence of covert aggression experienced and/or observed. Participants offered philosophical and practical understandings of dynamics between both gifted/gifted and gifted/non-exceptional groups. Middle School. Nearly all middle school participants (N = 11) responded during the Structured Group Interview. Their comments provided personal details about covert aggression experiences, compared experienced between the two groups, and provided reasons for differences between the two exceptional groups. For example, one middle school
52 respondent philosophically attributed differences between the two groups to common interests. When gifted/gifted girls formed groups with common interests, they might avoid other groups; however, they did not fight. The transition from elementary school to middle school seemed to place more distance between the gifted girls and their nonexceptional peers. Most respondents attributed incidents between gifted/non-exceptional girls to perceived academic difference. However, exclusion and general unfriendliness surfaced in both groups with the observation that gifted girls are better at not showing their aggression obviously. Participants approached the subject practically as, saying mean things and spreading rumors happens. Social groups formed in middle school based on popularity because you can’t like everyone at school. Although respondents indicated they enjoyed the camaraderie with their intellectual peers, the pressure brought on by grades creates more competition. … We all get picked on, no matter what. High School. Participants in the high school Structured Group Interview (N = 16) perceived incidents between gifted/nonexceptional girls occurred because the non-exceptional girls didn’t understand the purpose of [the] gifted program, and they thought it was unfair that we got to do special things. Newness to high school created difficulties for a gifted girl and her non-exceptional peers: No one would talk to me for weeks … the only thing they knew about me was I was going to the gifted classroom. They thought I was a smarty-pants and stuck up. When the primary investigator inquired about hazing new girls in the gifted classroom, the girls laughed. We were a group and we didn’t always include new kids in gifted class. This one girl was just ditzy. We liked things the way they were. The new student found even the gifted kids constantly questioned and second-guessed me. I had to prove myself to be associated with the gifted. High school participants viewed themselves as very competitive yet supportive of each other in the gifted classroom. However, one participant stated, gifted girls do participate in bullying. Looking back they feel bad. They found boys liked smart girls, although some boys felt intimidated by gifted girls. One participant recalled experiences from seventh grade when her behaviors caused concern. I was not the perfect student … gifted girls starting asking me if I really belonged in here. I undermined myself and never thought I was really good enough. I still don’t. The high school gifted girls understood academic expectations and acted accordingly. Since I wouldn’t let anyone cheat off me, I was called stuck up. Another high school girl was called the teacher’s favorite. Girls would tell me you don’t even work hard, and the teacher gives you a good grade just because she likes you. I told them I work hard for my grades. A high
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 school girl inquired, is bullying the same as covert aggression? Girls are supposed to be nice and not get physical, so girls are sneakier. It appeared gifted/gifted girls experienced and/ or observed incidents of covert aggression related to how well they fit into the resource room while incidents in the gifted/ non-exceptional group related to academic achievement or perceived privilege related to placement in the gifted program. DISCUSSION Given the lack of research on P-20 gifted students and bullying in general, results from this study on covert aggression may prove informative to educators, psychologists and counselors, administrators, and parents. Peterson and Ray (2006b) suggested victimization of gifted girls occurred most frequently in grades five through eight with prevalence rates of 38% and 39% (p. 155). Moreover, Peterson and Ray found prevalence for many types of bullying peaked in grade six, and repeated bullying occurred most frequently in grade six. Two of five gifted girls experienced bullying in middle school (p. 160), and 24% of gifted girls experienced bullying more than 10 times in grade 5 (p. 155). Our results showed similar patterns with prevalence, although we limited our study to prevalence rather than frequency for individual participants. Reflective questionnaire implications Our exploratory study on covert aggression and gifted adolescent girls concurred with the Peterson and Ray (2006b) findings of 38% prevalence in grade seven. Given the smaller size and quota sampling, however, our study included gifted adolescent girls in grades 6 through 12. Considering the less overt nature of bullying behaviors, we asked participants to tally both observed and/or experienced incidents. They also distinguished incidents between two exceptionality groups, gifted/non-exceptional and gifted/gifted girls. While the Peterson and Ray study analyzed bullying behaviors from Kindergarten through 12, we limited retrospective incidents to grades 6 through 8. As our study addressed relational or covert aggression, the Reflective Questionnaire included one traditional type of aggressionâ€”name-callingâ€”from the Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) survey. However, we derived the appearance, intelligence, grades, family, and social status topics from the teasing category on the Peterson and Ray survey. We further modified the Peterson and Ray survey by combining damaging possessions and taking possessions into the possessions topic. Prior to implementing our exploratory study, the primary researched conducted two small pilot studies with the Reflective Questionnaire in two secondary schools as convenience samples. Participants in the pilot studies understood and
53 completed Reflective Questionnaire items and meet as a group for informal discussion. We included gifted adolescent boys in the pilot studies, and they added perspective to the insightful comments of gifted adolescent girls during informal group discussions. Including both genders during structured interviews could provide diverse perspective in future research. We anticipated the possibility of gifted boys present in the resource room during our study and proceeded to the exploratory study with unrevised instructions for items one and two on the Reflective Questionnaire. When we conducted the exploratory study, however, only gifted adolescent girls completed the questionnaire and participated in the group interviews. Covert aggression and academic ability We examined Reflective Questionnaire items for instances of covert aggression, observed and/or experienced, for eight specific topics between gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups. Due to a 0% prevalence score on the other topic, we eliminated it from further consideration. Of the total 1037 incidents in both groups across the three grade levels, the intelligence (N = 187, 18%) and name-calling (N = 187, 18%) topics emerged as the most prevalent, followed by grades (N = 185, 18%), social status (N = 170, 16%), and appearance (N = 158, 15%). Possessions (N = 111, 11%) and family (N = 39, 4%) scored least prevalently. With similar prevalence (18%), the combined topics of grades and intelligence, along with name-calling, placed the distinguishing feature of giftedness at the forefront of covert aggression incidents. Overall, participants most often reflected incidents related to academic ability in grades six through eight, irrespective of exceptionality group (see Figure 1). Participants in the Peterson and Ray (2006b) study, however, identified traditional bullying behaviors such as name-calling followed by teasing about appearance as most prevalent in grades six through eight. Our findings ranked the social status higher than the Peterson and Ray study; however, possessions and family scored similarly as the least prevalent topics in grades six through eight. The increased prevalence of the academic topics (e.g., intelligence and grades) in both exceptionality groups seemed consistent with our two research questions anticipating giftedness as the distinguishing feature between the two exceptionality groups. We examined topics within exceptionality groups and distinguished name-calling (19%) in gifted/non-exceptional and intelligence (23%) in gifted/gifted as most prevalent. This finding led to the observation that covert aggression occurred more in the gifted/non-exceptional than the gifted/gifted group. Similarly, intelligence in the gifted/gifted group scored 5% higher than the next most prevalent topic in either group (see Figure 2). We found topics clustered into four types of covert
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman aggression: traditional (name-calling), academic (intelligence and grades), personal (appearance and social status), and nonpersonal (possessions and family). Our findings indicated prevalence by topic clusters aligned with exceptionality groups. The traditional cluster occurred most in the gifted/ non-exceptional group, and the academic cluster prevailed in the gifted/gifted group. The personal cluster scored second highest in both groups, followed by the non-personal cluster in both groups. Topic cluster and grade level Covert aggression incidents (N = 1037) occurred more prevalently in the gifted/non-exceptional (65%) than gifted/ gifted (35%) group across all three grade levels. However, when disaggregated by groups and grade levels, grade seven prevalence occurred equally in the gifted/non-exceptional (38%) and gifted/gifted (38%) groups. We found 5% to 8% fewer incidents in grades six and eight groups than grade seven groups. The grade eight gifted/non-exceptional (29%) group in scored the lowest prevalence in both groups across all three grades. This finding presented grade seven as the most challenging for gifted girls, possibly as a transitional grade into middle school. Grade eight appeared the least conflicted, possible inferring a more settled environment in both groups (see Figure 3). We examined incidents by topic cluster and grade levels and found the academic cluster most prevalent in grade seven (N = 137), followed by grade six (N = 128), then grade eight (N = 107). The traditional cluster ranked highest in grade seven (N = 74), followed by grade six (N = 57), then grade eight (N = 56). The personal cluster scored highest in grade seven (N = 131), then grade eight (N = 103), and lowest in grade six (N = 94). The non-personal cluster scored nearly equally in grades six (N = 50), seven (N = 51), and eight (N = 49). All four topic clusters scored highest in grade seven (see Figure 4). This finding aligned with incidents combined in both groups with grade seven (38%) most prevalent, followed by grade six (31%) and grade eight (31%) (see Figure 5). Prevalence by grade level differed from the Peterson and Ray study (2006b) where grade six (44%) showed the most prevalence, followed by grade seven (44%) and grade eight (42%) (p. 155). Ranked by percentage, however, the academic cluster in grade six (39%) scored highest, followed by grade seven (35%), then grade eight (34%), with an average of 36% prevalence for all three grades. The personal cluster scored higher in all three grades (X = 32%) than either the traditional (X = 18%) or nonpersonal (X = 14%) clusters. The academic cluster scored highest in all three grades, but with a higher percentage in grade six than grade seven (see Figures 6, 7, and 8). Our findings contrasted with Peterson and Ray (2006b) where traditional
54 (name-calling) and personal (appearance) clusters ranked higher in all three grades (p. 156). Practical significance for school transitions We anticipated lower prevalence in the gifted/gifted group than the gifted/non-exceptional group and a higher prevalence in the gifted/non-exceptional group. Statistical analysis of both expectations proved partially correct. Using a two-way Anova, we found no significant interaction for Giftedness or Grade. However, when we considered main effect for the four independent variables (grade six, grade seven, gifted, and nonexceptional) with the dependent variable (covert aggression), we found significance for Giftedness and Grade (see Table 1). Combined incidents for grades six and seven in the gifted/ non-exceptional group (N =474, 66%) exceeded the gifted/gifted (N =248, 34%) group combined incidents for grades six and seven (see Figure 3). We found practical significance with more prevalence in the gifted/non-exceptional group than the gifted/gifted group and between grades six and seven with more prevalence in grade seven (see Table 2). This significance aligned with prevalence findings where the gifted/nonexceptional group (38%) scored similarly with the gifted/gifted (38%) group in grade seven. Moreover, the grade six gifted/ non-exceptional (33%) group scored higher than the grade six gifted/gifted (30%) group (see Figure 3). The gifted/non-exceptional group showed an overall higher prevalence of covert aggression than the gifted/gifted group. We might attribute the lower prevalence in the gifted/gifted group to the sense of community and engagement often found with academic peers in gifted and talented programs. The results indicated a higher prevalence of covert aggression in the gifted/non-exceptional group with both statistical and practical significance. These findings seemed consistent with the Peterson and Ray (2006b) findings of bullying in the general education population that peaked in grades six through eight (p. 155). With fewer covert aggression incidents in the gifted/gifted than gifted/non-exceptional group, our prevalence findings implied gifted students viewed gifted and talented programs as relatively safe environments. Peterson and Ray (2006b) found 16% fewer gifted students in grade 8 engaged in bullying as bullies than the general education population (p. 148). The more homogenous learning environment with intellectual peers found in gifted and talented resource rooms might explain reduced instances of covert aggression in the gifted/gifted group. Our prevalence findings of increased covert aggression in the gifted/non-exceptional group may have occurred during a school transition from elementary grade six to middle school grade seven. This finding underscored the need to provide
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 support for gifted learners in both the general education and gifted and talented resource room environments during the transition from elementary to middle schools. Grade levels Eleven participants in our study attended a suburban middle school in a district where elementary school ended at grade six, and middle school began in grade seven. In the transition from elementary to middle school, participants may have encountered students in their new school that could have accounted for increased prevalence of covert aggression. Those participants may have observed and/or experienced fewer instances of covert aggression in grade six (N = 329, 32%) with peers known throughout their elementary school years in a more familiar environment than grade seven in the middle school (N = 393, 38%). Similarly, 16 participants entered attended middle school beginning in grade six and may have observed and/or experienced increased incidents of covert aggression in the transition from elementary school in grade five to middle school in grade six. In either case, more settled peer relationships in grade eight (N = 315, 30%) might explain stabilized or fewer incidents in grade eight than either sixth or seventh grades (see Figures 6, 7, and 8). We asked participants to tally both observed and/or experienced instances of covert aggression in order to gain a more inclusive perspective of gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups. We analyzed prevalence of observed/and experienced (N = 463) instances for participants in the high school (N = 16) and found 37% in the gifted/gifted group, and 63% in the gifted/non-exceptional group. Of the 463 incidents high school girls tallied, they marked 59% in the observed columns and 41% in the experienced columns. This finding indicated 26% fewer instances in the gifted/gifted group and 18% fewer instances experienced than observed. The academic cluster scored highest in both groups with grades (N = 35) in the gifted/non-exceptional group and intelligence (N = 31) in the gifted/gifted group (see Figure 9). Although findings in this study showed a small practical difference between grades six and seven, increased sample size in future studies might provide a clearer understanding of covert aggression and gifted adolescent girls. Studies with P20 gifted student populations could also provide further insight into covert aggression experienced and/or observed at various grade levels throughout their school years. Our prevalence findings addressed research question one, How many instances of covert aggression did gifted adolescent girls observe and/or experience in eight specific topics between gifted/non-exceptional and gifted/gifted girl exceptionality groups in grades six through eight?
55 Subjective experience Peterson and Ray (2006a) interviewed 57 of the 432 participants who completed the survey, and they transcribed data from those recorded interviews to investigate the subjective experience of grade eight gifted and bullying. Our study examined the subjective experience with covert aggression through Reflective Questionnaire written narrative responses and Structured Group Interview typed comments. Peterson and Ray (2006a) found “many victims suffered in silence, struggled to understand bullying, assumed responsibility for stopping it themselves, despaired when it continues” (p. 252). Gifted adolescent girls in our study tended to minimize instances of covert aggression as nothing really bad and rarely reported incidents—and then only to friends, a mother, or if asked. The Peterson and Ray (2006a) study found “a dark side socially” of giftedness that could mean social marginalization and a vulnerability to bullying (p. 262). The literature demonstrated gifted learners often used their intelligence to mitigate academic difficulties, problems, and challenges they faced without seeking external assistance from teachers, counselors, or administrators. Compared with Reflective Questionnaire written narrative, the Structured Group Interview comments focused more on differences and similarities with gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups with few specific incidents of covert aggression discussed. However, one issue of concern surfaced in both narratives about the gifted/gifted group. Although both written and spoken comments indicated an overall sense of safety and support in the gifted resource room, high school participants discussed hazing of new gifted girls in their comments. Typically, identification of gifted students occurred at the elementary school level, with fewer referrals at the secondary level. However, when gifted students transferred from another school into the gifted resource room, the change required acceptance into an otherwise established group. When the primary researcher gently probed this issue during the Structured Group Interview, the high school girls laughed and specified difficulty accepting a ditzy new gifted girl. During the group interview, one high school participant stated gifted girls constantly questioned and second-guessed her, and that she needed to prove [herself] to be associated with the gifted girls. Future studies, particularly at the high school level, might specify hazing or marginalizing as a form of covert aggression. Counselors, gifted facilitators, and parents need awareness of this dynamic to support new gifted girls transitioning into an established resource room environment. Subjective comments in both the Peterson and Ray (2006a) and our study found a profound impact of aggressive behaviors on gifted students during a developmental phase when social
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman connectedness helps adolescents experience an overall sense of well-being and safety in schools (p. 252). In our study, participant comments indicated they felt different when they left their regular education classrooms to receive services in the gifted resource room. Some participants learned to hide their intelligence or abilities to avoid covert aggressive incidents such as name-calling (e.g., nerd, geek or retard). The Reflective Questionnaire written comments and Structured Group Interview discussion addressed our second research question, How did gifted adolescent girls view their subjective experiences with covert aggression related to eight specific topics between gifted/non-exceptional and gifted/gifted girl exceptionality groups in grades six through eight? LIMITATIONS Covert aggression Our study examined a less physical and less overt type of bullying known as covert or relational aggression. The literature on bullying in the general population indicated girls tended to participate more frequently in covert aggression than boys who used more physical and overt forms of bullying. The Peterson and Ray (2006b) study found bullying behaviors between gifted students occurred most prevalently in grades six through eight. We expanded the participants from grade eight in the Peterson and Ray study to include participants from grades 7 through 12. We also reduced grade level reflections from Kindergarten through eighth grade to sixth through eighth grades. These changes reduced alignment with participants (N = 432) and methodology in the Peterson and Ray research, but increased our sample size and expanded the scope beyond grade eight. The increased sample size benefited the subjective experience evaluation with Reflective Questionnaire written narrative and Structured Group Interview typed comments. For example, the Peterson and Ray (2006a) subjective experience interviewees (N = 57) included 13% of the participants (N = 432) from the quantitative study on prevalence. In contrast, our study included all participants (N = 27, 100%) who completed the Reflective Questionnaire and also participated in the Structured Group Interviews. Rather than recording and transcribing interviews, we typed comments from the group interviews and crosschecked them between the primary researcher and the gifted facilitators from both schools. Size and sample As exploratory research examining covert aggression between gifted/gifted and gifted/non-exceptional groups reflected during grades six through eight, another limitation in our study concerned small sample size (N = 27) with gifted adolescent girls in two suburban schools. A normal distribution of gifted
56 students might yield 5% (N = 5) in a population of 100 general education students. Given equally distributed gender within this population, gifted adolescent girls could represent 2.5% (N = 2.5) persons. However, many schools fail to identify gifted students, especially those from underserved populations. For example, the participating middle school of 1000 students included 11 (1.1%) gifted adolescent girls, and the high school of 550 students yielded 16 (2.9%) participants in the study. Future studies might consider school selection by a predetermined quota of gifted girls based on an identification rate of giftedness closer to 2.5% of the school population to approximate a more normal distribution of gifted adolescent girls. We considered all identified gifted adolescent girls who returned consent forms in both schools eligible for our study. Only three identified gifted adolescent girls did not return the consent forms, so 90% of all identified gifted girls in both schools participated in the study. From this perspective, all gifted girls in both schools received an equal chance to participate in the study. Instruments The Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) study used a nonstandardized survey validated by experience level of the research team and relevant literature on bullying outside of the field of gifted education. We included name-calling from Peterson and Ray survey as a traditional topic. However, given the hidden or covert aggression behaviors in our study, we adapted the types of bullying from the Peterson and Ray survey as topics of covert aggression. These topics included teasing about grades, intelligence, social status, appearance, possessions, and family. We added an eighth topic, other, to ensure inclusiveness of incidents but disregarded it due to a 0% prevalence score. Future studies might crosscheck the Reflective Questionnaire topics with themes or topics emerging from the Reflective Questionnaire written narrative and Structured Group Interviews comments. For example, our study identified exclusion, hazing, mean faces, humiliation, embarrassment, and spreading rumors from the subjective experience as potential topics. The Reflective Questionnaire asked participants to specify only their age, grade level, and gender, so it is unknown if the 27 participants represented an underserved population of gifted learners. Future studies might examine covert aggression in minority gifted adolescent populations with marginalization a potential topic. We were also unable to determine whether physical height and weight and family status such as birth order and number of siblings. Future studies might also explore physical size and family status included in the Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) studies which correlated more clearly with appearance, family, and possessions topics in our study.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019 The Structured Group Interview included all participants (N = 27) who completed the Reflective Questionnaire. Rather than conducting recorded and transcribed individual interviews, we interviewed all participants at each school as a whole group. To encourage open discussion, we took notes on a laptop computer rather than transcribing recorded interviews. However, individual interviews could yield more in-depth responses on their subjective experience with participants who may have preferred to speak privately about sensitive topics rather than in a group setting. Recorded individual interviews might also capture subtleties such as voice volume, nuances of tone, and expressiveness to increase understanding of covert aggression and gifted adolescent girls. Self-report and reflection Peterson and Ray (2006a) considered eighth grade ideal for their retrospective study from Kindergarten through eighth grade since students of 13 or 14 years of age possessed sufficient maturity to evaluate and process complex emotions related to bullying experiences. It is unknown whether students might reflect overt or covert experiences more readily; however, our study limited reflection to grades 6 through 8 and included gifted girls from grades 7 through 12 to optimize reflection and maturity. As reflected instances, participant tallies approximated prevalence in gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups. Given the hidden nature of covert aggression, we asked participants to include both observed and/or experienced incidents. We specified exceptionality in groups to determine prevalence in the general education and special education environments. The narrative responses of participants indicated they tended to minimize or downplay the subjective experience as not anything really bad. The number of incidents tallied for covert aggression (N = 1037) from 27 participants in grades six through eight exceeded incidents of bullying (N = 584) for 432 participants in grades six through eight in the Peterson and Ray (2006b) study. Although we triangulated our study with self-reported bullying in the general population (Peterson & Ray, 2006a, 2006b) and literature on covert aggression outside the field of gifted education, future studies might include a secondary level of inquiry from parents, friends, and teachers to further validate findings and increase reliability of the selfreport and reflection.
57 CONCLUSION Research literature and anecdotal evidence showed adolescent girls used a covert form of bullying while adolescent boys engaged in physical or overt aggression. Yet the impact of relational aggression on the social and emotional development of adolescent girls seemed significant. Peterson and Ray (2006a, 2006b) conducted a groundbreaking study on bullying and eighth grade gifted students. We used their retrospective study as the basis for our exploratory study on covert aggression conducted with 27 participants from two secondary schools. We evaluated quantitative results from the Reflective Questionnaire items one and two as topic clusters of incidents and explored the qualitative subjective experience from items 3-10 written narrative responses and Structured Group Interview typed comments. Participants noted both observed and/or experienced instances of covert aggression for eight topics in grades six through eight and commented on their subjective experiences with gifted/gifted and gifted/nonexceptional groups. We analyzed prevalence and found incidents clustered together as academic, traditional, personal, and non-personal topics. The tallied results from the Reflective Questionnaire and comments for the Structured Group Interviews indicated gifted/gifted group most frequently engaged in academic topics of covert aggression, while the gifted/non-exceptional group used the more traditional topic of name-calling (e.g., nerd, geek, retard) occurred most frequently. Gifted girls who transferred into the resource room at the secondary level, especially high school, experienced stress through a form of hazing as they proved themselves to the gifted girl group. Future studies with increased sample size could meet normalcy assumptions and increase reliability and generalization of results. Gathering data from a broader range of grade levels and less homogenous demographics might identify patterns and trends to provide greater insight on covert aggression and diverse gifted learners. It is unknown if any participants identified themselves as an underserved population; however, further studies on covert aggression and gifted girls from minority populations might identify additional or different patterns and trends. We hope this study will yield valuable insight for educators, parents, and health care professionals as they seek to provide safe, inclusive learning environments for all students to reach their academic potential in P-20 schools.
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman REFERENCES Estell, D. B., Farmer, T. W., Irwin, M. J., Crowther, A., Akos, P., & Boudah, D. J. (2009). Students with exceptionalities and the peer group context of bullying and victimization in late elementary school. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18(2), 136-150. Cross, T. L. (2001a). Social/emotional needs: The many faces of bullies. Gifted Child Today, 24(4), 36-37. Cross, T. L. (2001b). Social/emotional needs: The range of gifted students. Gifted Child Today, 24(2), 43-45. Jumper, R. L. (2009). Gifted children’s communication about bullying: Understanding the experience. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Publishing. Olweus, D. (2003). A profile of bullying at school. Educational Leadership, 60(6), 12-17. Peters, M. P., & Bain, S. K. (2011). Bullying and victimization rates among gifted and high-achieving students. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 34(4), 624-643. Peterson, J., & Ray, K. E. (2006a). Bullying among the gifted: The subjective experience. Gifted Child Quarterly, 50(3), 252-269.
58 Peterson, J., & Ray, K. E. (2006b). Bullying and the gifted: Victims, perpetrators, prevalence, and effects. Gifted Child Quarterly, 50(2), 148-168. Rigby, K., & Smith, P. K. (2011). Is school bullying really on the rise? Social Psychology in Education, 14(4), 441–455. Robinson, N. M. (2006). The social world of gifted children and youth. In S. I. Pfeiffer (Ed.), Handbook of giftedness in children (33-51). Boston, MA: Springer. Taber, N., & Woloshyn, V. (2011). Dumb dorky girls and wimpy boys: Gendered themes in diary cartoon novels. Children’s Literature in Education, 42(3), 226–242. Webb, J., Amend, E. R., & Beljan, P. (2016). Misdiagnosis and dual diagnoses of gifted children and adults: ADHD, bipolor, OCD, Asperger’s, depression, and other disorders (2nd ed.). Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press. Wood, S. M., & Craigen, L. M. (2011). Self-injurious behavior in gifted and talented youth: What every educator should know. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 34(6), 839859.
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62 Appendix B Reflective Questionnaire Combined Responses by Grade Level
Grade 7 I haven’t seen anything really bad, but I’ve seen people talking about people behind their backs. I only talked about it with my mom, just casually at home. She helped me to think about what I would do in that situation. It made me glad that I have good friends who don’t do that to me. I just notice the normal stuff like people talking about other people. I’ve talked to my friends about it but didn’t really report it. I feel awkward when I go to the [gifted] room from the cafeteria during lunch because you walk in front of everyone with your tray. They ask you where you’re going or look at you weird. They automatically think you’re in ISS or in trouble or something if you have to leave the lunch room. My friends and I joke that I’m on my way to ISS each time I go for gifted. Grade 8 I haven’t seen anything really bad. I haven’t noticed anything, really. Haven’t told anyone. There wasn’t anything really bad that I noticed. There was a special dress-up day (spirit day) where not a lot of people dressed up, but some did. It was Nerd Day. The popular girls said “Why’d all the nerds dress up for Nerd Day?” I’ve been called a nerd before, and it wasn’t meant nicely. Now that the new cafeteria has the kitchen in the back, you have to walk in front of everyone to leave and go to gifted. Before, the kitchen was outside the cafeteria so no one really noticed if you left … they couldn’t see you leave. It’s sort of embarrassing. We talk about it a lot. Nothing too bad. It’s not a huge deal, but it does feel weird when we go to the gifted resource room. Sometimes people ask you where you’re going and you tell them, but then it’s not such a big deal. Sometimes it’s a little embarrassing. I didn’t really see anything that bad. I came from a different school, and it wasn’t that bad there either. My friends and I aren’t cool, and some popular girls called us retards. I didn’t hear it, but my friend said she did. They don’t realize how much it hurts people’s feelings. Didn’t really tell anyone, just talked about it with my friends. Grade 9 I’ve experienced name calling because of being gifted. I felt embarrassed and tried to hide my intelligence. Grade 10 I learned not to push the gifted things onto people and to not identify myself as gifted. Others may have known, but I would only tell if asked. We [gifted girls] understand that other kids have talents in other areas. I have breakdowns when I don’t perform as well as some other students.
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If you do badly on schoolwork with gifted girls, they empathize with feelings of failure because they’ve been there before too. Grade 11 Some gifted kids ganged up on another gifted girl calling her names in French that she didn’t understand. It made me feel guilty for not telling her what was going on. New gifted kids to the program were hazed if they were too weird…or ditzy. Regular kids were instantly liked. Grade 12 Aggression between gifted girls is usually a challenge over who is smarter. Gifted and non-exceptional girls, the aggression is over more personal or material things. The gifted boys and girls were always recognized as the “smart kids,” and we all stuck together. My gifted friends were always around to help me with any problem. Non-gifted girls seem to experience more drama. Other non-exceptional girls would always compare their grades to ours. If someone got a higher score than you on a test or worksheet they would brag about it. A few kids were jealous and accuse us of getting to do special stuff and extra activities. I kind of felt like being gifted was a privilege.
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64 Appendix C Structured Group Interview Combined Responses by School
Suburban Middle School Grades 7-8 The worst covert aggression happens because girls think that being in gifted makes you geeky or nerdy. They also do covert aggression a lot when it has to do with guys. Once people get to know me, they don’t think I’m nerdy. I stay away from the drama over guys, so it doesn’t really affect me. There aren’t really problems between the gifted girls, but if there are, it’s because they hang out with different groups outside of gifted. Sometimes people act timid towards you when you come from or go to the gifted room, like you’re different. Girls hang with girls with the same interests. Girls might avoid other girls but there are no fights or anything. Covert aggression is less in gifted girls and gifted girls probably because they know they have at least one thing in common. The relationship between gifted girls and non-exceptional girls changes from elementary to middle school – it seems more distant. Saying mean things and spreading rumors happens. People just think different than you think. Gifted girls all get along because we’re all on the same intellectual base. Usually if someone doesn’t like someone outside of gifted or because that person did something, but that rarely happens. Girls in lower social rank or that appear different usually get picked on in the non-exceptional category. The occasional “popular” kid has a rumor about them, too. All girls hear things, but girls from both parties may not spread them. With a smaller group like gifted, you have less feuds because you aren’t mixed with kids you dislike. With all peers, you find people you like and dislike. I’ve never been made fun of for being smart. Actually, people and teachers depend, trust, and look up to you more. Sometimes teased about my facial appearance. I asked my friends how to clean (for acne) my face better. I haven’t noticed as much making fun in the seventh grade. There is more covert aggression between gifted girls and non-exceptional girls. People make much more fun of your intelligence than much else no matter who or where you are. I have never experienced or observed any specific bad covert aggression. Most of the gifted girls tend to stay together, except for a few who are considered popular. Some of the non-gifted girls don’t like that we get to leave [school] sometimes. The gifted girls sometimes like to brag, but when they’re with other gifted girls, they’re quieter. I saw one girl was getting called names pretty badly behind her back by her “friends.” I then decided that I would never do that. A lot of girls do that at this age, and you can’t control it. Other girls would pick on each other for no reason based on if they liked them. In both [gifted and non-exceptional], girls still get picked on for their looks and status. But gifted girls don’t pick on anyone based on grades or how smart they are. With non-gifted girls, the bullying is much stronger. Haven’t really experienced or observed a lot of covert aggression. Gifted girls never really picked on each other. In seventh and eighth grade, they tease you about being smart, but not really in sixth grade. A lot of exclusion and general unfriendliness. This happened especially the second semester of seventh grade. The first time I saw it happen, I was shocked. Gifted girls tend to want to hang out with other gifted girls. The ones who dress nicely with the trends tend to be higher in social status than with non-gifted girls that dress similarly. It all comes down to popularity, though there’s not a spoken word about who is and who isn’t. This is both in gifted and non-gifted. Gifted girls are better at not showing their aggression obviously. It’s hard to spot than with non-exceptional girls. Gifted girls don’t use Facebook to post aggression, mostly texting. Gifted girls are more comfortable with other gifted girls. My biggest thing is probably walking through the lunch room when everyone is staring at you. It is just really awkward and embarrassing, and it makes you feel nerdy. Me and my gifted friends talk about it all the time; it’s just one of those what can you do’s. It wasn’t a big deal in sixth grade, but in middle school it is considered nerdy to be in gifted. In gifted, we are all friends. Deep down you’re still dealing with the core issues of popularity and status, and that’s what leads to aggression in both instances. Among your gifted friends, it isn’t a big deal to be gifted, but it is sort of uncool to be gifted in middle school. Sometimes it’s like two different worlds. Overall it’s a great experience.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(1), 2019
When someone asks where you’re going or what you’re doing, and you [say] “Oh, it’s a gifted thing,” it makes you feel awkward. Most of the gifted girls are all friendly with each other. Everyone can be a little judgmental and judge each other. A lot of the girls in gifted are friendly to each other but it varies a lot when you’re with the rest of the girls in our school. A lot of the girls in gifted are really nice and aren’t mean to each other, but it’s different when it’s with everyone because you can’t like everyone in the school. The pressure brought on by grades creates more competition. It might not be a giant competition with other people, but it’s a race with yourself. When grades or achievements are publicized, girls compare themselves to others who don’t get the recognition or who didn’t achieve. Gifted girls are kinder to the non-exceptional girls. Some of the popular girls call me a retard behind my back. I really couldn’t care less what they think of me. I told my friends, and they reacted the way I did. I know one girl who will give me a weird look, but that’s all. I’m “not cool” so I get picked on more than some other girls. We all get picked on, no matter what. I think all girls pick on each other a lot. The mean girls need to know what they’re doing hurts people. The pressure brought on by grades creates more competition. It might not be a giant competition with other people, but it’s a race with yourself. When grades or achievements are publicized, girls compare themselves to others who don’t get the recognition or who didn’t achieve. Gifted girls are kinder to the non-exceptional girls. Suburban High School Grades 9-12 Kids always thought we got to do special things in [the gifted program] like take field trips and get out of the class. They would say we were privileged. They didn’t understand purpose of gifted program. They thought it was unfair that we got to do special things. “Is bullying the same as covert aggression?” Girls are supposed to be nice and not get physical so girls are sneakier. Since I wouldn’t let anyone cheat off me, I was called stuck up. I was called teacher’s favorite. Girls would tell me you don’t even work hard and the teacher gives you good grades just because she likes you. I told them I work hard for my grades. I hated working in groups and doing all the work just to get a decent grade. Kids would act like they wanted me in their group, but they just wanted me to do all the work. No one would talk to me for weeks when I moved here. I didn’t know anyone and the only they knew about me was that I was going to gifted classroom. They thought I was a smarty-pants and stuck up. When I was in seventh grade I remember I used to get in trouble a lot. I was not the perfect student…gifted girls starting asking me if I really belonged in here. I undermined myself and never thought I was really good enough. I still don’t. The girls were reminded this was a safe place to talk and asked to self-reflect. Gifted girls do participate in bullying. Looking back they feel bad. We are all very competitive. Usually it’s a positive competition, mostly good and supportive….but it’s difficult to be new in here [the gifted program]. We were a group and we didn’t always include new kids in gifted class. This one girl was just ditzy. We liked things the way they were. We didn’t appreciate new kids either… interacting is hard.
Phelps, Beason-Manes and Lockman When I came here, even the gifted kids constantly questioned and second-guessed me. I hang out with different groups that have strong personalities. I had to prove myself to be associated with the gifted. Most [boys] like smart [girls] since we can handle things. Some [boys] are intimidated though.
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 2, p. 67-77 (2019)
On a mission for the Nation: A microhistory of Fr. Francis X. Weninger, S.J. THOMAS RICHARDSON National Archives and Records Administration <email@example.com> After the Civil War, Rev. Father Francis Xavier Weninger’s efforts in establishing black parish communities, including St. Ann’s Colored Church in Cincinnati, spearheaded the Church’s campaign in assisting newly liberated slaves in the United States. The national campaign included black evangelization, creating parishes, opening schools, and initiating a national collection. Keywords: Catholic Church, Jesuits, Know-Nothing, nativism, American Civil War, missionary, evangelization, slavery. INTRODUCTION The Catholic Church of the United States faced a significant social and ecclesiastical challenge following the Civil War. With the abolition of slavery and the military defeat of the Confederacy, thousands of liberated slaves were in flux without proper schools, churches, or parish communities. Catholic missions in southern states lacked basic necessities for the newly liberated slaves and without their availability, they faced bleak prospects. In northern states, Catholic clergy were faced with the prospect of assimilating and evangelizing thousands of freed, displaced slaves who flocked to the Church for basic necessities, community protection, and education. Confronted with both racial antagonisms and anti-Catholic frustrations, the Church managed to conduct evangelization and relief efforts for freed blacks. Black parishes slowly began emerging in states like Maryland, Illinois, and Ohio and small communities were created from these parish centers. This progress was only minimal, however. The Catholic Church was still hindered by its ambivalent slavery policy prior to the Civil War, translating into a disorganized policy of black assimilation during Reconstruction. Multiple ranks within the Church hierarchy debated over different approaches on how to effectively welcome blacks into the Catholic faith, but a precarious balancing act between national politics and social image sprouted from this indecision. As the Church debated proposals on black assimilation, one Jesuit missionary, the Reverend Father Francis Xavier Weninger S.J., committed his time and energy to the evangelization and communal fulfillment in fostering black parishes in Northern states. Following the 1848 Revolutions in Germany and Austria, Weninger immigrated to the United States and conducted nationwide missions from New York to California with his trademark presentation style, focused on salvation oratory. Weninger was a practical and realist priest who recognized what he interpreted as social evils directed at the Church and humanity in general, and he sought a number of resolutions. Reconstruction and the dire situation of transient, uneducated, and unemployed former slaves shifted
Weninger’s mission to properly evangelizing and caring for freed slaves. Weninger also proposed that these goals become the new mission for the national Catholic Church. The focus of this research centers on his missionary and parish work, culminating with the establishment of the first all-black church in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1866: St. Ann’s Colored Church. His evangelization work resulted from decades of conducting missions. He argued that the Catholic Church had a spiritual and social obligation to assist freed slaves. NAVIGATING A DANGEROUS LANDSCAPE From 1848 to 1888, Father Weninger conducted missions and recorded the country’s racial ideology. Weninger tailored his sermons by regional audiences and offered methods on effective assistance for blacks. During this time, he became a prolific author on theological subjects such as papal infallibility, interdenominational marriages, and sacramental sanctity. These theological writings overlapped with his personal social and political standings. What Weninger witnessed was a dichotomy between the national Catholic Church’s official policy on slavery and his personal ideology. The country’s dangerous political and social landscape shaped the Catholic position as a crucial component. Disagreements between Republicans and Democrats permeated his memoirs covering the Civil war, as he criticized political leaders and party members over their participation and even their orchestration of the conflict. Weninger refused to join political factions, but he did express more northern sympathies than southern ones. His condemnation of slavery on religious grounds accounts for this. Although sympathetic to the Union, Father Weninger also criticized the Northern political makeup before and during the Civil War. These political confrontations included ideological clashes with Know-Nothing American nativism in the 1850s. During Reconstruction, Weninger fully dedicated his ministry to assisting freed slaves. His climactic ecclesiastical project was the founding of St. Ann’s Colored Church. Accompanying his parish work, he founded the Saint Peter Claver Society, a lay organization created to support the parish school’s financial needs. He also initiated a national
Richardson collection with approval from the Holy See in the Vatican. Father Weninger’s advocacy garnered national and papal recognition for the development of black parishes: “He [Weninger] wanted to institute a national collection for the Indians and African-Americans, and he received papal encouragement when Pope Leo XIII granted a plenary indulgence to everyone who would contribute to a collection for Indians and blacks.”1 His accomplishments had residual effects on the Church’s black relief initiatives. Weninger applied his missionary skills and Jesuit education in developing methods for starting educational opportunities and building sustaining parishes. Did his example inspire other clergymen to adopt similar goals? Investigating a detailed historiography of Catholic interaction and ideology concerning slavery in the U.S. can reveal how particular historical trends developed over time, and how they coincide with Weninger’s ministry. BRIEF HISTORIOGRAPHY OF BLACK CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN THE U.S. Literature covering the history of black Catholics and clergy participating in black evangelization focused heavily on black parishes and their socio-political environment. Evangelization for this research is defined as the conversion to Christianity and education of the Gospels to individuals not previously exposed to the Church. Catholic historian Jay Dolan constructs a historical narrative that post-Civil War mission work was narrow and restricted, especially within Southern states. Along with blacks, the Church incorporated the evangelization of Indians, but both were limited in terms of participation by clergy: “Then, after the Civil War blacks began to organize their own churches, and the independent black church became an important center in the community. Catholic clergy were never really involved in this phase of evangelization. Of course, some few bishops, priests, and women religious did seek to evangelize southern blacks but their success was limited.”2 The difficultly in examining how much the clergy were directly involved with the development of black parishes exists because of limited sources. Meager amounts of primary sources from these parishes exist, restricting understanding of the historical scope and significance of these groups. Their position within broader U.S. history trends was discussed in Lackner’s research on the St. Ann’s Colored Church, the focus of Father Weninger’s black missionary work: “Even though their [blacks] stories were rich in human struggle and emotion and has made it possible for others to follow after them, their lives were not thought significant enough to be repeated in standard histories.”3
68 These standard histories still provide evidence in examining 19th century black parishes. Lackner’s examination of St. Ann’s provides an introduction to the creation process involved with a black parish. Mid-19th century black parishes were wholly independent and found primarily in northern states, in part because there were no ordained black priests to operate these new parishes. St. Ann’s was the turning point for this historical trend. Lackner argued that multiple factors and local efforts created an ideal setting for black communities. First, black Catholics simply needed their own churches because there was too much resistance to integration within white congregations. Despite ideological assertions that segregation was prohibited in the Catholic Church, in reality this practice occurred regularly. Public grievances concerning integrated congregations were alleviated by creating separate black parishes.4 The role of local clergy in establishing black parishes became a national debate, one which influenced St. Ann’s inception. Church leaders such as Archbishops Martin John Spalding and John Baptist Purcell advocated for Catholic assistance, bringing their needs to the attention of national conventions such as the Baltimore Plenary Councils. However, debating the issues in council only acknowledged rather than resolving said issues. Bureaucratic obstacles hindered major progress: ‘It was also a continuing concern for Roman officials, about which they reminded the American hierarchy at the council and through the ensuring years…However, the “opportunity” mentioned by Spalding was generally missed.’5 This ‘opportunity’ Lackner references is a broad evangelization and education of freed slaves during Reconstruction. Church officials demonstrated a moral obligation in preaching the Catholic faith to this newly liberated group. Local support from Catholic charities and clergy pioneered St. Ann’s establishment, but this required providing blacks with communities in which to live and raise their families. The remaining question was whether or not these evangelization practices were orchestrated at the local or national level. St. Ann’s Colored Church demonstrated a significant undertaking for the rise of evangelizing and incorporating freed slaves by using Church resources. Historian Cyprian Davis covers an extended chronology of blacks in North America. Detailing their arrival in the early colonial period and into the mid-20th century, Davis’ research broadens this historiography by setting black Catholics and parishes within political, economic, and social contexts. What Davis acknowledges is how the Catholic Church operated within the complex socio-political environment while encountering multiple prejudices. Various black Catholic communities in cities such as Baltimore remained diligent in practice despite retaining limited historical records:
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 ‘We have no record of black Catholic parochial life, but it is the first glimpse of how black Catholics in the antebellum period organized themselves and what their piety was like.’6 Davis’ anthology includes references to prominent white Catholics and their involvement in the creation and development of the black Catholic community. The focus on these persons, including those who caused restrictions and blockages for black assistance, highlights Weninger’s missionary work and achievements with St. Ann’s. It was a watershed moment in black evangelization. Weninger’s national collection and fundraising in Europe was especially crucial to the parish’s establishment. Davis recounts how Weninger conducted fundraising trips in Midwestern states and after vigorous campaigning, received over $4,000 from domestic and foreign contributors, including King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Despite these calls for national assistance, implementation was limited to local venues. National church councils disagreed over the process by which to indoctrinate blacks into the Church. Critics argued that the amount of help used to assist black Catholics was insufficient. Prominent Catholic historian John Tracy Ellis attributes local pressures towards united responses to anti-slavery movements and race riots: ‘More than once, the Church had tried to improve the lot of the Negroes, but general attempts to educate them had been frustrated through local pressure.”7 Local attempts also faced resistance, but this local aspect is a key to measuring the Church’s progression with blacks. Extensive travel through missionary work educated Weninger on the social and racial attitudes with religious communities. Ellis does reveal a critical point with this local pressure argument because it reflects the disconnect between local and national actions by the Church. Official policy regarding slavery and the evangelization of blacks was debated repeatedly by senior clergy, evident by Archbishops such as Spalding and Purcell. Implementation was the logical step, but failure to compromise with this national debate had consequences for both the Church and blacks. During the antebellum period, this pressure stemmed from anti-Catholic sentiment attributed to the KnowNothings. ROLE OF THE KNOW-NOTHINGS Anti-Catholic prejudice did not begin with the Know-Nothings, but their coordinated efforts solicited national attention. Sections of Protestant groups in the U.S. harbored Catholic resentment for fear of foreign usurpation by the Vatican, including fears of controlling certain behaviors, rights, and knowledge:
69 “Undoubtedly, the political and intellectual antagonisms of many Protestants grew from a visceral rejection of what they saw…Catholics were doing. Besides the historical corruption of the Catholic hierarchy, its purportedly oppressive control of laypeople’s minds, and the supposed sophistry associated with Jesuits that contorted the truth, many Protestants also believed Catholicism turned believers away from spiritual certainties and towards material distractions.”8 To understand the national pressures faced by Catholics and black evangelization, analyzing the political and social influence of the Know-Nothing Party is integral. Anbinder’s examination of Know-Nothingism revealed the extensive antiCatholic ideology which was their main political tool. The party’s vision and mission statements included their longwinded animosity focused on Catholic communities: “Hence whatever is told you of Catholicism as favorable to all that is American, put no faith in it. The Pope of Rome says America must be crushed—and all political economists of any note or weight, agree that if it is ever crushed, it will be by Romanism. Let us remember these matters. Let us regard every Roman Catholic as an enemy to the country—and so treat him. He is nothing else.”9 Know-Nothings exploited the Church’s ambiguous slavery stance, which attributed to the party’s public focus behind the anti-slavery camp and pinned pro-slavery associations on their opponents: “Perhaps the pro-slavery reputation of the Catholic Church and its immigrant adherents had opponents of slavery extend to join the Know-Nothing lodges. Know-Nothings then argued that the Catholic Church condoned slavery…Know-Nothings also reminded Northerners that not one Catholic priest has signed the well-publicized antislavery petition statement to Congress in 1854.”10 Anbinder delivered an interesting argument to the black Catholic assistance debate. Public perception played key roles in the Church’s interaction with blacks, as the public associated them as being pro-slavery stemming from the Know-Nothing’s information campaign. As pressure over slavery mounted in the 1850s, it became a wedge issue within society. Political implications resulted from these social issues and if Catholics were perceived as pro-slavery, it created an untenable public environment for their national programs. Even if Catholic intentions were to assist blacks, their ambiguous public stance on slavery provided Know-Nothings with endless smearing opportunities that enflamed anti-Catholic rhetoric. This public perception translated to the local level as well and it only increased the difficulty of efficiently orchestrating charitable relief. Weninger’s memoirs recounted the antics of Know-
Richardson Nothings, believing their presence in national politics hindered Catholic progress. He conducted missions focused on the definition of nativism and how being a citizen did not require preset beliefs. Weninger understood the dangers of political battles affecting ecclesiastical work for blacks. Through removing organized anti-Catholic rhetoric, Weninger could then accomplish his goals. DISAGREEMENT AMONG THE CLERGY An additional chronological examination of Catholics in the U.S. is provided by James Hennessey, who examined Catholic communities and their relationships to the American public. Hennessey included a detailed analysis of church hierarchy during this time, giving a comprehensive look into the Church’s stymied reactions regarding slavery. During Reconstruction, archbishops disagreed on how to address the issue of liberated slaves and a weak united effort prevented from accomplishing any national reform. What church councils produced were irregular agreements on black charities and education initiatives: “Specific actions plans fashioned by Spalding and recommended by Roman authorizes were watered down to the level of pious exhortation with implementation left to local choice. Archbishops Odin and Kenrick led the opposition; taking the position that all that could be done was being done…The mixed signals sent by the council were reflected in an evangelization effort that was largely unsuccessful.”11 From Hennessey’s perspective and preceding historiographical works, national reaction to black Catholics was largely uncoordinated and lacked efficiency. The broader trend of Catholic indecision merits investigation of local endeavors, leading one to ask why there were disconnects between national and local reaction, and uncovering who engaged in black advocacy. This local engagement featured prominently amongst Jesuit missionaries who worked closely with black parishes and schools. In building a chronology of Jesuit missionary work for blacks, another historian, Edmond Reynolds, recounted that early education and parish support for blacks was carried out by Jesuits. Described as ‘skirmishes’, Reynolds argued that these individual efforts had impacted black communities and it was the actions by singular missions rather than the Church institutional approach that assimilated blacks into the Catholic community. Jesuits were not under any national directive, but the work of a handful was instrumental for their successes in black parishes.12 Weninger’s work with blacks had significantly improved the educational and social prospects for black parishes within local communities,
70 especially his work establishing ecclesiastical societies and St. Ann’s Colored Church. FATHER WENINGER’S MINISTRY AND MISSIONS What is significant about this historiography is that broad trends increasingly incorporated local actions. What explanations exist that focus on Archbishop Kenrick’s stance on liberated slaves versus Weninger’s dedicated ministry for black advocacy? Investigating Weninger’s mission work and life experiences become the next step in learning more about this disconnect. Weninger’s sermons, memoirs, and ecclesiastical writings reveal much about his association with liberated slaves and black communities, pointing out his charity efforts and subsequent black initiatives by other clergy. Herein lays the spiritual enthusiasm of a dedicated Austrian Jesuit. Francis Xavier Weninger, S.J., was a learned scholar of theology, history, and Hebrew studies. His oratory skills distinguished him as an eloquent public speaker. Born in Austria in 1805, his family maintained noble connections to the old Austrian aristocracy. Originally planning on a military career, Weninger’s was dissuaded by his father, who eventually sent him to Vienna to pursue higher education. After completing his studies at the University of Vienna and the Gratz Episcopal Seminary, Weninger was ordained in 1829 and joined the Society of Jesus in 1832. While serving as a confessor in Innsbruck, the 1848 Revolutions in Germany made Europe hostile for Jesuits. Weninger requested missionary work in the United States’ western territories. Weninger arrived in New York in 1848 and started his missionary work in earnest, arriving at the height of anti-Catholicism and Know-Nothing political influence. During the height of American nativism in the 1850s, Catholicism experienced a brief period of revivalism that consolidated parish communities. What stimulated this revivalism was the mission effect, carried out by newly arrived European missionaries. Both the Catholic revival and emerging nativism collided: “In the era of the immigrant church, however, a siege mentality emerged, fostering a militant sectarian attitude that was no friend to tolerance. A major reason for this was the emergence of a nativist crusade in the antebellum era. Targeting both Catholics and the foreign-born, this crusade subjected Catholics to intense discrimination.”13 Despite such prejudices, Weninger conducted an extensive and widespread mission to a majority of the country. More unsettled areas in western territories were especially receptive to his and other missions during this revivalist period. Other preachers such as Lyman Beecher recognized a similar importance of evangelization in western territories. In his text, A Plea for the West, Beecher sees ministers and missionaries as changers of society:
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 “Most unquestionably the West demands the instrumentality of the first order of minds in the ministry, and thoroughly furnished minds, to command attention, enlighten the understanding, form the conscience, and gain the heart, and bring into religious organization and order the uncommitted mind and families of the great world.”14 Modern historians have described Weninger as novel and pioneering in his missionary delivery. Directness, person ability, and practicality were considered trademarks of a Weninger mission. Dolan writes,”‘Weninger’s principal genius was his calculated, systemic approach to the parish mission.”15 He gained notice as a public speaker, known for a strict adherence to Catholic doctrine and commitment to local communities. The continuing anti-Catholic prejudices shaped Weninger’s perceptions of the country’s socio-political network. The Know-Nothing Party was of grave concern to him with their connections in state and national parties: ‘This period of time was marked by the organization of a new political party amongst the enemies of the Church. They styled themselves Know-Nothings, and were American Protestants, native Americans…Their principal aim was to oppose immigration, for the steady industry of those who sought a home in America and the great numbers of their children excited fear as to the results of elections in future years.’16 CONFRONTING ANTI-CATHOLICISM General opposition to Catholics on religious grounds troubled Weninger as he drew similarities between Know-Nothingism and the revolutionary fervor of 1848. He was especially vitriolic towards anti-Catholic Germans for their role in the 1848 Revolutions, and their presence combined with KnowNothings fostered even greater toxicity. Violence perpetuated by Know-Nothings in Kentucky and elsewhere revealed how prevalent anti-Catholic violence was in daily antebellum life. After conducting a Mass service, a mostly anti-Catholic mob gathered and threatened to kill Weninger, citing only the fact of his being a priest. Weninger describes the scene as ‘[almost] becoming a martyr from Cincinnati.’17 The ideological battle was much broader than physical violence. Know-Nothing riots in Kentucky illustrated the social and religious divides within the country and Weninger gained first-hand experience over Know-Nothing influence on the general public. 18 AntiCatholicism within the political spectrum grew exponentially from the local to national level. He interpreted this through the establishment of the Republican Party and its membership base: “The Republican Party was built upon the Federal Party of the North, with a strong infusion of Know-Nothingism
71 and a decided fervor of the puritanical opinion of New England.”19 The political arena is an important component to incorporate in Weninger’s black advocacy due to the Know-Nothing policy on slavery. Even if public support included evangelization of slaves, the Church faced prejudices that stymied most major progress. It was precarious for Catholics during the antebellum period and their slavery views as well: ‘The English-American abolitionists have adopted a similar motto: No slavery, no Popery. Of course all Republicans were not so better but many and those the most influential, were, and hence the danger which hung over the Church.’20 BLACK EVANGELIZATION As Weninger continued preaching, his crowds become increasingly integrated with white and blacks attendees. He delivered sermons in German and French. He also delivered his first English sermon to a black audience.21 That sermon exposed Weninger to the social, economic, and ecclesiastical environments of blacks. Years later, his obituary recalled this memory: ‘Before I [Weninger] left Florissant…I mustered up courage enough to preach, in the neighboring church, my first English sermon, and that to a very obscure audience—they were Negroes!’22 Weninger’s “black missions” in St. Louis were pivotal in his career. Along with engaging with the small black community, two miracles were associated with Peter Claver, a 16th century Jesuit who ministered to slaves occurred in St. Louis, whereby a terminally ill parishioner was healed through a Peter Claver relic.23 These miracles signaled to Weninger that his support of black evangelization practices should become the new focus of his ministry. Weninger conducted few missions in southern states, but he still preached to black congregations in cities such as New Orleans and Jackson, performing black baptisms whenever needed as well.24 There was no evidence of segregation or any degree of racial discrimination at any of Weninger’s missions. The foundation for Weninger’s black advocacy stemmed from his analysis of Southern justification for slavery. What he abhorred was the idea of slavery authorized by Christian theological practice: “They [the South] maintained that slavery is authorized by Holy Writ, that God created a portion of the human race to be under subjection, and that masters should control their servants. So thought the extreme radicals party of the South, and to maintain this principle, they seceded from the Union.”25
Richardson The religious conviction of the South condoning slavery clearly vexed Weninger due to his devotion to interpreting scripture and the Church’s ambiguity, which he explained as follows: “Catholics have never been told that they must no longer return their slaves, nor required by the Church to dismiss them at once.”26 These mixed signals notwithstanding, Weninger maintained that emancipation should occur as there was no theological confirmation of slavery’s acceptance. Simultaneously, racial ideology over slavery perturbed Weninger and shaped his own observations. Slaves were not dependent individuals who lacked basic survival skills, nor did he interpret them as children within the paternalistic slavery ideology. Weninger acknowledged these traits and argued how resourceful slaves were; ‘There are many intelligent Negroes; thousands of those who provide for themselves.’27 The argument continued by referencing the flaw within the principal slavery argument: “But the principle is wrong, essentially wrong, for if it were true, then any one would be privileged to reduce those of the white race who are not able to care for themselves to a state of subjection.”28 Herein lies the key to Weninger’s black advocacy. Intelligent blacks have the capacity to function within society and with their own parishes; freed slaves could secure a basic education and social standing harnessing their skills and intelligence. The disruption of slave marriages through commerce and physical abuse by white slave owners also offended Weninger. Through his interpretation of marriage, physical separation by commercial means did not dissolve marriages. However, since slave owners saw no legality in slave marriages, this willful separation conflicted with the traditional Catholic institution of marriage. Weninger now saw slavery not only an affront to Christianity, but also to the institution of marriage. He took the matter seriously as he published several texts concerning the integrity of racial marriage within the Catholic Church. Slavery was flawed in both ecclesiastical and racial contexts, making it an unjustifiable, blasphemous institution. If blacks were granted emancipation and received the necessary attention and education, evangelization potential increased and helped establish black parishes. Weninger saw such possibilities and forthcoming events jettisoned his mission work towards the forefront of black evangelization and parish building, causing the Catholic Church to re-examine its stance on slavery; the Civil War. NOT A REPUBLICAN Weninger continued his missions during the war, but his memoirs reflected a growing resentment for its origins and progression. The political scenes in the North caused concern
72 for Weninger, who saw impending difficulties for Catholics serving in the Union Army. Catholic clergy from Northern states put forth their grievances and perspectives on the war. They pointed to slavery as the primary evil and root cause for the war and their concerns varied on the political spectrum. Weninger adopted a unique position in criticizing all factions and stressed a uniform reconciliation proposal.29 Even though Weninger did not identify himself as Republican or a Lincoln supporter, he argued that slavery was the greater moral evil: “…Weninger was convinced that the north was in the right. He blushed on account of the company he was in because of that statement but he consoled himself with the reflection that just because a person agrees with the north does not make him a member of the [R]epublican [P]arty.”30 Slavery created radicals within the South who instigated the secession. Weninger argued that rebellion was unjustifiable and he criticized politicians for mishandling the crisis. Many Catholics still enlisted for the chance to prove themselves as Americans and to remove many of the instilled prejudices that had branded them as un-American.31 As those Catholics enlisted, Weninger further criticized the Republican Party for its anti-Catholic influence of ’48 Germans (those who participated in the 1848 Revolutions and resented Catholicism) and residual members of the Know-Nothing Party. “Of course, all Republicans were not so better; but many, and those most influential, were, and hence the danger which hung over the Church. Even whilst loyal and brave sons of that Church entered the army and shed their blood for the cause, dark threats resounded over the land.”32 Staunchly opposed to Democrats and their support of slavery and Republicans for harboring anti-Catholic dissidents, Weninger restrained himself from directly participating in the political or military conflict. He understood the military aspects and events, but what concerned him was the situation of slavery following the war’s outcome: “The North now has gained victory and after victory, and it seems that the war will not be of long duration, but that does not mean that things will be happily settled. The great question of slavery remains, the issue of which cannot be foretold…If slavery continue, the root of the evil will remain, and sooner or later there will be repetition or all the trouble and discord, for so bitter is each [political] party, and so violently are their passions aroused, that a reconstruction of the former status quo is not to be thought of…the fitness of the negro for any species of labor can never be sufficient grounds for the perpetuity of slavery.”33
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 These concerns were a combination of the well-being of liberated slaves and the public reception of the Catholic Church. Proposals such as slave compensation for owners and African re-settlement did nothing for the well-being of blacks themselves, Weninger believed He overrode these with the idea of national emancipation and atonement: “Should the abolitionists gain their point and slavery cease, should the Union be consolidated upon a new and permanent basis…doubtless there will be grievous trials in store for the Church, but at present she has no reason to fear. Divine Providence in this present juncture watches over her.”34 Weninger assuaged the moral issue over slavery by arguing the need for avoiding the political backlash and simply initiate reconstruction through faithful devotion. He acknowledged the political factor within Church operations and what he saw precipitated the oncoming issue of black evangelization in a post-Civil War country. Slavery had established a version of the U.S. when Weninger arrived, but believed that the Church would serve as a catalyst in creating opportunities for newly liberated peoples to lead religious lives out from underneath bondage.
73 was established to help fund the parish school and to institute the growing need for black evangelization: “I called a meeting of good Catholics and unfolded my plan. This was to form a society under the patronage of Blessed Peter Claver, of one hundred members to begin with. Each was to contribute the sum of one dollar monthly, so that I could depend on 1200 dollars towards the immediate establishment of the St. Ann’s school for boys.”37 Until his death in 1888, Weninger collaborated with bishops, archbishops, and other Jesuits in promoting further causes for black Catholics. Archbishop Purcell and Weninger collaborated extensively in expanding parish schools and addressing parish segregation. Weninger understood that such support was not just an act of charity. He firmly believed that this was the Church’s new mission to fulfill the spiritual mandate of evangelizing blacks. There was spiritual satisfaction in bringing blacks into the Catholic Church. While campaigning for a national collection, Weninger encouraged other Church leaders in supporting similar works. Bishop Augustine Verot of Savannah supported black parishes and schools and his works received significant notoriety.38
ESTABLISHMENT OF ST. ANN’S COLORED CHURCH
Weninger’s work culminated on December 3rd, 1883 when Pope Leo XIII announced a plenary indulgence collection for blacks and Indians in the United States. This obligatory national collection was a milestone for the Church. As blacks increasingly struggled before the Civil War in establishing their own churches, they now received international attention and devotion from the Holy See geared towards their spiritual and practical well-being. Shortly following the success of the national collection’s establishment, Weninger also led the canonization campaign for the Jesuit minster of slaves, Peter Claver. A lifelong devotee of Claver, Weninger submitted two miracles attributed to him and was finally canonized in 1887.39
The most prominent achievement of Weninger’s black advocacy manifests with his financial and ecclesiastical support of the all-black St. Ann’s Colored Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Black Catholics at the time pushed for their own church as they faced segregation and discrimination from all-white congregations in the area.36 Ohio church leaders such as Rev. Walter Hill called for the church’s establishment, but it was Weninger whose zeal spearheaded the campaign and brought St. Ann’s the necessary financial and community support that sustained the church through its early years. Weninger began the St. Ann’s mission in 1866 and he attracted a majority of the congregants. With the church conducting its first service in July 1866, continuing to finance the parish and its connected school was necessary for the parish’s future. Weninger saw the solution that both benefitted the parish and fulfilled his canonization efforts for Peter Claver. The Peter Claver Society
Weninger was the instrument in accomplishing the goals of St. Ann’s Colored Church, but his success faced substantial obstacles. Weninger believed the Church lacked organized efforts for black advocacy. Despite whatever setbacks arose, this dedication exhibited by Weninger expanded his religious zeal and work ethic surrounding black advocacy. These evangelization efforts through Catholic education and parish building had an undeniable benefit for the black community. During the last five years of Weninger’s ministry, St. Ann’s became a home parish for him. He was heavily drawn to the local congregation and clergy and worked regularly with the community. Weninger participated in school activities and classroom lectures, conducted Mass services, and worked diligently to sustain the financial needs of the Peter Claver Society. His dedication to blacks, missionary style, and the Jesuit educational philosophy culminated in his work with St.
Weninger’s missionary work fully expanded into black evangelization and education during Reconstruction. Leading the movement by establishing a national collection for black and Indian Catholic missions, he garnered national reaction: “I encouraged the bishops of the United States, by circulars and in conversation, during the past twenty years, to institute an annual collection in all churches of the United States, in order to procure priests, churches, and schools for Negroes.”35
Richardson Ann’s and the national black collection. Weninger was at the forefront of black evangelization during Reconstruction. However, not all Catholic clergy shared similar visions. CATHOLIC CHURCH’S MISSED OPPORTUNITY Coherent policy concerning liberated slaves was required in order to effectively evangelize these groups, but this opportunity was missed: “…One year after the end of the war, the episcopate of the United States was no longer faced with the moral question of slavery. Rather it was faced with the necessity of working out a policy on the national level for ministry and evangelization of the former slaves. In the end, no coherent policy was forthcoming. This failure is one of the tragedies of American church history.”40 Genuine concern for the welfare of liberated slaves existed with Archbishop Spalding who espoused slavery as a social evil. However, church councils during Reconstruction were not as optimistic about the situation of those liberated. Concerns relating to evangelization and suggestions such as hiring additional missionaries, appointing a national reformer, or work delegations within Southern parishes, represented the broad range of propositions. These approaches reveal what the Church was willing to commit, but lacked completion relating to ideological differences. If archbishops such as Odin of New Orleans, Verot of Savannah, and Kenrick of St. Louis disagreed on their methods, it was clear that divided administration undermined national black evangelization: “In the end the council fathers rejected the notion of an ecclesiastical coordinator or prefect apostolic. In fact, nothing new was created to deal with the situation on a nationwide scale. It was decided that each bishop who had blacks in his diocese should decide what was best and work in concert with others in the provincial synods.” 41 Local action was deemed the most effective manner regarding black evangelization, but more could have been done after seeing what could have been achieved with a national initiative. Weninger progressed with his ministry and black support while acknowledging the Church’s ambivalence: “It is lamentable that, owing to pecuniary inability, so little has been done for the conversion of the Negroes or for the instruction of those who are already within the fold; especially is this the case in regard to the youth who are too often perverted by the Methodists. This would not be so if there were Catholic schools for them to attend.”42
74 Other Jesuit missionaries also embarked on missions to liberated slave communities, including Father Serra and Father Michael Kenny. Additionally, small groups of priests and Jesuits carried out black missionary work, such as the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, leading evangelization work in Arkansas and other southern states in the 1880s. The foundation of the Peter Claver Society was part of a larger lay organization movement taking place in the 1880s. Black evangelization fostered participation in black missionary and parish work, raising their awareness of such issues. These lay organizations grew exponentially and provided much needed community outreach and relief to struggling churches, black churches being a top priority: “…It is accurate to describe the 1880s as a turning point in the history of the American Catholic laity. The closing decades of the nineteenth century witnessed new patterns of lay leadership and activism, not only in the labor unions but also within a whole spectrum of Catholic organizations and movements that sought to meet the spiritual and material needs of the immigrant church.”43 Whether or not Weninger’s work with St. Ann’s triggered exponential growth in conducting missions for liberated slaves, an increasing amount of attention was directed towards this effort in the late 19th century. Weninger had been on the forefront of evangelizing liberated slaves and understood the national accomplishments upon both blacks and the Catholic Church. ANALYSIS Was Father Weninger’s missionary work relevant in impacting the course of the Catholic Church in the United States? Was he impactful from a micro-historical perspective? Historically speaking, Weninger’s actions were influential within the Church in recognizing the need to adopt national policies on liberated slaves. Individual efforts persevered and became mainstream activity. Black Catholics had limited contact with those evangelizing priests, both North and South, because of their socio-economic status that alienated them from mainstream society.44 Serving as spiritual custodians and educators for blacks re-evaluated interpretations of what numerous Catholics saw as the main cause for the Civil War. As slaves were emancipated during the war, the Church gained a responsibility to do proper evangelization. As blacks lacked the proper resources or connections in establishing separate parishes, they required assistance from those who actively engaged with similar groups: missionaries. Weninger’s theological beliefs centered on the equality of men before God. Spirituality, not race, concerned Weninger and what he saw with blacks were people who, if given the proper
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 guidance and tools instead of subjugation, could be responsible, abiding Catholics. Crisscrossing the country on missionary work, evangelizing blacks, conducting Mass service for black congregations, and ministering to slaves during the Civil War emboldened his beliefs and directed his work in Reconstruction. Following the teachings of Peter Claver and starting the Peter Claver Society initiated public recognition and support for teaching Catholicism to blacks. Today, modern groups have adopted similar models and goals for black Catholics. The most visible of these was the Knights of Peter Claver, the largest African-American Catholic organization in the U.S.45 It was Weninger’s hope to see the equal religious treatment of blacks and he accomplished this with collections and the establishment of St. Ann’s parish. The continued debates over the status of liberated slaves were disconcerting to Weninger, who fought anti-Catholic prejudices throughout most of his life. Weninger’s historical importance is found with his direct, personable approach to social and ecclesiastical concerns. As historiography revealed how the Church lacked coherence, organization, and mutual agreement on black evangelization, Weninger worked directly with communities, families, and the dioceses and brought both national and international attention to their struggle. Foremost in Weninger’s mind was his fervent dedication to spreading the doctrine of the Catholic Church during missions. His encounters, observations, and recordings of the country’s social, political, and racial climate revealed to him the importance of black evangelization. His writing and public speaking eloquence were not the only factors contributing towards this goal. Decaying anti-Catholic rhetoric during Reconstruction, dissolution of Know-Nothing political influence, and the Catholic Church’s increasing role in formulating black evangelization efforts created an advantageous environment for not only Father Weninger, but also for other clergy involved with black communities. St. Ann’s parish is an ideal example of Church attitudes on black assistance during Reconstruction because it illustrates the local campaigns leading the way for the spiritual care of those liberated. Personal initiatives by Weninger were instrumental in securing financial support for the parish, resulting in national and papal recognition. Weninger saw the need for caring for the newly liberated from the grass-roots level and understood that real progress occurred through direct involvement. Relief efforts mired by ideological differences and personal opinions stemming from senior levels within the Church hierarchy reflected the national debate over blacks. However, this only constituted disconnect between these debates and the clergy carrying out their own work on the local level. Statements and resolutions from national councils were not reflective of local
75 actions. What historians gain from analyzing Father Weninger’s local work is the knowledge that collaboration and cultivation with liberated slaves occurred through individual connections that were expanded and applied to the national dialogue. Political shifts also favored Weninger and other clergymen. The antebellum period was rife with anti-Catholic sentiment, making it difficult for Church leaders to effectively orchestrate black education and relief efforts and contribute to building black parishes. With both blacks and Catholics experiencing prejudices, national assistance was highly improbable. The dismantling of the Know-Nothing Party and the defeat of the Confederacy changed the Church’s course dramatically. Propaganda promoting the Church as pro-slavery dropped as the Know-Nothing Party lost its political traction and infrastructure. Clergy who participated in black evangelization could now continue their work openly in Northern states with limited anti-Catholic misinformation. Racial violence still occurred, but political coercion perpetuated by a singleplatform party was deteriorating. Although Weninger may have harbored some resentment against the Republican Party for their inclusion of Know-Nothings, their dissolution was a political, social, and moral victory for the Catholic Church. From analyzing Catholic historiography, Father Weninger’s ministry, and his effect on black ecclesiastical work and relief during Reconstruction, what influences did he project within broader historical trends of this time period? Observers gain an understanding of the relationship between national ecclesiastical agendas and social issues of that specific period that are found on both the national and local levels. The social and moral issues that clergy address reflected those occurring during their lifetimes, as they applied their theological doctrine to real-life examples. Weninger witnessed the struggles of emancipated slaves and recognized what was necessary in caring for them spiritually and socially. He saw how they lived, provided for their families, and their relationship to Christianity. All they required were the tools to obtain a secure, Christian life, and Weninger made it a mission to fulfill such achievements. His black advocacy occurs within Reconstruction’s national rebuilding and local black initiatives. The Catholic Church saw the importance of being spiritual custodians to emancipated slaves. Weninger pushed aside ambiguity and indecision that plagued debates amongst senior Church leaders. Whether or not leaders agreed on any united plan for black evangelization, Weninger had his own mission. CONCLUSION Father Francis Weninger evangelized blacks and conducted an almost 40 year mission in a country divided over slavery. Combined with prejudice aimed at his faith, he persevered in
Richardson cultivating local commitments to formulating black parishes, contributing to the national response of assisting newly emancipated slaves. Just as a shepherd guides his flock, Weninger shepherded the emancipated through danger to greener pastures were they flourished. BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Francis X. Weninger Series, 1808-2010, Jesuit Archives— Central United States Branch Woodstock Letters, 1872-1969, Jesuit Archives - Central United States Branch Nativism, The Know-Nothing: And American Crusader, The Anti-Catholic Press, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA. Secondary Anbinder, Tyler. Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings and the Politics of the 1850s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992 Beecher, Lyman, A Plea for the West, Cincinnati: Truman & Smith, 1835 Blied, Benjamin, Catholics and the Civil War, Milwaukee: privately published, 1945 Davis, Cyprian, The History of Black Catholics in the United States. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1990 Deusner, Charles E., “The Know-Nothing Riots in Louisville.” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 61 no. 2 (April 1963): 122-147 Dolan, Jay, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1985 Dolan, Jay, In Search of American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension New York: Oxford University Press, 2002 Dolan, Jay, Catholic Revivalism: The American Experience 1830-1900, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978 Dolan Jay, R. Scott Appleby, Patricia Byrne, Debra Campbell, Transforming Parish Ministry: The Changing Roles of Catholic Clergy, Laity, and Women Religious, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1989 Dunham, Chester Forrester, The Attitude of the Northern Clergy to the South, 1860-1865, Philadelphia: Porcupine Press, 1974 Ellis, John, Tracy. American Catholicism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969 Fabun, Sean, “Catholic Chaplains in the Civil War,” Catholic Historical Review, 99 no. 4, (October 2013): 675-702 Faherty, William Barnaby, The St. Louis German Catholics, St. Louis, MO: Reedy Press, 2004
76 Feagin, Joe, “Black Catholics in the United States: An Exploratory Analysis,” Sociological Analysis, 29 no. 4 (Winter 1986): 186-192 Gottschalk, Peter, American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and the History of Religious Intolerance, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013 Hennesey, James, American Catholics: A History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United States, New York: Oxford University Press, 1981 Lackner, Joseph, “The Foundation of St. Ann’s Parish, 18661870: The African-American Experience in Cincinnati, U.S.” Catholic Historian, 14 no. 2, (Spring 1996): 13-36 Lackner, Joseph, “St. Ann’s Colored Church and School, Cincinnati, the Indian and Negro Collection for the United States, and Reverend Francis Xavier Weninger, S.J.,” Catholic Historian, 7 no. 2 (Spring 1988): 145-156 Luecking, Dave, “Knights of Peter Claver honor their patron saint,” St. Louis Review, September 17 2014 Miller, Randall, Wakelyn, Jon, “The Failed Mission: The Catholic Church and Black Catholics in the Old South”, Catholics in the Old South, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983 Reynolds, Edward, Jesuits for the Negro, New York: America Press, 1949 Valtierra, Angel, Peter Claver, Saint of the Slaves, Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960 END NOTES 1. Cyprian Davis, The History of Black Catholics in the United States (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1993), 131. 2. Jay Dolan, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1985), 359. 3. Joseph Lackner, “The Foundation of St. Ann’s Parish, 18661870: The African-American Experience in Cincinnati, U.S.” Catholic Historian, 14 no. 2, (Spring 1996): 13. 4. Joseph Lackner, “St. Ann’s Colored Church and School, Cincinnati, the Indian and Negro Collection for the United States, and Reverend Francis Xavier Weninger, S.J.,” Catholic Historian, 7 no. 2 (Spring 1988): 145. 5. Lackner, “Foundation of St. Ann’s Parish,” 16. 6. Davis, History of Black Catholics, 88. 7. John Tracy Ellis, American Catholicism, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 91. 8. Peter Gottschalk, American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and the History of Religious Intolerance (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013), 35. 9. The Know-Nothing: And American Crusader (The AntiCatholic Press, 29 July 1854): Primary Reading, Nativism, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA. 10. Tyler Anbinder, Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know-Nothings and the Politics of the 1850s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 45.
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 11. James Hennesey, S.J., American Catholicism: A History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press,1981), 161-2. 12. Edward Reynolds S.J., Jesuits for the Negro (New York: America Press, 1949), 2. 13. Jay Dolan, In Search of American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension (New York, Oxford University Press: New York, 2002), 54. 14. Lyman Beecher, A Plea for the West (New York: Truman & Smith, 1835), 28-9. 15. Jay Dolan, Catholic Revivalism: The American Experience 1830-1900 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978), 72. 16. Weninger Memoir, Francis X. Weninger Series, 1805-2010, Jesuit Archives - Central United States Branch, St. Louis, MO, 109. 17. Weninger Memoir, 46. 18. Charles E. Duesner, “The Know-Nothing Riots in Louisville,” The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 61 no. 2, (April 1963): 122-3. 19. Weninger, 201. 20. Weninger, 202. 21. Reynolds, Jesuits for the Negro, 127. 22. Father Francis Xavier Weninger: A Sketch of His Life and Labors, Woodstock Letters, A Record of Current Events and Historical Notes connected with the Colleges an Missions of the Soc. of Jesus in North and South America, Vol XVIII, Woodstock College, 1889, 52, Woodstock Letters, Jesuit Archives - Central United States Branch, St. Louis, MO. 23. William Faherty, The St. Louis German Catholics (St. Louis: Reedy Press, 2004), 29. 24. Reynolds, 127. 25. Weninger Memoir, 201.
77 26. Ibid, 202. 27. Weninger Memoir, 203. 28. Ibid. 29. Chester Dunham, The Attitude of the Northern Clergy toward the South 1860-1865 (Philadelphia: Porcupine Press, 1942), 238-9. 30. Benjamin Blied, Catholics and the Civil War (Milwaukee, 1945), 129. 31. Sean Fabun, “Catholic Chaplains in the Civil War,” Catholic Historical Review, 99 no. 4 (October 2013): 675. 32. Weninger Memoir, 202. 33. Weninger Memoir, 209-10. 34. Weninger Memoir, 240. 35. Reynolds, Jesuits for the Negro, 128. 36. Lackner, “St. Ann’s Colored Church and School,” 145. 37. Weninger Memoir, 299. 38. Randall Miller et. al., “The Failed Mission: The Catholic Church and Black Catholics in the Old South”, Catholics in the Old South (Mercer University Press: Macon GA, 1983), 169. 39. Angel Valtierra, Peter Claver, Saint of the Slaves (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1960), 306-308. 40. Davis, History of Black Catholics, 116. 41. Davis, History of Black Catholics, 120. 42. Weninger Memoir, 257. 43. Jay Dolan et. al., Transforming Parish Ministry: The Changing Roles of Catholic Clergy, Laity, and Women Religious (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1989), 208. 44. Joe R. Feagin, “Black Catholics in the United States: An Exploratory Analysis,” Sociological Analysis, 29 no. 4 (Winter 1986): 186. 45. Dave Luecking, “Knights of Peter Claver honor their patron saint,” St. Louis Review, September 17 2014, accessed November 10, 2015.
EMPORIA STATE RESEARCH STUDIES
Vol. 52, no. 2, p. 78-84 (2019)
When a frontier Kansas superintendent of schools caused a lynching PAUL D. BLAND,* EDWIN CHURCH, AMANDA LICKTEIG AND MINGCHU NEAL LUO Department of School Leadership/Middle & Secondary Education, Emporia State University, Emporia Kansas, USA * Corresponding author <firstname.lastname@example.org> The article describes the role of the nineteenth-century Kansas frontier superintendent of schools and profiles the life of one such superintendent, John P. Harmon, of Lincoln County, Kansas. The article examines the intersection of Harmon’s life with that of a dangerous killer, Patrick Cleary, who stood trial for the killing of a neighbor. The article describes how Harmon was called to jury duty in Cleary’s trial and how, in the end, Harmon caused Cleary to be lynched. Keywords: Kansas frontier school superintendent, lynching. INTRODUCTION Lincoln County, Kansas started in much the same way as did the other Kansas counties—the hardy first citizens hewed both their homes and their livelihood from the prairie sod. The first permanent structure was erected in Lincoln County in 1865, and that same year the county was officially organized. Between 1865 and 1870, a number of settlers came to Lincoln County. Many of the settlers came as a result of the Homestead Act of 1862, and many were veterans of the Civil War. However, in its early years, Lincoln County was both a difficult and dangerous place to live. In addition to the hardships of survival, many Native American groups travelled through this out-of-the-way north-central Kansas county regularly following the waterways and sought to prevent the settlement of the county. Attacks on the homesteaders were frequent with much loss of life and property until four military blockhouses were built at different locations in Lincoln County in 1869.1 The last nomadic group of Native Americans was seen traveling through Lincoln County in 1880.2 Perhaps rough settlers were as big a threat to the rest of the populace as were the nomadic Native Americans. Although the 1880 census shows a county population of just 8,582, quite a number of violent crimes, murders, robberies and the like had already occurred by then. Prominent settler J.J. Peate said “If you are going to point out the places in Lincoln County where people have been killed, that will be a long job, as violent deaths have occurred on nearly every acre of it.” 3 Additionally, a newspaper editor wrote this about Lincoln County: “A wilder and rougher country does not exist in Kansas. As a typical robbers’ rendezvous in a civilized country it beats the world.”4 Many of the crimes, especially those involving cash such as armed robberies and burglaries, occurred as a result of economic downturns due to drought, insects, and other influences outside of the settlers’ control.5 Some of the violent crimes committed in this rural area were sensational at the time, others were never reported, and many others have been
forgotten over the years, lost in the passage of time and through the absence of records. In spite of the hardship, dangers, and high crime rate, the settlers wanted schools in Lincoln County. The county started its education system in much the same way as did the other Kansas counties—in the homes of its pioneering citizens. But the strong desire for an organized education system soon prompted an election of the first county superintendent of schools, John Lyden, who got the first three school districts off the ground in 1870.6 At that time in history, county superintendents were locally prominent men, many without education expertise, who were elected by voters in each county for a two-year term. These county superintendents often had been successful in their careers in business, ministry, the military, farming, and so forth.7 The purpose of this paper is to examine one of the many violent crimes that occurred in late nineteenth-century rural Lincoln County, Kansas and describe how that event intersected with the life of a well-respected Lincoln County superintendent of schools. It analyzes the juxtaposition of that locally prominent figure with a violent criminal in this midwestern settlement. Neither men are historically significant, but an examination of this incident reveals just how thin the veneer of civilization was in the latter part of nineteenth-century Kansas. T HE
FRONTIER COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT O F SCHOOLS ’
The county superintendent had a number of tasks. He was to organize, identify, and record the district boundaries; assist with revenue production for the district; serve as repository of district funds; serve as arbiter of disputes between districts; supervise eighth-grade examinations; administer and grade teacher exams; grant licenses to teachers; assist with the hiring of teachers; evaluate teachers; and inspect school buildings.8 Once the need for a school district was recognized, the superintendent oversaw the election of three citizens who would
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 serve as a district board of education. The superintendent would identify the district boundaries and assign a district number in chronological order, based on creation date of the district, not on geographical location. At that time, a school district consisted of a single school, which was held in basements or attics of businesses, in homes, in dugouts, and so forth until a schoolhouse could be built.9 It was the obligation of the school board to see to it that the school house was built and provided for.10 Most of the early Lincoln County superintendents took their work seriously regardless of their background and knowledge of education. In her 1908 book A Souvenir History of Lincoln County, Elizabeth Barr lists these short descriptors of the first ten of eleven Lincoln County superintendents: The leading characteristic of each superintendent might be summed up in a single word: Washington, oldest; Wright, handsomest; Harmon, finest presence; Biggs, busiest; Harris, strictest; Allsworth, laziest; Trueman, jolliest; E.D. Smith, most dignified; Lyon, most scholarly; and Stanley, most forceful.11 John P. Harmon, with the “finest presence,” was the fourth county superintendent of schools, and the cause of a lynching, is profiled as a central character in this article.12 LINCOLN COUNTY SETTLER AND SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS JOHN P. HARMON John P. Harmon was born circa 1832 in Pennsylvania; the exact location is unknown.13 His wife was the former America S. Anderson, who was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on June 18, 1837. Her family lived there until 1850, when America moved with her parents to the next county south, which was York County, Pennsylvania, bordering Maryland. John Harmon and America were married in January 1860, in Pennsylvania, and resided there until spring 1864, when they moved to Hagerstown, Maryland. 14 Hagerstown is in the west of Maryland, in the panhandle. In 1872, John Harmon decided to take a trip west to visit a family from Maryland that had settled in Lincoln County, Kansas. That family was the William B. Cheney family, who was becoming prosperous in its new home in the Vesper settlement of Lincoln County. The Cheneys were among the first homesteaders in the area, having arrived in 1871 or 1872.15 The result of Harmon’s trip to see the Cheneys was that he was favorably impressed with what he saw in Kansas. He decided he would return to Maryland, sell out, and move his family to Lincoln County.16 At the time of this move, J. P. and America had three children, all girls. Eula was 13 years old, Ella was 11, and Lalla was 9 years old.17
79 Harmon and his family also settled in the Vesper area of Lincoln County, arriving in 1873. The Vesper community was ten miles west of Lincoln Center, the county seat of Lincoln County. First settlement activities in the Vesper vicinity began in 1869 when the Kansas Pacific Railway was being constructed about seventeen miles south of Vesper. According to oral history, a battle had occurred between Native Americans and some railroad employees in 1868 at Lone Rock, three miles south of Vesper, but any verifying information or details of this event have been lost over the course of time. When settlement started in Vesper, the county filled up rapidly and by 1872 all the land made available to settlers by the government through the Homestead Act of 1862 was taken. By the time Harmon arrived, a post office had been established; however, its location moved around the community to be housed in various homes in the neighborhood for some years until a permanent building could be erected.18 By 1880 Vesper was a thriving community and was described the following way in promotional information: [Vesper] is situated on the Saline river, in Pleasant township, Lincoln Co., 10 miles due west of Lincoln, and 16 northeast of Wilson, the nearest station on the Kansas Pacific Railway. This is an excellent site for mills, abundant water power could be derived from the river, and in addition to this coal of good quality is found within a mile, also magnesian limestone for building purposes. It has a district school, a Presbyterian church, 220 inhabitants, banks at Lincoln, and ships hogs, wheat and cattle. Stages to Lincoln and Wilson, semi-weekly; fares .50 and $1.25.19 Harmon prospered along with the community. He farmed and raised “poultry and fine stock,” and sold real estate. He served as Justice of the Peace, Postmaster, and trustee of the Presbyterian Church.20 Additionally, he served on the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for Lincoln County for 1881-1882.21 Just such a prosperous and prominent man was the kind of man that became a superintendent of schools and Harmon was elected to serve in that capacity from 1874-1876. One of the jobs that Harmon had as county superintendent was to make “surprise” visits to schools. These visits lasted one day, and purpose of the visit was to evaluate the teacher and the school facilities. As might be expected, these visits were called “surprise” visits, because superintendents would not schedule these visits to schools; they would just show up when school was in session. These unannounced visits were more about trying to keep the teachers focused on housekeeping, recordkeeping, sanitation issues, and discipline and less about the quality of instruction.22
Bland, Church, Lickteig and Luo LINCOLN COUNTY: THE WILD WEST Even though Lincoln County was well on the way to being populated, cultivated, and educated, it still had its rough, “wild west” elements. For example, in February 1875, first school superintendent John Lyden was murdered in his house, and his body was thrown into a well. Lyden was a well-known and well-liked rancher, lawman, and veteran. This crime was not discovered for a month and the subsequent murder mystery was never solved. Lyden was known to be fearless and competent with firearms, so it was felt he must have been shot by someone in hiding. An individual suspected of being behind this crime was named Patrick H. “Patsy” or “Pat” Cleary. Cleary lived in the vicinity of Lyden, and was one of the few people who was known to have had quarrelled with him; Cleary was considered to be one of the most undesirable elements in Lincoln County. By all accounts, Cleary was a violent and vindictive man, and had by his own admission killed several people. It was known that Lyden and Cleary were enemies and that Cleary had on one occasion shot and wounded Lyden in the leg at a store operated by a man named Schermerhorn. In the same altercation, Cleary also wounded Schermerhorn and two other men.23 However, no solid evidence that linked Patrick Cleary to John Lyden’s murder was uncovered at the time, or since then.24 PATRICK CLEARY: ONE OF THE WILDEST Pat Cleary was born in Ireland in either 1839 or 1844; records conflict regarding the year.25 He came with his parents and siblings to the United States in the early 1850s. He was a veteran of the U.S. Cavalry, having served in the Civil War in Company C, Regiment.26 The federal census of 1870 shows Cleary to be a 26-year-old farmer and U.S. citizen who owned real estate with a value of $50 and had a personal estate valued at $0, living in Franklin Township of Lincoln County. The same census shows John Lyden, also born in Ireland, to be a 28year-old farmer and U.S. citizen, with a value of real estate of $5,000 and a value of personal estate of $3,000, also living in Franklin Township. It is possible that the bad blood between the two was the result of John Lyden being a respected and somewhat well-to-do Irish-American and Pat Cleary being a loathed, unsuccessful and poor Irish-American. The conflict was ongoing and through the years escalated to the point that it quite possibly resulted in Lyden’s death.27 By the 1885 census, Pat Cleary and his wife Mary had six children. In spite of this, this family man had a lengthy history of violence and trouble making. In addition to his shooting up Schermerhorn’s store, other violent crimes committed by Cleary include shooting into a crowd of people in Lincoln County, and killing a man in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when Cleary felt
80 crowded by him on a sidewalk. In addition, he used a hired man to attempt to frame his brother-in-law, Cornelius Deits, for theft, and it was believed he had also murdered Deits later following an argument. Cleary was also wanted in Arizona for shooting a man. In fact, “there was hardly a neighbor in the Elkhorn Valley [of Lincoln County] that had not had trouble with Cleary at one time or other.”28 CLEARY KILLS HIS NEIGHBOR AND GOES ON TRIAL This kind of trouble had been brewing between Cleary and one of his neighbors, Jesse Turner for more than six years. Then on Tuesday, January 3, 1888, the conflict reached its breaking point when a confrontation occurred between Pat Cleary and Jesse Turner over watering rights at a pond for their livestock. Cleary shot and killed Turner with a .44 caliber snub-nosed pistol called a “Bull Dog.” It happened that a constable named George Greenway who was out getting a wagonload of wood was passing nearby when the instance occurred and he was able to apprehend Cleary. Cleary surrendered himself to Greenway and the two went to Lincoln Center where he was arrested. After the coroner’s inquest, Cleary was charged with murder in the first degree in the killing of Jesse Turner. Cleary was held without bond in the Salina, Kansas jail, about 40 miles from Lincoln Center.29 The trial began on Friday, February 10, 1888, in District Court in Lincoln.30 Cleary entered a plea of not guilty; he based his plea on his assertion that his killing of Turner was in selfdefense. The court needed 12 impartial people to serve on the jury, but as the case was so sensational, most of the citizenry were familiar with some aspect of it. One regular and two special jury lists totalling 86 people were needed to find a jury of 12.31 County attorney Ed F. Coad led the prosecution team and sought to show that Cleary’s killing of Turner “was a premeditated and cold blooded murder.”32 The position of the defense was that the killing was in self-defense, that the bad blood between the two was as much a fault of Turner’s as it was Cleary’s—that Turner had threatened to kill Cleary as often as Cleary had threatened the same of Turner. Both the prosecution and the defense called a number of witnesses; some of these, especially those called by the defense, proved to be less than competent. For example, an individual called by the defense named Rose DeShazer testified to having heard one threat made by Turner that Turner would “blow him [Cleary] full of holes” and another threat where Turner said “he would like to blow Mr. Cleary, for he is a son of a bitch.” On cross examination it was revealed that the witness had only lived in Turner’s neighborhood for one winter and was very hard of hearing; as a result her testimony was discounted.33 Another witness deemed not credible was Henry Prudent, who testified that he had heard Turner threaten Cleary twice:
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 The first [threat] was along about last spring. Mr. Turner came out to the road as I passed; saw a revolver in his pocket. Witness asked Turner what he carried a “pop” for. Turner pulled out the revolver and said, “I calculate Mr. Cleary with that if I can.” He said the trouble between him and Pat Cleary was on account of old grudges. The second threat made by Turner was last fall at my house at a dance. Mr. Turner came with his boys. Turner went out doors, witness followed. In a conversation outside Turner said he came to kill Pat Cleary that night. Witness saw bulge in pocket having appearance of a revolver.34 Under prosecution cross examination, Prudent admitted to having only lived in Lincoln a short time; further, it was discovered that Prudent was a thief. He had stolen a coat and had cut the tails off so it would not be recognized; he was accused of stealing potatoes as well. Prudent claimed to have later paid for the coat and denied stealing potatoes. As a result of these brushes with the law, though, he was deemed to be not a credible witness.35 Both prosecution and defense rested on Thursday afternoon, February 16, 1888, and court adjourned until Friday morning, February 17. Interest in the case had been running high and the courtroom had been filled to overflowing all week. So many people turned out for the final arguments that the trial was moved to a local opera house. By all accounts, the final arguments were impassioned and lasted until Saturday evening, February 18. The case was then given to the jury who deliberated until the following Tuesday. At that time the verdict was announced: Cleary was declared guilty of murder in the second degree. He was sentenced on Saturday, February 25, 1888, to 25 years of hard labor.36
81 newspapers and the judge, a man named Eastland, did not want to repeat the mistakes made in the first trial. Finally enough jurors were found and the proceedings began on Thursday, May 19, 1889. Deliberations continued until Tuesday, May 28, when final arguments began. The case was sent to the jury on Wednesday, May 29; by Thursday it was clear that there was a problem with the jury being able to arrive at a decision. Vote after vote was taken from Thursday, May 30, until the following Monday morning, June 3; all were returned with 11 votes for conviction for first degree murder and one vote for acquittal. At 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 3, the jury was discharged as not being able to agree and a mistrial was declared. Cleary then pleaded guilty to the charge of third degree manslaughter and was immediately sentenced to three years, with credit given for time already served.38 After the mistrial was declared, a huge crowd waited for the jury to appear so that they could learn what happened; understandably, the citizenry was keen to know the reasons that the jury returned the votes in the way it had. It was revealed that juror John P. Harmon had consistently voted for acquittal, thereby causing the mistrial. Another juror, a Mr. Rogers, said that he himself had been approached about “hanging the jury”; in other words, he was asked by a person or persons to continue to vote for acquittal for money, so that the jury would be unable to agree and the trial would be thrown out. He had refused the offer; proof of his refusal was the fact that he had voted to find the defendant guilty. When the mob learned this, it naturally assumed that persons unknown had also approached Harmon to “hang the jury” and that Harmon had agreed to do so, apparently in exchange for money. Thus, in spite of the judge’s attempts to ensure there would be no slipups in the second trial, it turned out to be even more of a fiasco than the first trial.39
THE SECOND TRIAL OF CLEARY AND JOHN HARMON’S ROLE Cleary’s attorneys appealed the decision on six counts and the appeal and consideration of the court’s verdict went to the Kansas Supreme Court. After reviewing the case, the Supreme Court’s decision was a recommendation “that the case be reversed and remanded, with instructions to grant the defendant a new trial.” That decision was based on the following reasons: 1) one of the jurors, Oscar Gorten, was proven to have a preconceived view of Cleary’s guilt; 2) errors occurred in how witnesses were dealt with in crossexamination; and 3) the court at times was not given proper instructions.37 Preparations began for Pat Cleary’s second trial and the court had even greater trouble securing enough jurors than it had for his first trial. As it happened, John Harmon, distinguished Vesper citizen and former superintendent of schools, was selected as a juror for Cleary’s second trial. Deliberations of the first trial had been widely reported in detail in the area
Harmon waited in the courthouse for two hours to avoid the mob; about 8:00 a.m. on Monday, June 3, he tried to slip away. However, the large crowd hanging around on Main Street saw him and moved to confront him to make him answer to their charge of interfering with the jury’s decision to find Cleary guilty. Harmon ducked into A. G. Hardesty’s law office where the crowd badgered him for an explanation for his behavior. The sheriff was able to get him out the rear of the building and back to the courthouse where Harmon remained all day, the crowd boiling in the streets outside.40 About 4:00 p.m. a crowd estimated in size to be between threeand four-hundred people were at the courthouse. Harmon finally explained his reasons to the crowd for voting for acquittal and hanging the jury, but the mob was dissatisfied with his explanation. Harmon “asserted that no one had offered him money or anything to influence his vote in the jury room,” but the crowd did not believe him and badgered him for about two more hours; it was apparent that the crowd was in a foul
Bland, Church, Lickteig and Luo mood and were intent on giving Harmon a beating or hanging him. Luckily for Harmon he escaped the courthouse around 6:00 p.m., made his getaway, and avoided certain physical harm.41 Having heard the accusations of skulduggery in the outcome of the jury’s vote, the Lincoln County Attorney interviewed a number of citizens to learn what he could about this alarming development in the case. Nothing concrete could be learned, except that it was confirmed that “several men” had spread the word that “there would be two or three hundred dollars in it for the man that got on the jury when the case was tried and prevented a verdict of ‘guilty’ from being returned.” It was reported that Pat Cleary’s wife had made statements to the effect that “there was no danger of that jury sending Pat [to the gallows] as one of the jurymen would rot before he would convict Pat.” This and other corroborating statements led County Attorney Ritchie to conclude that a plan to “buy off the jury” had indeed been developed and that the plan had been put into motion as soon as the Kansas Supreme Court had ordered a new trial.42 THE LYNCHING OF PATRICK CLEARY When information about jury tampering became known, the temper of the crowd became even uglier as the evening progressed, and had doubled in size by 9:00 p.m. Sheriff Boyle “saw by the temper of the crowd that was in town all day and by the strange faces that were in the streets in the evening that something serious would be done.”43 When it became clear to the sheriff that the mob intended violence toward Cleary, he and his deputies abandoned the courthouse and Cleary, who was still inside it. The following events took place as soon as the sheriff and his men were gone: Cleary made a break for liberty armed with a hatchet. He ran immediately west through the park and fell at the wire fence on the west side of the park with a bullet in his abdomen. Instantly, upon the report of pistols, dozens of men showed themselves from all directions. A new rope was brought by someone and the crowd then took Cleary south on Third Street, one block thence west to Fourth Street, and south on it to the bridge over the railroad, made the rope fast [around Cleary’s neck and the bridge] and tumbled him off. He was given ample time to make peace with his God—far more than he had given any of his victims when at his mercy. During his talk [on the way to the bridge] he said he had killed three men, and tried to kill two others, but it was done in self-defense. His body was cut down at 7:30, Tuesday morning, and taken to Gragg & Vanfleet’s undertaking rooms, where it was left and turned over to his friends.44
82 The following expresses the feelings of the citizenry about this lynching; there was no remorse at all about what had happened to Cleary: The citizens had simply taken the execution of a law made by themselves out of the hands of those to whom the power had been delegated and proceeded to execute it in a manner satisfactory to their conscience and honest convictions. Had J.P. Harman [sic] and those back of him dealt fairly with this community-not perjured themselves and set at naught the laws of the land and simple justices Pat Cleary would not have been hanged. There is a sense of security resting with a large community in this county to-day that was a stranger to them Monday. They, well knowing the vindictive character of Pat Cleary, and also that if he lived out his time in the pen, of two years and eight months, that their lives would be in jeopardy the moment he returned a free man, their minds are at rest, and the fear that haunted them then is past. The threats he made of riding the Elkhorn Valley some day and clearing it of his enemies, has no more terrors for them, and they feel that terror has been removed; by unlawful and wrong means, no one denies, but that was justifiable under all the circumstances, even the most conservative admit. This action on the part of the people, will be a warning to that element in Lincoln County, who for years have set naught, the laws of the land. Shielded murderers, thieves and cutthroats from their deserts and teach that the time has passed when bribery, coercion, the assassin’s pistol and debauching of courts and jurors can go unpunished. It is a horrible method, but the case required harsh treatment and the dose was administered.45 This passage shows, by the threats Pat Cleary had for years been making, just how violent and vindictive that he was, and how relieved but not penitent the general public was when it was all over with him. It also shows that, had the jury been able to come to a natural verdict without Harmon’s intervention, Cleary would not have been lynched. Apparently Pat Cleary’s relatives declined to bury the body, saying that the people who had taken the trouble to kill Pat should bury his body.46 CONCLUSION: THE JUXTAPOSITION OF “FINEST PRESENCE” AND “VINDICTIVE CHARACTER” The situation describes a quarrelsome, vindictive, and highly dangerous Lincoln County settler—Patrick Cleary—and how he was finally brought to trial after years of violence and troublemaking. It also describes a socially prominent and successful businessman and superintendent of schools, John P. Harmon. It further describes how their paths crossed and
Emporia State Research Studies 52(2), 2019 that intersection of their paths created yet another extremely violent act—the lynching of Cleary—following Cleary’s trial. Several unanswerable questions are raised. First, why did Harmon vote for Cleary’s acquittal—did he truly believe Cleary was not guilty? Were his convictions about Cleary’s innocence so strong that he was willing to go from being a respected and leading citizen to being one derided and despised by many people of Lincoln County and surrounding areas? Harmon denied “hanging” the jury and provided a rationale for his vote to the people—but they rejected it. It is possible that his convictions about Cleary’s innocence were that strong. Or, was his vote of acquittal purchased by the Clearys, as was the allegation? After all, the county attorney found evidence of at least attempted jury tampering. Why would Harmon risk everything he had worked for—his business, the family’s respect, his social standing—to become involved in such a scandalous situation? Did he need $200 to $300 so desperately that he would agree to this arrangement? This seems unlikely. Was he somehow connected closely to the Clearys so that he was a willing participant, or was he coerced by them in some way to vote for acquittal? His motive for his jury vote of “not guilty,” given time-after-time, will never be known. In spite of the controversy, the people of Vesper and other communities in the west side of the county where Harmon lived continued to support him. They never believed he would have acted that way due to influence or bribery.47 The prior actions and accomplishments of this man seem to indicate that he would not have been prone to accepting a bribe under such a sensational circumstances but there is no way to know for sure. With what crime should Patrick Cleary have been charged? Was he guilty of first degree murder? Following the mistrial, he was willing to admit to third degree manslaughter and to accept a less-than-three-year sentence in prison. Was that the correct decision? The people thought not, and would have none of that; they were done with him to the point of lynching him. They recognized that they had executed him by “unlawful and wrong means,” but the people’s fear of Cleary’s return for vengeance and their hatred of him was strong enough that they took the law into their own hands. Patrick Cleary is listed among the wildest and most dangerous of all people of Lincoln County, Kansas. And through fate his violent actions caused not only his own death and but also the near death and certain destruction of the reputation of the county superintendent of schools with the so-called finest presence, John P. Harmon.
83 BIBLIOGRAPHY “America S. Harmon.” 1887. Lincoln County Beacon, June 30. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ ~lincolncounty/obittext1887.htm Barr, Elizabeth. A Souvenir History of Lincoln County, Kansas. Topeka, KS: Farmer Job Office, 1908. Biggs, A.T. “Lincoln County.” In Columbian History of Education in Kansas,149-151. Topeka, KS: State Historical Society, 1891. Block, Dorothy. 1976. “Vesper Community History.” Lincoln (KS) Sentinel. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb. ancestry.com/~lincolncounty/vesper.htm Criqui, Orvel. Fifty Fearless Men: The Forsythe Scouts and Beecher Island. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing, 1993. “Death of Jesse Turner, The.” Newspaper exerpts. Lincoln, KS: Lincoln Republican, 1888-1889. The Kansas Collection, articles. https://www.kancoll.org/articles/ pturner/t_lincol.htm “Death of Jesse Turner: Appeal of the Cleary case, The.” (1888). Lincoln (KS) Republican. http://www.kancoll.org/articles/ pturner/t_court.htm Homan, Dorothy. Lincoln—that county in Kansas. Lindsborg, KS: Barbos Printing, 1979. Kansas. Lincoln County. 1870 U.S. Census, population schedule. Digital Images. October 10, 2017. http:// f r e e p a g e s . g e n e a l o g y. r o o t s w e b . a n c e s t r y. c o m / ~lincolncounty/1870home.htm Kansas. Lincoln County. 1875 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital Images. October 10, 2017. http:// f r e e p a g e s . g e n e a l o g y. r o o t s w e b . a n c e s t r y. c o m / ~lincolncounty/1875Kansas.htm Kansas. Lincoln County. 1885 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital Images. October 10, 2017. http:// f r e e p a g e s . g e n e a l o g y. r o o t s w e b . a n c e s t r y. c o m / ~lincolncounty/lincci.htm “Lincoln County Directories.” In Kansas State Gazetteer and Directory, 1880. http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kslinchp/ directories/1880gazetteer.html McMullen, Thelma. 1940. “Builders: Cheney-Lewis Families.” Lincoln (KS) Sentinel, February 22. http:// f r e e p a g e s . g e n e a l o g y. r o o t s w e b . a n c e s t r y. c o m / ~lincolncounty/cheney.htm Quarterly Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. Topeka: Kansas Publishing House 1882. Samuelson, Bill. One Room Country Schools of Kansas. Emporia, KS: Jones Institute for Educational Excellence, 2000.
Bland, Church, Lickteig and Luo END NOTES 1. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 50. 2. Barr, Souvenir History of Lincoln County, 42. 3. Barr, Souvenir History of Lincoln County, 55. 4. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 143. 5. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 140. 6. Barr, Souvenir History of Lincoln County, 97. 7. Samuelson, One Room County Schools, 31. 8. Samuelson, One Room County Schools, 31. 9. Samuelson, One Room County Schools, 30. 10. Samuelson, One Room County Schools, 34. 11. Barr, Souvenir History of Lincoln County, 98. 12. Biggs, “Lincoln County,”1. 13. Lincoln County Census of 1875, 9. 14. “America S. Harmon” Obituary, Lincoln County Beacon, par. 18. 15. McMullen, “Builders: Cheney-Lewis Families,” par. 7. 16. McMullen, “Builders: Cheney-Lewis Families,” par. 39. 17. See note 13 above. 18. Block, “Vesper Community History,” par. 2. 19. “Lincoln County Directories,” par. 22. 20. See note 19 above. 21. Quarterly Report of Agriculture, 99. 22. See note 8 above. 23. Criqui, Fifty Fearless Men, 140.
84 24. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 124. 25. Lincoln County Census of 1870, 4A and Lincoln County Census of 1875, 4. 26. Lincoln County Census of 1885, 10. 27. See note 25 above. 28. See note 24 above. 29. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 117. 30. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 118. 31. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 10. 32. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 14. 33. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 34. 34. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 30. 35. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 31. 36. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 120. 37. “The Death of Jesse Turner: Appeal of the Cleary Case” par. 4. 38. Homan, Lincoln—That County in Kansas, 121. 39. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 68. 40. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 74. 41. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 75. 42. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 76. 43. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 68. 44. See note 41 above. 45. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 77. 46. “The Death of Jesse Turner,” par. 78. 47. Barr, Souvenir History of Lincoln County, 126.
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Editorial change for ESRS CONNIE PHELPS1 AND JAMES S. ABER2 1. The Teachers College, Emporia State University <email@example.com> 2. Department of Physical Sciences, Emporia State University <firstname.lastname@example.org> The time for a change has come to Emporia State Research Studies. Volume 52 completes the co-editorship of Connie Phelps and James S. Aber. Phelps began as peer-review editor in 2011 with volume 47, issue 2. During the past eight years she has overseen the review and revision process for more than 25 articles in eight issues, including two special issues for Emporia State Universityâ€™s sesquicentennial (49/1) and on bullying (52/1). Aber teamed with Mel Storm to revive ESRS as an open-access, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal beginning in 2006 with volume 43. He has served as technical editor and webmaster for preparation and final publication of online articles. He oversaw
the production of ten volumes including more than 50 articles and 490 pages. Phelps and Aber have enjoyed our service for ESRS and the greater community of scholarship at Emporia State University and elsewhere. Continuing co-editor Michael Smith (email@example.com) and new co-editor Katherine Oâ€™Meara (firstname.lastname@example.org) will take over full responsibility for volume 53 and beyond. As with any new leadership, some changes are likely for ESRS in the future. Nonetheless, the open-access, online philosophy will be maintained. New manuscripts are solicited for original scholarly and scientific works and original creative works accompanied by critical or scholarly analysis.
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ESRS reviewers from 2015-2019 CONNIE PHELPS,1 JAMES S. ABER2 AND MICHAEL SMITH3 1. The Teachers College, Emporia State University <email@example.com> 2. Department of Physical Sciences, Emporia State University <firstname.lastname@example.org> 3. Department of Social Sciences, Emporia State University <email@example.com> Emporia State Research Studies is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal. ESRS is an eclectic journal that publishes original scholarly and scientific works and original creative works accompanied by critical or scholarly analysis. We rely on content experts to provide peer review of manuscripts in diverse areas of specialization. These peer reviewers come from the faculty and staff at Emporia State University as well as other universities, research institutions, and professional settings. Twenty individuals have contributed their time and talent for peer reviewing manuscripts submitted for volumes 51 and 52 during the past five years. James S. Aber** Evandro Camara* Kalyan Chakraborty* Elizabeth Dobler* Mirah Dow* David Edds* Sonja Ezell Sheryl Lidzy Chris Lovett Jeff Muldoon* Dillon Oâ€™Keefe Loren Pennington
Connie Phelps** Jon Phelps-Leach Michael Smith** Stacy Smith Terri Summey* Diane Taveggia Tennley Vik George Yancey* *ESRS Editorial Board **ESRS Co-editor