This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Teachers’ Perceptions of Student Defenders of Bullied Peers: Associations with Defenders’ Race and Gender, and the Classroom Racial Composition




Christensen, Karl

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Human Development and Family Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



This thesis examined whether children’s defending of bullied peers predicts changes in teachers' reports of students' prosocial and aggressive behavior and whether those associations are moderated by children’s gender and race and the racial make-up of the classroom. Data were collected from 4th and 5th-graders (N= 1,404, 19.0% Black girls, 20.9% Black boys, 30.0% White girls, 31.1% White boys) at three intervals during the school year. Stable differences in teachers’ perceptions were found as a function of children’s gender, race, and defending. Defending predicted increases in teacher-ratings of prosocial behavior and decreases in teachers-ratings of aggression only for White children, although findings depended on the racial makeup of the classroom. Changes in teachers’ perceptions of Black children were predicted by the racial makeup of the classroom. These findings suggest that defending is associated with being perceived positively by the teacher, but those perceptions remain subject to enduring biases