"I Am Not Scared" Project
“Searching for solutions”
Sonia is a 13 year-old Guinean girl that came to Spain two years ago, when she started her studies on ESO. Since first degree she has very few friends due to her shyness and. Besides she use to be the butt of the rest’s jokes, as they call her “conguito”, “coal”, “waste”. Lorena, the leader of the class is who began with the aggressions: she made fun of her, ridiculed her in front of the classmates, threatened her, pulled her hair and anything that came to her mind.
Faced with this attacks she just put her head down in order to avoid the situation to carry on. Moreover, teachers didn’t notice it because everything happened when they were out: on recess, in the restroom, at the exit of the school center… Two months ago, Sonia couldn’t take it any longer and told her mother. She went to talk to the tutor. The tutor was so surprised because she didn’t notice anything, but she undertook to be more aware of it, informing the staff and taking steps about it giving talks to the students.
Anfortunately, this measures only aggravated the situation because her classmates added “telltale” to the usual insults. Since then Sonia is skipping classes when she knows they are going to work in groups, as it happens in physical education.
Despite she had to learn spanish, last year she got good grades, but since she stopped attending classes her grades got worse. Her mother went to the school again to talk to the director, who made light of it saying that it’s “kids’ stuff”.
Sonia didn’t go to the school again, she said she wanted to die and she had rather stayed in Guinea where she was really happy. The issue was transferred to the Delegación de Educación, were it was decided to relocate Sonia to a different school. In the mean time Lorena keeps picking on whoever she wants.
Regarding the strategies used by the responsibles of the case in order to react to this peer maltreatment situation. Students think that classmates didn’t do anything to defend Sonia, all of them came together against her. They stayed on Lorena’s side, the leader of the class, as she has the control and therefore everybody imitates her in order not to make her an enemy or because they think this way they will be accepted. Teachers say they don’t know anything, the tutor of the current course gave talks to the students with negative consequences. Others think a meeting with the family was arranged, staff was informed and tutoring measures. The director thinks nothing was done but just making light of it and setting at ease. Family thinks the teachers have washed their hands of it. The stuff should have tackled the issue. They should have punished the tutor. They should have had a meeting the day Sonia was absent and send the aggressor home.
Students, family, teachers, director and councellor think that this situation has an influence on the learning-teaching process in the class and there is a consensus about the consequences triggered, althought there are afew students who disagree. These think that teachers don’t teach you to harass, but to learn. Who agree aim that the academic level, the attention in class and the time spent to study decrease when one is discriminated. The aggressor won’t stop if he/she is not aware of how serious bullying is. Therefore, it’s needfull to make the students aware of this problem and punish the aggressors.
Bullying will always exist if the respect between classmates is not taught in class. Teachers think it makes an influence not only on students, but also on teachers and the school-family relationships. Parents think that the student behavior affects everything. The victim delays his/her learning due to the lack of freedom expressing his/herself fearing his/her classmates to censore him/her. The counsellor says a bad climate affects all classmates’ educative processes.
Regarding whether or not the situation affects the motivation of the students (interest, effort), participants think it does indeed: it’s determinant for motivation as the victim gets discouraged and grades and high school don’t matter anymore…, because he/she feel humiliated and offended, so encouraging is not worth it and getting good grades would increase insults.
Psychological damages caused to this girl go beyond what purely means school. Good climate is basic for student motivation. The director of the school thinks maybe it doesn’t affect student motivation for studying, but it does make an influence on the class environment and definitively on global education of each one of them. Parents think that if Sonia is inhibited, then she doesn’t act with freedom. A bad environmental created by this kind of situation would affect the majority of the classmates
What may happen with student results. Students think they will be more distracted in class that they’ll feel carelessness towards teachers, that they would join together against a… They can be afraid of being the next victim. Others think it mainly affect academic results of the victim, decreasing.
It doesn’t affect the aggressor and the rest of the students. Teachers understand the situation affects the general participation of the students of the center, knowing this kind of situation take place and there is neither a commitment from the school or a protocol or a previous performance which establishes the appropriate way of solving peer problems.
We can’t generalize, but there will be students who will become possible aggressors, other who feel fear to be involved in the same situation as the victim. What usually happens is that the students from these two groups will see their grades to decrease and their stay in the school won’t be nice at all.
The director doesn’t know how it would affect academic results but it will surely impair them as persons. Some of them would prefer to be passive in order not to suffer the aggressions, others would see it as something normal and some others would confirm their racist and aggressive tendencies.
Parents think it may culminate in the origin of ghettos. The counselor thinks that when a situation like the above mentioned takes place it will negatively affect the aggressor and victim performances. It would happen the same way for the rest of the students, as it is a disturbance event, lack of concentration for the studies, anxiety
Regarding possible school integration problems that may occur. All participants think that integration problems will take place because Sonia will not be able to make friends as everybody label her as something. Many times they don’t know how to react. The problem would spread all along the other students even though they are in different classes. The rest of the students wouldn’t feel like joining her as she is a dropout and they don’t want to be as well. The bully and the rest shouldn’t have problems at all. Maybe the only problem of the aggressor is that he has no real friends, but fear-friends, although he normally is popular.
Integration problems occur because no previous tutoring work or a during-year work has been made and the work made after finding out the situation through her mother it only deteriorates the problem (talks to the students). The bullying has had negative consequences only for the victim as a final result, although coming to think of it also had negative effects for the direct and indirect aggressors as they keep on showing a lack of sensitivity, social skills and empathy towards the weaker ones in the group. To sum up they need of a humanizing process. If they don’t see it as a problem, they would repeat that behavior in other situations.
Failure to comply with the norms of the school center implies an integration difficulty.
Regarding the influence the situation of bullying can exert on the behavior on society, everybody thinks it affects: Students think they will be more aggressive, less friendly, narrow-minded and won’t treat the society properly in general and even less do to immigrants or people from a minority group or religion.
It will affect their raising styles in the future. The bully will always want to be over the rest, to be the leader by means of bullying and ostracizing others. The victim will not have confidence and will be more vulnerable to bullying. Bystanders won’t react when they experience similar situations. There is one student who thinks it won’t affect adulthood because adults can distinguish between right and wrong.
Teachers say they are going through a social problem for whose resolution no resources have been used, and the majority are acting as mere inactive observers. Even the director is making light of it and doesn’t provide the means to make a serious analysis of the situation. The problem carries on in the school although the decision of the Delegation, as now the victim will be another boy or girl. They will have lost the possibility of educating with the values and that’s something that is transmitted until adulthood. Parents think it may mark them for the rest of their lifes. Maltreatment is blight on society while a person’s life. Psychological treatment is critical for improvements. Counselor says after all this aggressive behavior is a source of learning for students.
Regarding how it affect school climate. Students think that the environment would be tenser and it would be harder for everyone. An environment of insecurity and fear will be created since you may think someone is going to offend you and you have to live with that fear every day. Teachers say it does interfere in school climate. There is a lack of healthy freedom of expression. Bullying situations may take place anytime, anyhow, but the girl leaving the center means a failure of the school. The director think it can go totally unnoticed without any school climate disturbance, but what regularly happens it that this kind of attitudes come to light sooner or later. Even if it’s solely racism it may not affect peer relationships unless another boy/girl of another race come to the school center. But it always stands the idea that violence sometimes is justified. Thus, it’s odd that feelings of inclusion, democracy and solidarity appear in that class climate.
Parents point out that it affect it all. Violence in the centers make an influence on student behavior and all activities carried out. Counsellor thinks bullyin situations threaten inclusions of certain social, democratic and sure groups.
His/her thoughts regarding the reasons why he/she is being attacked. Classmates think the victim would keep it in silence, as he has no friend to tell. They don’t find it convincing, with no truly reason but just the color of her skin, where she is from… She might also be afraid but they would have told their parents when it happened because this became bigger and bigger since Sonia didn’t tell anyone.
The victim would feel pretty bad because she can’t escape from being the target of classmates laughing at her and she couldn’t focus on studies. At the beginning wouldn’t tell anyone as she would feel fear her classmates to laugh at her. She told her mother. Anyway the victim is often is bullied without an important reason, only for having fun and usually the victim doesn’t know why he/she is being attacked. Many times she tells a friend (if he/she has any) or his/her parents that are the ones who’ll tell the school.
Regarding the help the victim thinks it would be suitable: The best help is trying to become friend of the whole class. First with reduced groups and then integrate with the class it all. This way the bullying situation would end. Telling the director of the school would be another solution and take shelter in someone older as his brother or older friends. The victim would like to move to another center because she wouldn’t be comfortable.
The best solution would be moving her to another center. The victim thinks the aggressor should receive a severe punishment so that the rest of students would think it twice before harassing. Not going to the school. She should talk to them and say she doesn’t like that. “How would you feel if this happen to you?”
Regarding why aggressor acts this way. They think it’s because tries to stand out, to be the most important or the one who most attract the attention. Also because he/she has problems and wants to be popular or something like that. There may be many reasons. Some of them is just to have fun and feel superior and at the same time he/she proves that is the boss; others it’s because something happened lately or he/she feels threatened by the victim somehow (grades, physical appearance) so he/she harass him/her so nobody notice it.
If we focus on why they choose that victim in particular and not another one, they think it’s because he/she is different from the rest, she is new and without friends. Chey see her vulnerable. They would see her shyer than the others. Because she has something different from the others or due to something personal. The victims different from the rest are easier to harass and make them feel inferior, so the bully goes for the weakest one.
Regarding aggressor regret. The students think the aggressor doesn’t feel sorry about it. Moreover he enjoyed it. He might have regret at the end, but they don’t think he’ll stop offending others. Most of the times, bully doesn’t even feel guilty of what he’s done. He uses any excuse to justify his self or doesn’t even admit to be a bully. Other times he does regret
They knew that was happening, but they didn’t do anything about it.
According to bystanders, the reasons for the harassment. They think they didn’t do anything, they kept still watching how they discriminated the girl without any reason because in case of defending her, the defender would be the goal of the offenses as well.
They don’t care about being a dropout or not, since Sonia is not their friend. The person who harass tries to escape from his own problems picking on his harmless friends. They think its victim’s fault or she deserves it. Students either did nothing about it or supported the aggressor. Others think the girl was new, they helped her because she was another partner of the class. The reason is that he feels dominant and finds her different to the rest.
Regarding teacher knowledge about what happens. They think the tutor is surprised when receiving news of what happened from Sonia’s mother. She commits to tell the staff. Nevertheless, according to the teaching staff teaching-learning model, if they promote the student’s participation, a lack of general participation could be detected and suspect the existence of group relationship problems.
Regarding what they did to know and understand what was happening. Teachers say the tutor informs the staff and decides to give talks to the students. They don’t know any other intervention. If they were the tutor and they had found out the situation at that moment of the year, they would do as follows: observe closely the relationship between my students, inform the teachers involved in the group, the tutors, the counselor and the Head of Studies about the information received. Establish an intelligent and discreet plan of action (in order not to make the situation of the victim worse). As the tutor it is implausible that a foreign student not to feel the closeness from her tutor so that she could have created a link with her, giving her the chance to tell what was happening. Besides, the schoolyard is under vigilance. If they had not seen her there on break time, they would have found out where she was.
About some other teacher’s help. They say they have no evidence after reading the case.
Regarding director’s knowledge about the situation, it seems he didn’t know it.
What he should have done in the situation. First gather the tutor, Head of Studies and counselor or responsible of convivencia. Second support the family and the student involved. Third find out the real state of the situation, defining who are the responsibles and to what extent. Jointly design means to redirect the situation.
Regarding the role of the director in these situations, according to his beliefs, coordinate the situation between the different levels involved and acting with responsibility in the case of bullying and racism. In other words acting according to the current punishing regulations for these cases and being private prosecution or witness if it’s necessary. If a case of racism is confirmed, he should advice the family to make a formal complaint.
Regarding the information of the parents about what was happening. They think Sonia’s parents noticed when she stopped attending classes. The teacher did know it but she turned a blind eye because is the most comfortable position.
Regarding how to inform the parents about what’s going on and what information would they look for. They think they would first talk to their children, later with the tutor, with the direction if it’s necessary, with the convivencia team and with the educative inspection as the last option. The counselor should provide means too and everything done should be written as well.
Regarding whether there could be a change in the situation. Parents think if the mother had talked to her daughter and tutor, and had followed the above mentioned steps, they all could have come to an agreement and the situation would have changed.
Regarding what would the counsellor do. He thinks there wasn’t severity in the first intervention of the tutor. With the regulations on her hand she would have arranged disciplinary measures and agreements in order to avoid more aggression episodes. On the other hand it’s critical to count with the cooperation of the head of studies and the direction. In a case like this it would also have been interesting the communication with the Educative Inspection Service. Once the aggressions are stopped, the work with the aggressor, victim, both families and bystanders would begin (from tutoring first and some students from the interview with the counselor)
In order to prevent situations like this: Preventive actions: Convivencias at the beginning of the year. Tutoring action plan, according to the current reality with integration tutorships in the class if necessary. Education of “help-students”.
Regarding what could have been done to improve the communication and cooperation between students. Carry out preventive activities like the previously mentioned. It’s important to create situations that promote education with moral values. This has to be an element that pervaded life in the center.
From current educational approaches, measures focused on diversity, learning to live together, attitudes and values are indispensable for institutionalized education.
To face Sonia’s case, we intend to provide a comprehensive response taking as starting point improving convivencia, is addressed as a central issue. Thus, the school must consider issues related to convivencia and real conflicts in the context of the school curriculum. This global response assumes that convivencia goes beyond solving specific problems by the people directly involved in them. On the contrary, learning to live together, developing collaborative relationships, practice of "democratic habits" should be placed in the center of the school curriculum, affecting everyone in the school community.
Current regulation (Order of 20th June 2011, article 14th) "In accordance with the provisions of Article 34 of Decree 19/2007 of January 23, sets the action protocols which are included as Annexes I, II, II, IV, in cases of bullying, child abuse, gender violence in education, and aggression to teachers or administrative personnel and services and supplementary educational services, respectively".
Annex I, Action Protocol when suspicion of School Bullying: is the legal reference for schools in cases where there may be incidents of bullying. It reflects the characteristics, type and consequences of bullying, and the steps to follow:
1-Identification and communication of the situation.
4-Communication to family or legal guardians of students.
5-Communication to other professionals working with the victim.
6-Collection of information from different sources.
7-Application of correction and discipline.
8-Communication to the commission of convivencia.
9-Notice to educational inspection.
10-Measures and actions to follow up.
11-Notice to the families or guardians of students.
12-Monitoring of the case by the education inspectorate.
INTERVENTION IN SCHOOL:
Development of Plan of Convivencia, a document produced by each school, where they develop mechanisms organizational, pedagogical, curricular and disciplinary, which each center applies to regulate and improve convivencia.
This plan can specify: (1) democratic management of the center, (2) the implementation of systems for peaceful conflict resolution, (3) a teaching-learning methodology that fosters cooperation among teachers and between students, and (4) introducing socioemotional education into the curriculum in a structured and conscious way.
It should be clear that schools are the ultimately responsible to stop bullying episodes, including measures like prevention plans and to establish appropriate strategies that avoid bullying behaviors.
Broadly to consider:
It is not enough that the school is not racist or sexist to avoid problems of bullying, but requires enhancing the antithesis: tolerance, equality and respect between cultures. This phenomenon and the way of doing so is complex because it is influenced and affected by what we think, what we feel and how we behave. There are three components: Cognitive components or stereotypes,
affective or emotional component, and Behavioral Component.
The influence of education on these components modifies the educational environment in a independent way. Cognitive development and teaching categorization skills influence the cognitive component, attitudes observed in peers, teachers and parents are related to the affective component, and the experiences that people have lived with perceived group different or the solution to social conflicts influence especially in the behavioral component. Hence, it is necessary to include in the prevention of all forms of intolerance activities to extend its effectiveness to the three components that we described above.
For Sonia, the group has been guided by a stereotyped perception towards her, assuming a simplification of social reality, ie the cognitive component explains that personal characteristics that are easy to perceive through the physical appearance, skin color in this case, consider it as if it were a single individual on the basis of this physical characteristic and ignoring the rest of their peculiarities, or believing that these differences arise automatically as a result of physical differences. These conditions trigger the stereotype that becomes a negative attitude that leads to discrimination, increasing the risk of intolerance.
1-Conduct an awareness campaign at the beginning of course through the course tutors at all levels and at the center, including the Tutorial Action and Guidance Plan.
2-Include cooperative learning as a protection against bullying:
2.1-Increasing the opportunities to learn skills for friendship, including those who have difficulties to do so.
2.2-Promoting the integration into the group of all students through activities that enable knowledge and group cohesion.
2.3-Providing opportunities for high-performance students to help others, allowing it to contribute to achieving shared goals.
The structure of peer relationships that are established in the classroom facilitates a context of mutual respect that represents the antithesis of dominance-submission dynamic, model that leads to harassment.
3-The teaching of social skills.
4-Class Assemblies: The Assembly as an institution allows the organization of cooperation in the classroom and contributes to the implementation of direct democracy at the school, which meets the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN 1989).
INTERVENTION IN THE CLASSROOM:
-The counselor at the school must inform to the teaching team about the need of a program to promote tolerance for diversity in ethnically heterogeneous environments (Díaz-Aguado, 1992, and Diaz-Aguado and Royo, 1995). The main elements of this program are: cooperative learning with members of other ethnic groups, discussion and representation of ethnic conflicts in order to promote proper understanding of cultural and ethnic differences, developing empathy for people or groups who suffer from racial prejudice, and skills that enable students to resolve conflicts caused by ethnic diversity, through interpersonal communication, design and material situations that increase meaningful learning, connecting with the school activities that take place daily outside the socio-cultural disadvantaged school students, thus promoting attitudes and cognitive processes contrary to racial prejudice.
-The counselor will implement some actions to improve student behavior through learning rules (Perez, 1996). This program focuses on the learning of rules of behavior in the classroom, aims to encourage student participation in the organization of classroom life through their active involvement in the construction of norms of behavior. The program consists of three phases: analysis of implicit and explicit rules that govern life in the classroom, drawing up rules and following them through the democratic participation of students, and procedures to ensure compliance. This program should be applied at the beginning of the course center.
- Establishment of class assemblies. Used to manage conflicts and allows the exchange of ideas instead of confrontation, which leads to cooperation. The class meetings provide a forum where students can talk about many issues and interests. This should be a brief weekly meeting of students with the course tutor where: social ties are strengthened, progress achieved is communicated, further actions are planned, and conflicts are managed within the group.
INTERVENTION WITH OFFENDERS:
-Awareness of the seriousness of the problem.
-Unlearn aggressive response mechanisms.
-Provide appropriate social behavior patterns.
-Apply strategies for developing empathy.
-Class teacher and/or head teacher Interview with family and request for collaboration with the child's behavior.
-Help to develop anger control.
-Change wrong thoughts.
-Application of the Pikas Method
Organizational and methodological aspects to consider:
• Conduct an exploratory study, using questionnaires, interviews with teachers and students, sociograms or any other method that allows us to know the social setting of the class group, before deploying a program of direct intervention.
• Tackling the problem objectively.
• Individual interviews should not last more than ten or fifteen minutes and meetings of all players (aggressors and bystanders), not more than an hour.
INTERVENTION WITH THE VICTIM:
-Initial interview of the course tutor and head teacher with the family.
-Integration of the student in their group.
-Planning activities to increase the social skills and student integration in the group.
-Strategies to develop assertiveness.
INTERVENTION WITH FAMILIES:
-Course tutor, head teacher and counselor have to talk to the affected families and request their cooperation.
-Establish systematic coordination with families to track both the victim and the aggressor.
-Establish a group meeting with all the families of the group where harassment has occurred, to explain, analyze and provide guidance on the situation of harassment.
-Set up individual meetings with each family to ask for assistance with the problems in the group.
-It is necessary to maintain good communication and trust with the children where they can express their feelings and what they are living.
-Be aware of symptoms: nervousness, lack of appetite, insomnia, poor school performance. Observe behaviors, moods and changes in the habits of the children.
-Manage and monitor their children's behavior. Taking interest on where it goes, what it does, what their interests, and so on.
-Provide positive models of behavior: Maintain good relationships. Solve conflicts in a friendly way. Do not accept violence.
-Talk with your child every day: Listening their opinions. Help them to find solutions to their problems. Do not allow them to provoke peers. Help them to learn to think. Remember that the first defense against bullying is self-confidence.
-Educate on values of respect and tolerance: Take care of your emotional growth and help tune with the feelings of others.
-Educate on the acquisition of social skills to learn to behave with others.
-Determine clear and consistent rules: Explain clearly what is allowed and what is not giving the necessary arguments. Apply the rules consistently and the consequences after failure.
-Provide opportunities to build friendships, ask them how they treat their friends and classmates. Interested to know them, invite them home.
-Check the TV programs: Many TV shows and games reinforce the idea that aggression is the only way to resolve conflicts. It is not forbiding, but to be critical, discussing the alternatives.
-If parents have the suspicion that their children may be being harassed by another or a group:
-Try to talk to him and promise to help them to solve it.
-Use a not blame approach.
-Do not show rejection, but active listening.
PREVENTION OF NEW EPISODES. WHAT TO DO AT THIS SCHOOL AND WHERE VICTIM ARRIVED?
-Analysis of reality and diagnostic.
-Development of a preventive plan.
-Intervention and protocol.
WHAT SHOULD WE IDENTIFY?
-Students at risk: individual risk factors and family factors.
-Relational climate in the group.
-School climate and how to address and solve conflicts.
-Educational models to intervene against the problems of convivencia: punitive, remedial and educational.
WHEN SHOULD WE ASSESS?
-Before preparing the convivencia plan.
-At the beginning of the course.
-When you have evidence.
-In the time aimed at counseling.
-In urgent cases.
EVALUATION TECHNIQUES AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE CONDUCT OF ABUSE:
-Self-reports, parent and teacher reports, questionnaires, sociograms, external observations, diaries, interviews.
ADDITIONAL ACTIONS TO DEVELOP IN CENTER:
Actions to be included in the convivencia plan and in the counseling and tutorial plan:
-The Management Team is scheduled to organise a welcome day to integrate new students and teachers.
-Develop actions to arise the Emotional Education (emotional vocabulary activities, listening, develop and differentiate emotions tell emotions in oneself and others).
-Plan in the initial tutoring lessons knowledge activities and group cohesion.
-Initial meeting of each group with teachers and head teacher where students attend accompanied by their parents.
-Centre Awareness Campaign to prevent harassment.
-Teacher Training about convivencia.
-The convivencia commission should propose questionnaires about the development of convivencia in the school. Those data should be the base to develop the Plan of convivencia adapted to the real needs of the school.
-Promote the Board of Delegates as initiative to increase the participation within the school.
These actions should be promoted and coordinated by the coordinator of studies and the counselor in collaboration with the teaching staff and the families.
As can be seen in the results obtained in this case, there is a consensus among all actors involved in the bullying situation, since the vast majority are in agreement that has the negative influence this phenomenon in all aspects of academic and personal. Despite being aware of the importance of this phenomenon, the school fail to make the necessary and appropriate means to try to eliminate these situations. On the other hand, there is also a consensus on actions to be performed in a situation of bullying, most have agreed that there should be joint action by the entire school community to respond to this phenomenon.
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I Am Not Scared Project
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