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TITLE OF THE CASE STUDIES:

Grandma takes care of me

SCENARIOS OF BULLYING EVENT::
  • Direct bullying
CAUSES OF BULLYING EVENT::
  • Non-especific
FACTUAL DESCRIPTION OF THE BULLYING EVENT:

• When and how did the bullying start – the students are in 7th grade during the present school year 2011-2012
• Main participants - girl А (bully) and boy B (victim)
• Acts of bullying
The girl A was born by a single mother, who has been working abroad for the last 4 years. The grandmother of the girl takes care of A. the grandmother also lives alone. A has been student in charge for her class and a representative in the student council at school – she was active, initiative, participating in a number of various extracurricular activities. This year however the student in charge is changed. The results of A are lower and her behavior during breaks is worse. She is often found to be unable to stand some of her classmates and particularly boy B, with whom she actually grew up. The negative attitude is manifested through remarks and insults, which evolve into threats for physical punishment. Verbal harassment on the side of A includes insults for B’s father (“semi blind”), while the boy insults A’s mother (says that she is a “whore”).
Boy B has had bad behavior since 5th grade – he is intemperate, with low motivation for studying, unstable attention and unacceptable behavior during the periods and during breaks, systematic discipline and order obstruction. Parental control is low there – both the mother and father worked abroad until this year, and B’s grandmother took care of him. The grandmother manages with her grandson’s problematic behavior to a certain extent. He finished 6th grade without exams and with one punishment “remark”. From the beginning of this school year however his parents return permanently in the country and, while searching for new employment, have decided to take care about their son’s upbringing themselves. The change in the family situation, the age changes and the changed relationships influence the boy’s behavior, which often goes beyond any limits and turns into harassment towards classmates, relates and friends. Only within two months B receives in the class-register 11 remarks and 4 unexcused absences – a few times more than those registered within the last two years.
B’s mother and father are informed about these changes with a letter form the form tutor. They are invited for a conversation. At the same time B complains to his parents that his classmate A is insulting him and that because of her, he is punished to sweep the floors. Actually no such punishment has been imposed yet, but the student is reprimanded by the form tutor with a remark due to “systematic disruption of the discipline during periods and insulting behavior towards teachers”.
B’s parents decided that a negative attitude has been formed towards their son and after a threatening mobile phone conversation with the form tutor, they appeared for a meeting with the headmaster with a very aggressive and offensive attitude. A meeting with the participation of the headmasters, the form tutor, students A and B, pedagogic advisor, representatives of the school council and B’s parents takes place. The situation is actually clarifies successfully and the possible solutions are discussed. Peace is regained. The following weeks prove that the harassment has ended.
• Time period – two months.

RESPONSE IMPLEMENTED:

When they find out their son’s side of the story about the problem and on the basis of the letter received from the form tutor, B’s parents decided that a certain negative attitude towards their son has been formed and initially they are quite aggressive and offensive. Nevertheless the go to the meeting with the headmaster, the form tutor, A, B, the pedagogic advisor and the representatives of the school council. Thanks to this meeting the situation is clarified, the possible solutions are discussed and peace is regained. The following weeks prove that the bullying has ended, i.e. the measures, which were undertaken have been effective.

IMPACT OF THE BULLYING ACTION:

Effect of the bullying on:
1. The educational process: tension has appeared, because the victim and the bully are in a constant psychological conflict; there is a lack of concentration, especially in the case of the direct participants in the conflict; their thoughts are focused only towards what is happening and the possible consequences form it; there is no motivation or desire for studying. Particularly for the boy, the conflict represents a major obstacle to normal studying; he goes to fewer classes and gets many new remarks. Becoming a bully also affects A’s studying; she is no longer a responsible student in the class.
2. Students’ motivation: the desire for achieving results – for both bully and victim – is in recess; they see no point in diligent studies, but focus their attention towards thinking up new insults, attacks and counter-attacks. Violence is counter-motivating for the direct participants in the bullying. They feel restless and uneasy. The witnesses are not influenced much. They distance themselves from this case and isolate the two participants in this conflict.
3. Students’ achievements: they become worse, because the interest for studying is lower. Both bully and victim find themselves in a problematic situation, which endangers their results. From psychological point of view they are facing the danger of having to make large development steps without the attention, care and support of their closest people (especially in the case of the girl and her mother, working abroad) or to adjust to a new social status (this is the boy, whose parents return from abroad and take the responsibility to take care of him).
4. A feeling of security and safety: both victim and bully feel unsafe – in the righteousness of their actions and attacks/counterattacks as well as in the actions of the adults (parents, form tutors, headmaster). The boy has been bullied by an old friend actually. In her actions we can recognize jealousy and envy due to the fact that his parents are back and supporting him. She misses the care of her mother in such an important period of personal growth and development. Their social equality is not present anymore and a conflict appears – the girl attacks in order to make the presence of B’s parents meaningless and unimportant, he responds in order to protect them and him and not to allow a girl to make fun of him and insult him.
5.School integration: there is rejection from the others and establishing of a distance between the victim, the bully and the witnesses. The witnesses deny integration. The conflict triggers forces of separation between children who have grown up together and have been good friends until then. They are having problems being accepted into the class group, which is otherwise really close and unanimous, particularly in relation to communication and problem resolution issues. The two – victim and bully – will face integration difficulties because of inadequate communication with their peers and making trouble at school. From psychological point of view it is obvious that the girl is facing real hardships – she is no longer a leader in the class and she is losing a friend, because she is unable to forgive him for the fact that he now can rely on his parents and therefore needs her less. She undertakes a behavior, which is untypical for her – i.e. the processes of development, which she is going through are really tough. The fact that she feels remorse shows that she is aware of the inadequacy of her behavior.

POINT OF VIEW OF VICTIM:

Reasons for the aggression:
• The change of the situation in the family: the parents have returned and boy B feels more protected, but also uneasy (how is his daily routine going to change and what consequence will occur because of all the remarks and absences). After all, the grandmother was indeed covering up certain details about his problematic behavior at school.
• The change of attitude of A towards him and the insults she is saying are due to the looks of B’s father (he has one eye and she is calling him “semi blind”), which B shared with no one until the meeting.
• What help he needs and from whom? Individual work with the pedagogic advisor and joining a group for interests.

POINT OF VIEW OF BULLYING STUDENT(S):

o Motivation: To express her influence and importance in the group (the class) and her dominance over the boy B at any cost.
• Why/how did she choose the victim? She knows him well (“they grew up together”), and he has promiscuous behavior, low self-control (no restraints).
• Remorse – yes, she does feel remorse for how she has behaved.

POINT OF VIEW OF OTHER STUDENTS:

• Understanding of what is happening: all students witness what is happening and do not justify the two students.
• Possible reasons for the aggression according to them: the students form the class consider that the reasons are connected to the uncontrollable behavior of the boy and the fact that the girl has been raised by a single parent.
• What did they do and why: in general the class is quite united and with very high grades. Whenever a conflict situation appears they discuss it openly among each other, they share their opinions and thus extinguish the rising aggression.

POINT OF VIEW OF TEACHERS:

• In this particular situation the teacher were informed about what was happening by the headmaster and the pedagogic advisor and were aware of the conflict between the two children.
• They did not undertake specific actions, because the headmaster, the form tutor and the pedagogic advisor, thanks also to the readiness for collaboration, which B’s parents show in the end, lead to a calm and successful resolution of the situation.
• Support from the other teachers and the school headmaster – being in fact the “other teachers” they are ready to provide all their support to the persons directly involved with the two children, as well as to the headmaster herself.

POINT OF VIEW OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS:

• Awareness of the events. The headmaster calmly investigates all sides and all information about the case.
• In response to what has happened, she conducts a meeting with all participants and all affected by the events.
• What is necessary to be done for improving the situation – in general, the situation in this class and in the school as a whole is quite calm and the children discuss their problems and find reasonable solutions. The reaction of the headmaster to gather all affected sides and all participants and to conduct a discussion, as well as to direct the children towards individual work with the school pedagogic advisor is consider appropriate and sufficient. The participation of the school in this project in itself speaks of readiness and willingness for adoption in the school practice of successful models for intervention and prevention.

POINT OF VIEW OF THE PARENTS OF THE PUPILS INVOLVED:

• Whether they noticed what was happening? No, they did not have enough information and overview before the meeting. They consider that regular consultations are necessary.
• If someone informed them and who was that: the parents were informed by the form tutor in accordance with the procedure described in the school activity regulations.
• Whether they were able to change the situation and how: After becoming informed about the events, the parents appear for the meeting and discussion at the school and thus help the positive resolution of the situation of tension between the two students.

POINT OF VIEW OF THE COUNSELLOR IN THE SCHOOL:

• The pedagogic advisor was not aware about these events prior to the meeting. From the previous year however she has had information about the manifestations of improper behavior on behalf of the boy.
• How could she improve the communication and interaction – communication and interaction can be only via regular meetings between the parents, the form tutor, the pedagogic advisor and the students.

POINT OF VIEW OF POLICY MAKERS:

In this particular case, the responsible persons, who take decisions for the purpose of improving the situation of the two children, are the parents of the boy and the school headmaster.
The actions of the boy’s parents are based on their belief that their child is the victim of the aggressive behavior of the student A and the inadequate reactions of the form tutor and the school headmaster. They go to the meeting at the school with this understanding of the situation and with an aggressive attitude.
The school headmaster reacted very professionally and tolerantly, considering all points of view and hearing out the boy’s parents very carefully. We must point out as a major disadvantage the inadequate and untimely actions of the teachers of the two children, who had been aware of the situation. Another substantial deficiency comes from the fact that the pedagogic advisor was not aware of the problem until the meeting, which took place.
Finally, the meeting between the parents, the headmaster, the two children, the form tutor and the pedagogic advisor proved to be of great use and solved the problem. The conclusions drawn that more frequent meetings between the parents or the people who take care of them and help them grow and develop as human beings is very useful considering prevention of violence at school and timely actions from all interested parties in such cases.

CONCLUSIVE DEDUCTIONS:

The situation in the country, the high levels of unemployment, the lack of adequate job offerings on behalf of the local labor offices are the reason due to which young families leave the care for their children to old grandmothers and grandfathers and leave to search employment abroad. The children are at a fragile age, easily susceptible to different influences and the grandmothers are not able to control them successfully. Life is hard and in a region such as North-Western Bulgaria it is even harder. We, the teachers are not a sufficient factor for resolution of such cases.
In our case however, we managed successfully with the situation with the help of the parents and the quick reaction and adequate activities of the headmaster of the school, the pedagogic advisor and the form tutor.
Our recommendation all schools that find themselves in a similar situation is to seek the help of the parents – they are the fixed element in the process of education and upbringing of the children.

Comments about this Case Study


Date: 30.03.2012

Posted by: Isabelle GRIMEE, Chantal BROSTEAU, Christophe BOURGOIS, Stéphane VOGELEER
Type of school: SMSW - School mediation service in Wallonia
Country: Belgium

According to our perception, the situations described do not correspond to the definition of « bullying » that has been made clear during one of the meetings. The acts are not recurrent, they occur during a short period and in some situations, they do not targer a single person.
Anyway, this situation shows main violent events which require interventions.

Common elements:
We regularly meet similar situations (settling of scores through ICT) and, most of the time, between girls. Situations in which anger and jaleousy induce rumors, violences…
The cases whe have faced so far target a single victim and never a group of teenagers as described in one of the analyzed situations.
We notice that the adults play their role. It seems that the whole educative team was willing to collaborate. That way, the problem seems easier to solve.
As far as our service is concerned, we are called when some other solutions have already been tried without success, either by the parents who had already contacted the school, or by the headmaster’s office that had already tried an approach.
Brief description of the Bulgarian device as shown through the situations :
Meeting with all the parties (heamster’s office, teachers, psycho-medico-social centres, victims and bullies, parents). A great attention is paid to the listening to each protagonist’s point of view, then individualized follow-up, and finally proposals for reparation, for reflexion, for solutions profitalbe for all parties and sanctions if recurrence. Sometimes
It seems that the culture of conflict management is well established. It seems that the open discussion between the parties already calms people down.
Maybe the conclusions focus too much the fault on just a part of the problematic. Example : ICT, the parents who don’t supervise, the parents who work abroad, the political and economical conditions, the teenagers’ non-participation to extra-school activities. Hence the importance of the work to be done upstream, on the theme of « living well together ».

Date: 27.03.2012

Posted by: Philippe Lehette
Type of school: Secondary School
Country: Belgium

Comparisons :

As I mentioned before, in my experience, the bullying usually comes either from jealousy or from the desire to dominate the other, often through humiliation. In both cases, it’s the response to an injury, or an event experienced as such.
In this particular case, the bully schoolgirl explains that his behaviour resulted from his desire to dominate and humiliate the other. It’s seems obvious that the injury or the event considered as unfair could be the fact that someone else was elected class representative.

This is not different from what we would experience in Belgium, because neither the differences between education systems or cultural differences would explain it. High unemployment and a difficult life conditions in this region of Bulgaria were mentioned, which sometimes force parents to send their children to their grandparents, who are not always able to address those aspects of the youth’s education. The economic situation is more difficult, but not so different

Where I would have found some supports to deal with this case of bullying :
In this case, indeed, as mentioned in the case study, at first teachers didn’t act the best way by writing a letter to the child’s parents. I would have turned to my directors and to the educational team, so that together we can treat this case in cooperation with the Youth Advisory Service by meeting with the affected children. We see that the teacher could have detected the change in her behaviour and defuse the tensions. He ought to have warned the educational counsellors to provide support. It is also the importance of meetings of teachers to speak not only of academic achievement, which can be an indicator of the psychological / personal conditions of the students, but also to exchange impressions of different teachers about the problems that some seem to have.

What I have learnt with this case of bullying :
It is important for the educational team to get in contact with students, not only focusing on their results, but also to their conditions, even if it is not easy. For me, teaching also means taking this aspect into account, although teachers rarely take the time to do so. It's also a part of the role of the form teacher. Even if it’s status is not defined by law. It is also the educational counsellor's role, to be attentive to students' problems. Their task is not easy, because there is rarely not enough educators to frame a school.

Recommendations :

It is important for the educational team to get in contact with students, not only focusing on their results, but also to their conditions, even if it is not easy. For me, teaching also means taking this aspect into account, although teachers rarely take the time to do so. It's also a part of the role of the form teacher. Even if it’s status is not defined by law. It is also the educational counsellor's role, to be attentive to students' problems. Their task is not easy, because there is rarely not enough educators to frame a school.
We do not know exactly what has been concretely done. The dialogue seems The system seems to have proved effective, but we do not know the specifics. Listening to the harasser and the victim certainly helped them to feel they were supported and to understand the suffering and the situation (family, etc.) of each. Listening is important.

Relevance of teachers’ training to cope with bullying event:
It is a fact that future teachers are not trained for this. I do not think any legal text sets the role and function of the form teacher. We just know that he is the “referent” teacher in case of any problems, including educational one, but the role is not well defined. I think the school management, together with the educational team, has to set up procedures, regulations and infrastructure for everyone to take part in monitoring the children.

Date: 13.03.2012

Posted by: Theodor Sirbuletu
Type of school: Vocational School, Vasile Pavelcu School Group of Iaşi
Country: ROMANIA

In my opinion direct bullying represent an act of fury from girl A over boy B. It is a typical case of jealousy between two friends who were in the same position at a certain moment and after an intervention in the boy’s life (the come back of the boy’s parents) everything changes and the girl feels betrayed. Usually the parents that feel that financially have no power to sustain their families decide to do something about that: or they leave abroad to work for more money and leave their children with grandparents, or they take two jobs and still have no time for their children.
Violence among young children is a scenario for disorder in their future life. In every school and society you can find similar situations and children being neglected. It is a shame that in our country there isn’t a narrow system for this cases and parents can’t be forced to change their way of thinking. If I ever had to work with this kind of problem I would have asked several specialized persons to guide me trough this complex process of integration. It is obvious that a certain amount of violence can’t be avoided and it is always necessary to have some persons to back you up.
It is very important to know about such cases because they teach you how to cope with such problems and with the emotions this implies.
As strategy used to fight against violence in schools between children I think that suggesting every child to keep a diary in which to explain hard times they been through and what exactly happened will be a way to understand their feelings toward the situations they been at a certain moment and the counselor of the school to invite children to fill a questionnaire about violence.
From study to study the form of violence are evolving from bad shapes to worst shapes ever. Every notion that you knew before or learned before about violence now is changed and has another form that doesn’t fit to things you once knew. This is why therapists and counselors must develop more programs for children to teach them values not violence.

Date: 28.02.2012

Posted by: A Lowe
Type of school: Secondary
Country: England

It seems the intervention of the form tutor led to Senior Management being involved. I feel that without the backing of their Head the parents of boy B may not have taken on board the information given by the form tutor. The involvement of Senior Leadership often makes a situation seem more serious and makes all parties of an incident take heed. The procedure this school has followed is almost identical to the strategies our school would have put in place .We would to continue to monitor the students involved by placing them both on Head of House reports to ensure that the issues they have both faced will not impact their future studies. We would also put in place positive mentoring for both the bully and the aggressor to help keep them focused and give them somebody neutral to look up to and talk to on a weekly basis. In regards to the attendance issues for boy B he would have had a letter sent home from the attendance officer stating that if he doesn't attend school he could be fined by the authority. We also have a point system for each of the Houses and they do gain points for attendance. This case study has proven that face to face meetings are often more effective than phone conversations and time prevailing I would much rather arrange meetings with the parents of both the victim and the aggressor.

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