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Consortium for Research onEducational Access,Transitions and EquityBullying and School Attendance:A Case Study of Senior High School Studentsin GhanaMáiréad DunneCynthia Bosumtwi-SamRicardo SabatesAndrew OwusuCREATE PATHWAYS TO ACCESSResearch Monograph No. 41July 2010University of SussexCentre for International Education

The Consortium for Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE) is a Research ProgrammeConsortium supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Its purpose is to undertakeresearch designed to improve access to basic education in developing countries. It seeks to achieve this throughgenerating new knowledge and encouraging its application through effective communication and disseminationto national and international development agencies, national governments, education and developmentprofessionals, non-government organisations and other interested stakeholders.Access to basic education lies at the heart of development. Lack of educational access, and securely acquiredknowledge and skill, is both a part of the definition of poverty, and a means for its diminution. Sustained accessto meaningful learning that has value is critical to long term improvements in productivity, the reduction ofinter-generational cycles of poverty, demographic transition, preventive health care, the empowerment ofwomen, and reductions in inequality.The CREATE partnersCREATE is developing its research collaboratively with partners in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Thelead partner of CREATE is the Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex. The partners are:The Centre for International Education, University of Sussex: Professor Keith M Lewin (Director)The Institute of Education and Development, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh: Dr Manzoor AhmedThe National University of Educational Planning and Administration, Delhi, India: Professor R GovindaThe Education Policy Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa: Dr Shireen MotalaThe Universities of Education at Winneba and Cape Coast, Ghana: Professor Jerome Djangmah,Professor Joseph Ghartey AmpiahThe Institute of Education, University of London: Professor Angela W LittleDisclaimerThe research on which this paper is based was commissioned by the Consortium for Research on EducationalAccess, Transitions and Equity (CREATE http://www.create-rpc.org). CREATE is funded by the UKDepartment for International Development (DFID) for the benefit of developing countries and is coordinatedfrom the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex. The views expressed are those of theauthor(s) and not necessarily those of DFID, the University of Sussex, or the CREATE Team. Authors areresponsible for ensuring that any content cited is appropriately referenced and acknowledged, and that copyrightlaws are respected. CREATE papers are peer reviewed and approved according to academic conventions.Permission will be granted to reproduce research monographs on request to the Director of CREATE providingthere is no commercial benefit. Responsibility for the content of the final publication remains with authors andthe relevant Partner Institutions.Copyright CREATE 2010ISBN: 0-901881-48-1Address for correspondence:CREATE, Centre for International Education, Department of EducationSchool of Education & Social WorkEssex House, University of Sussex, Falmer BN1 9QQ, United KingdomTel: 44 (0) 1273 877984Fax: 44 (0) 1273 877534Author email:mairead.dunne@sussex.ac.uk / cindysam06@yahoo.co.ukr.sabates@sussex.ac.uk / .orgEmailcreate@sussex.ac.ukPlease contact CREATE using the details above if you require a hard copy of this publication.

Bullying and School Attendance:A Case Study of Senior High School Studentsin GhanaMáiréad DunneCynthia Bosumtwi-SamRicardo SabatesAndrew OwusuCREATE PATHWAYS TO ACCESSResearch Monograph No 41July 2010


ContentsPreface.viSummary .vii1. Introduction.11.1 Background .21.2 The Ghanaian Context .42. Methodology and Data.72.1 Measures .72.2 Estimation method and hypothesis testing.93. Results.113.1 Bullying (frequency and type) and school absenteeism .113.2 Bullying and school absenteeism: Emotional problems and friend support.134. Conclusions.19References.21List of TablesTable 1: Proportion of school absenteeism by bullying and gender.8Table 2: Ordered logit odd ratios [standard errors] estimates of school attendance in SHS inGhana by gender .12Table 3: Ordered logit odd ratios [standard errors] estimates of school attendance in SHS inGhana by gender: frequency of bullying, emotional problems and friends.13Table 4: Ordered logit odd ratios [standard errors] estimates of school attendance in SHS inGhana by gender: type of bullying, emotional problems and friends.16List of FiguresFigure 1: Predicted probability of school absenteeism for girls in SHS with friends.15Figure 2: Predicted probability of school absenteeism for boys and girls in SHS by type ofbullying and friend support.17iii

List of AcronymsAIDS- Acquired Immune Deficiency SyndromeBBC- British Broadcasting CorporationBECE- Basic Education Certificate ExaminationCDC- Centres for Disease Control and PreventionCRC- Convention on the Rights of the ChildCREATE- Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and EquityDFID- Department for International EducationEFA- Education for AllGES- Ghana Education ServiceGET- Ghana Educational TrustGER- Gross Enrolment RatioGSHS- Global School-based Student Health SurveyHBSC- Health Behaviour in School-Aged ChildrenHIV- Human Immunodeficiency VirusJSS- Junior Secondary SchoolMDG-Millennium Development GoalMoE- Ministry of EducationNER- Net Enrolment RatioSS- Senior SecondarySSS- Senior Secondary SchoolUK- United KingdomUPE- Universal Primary EducationUS- United StatesUN- United NationsUNESCO- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural OrganisationUNICEF- United Nations Children’s FundWHO- World Health Organisationiv

AcknowledgementsThis article is based on the 2008 Ghana Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS)and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the persons and organisations thatcontributed to the successful execution of the 2008 Ghana GSHS. This was jointly funded byMiddle Tennessee State University, Ghana Education Service (GES) and the World HealthOrganisation (WHO). Additional financial contribution was provided by Captain P.N. Tsakosthrough the Maria Tsakos Foundation in Athens, Greece. Technical assistance was providedby the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are also gratefulto the management of the Ghana Education Service Headquarters, all regional and districtdirectors of Ghana Education Service as well as the heads and teachers of the schools thatparticipated in the survey.An earlier version of this paper was produced by Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam as part of herdissertation to achieve a MA in International Education and Development during 2009. Weare grateful to Sarah Humphreys for her comments and suggestions for improving this paper.v

PrefaceThis research monograph adds a dimension to the analysis of access to education in Ghana byexploring some aspects of bullying on attendance. Sustaining high levels of access toeducation requires understanding of both the supply and demand for education. Supply sideissues (e.g. building classrooms, providing teachers and learning materials) are often betterunderstood than some demand side issues (e.g. relevance of curricula and pedagogy tochildren’s life world, motivation and sense of self worth and value). Issues concerned withsafety, self esteem, peer support, and violence and bullying all influence demand and may bereflected in poor attendance and achievement.Data from the 2008 Ghana Global School-based Student Health Survey are used to explorehow attendance varies with self reported amounts of bullying at school. The analysis revealssurprisingly high levels of reported bullying and differences between girls and boys both inthe incidence and responses to self reported bullying. Often the patterns are not simple toexplain and involve interactions with emotional security and other characteristics ofindividuals. These invite follow up work to understand the dynamics of the social psychologythe interactions between girls, between boys, between girls and boys, and between childrenand adults. All these shape motivation and may lead to circumstances that result in absenceand an increased likelihood of drop out.The paper therefore opens a door on issues that are expressed at the individual, classroom andschool level that are likely to affect access broadly defined, and which may well influence thepatterns of demand for schoolings, particularly amongst boys and girls most likely to bebullied. A reality needs to be made of the “child friendly” schools that UNICEF promotes.The “child seeking” schools that CREATE has argued for need to embrace the idea thatsustained and universal access requires actions on both the supply and demand side thatrecognises push factors that may undermine motivation and self esteem in schoolenvironments that should be safe and supportive.Keith LewinDirector of CREATECentre for International EducationUniversity of Sussexvi

SummaryThis paper focuses on senior high school students and the ways that bullying affects theirschool attendance. Selected items from the 2008 Ghana Global School-based Student HealthSurvey are analysed first to explore the relationships between the duration and type ofbullying and school attendance. Second, we investigate whether having emotional problems,in addition to being bullied, incrementally affects the relationship between bullying andschool attendance. Third, we explore the mitigating influence of peer friendships on theserelationships. In all cases we provide a gender analysis.The results show that bullying is associated with increased absenteeism for both boys andgirls. The analysis of reported emotional problems, however, shows distinct genderdifferences. For boys, increases in emotional problems are not associated with increasedabsenteeism for those who are bullied. On the other hand, for girls emotional problems werestrongly associated with absenteeism and more so for girls who had not reported beingbullied. The third strand of our analysis also showed gender differences in which absenteeismassociated with bullying was mitigated by the support of friends for boys but not to the samedegree for girls, especially those girls who had reported being psychologically bullied.In addition to the threat to school access caused by bullying, the gender dimensions of thelatter two sets of findings suggest a school environment in which peer friendship andemotional well-being are intertwined in complex ways. While there is little or no researchwithin the Ghanaian context, supported by research from elsewhere, we suggest that peerfriendships for girls may be comprised of more non-physical, social and verbal interactionwithin which it might be more difficult to pinpoint bullying. That peer interactions mightinclude a mixture of support and bullying could explain why there is a strong influence ongirls’ emotional well-being and hence their school attendance.vii


Bullying and School Attendance: A Case Study of Senior High SchoolStudents in Ghana1. IntroductionPhysical and psychological bullying are prevalent in many schools. The global extent ofbullying has been explicitly acknowledged in the international declarations and treatiesdirected at protecting children (and also adults) from all forms of violence. These include theUnited Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child; World Health Organisation(1999) Violence Prevention: An Important Element of a Health Promoting School; UnitedNations (1994) Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; UNICEF (n.d.)Child Friendly Schools.In the face of the international mandate for safe learning environments, the reality for manyschool students is quite different. Many experience bullying and many other forms ofviolence on a day-to-day basis within school (see for example, Leach and Mitchell, 2006,Dunne, 2007). Bullying, aggression and other forms of violence in schools can blight studentexperiences of formal education and their abilities to make the best of the opportunities theyhave (Commission on Children and Violence, 1995; Department for Children, Schools andFamilies, 2007; United Nations, 2005). More specifically, violence against students mayresult in higher levels of absenteeism (Rigby and Slee, 1993), greater truancy (Cullingfordand Morrison, 1996; Green, 2006) and increased likelihood of drop out (Leach and Mitchell,2006) which are described by Lewin (2007) as forms of silent exclusion from school, all ofwhich contribute to less effective learning. Levels of absenteeism have been shown toincrease with the severity of victimisation which in turn has been related to depression,anxiety, sadness, loneliness and general low self-esteem (Bond, et al., 2001; Rigby, 2003).Prompted by earlier qualitative case study research in Ghanaian schools (Dunne et al., 2005),in this paper we use survey data to investigate how being bullied influences sustained schoolaccess. Our focus on attendance or absenteeism draws parallels to CREATE zone ofexclusion 3 (for primary education) and 6 (for secondary education) which describe studentsat risk of dropping out from schools. In this case, our exploration concerns the ways thatbeing bullied is linked to a cycle of ‘silent’ exclusion – low attendance, low attainment and atrisk of dropping out (Lewin, 2007). While our main analysis refers to survey data collectedfrom over 7,000 students in senior high schools, an important feature of this paper is the waywe have drawn previous findings from qualitative case study research into our discussion.The paper has three main analytical threads. First, we explore the relationship between theduration and type of bullying and school attendance. Second, we investigate whether havingemotional problems, in addition to being bullied, incrementally affects the relationshipbetween bullying and school attendance. Third, we explore the mitigating influence of peerfriendships on these relationships by asking, are friends able to counterbalance the impactthat bullying has on school attendance? Can supportive friends ameliorate the negativeemotional impacts on young students and increase the likelihood of school attendance?Throughout, our use of a gender disaggregated nationally representative youth sample alsoallows us to explore the gender dimensions.The paper develops in the next section as we locate our analyses within the evolvingliterature on violence in schools and in particular on cases of bullying in schools. Following1

Bullying and School Attendance: A case study of Senior High School Students in Ghanathis we focus on the Ghanaian context in advance of a detailed description of our methodsand approach to the quantitative analyses. Then we present the results for each of threeanalytical threads that frame the study as described in the preceding paragraph. In theconcluding section we discuss some of the implications and refer to the wider literature tosuggest spaces for further research.1.1 BackgroundViolence occurs in every country of the world and cuts across class, education, income, ageand ethnicity, it is manifestly multi-dimensional, culturally defined and context specific(Furlong and Morrison, 2000; Leach and Humphreys, 2007). Violence against children hasbeen widely documented and sadly it occurs in places where they should be the mostprotected, that is, in their homes, foster institutions and schools (UN, 2005). Researchindicates that violence may be perpetrated by teachers, other staff and school mates onchildren through corporal punishment, other forms of punishment, sexual aggression andbullying (Leach, et al., 2003; Dunne et al., 2005; Leach and Mitchell, 2006, UN, 2005).While violence may be carried out by people outside these contexts, our specific interest hereis about bullying in school as a form of violence carried out by both by teachers on studentsand students on their peers (Olweus, 1993; Rigby, 2003).There is no universally accepted definition of violence but the WHO’s Information Series onSchool Health: Document Three, provides the following description:Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual,against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in,or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, death, psychological harm, illdevelopment, or deprivation (WHO, 1999:2).While the distinctions in the above definition might be arguable and overlapping, our mainconcerns in this paper are with violence against ‘another person’, in particular being bulliedby ones’ peers. Our primary focus is on interpersonal events in schools that might encompassintentional acts of physical bullying, as well as physiological bullying such as name calling,harassment and other forms of verbal abuse.Interpersonal violence in schools has many forms and bullying is the most common (Olweus,1999; WHO, 1999; and Rigby, 2003). It has been categorised as aggression or aggressivebehaviour (Peets and Kikas, 2006) that is perpetrated by a more powerful person or group ona weaker person (Smith and Brain, 2000). Some researchers reserve definitions of bullyingfor repeated acts of aggression (Roland and Munthe, 1989; Whitney and Smith, 1993;Olweus, 1994; Smith and Sharp, 1994; Craig, 1998), but we prefer the definition provided byAskew who describes bullying as a “continuum of behaviour, which involves varying degreesof attempt to gain power and dominance over another” (Askew, 1999:61). This definitionencompasses a broader range of intensity in interpersonal bullying that captures single as wellas sustained, long term acts of aggression, as well as physical and psychological forms ofbullying.In its more overt forms bullying includes physical assault or verbal abuse, although it mightalso be more covert and indirect, carried out through relational manipulation or socialexclusion including newer forms of cyber-bullying via

The Universities of Education at Winneba and Cape Coast, Ghana: Professor Jerome Djangmah, Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah The Institute of Education, University of London: Professor Angela W Little Disclaimer The research on which this paper is based was commissioned by the Consortium for Research on Educational

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