"I Am Not Scared" Project
A case of violence described by Secondary school „Sava Dobroplodni”, Shumen
The event started during the summer and via Facebook.
The main actors involved are four girls – two from grade eight – A and B – and two from grade six – C and D. Non-directly a boy whom we will call E is also involved.
Type of bullying actions carried out – one girl from the eighth grade from a neighboring school – A – was called for a conversation behind the postal office after classes and was physically bullied (hit) by a girl from the eighth grade from our school – B. B also took away A’s mobile phone SIM card.
Time period – this specific event took place on 16.09.2011 between 13,00 and 13,20 o’clock.
The reaction of school management and team after they got informed about the bullying event was to call the girls and their parents. The entire story was presented to all sides in it. The school management will be punishing the bullies at pedagogic council for exerted violence. The pedagogic adviser had a very long discussion with A, B, C and D and invited them for follow up discussions in case they have any questions.
The cooperation received from the entire teaching team and from the school directors took the form of getting the entire school staff engaged with this case and involved in meeting the girls and their families and finding a resolution in benefit to all sides.
The described case has an interesting influence on the different sides involved and covers a network of parties from more than one school. We cannot speak about serious troubles as far as the educational process is concerned, because the reaction of the school managements and the teacher staff there are quite adequate, well organized and effective.
There are no long-term effects on the students’ motivation. The victimized girl regains her calmness and security, because she receives support from her family and the school management. The girls who have instigated the situation are in a much more difficult situation, especially B who will be proposed for punishment at school council.
The achievements of the victim will not suffer. The work with psychologists will most probably influence positively also the achievements of the bully girls.
Intra-school integration is not threatened in neither school.
The undertaken activities on behalf of the two school managements and the teachers there are focused on reestablishing the balance between rights and responsibilities of the students – in order for them to receive the so needed for their future development knowledge and skills, the students should observe certain rules of conduct.
The classmates of the victim and the bullies had no idea what was happening to the girls and we cannot consider any particular negative effect on their performance or motivation. We could however imagine that raising the issue of school violence and the dangerous deceptions, which using social networks and new means of communication could lead to, would influence positively the formation of a correct opinion and attitude towards this issue on their behalf.
The perception of the causes of the bullying event from the point of view of A: “I am E’s ex-girlfriend. Now C wants to become his girlfriend. I do not know B and I have never done anything to her. I have no idea why she was the one torturing me. Taking away my mobile phone SIM card was also very bad!”
Being asked if she informed anybody, A responded “Yes, I shared with my mother that C is writing insulting comments on my facebook page and through skype as well. Somehow she managed to get my contact details. I have not given them to her, because we hadn’t seen each other in real life. After the beating I went home right away and I told everything. My mother took me to the doctor and called the school to the pedagogic adviser for help.”
When asked what help she needed and from whom, A responded: “I need protection from the side of my family and I need the chance for a conversation with C with the help and intermediation of my mother and the pedagogic adviser.
When the bully B was asked about her motivation for the bad things she did to A, she responded: “My friend from sixth grade wants to become E’s new girlfriend. A wrote some facebook statuses, which C considered were related to her. C shared this with me at school and I immediately agreed that A is trying to split C and E and that she should get a punishment for this, for example a beating. I took action because my friend asked me to do something about this.”
When asked if she has any regrets, B responded: “I shouldn’t have hit her. I shouldn’t have stolen her phone SIM card. It turned out that she had not been writing about C. There was a big misunderstanding. I got in trouble because of this. I was summoned again in the teaching room. My class form-master will propose me for a punishment.”
When asked if they were aware about what was happening, the other students responded that they had no clue and they did not know where B, C and D were heading after the classes.
The cause of the bullying event according to the other students, who were obviously not direct witnesses of the happening, is B’s character. They say that she is a bit aggressive and sometimes starts a fight or argument because of minor, unimportant reasons.
When asked what they did and why, the other students responded that they did absolutely nothing. They simply left for their homes after classes. They had no idea about what was happening, so they did not know that there was some trouble to take into account or react to.
When asked about their awareness of the aggressive situation, the teachers responded that they had no idea what was happening and where B, C and D were heading after the classes. During the summer the children have too much free time, during which they are not under control. They are not able to behave properly among each other and maintain good relationships. The strong emotions of falling in love confuse their minds. They do not know how to react.
The teachers shared that they managed to understand about what was happening from the pedagogic adviser.
Their reaction after they got informed was to call the girls and their parents. We told everything to everyone. We will be punishing the bullies at pedagogic council for exerted violence. The pedagogic adviser had a very long discussion with A, B, C and D and invited them for follow up discussions in case they have any questions.
The cooperation received from the other teachers and from the school directors took the form of getting all of them engaged with this case and involved in meeting the girls and their families.
When approached, the school director informed that her awareness of what was happening is mainly related to the fact that the children grow, develop, encounter new feelings and emotions and sometimes have no idea how to respond to the latter.
The headmaster shared that she addressed the episode by means of conducting discussions with the head-teachers, the involved girls and their parents. She initiated a pedagogic council, which will issue a punishment decision.
When asked about her opinion about what is needed to ameliorate the situation, she responded that the children need to communicate more intensely with their parents, to abandon the illusion that they can insult someone via electronic tools and not be punished for this, and to understand that violence cannot solve problems. The children need to get involved in extra-curricular activities supporting their development.
When asked if they noticed what was happening, only A’s mother responded positively. She knew from her daughter about the insulting publications in Facebook and skype. B’s family had no idea about the situation. They did not notice how their daughter was insulting the other girl through the Internet.
When asked if they got informed and by who, only А/’s mother confirmed that she got information from her daughter.
When asked if they had the possibility to modify the situation and in what way, A’s parents respond that they could have probably done something, but they were too busy during that time. Besides they were not expecting B to react in other way. The other girls’ parents had no idea about the events and could not have reacted or prevented them.
When asked if she was aware about the situation and if she had done anything to prevent it, the counselor responded that she had no information about the progression of the event. The relationships become hostile during the vacation when the children are away from school.
When asked what she would have done if she was aware, the counselor responded: “if I had known about the Facebook and skype fight I would have invited C for a conversation, through which I would have tried to understand what is causing these strong emotions, whom the change of situation would depend on and how we all could react. I would have spoken to her parents. If I had known about B’s intention to beat the unknown girl, because her friend thinks that she has a problem with A, I would have invited her for a conversation with the purpose to help her understand the real situation and her place in it. I would have invited her parents for a discussion.”
When asked how she would improve communication and cooperation she responded that she would do it via discussion and inclusion of the families of the children (B, C and D). She also confirmed she would stay in close contact with the pedagogic adviser from the neighborhood school. She would also provide more information to all parents about the age-specifics of their children and the dangers carried by uncontrollable use of electronic communication tools.
The main party who makes a decision for actions in this particular case is the pedagogic advisor of the victimized girl. He takes adequate measures by getting in contact with the management of the school of the other girls and their parents. He also undertook an initiative for follow up discussions with all children, which is a substantial factor or effective intervention.
The negligence in this case comes from the lack of preliminary knowledge about the problem on behalf of the teachers and the headmaster of girls B, C and D school. The decision for punishment of the bully B should be preceded by actions for clarification of the reasons of her aggressive behavior. As all sides pointed out, the children are going through a period of emotional growth and an inadequate punishment of the bully-girl, which could be considered as a victim from other factors’ perspective, could only lead to further behavioral problems on her behalf.
It is necessary for regular meetings with the students’ parents for their more active involvement in the social and school life of their children to be achieved. It is also necessary that they are stimulated to think about and talk to their children about their life in the cyber space, which quite often turns into an arena of violence, which parents and teachers cannot assume and are not aware of until it is too late. Most importantly, understanding of the fact that the bully is often a victim from another aspect is necessary, and he or she needs help and adequate support and not punishment or further isolation.
The main causes of the event and the mechanism that allowed the phenomenon are the underdeveloped social skills of the young people; business of their parents with numerous engagements and failing communication with their children; children from incomplete families, trying to compensate the lack of a parent with the first other human being who tells them that he/she is their friend and shares their point of view. A major cause is also the copying of media models.
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