School structure, bullying by teachers, moral disengagement, and students’ aggression: A mediation model
Aim: Understanding interrelations between the factors predicting students’
aggressive behavior is a priority for bullying-prevention programs. Our study
explores two possible mechanisms linking school disciplinary structure and
students’ aggression. We test students’ moral disengagement and bullying
by teachers as mediational pathways from school authoritative discipline to
students’ aggressive behavior.
Methods: We used a regionally representative sample of 213 schools that
participated in a school climate survey in Kaluga Oblast (a federal subject of
Russia) in 2019. The analytical sample contained the anonymous responses of
16,809 students from grades 6–9 (12–15 years old); 51% of the respondents
were girls. The analytical procedure consisted of structural equation modeling
(SEM), which was implemented in Mplus 8.7.
Results: The mediation model fit the data well, suggesting that the clarity and
fairness of school rules negatively predicted peer aggression, while student
moral disengagement and bullying by teachers independently and partially
mediated this association.
Conclusion: We confirm that authoritative school climate, characterized by a
clear and fair disciplinary structure, is associated with a decrease in bullying.
Novel result is the evidence for mediating mechanisms and the influence of
teachers’ aggression on students’ behavior. Prevention programs designed to
increase the fairness and consistency of school rules, eliminate bullying and
humiliation from teachers, and decrease students’ moral disengagement may
reduce violence and victimization at school.