"I Am Not Scared" Project
It is important how you look!
• When and how did the bullying start? – when the victim is in 8th grade.
• Main participants – boy A (victim) and a group of his classmates (bullies)
• What specific acts of violence were undertaken
Boy A was born with the condition hydrocephaly (retention of liquids inside the brain). Because of that A’s head is a bit bigger in size than what is considered normal. Until 7th grade no one is paying any particular attention to this, but with the beginning with 8th grade some of his classmates start calling A “Frankenstein”, “idiot”, “Martian”, “deformed head” and other expressions of the same nature.
The boy decides to explain why his head is bigger (knowledge means power, right?). A studies in a class with other children with slower learning skills – one level above the special education classes, but one level below the regular ones. So A explains what hydrocephaly means, but contrary to achieving the desired effect, A brings even greater bullying on himself. In addition to the mocking and insults comes the nickname “water brain”. Among the bullies is one fat boy. А was advised, next time when the fat boy insults him, to ask him the question „Who saws your pants? Tseno the tent-maker?” Unfortunately the reaction of the fat boy is “No, why? Does he make your hats?”
In addition to the verbal bullying A is also pushed and jostled and his locker is regularly broken into. One time he is forced to sniff on a pencil, which has been stuck into a piece of excrement. Everybody laughs at him after this.
During the last day at school his school mates throw a rotten egg at A. that is when the social worker, monitoring A and the school management meet in order to discuss the possible actions for correcting the situation and should this appear impossible – to transfer A to a regular class during the next school year. The measures undertaken however stop the bullying.
• Time period – within one school year.
Conversations with A’s classmates are undertaken for the purpose of explaining to them that the way A looks does not make him any different form them and that his unacceptable behavior is a result of the feeling of low self-esteem, imposed by the bad attitude of the others. It is necessary that the bullies become aware how they would feel if they had the same problem. This way they would understand how they have caused humiliation to A and would find ways to help him.
Individual and group work is undertaken, in order for A’s attitude also to be changed. This work is implemented by teachers, pedagogic advisors and a psychologist.
The individual work with A aims to correct his behavior towards the others, in order for their attitude towards him to be improved.
The group work with the student-bullies from the class is focused on the idea that the “different” are not lesser human than everybody else and that they should be integrated, because they also possess qualities, which are favorable and advantageous for the group.
The activities and work with the children – both victim and bullies – give results and the bullying towards A is stopped. The students are far more aware and sensitive on the topic of equality between children, integration and joint support.
Impact of the bullying acts on:
- the educational process – the educational process continues to flow in the regular manner for all except A. He lowers his achievements and marks and starts to invest less and less attention on his studies and his progress. A is worried mostly about how to respond to his attackers than to be diligent during periods. Regardless of the fact that his grades are not better than those of the other children, the bullies see in him a person who considers he is something more than the others. This does not stimulate them to show better results and compete with him on the school arena. Instead they focus on verbal harassment as their tool for showing they are better than A. Harassment rarely happens during periods and this is why the teachers took a lot of time to find out about it. After they discover about the bullying however they start behaving differently with A, they try to predispose him, which additionally aggravates the bullies.
- the motivation and the achievements of the students – the motivation of the students to exert efforts for learning changes, when they see that the teachers are paying special attention to A. They intensify the bullying towards A and feel angry towards the teachers because the extra compassion they share for A. A’s motivation in connection with his studies is brought to zero. He sees that achieving good results at school does not help the other children to accept him and directs his efforts towards finding ways for responding to the verbal bullying.
- intra-school integration – A’s integration in school is really hard. This case also influences the students who witness the bullying – they feel unsafe at school and try to show no compassion for A in order not to suffer rejection;
- the implementation of the proposed and agreed upon by headmaster, psychologist and teachers, approaches for prevention and intervention will guarantee the recovery of the balance of rights and duties in the school and will therefore support the development of the sense and aspiration towards active citizenship of the children;
- the qualities of the school environment, which have gone through certain shocks during the period of bullying and harassment, will be regained. The feeling of security and being a part of the group, which has been taken away, will be restored and not only for the victim, because insecure about their positions on a daily basis are also the bullies, and the witnesses who stay away and take no actions, are not impartial – they very easily recognize themselves as potential victims (and therefore need to lie low) or bullies (which, because their consciousness is working, makes them feel ashamed – and again they need to be quiet and silently to satisfy their own bully-desires).
For me the bullying started in the beginning of 8th grade. My big head is the reason for that. The first jokes started in address of the big head: that it is really large and so on. The children were calling me: “You are Big Head. If your head is that big then you must be an idiot.”
At first it was just one fat boy from my class. He started insulting me first. I was thinking that he has issues himself because of being so fat, but instead of being quiet he decides to attack the others, in order to look better than them.
After this however other classmates also started insulting me. They were picking on me and calling me “Martian”, “deformed head”. I have no idea whey they were attacking me and what I had done to aggravate them. I think they were just looking for someone to harass and to play strong men before the others. When alone however they were not so brave, so they needed to work in groups and to insult and harass me.
Everything started as a game, but eventually they became ruder and crueler towards me. I think that mocking me started to give them pleasure.
In the beginning I was reluctant to share with anybody about what was happening to me, about these personal problems that I had. I was hoping that in time things are going to get better. However the situation was not improving – on the contrary. I was beginning to worry that I am unable to cope with the situation on my own. Slowly, gradually my self-esteem started to drop – my grades also. I became much closed and I refused to speak with other people, especially on this topic. The reason that I was unable to share with no one about my problems is exactly my low self-esteem. I was ashamed to speak about this.
Gradually, various new ways of harassment were added to the verbal insults. This demonstrated even better the negative and rude attitude towards me, on behalf of my classmates. The bullying was really hurtful to me, because my bullies were even doing it in front of other school mates and the latter saw everything.
Now when I recall all this I experience the unpleasant feeling of helplessness and humiliation. Sometimes I even can’t sleep well during the night. My self-esteem is really low right now and I desperately need to speak with someone who can understand and support me. I hope to receive support in order to overcome the problems I am currently experiencing, because I feel that I am not able to cope with this on my own.
Boy A annoys me so much with his large head and his attitude towards the others. He obstructs lessons when he is aggressive. The students feel unsafe with him being around. When I want to speak to him he refuses. He sees other people’s mistakes, but not his. He likes to brag, he is suspicious. It is not easy for me to find a proper approach towards him. So I don’t want him to be my friend. He does not know what he wants. He takes everything negatively. He lives in constant fear – when I look at him he pretends to have a lot of problems on his mind, but actually he does everything he wants.
He hides constantly and does not attend periods. We are lined up and he is missing. He is always locked up somewhere, always pretending that the kids are picking on him – he is pretending to be a headmaster. I therefore decided to use verbal and physical attacks.
He looks like a Martian with this head – I cannot allow him to be my friend. With this ugly head and ugly mouth – I don’t want Martians as friends.
When he sees a teacher and he “opens up” – he gets smart, he snaps at people, he refuses to do what he is told to. He hangs around all the time, he is always smelly and dirty, he is ugly and has big ugly eyes. He likes to eve drop on the doors and then makes comments. He is constantly in a bad mood without visible reasons. He fantasizes, he lies and I will bully him for that.
I would like to speak mainly about my verbal aggression towards A. Why I am unable to accept him as a friend and understand him.
One of the things that annoy me a lot about him is the fact that he thinks he is better than me. Sometimes he threats, he insults other students, makes rude remarks, he taunts the others, he mocks, and he annoys all of us.
All this makes me feel uneasy and when I want to speak with him he refuses to talk to me and does not even pay attention to me.
There are times when A drives me crazy – sometimes he is able to hit with his fist, to kick, to bite, to pinch and to push his classmates. Another annoying thing is his refusal to obey to a teacher who is giving him a task to do. He acts conceitedly and spreads gossip with his big head. He looks like a baboon, “Frankenstein”, “Martian”. He is also two faced and sometimes provokes me to hit, push and kick him.
I hate his behavior, I get annoyed only when I look at him. Sometimes he plays as a teacher, he tries to command the smaller children and then I continue with the insults – ugly face, deformed head, stinking mouth, rotten teeth. I slap him and push him around until I am no longer that angry.
In the beginning, someone mentioned something about A’s big head. We all laughed about that. We called him the “idiot with the large head”. Eventually a group of our classmates started to make this on a daily basis. They were having fun to bully someone.
I think my classmates picked A, because he is alone and helpless. He has no friends among us and he is unable to cope with the situation. It is like at school – the stronger one bullies the weaker. In addition to looking strange with his large head, our classmate A also belongs to the group of the losers and jerks. If you ask me, I think A feels bad about all the insults, but he is trying not to show it.
One day our form tutor accidentally entered our room and saw with her own eyes how they were pushing, hitting, harassing and mocking him.
I suppose that at least she will take some action about what is happening, because she looked really worried from the rude attitude towards A that she witnesses.
I had no guts to tell about what was happening. I was afraid I would look ridiculous to my friends. I was not brave enough to stand before everybody else and speak out loud: “I do not approve this! Stop! You cannot do such things!”
I hope that our form tutor is going to provide help and support to A. After all she is our leader and can help A and stop this bullying.
One day A’s form tutor came to the teachers’ room really worried and shared with the other colleagues what was happening in her class. We were all shocked from what she told us. We were unanimous that we should take urgent measures so that the bullying is stopped and this student is help out of this situation in a favorable way.
We were quite aware of the situation and we became much more careful and alert during our periods with this class – and especially with the students who were bullying A. at the same time we were all trying to predispose A to share his concerns with us and not to feel rejected, unwanted and isolated. He is a child just like any other child, regardless of the physical difference – his larger head. A difference, which does not obstruct him form staying in class with the others, reading, laughing, sharing, admiring, criticizing or encouraging.
We spoke individually with the bullies – we were searching for the reasons for their unacceptable behavior and attitude towards a child, which does not deserve such fate. He failed to receive reasonable or meaningful responses and explanations, except promises that they would not bully him again. Actually they continued to insult A for quite a while longer.
The form tutor got all the support necessary from our entire team. On the path of conviction all teachers, together with the psychologist, we tried to influence the “bad” boys and at the same time to “relieve” as much as possible A’s psychological and physical discomfort. The result was short term regardless of all the efforts we made, including the efforts of witnessing students, who disapproved of the actions of their bully-peers. The teachers decided to continue their efforts in understanding and changing the children's inner world – victim and bullies, because a longer period is necessary for that to be achieved successfully.
«The more different» looks of A actually lie at the bottom of his behavior – low self-esteem, self isolation, searching for ways of expression. His attitude is a reason for the behavior of a part of the groups – the bullies – who fail to comprehend that in his attempts to gain popularity A fails to obey some of the rules at school.
Quite understandably, considering their age, but also quite unacceptably, the bullies respond with aggression. This aggression even worsens A’s deviatory behavior. Being ashamed from his physical problem, A does not share with anybody and closes up even more.
The conversations with his classmates are focused on the topic that A’s looks do not make him more “different” than them and that his unacceptable behavior is a result of his feeling of inferiority, foisted on him because of the bad attitude towards him. It is necessary that the bullies themselves become aware of how they would feel if they had the same problem as him. Thus they would comprehend the humiliation he is facing and would find a way to help him.
In order for the attitude towards A to be changed is necessary that individual and group work lead by teachers, form tutors and a psychologist is undertaken. Individual work is necessary with A in order to change his behavior towards the others, which should lead to improved attitude in return.
The group work with student-bullies from the class is focused on the idea that the “different” are not less human than the others and should be integrated, because they also possess qualities, which are advantageous for the group.
The headmaster of the socio-pedagogic boarding school, which is analyzing this case, is the legal guardian and mentor of the children educated at this establishment. His opinion is therefore applicable also for this section.
What made you come to the psychologist’s office?
Boy A spoke about himself and his problem. He expressed in words what he was feeling and thinking. At first he shared that he was quite worried because of what was happening to him. He said he was traumatized from this injustice. He shared that he experiences fear, uneasiness and hostility. The sound of his voice, his gestures and the mimics of his face gave me a hint that he really experiences tension and feels hurt when he speaks about the events and is not making the whole story up. I decided that A’s case is serious. I asked him to fill in a couple of tests, dedicated towards checking the level of stress. All results demonstrated that he was very tense and discomforted.
I explained to A that my job is not to solve his problem, but to support and encourage him to speak about his bullies and about his problem, because he himself is acting in a passive and antisocial way /he is obeying, agreeing, isolating, not interacting/.
The problems, which I had to work on with A were focused on forming self-respect – to accept himself the way that he is, to accept his strengths and his spheres of development. To think positively – for the opportunities, not for the limitations. I explained that the bad self-esteem and the bad mood, the mistakes in communication are presupposing, provocative factors, and catalysts of conflict. I told him to try and remember that not speaking about it or avoiding the situation does not solve the problem.
In addition to individual work with A I undertook also group work with the bullies. My work with them was focused on building up a tolerant manner of behavior towards the so called “different” one, the “other” one. I supported and advised them for proper behavior, lowering the levels of aggression and seeking right behavioral solutions.
I explained that for each of us there is a place under the Sun. the difference should not provoke rudeness, aggression or child malice. The external differences are not something bad and actually the world is beautiful because it is so varied.
The school headmaster is unhappy about the organizational and educational work of the form tutor in charge, who must have explained to all students in the class A’s condition and to prepare them for the possible future negative attitudes towards the potential victim. Following the slightest signal he should have reacted by getting in touch and speaking with the people in charge of the boys in their presence. The bully should have managed to become aware of his negative attitude and stop insulting the student A. The school management and the pedagogic advisor should have neutralized such a negative turn of events from the beginning. The lack of preventive measures proved to be crucial in this case.
„If you want to be surrounded by nice, good people, try to treat them carefully, gently, politely – you will see that they will become better. Everything in life depends on you, believe me …”
Everybody understands what is happening with A – the victim; the bullies B and C, who feel remorse; the other students, a part of whom are against what is happening, and another part of whom actually like the view in a purely emotional plan; the teachers.
Each and every one of them wants to help this child, who needs moral support and psychological balance, which has been destroyed. Everybody understands the need to help, but is unable to find the way in a labyrinth of thoughts: which is the most appropriate decision for all of them – victim and bullies.
The reasons for the events are rooted in the unenviable fate of a child, which is trying to be presented as a guilty one, without actual guilt. Boy A was born with a condition hydrocephaly, due to which his head is slightly larger than normal.
Considering the “difficult age” of the children involved, some of them start to offend and insult A, they mock him. Whether this is entirely due to the difficult age or is due to the missing link parents-child we are not able to tell.
The teenager period is undoubtedly one of the most complex and controversial periods in a person’s entire life. This is an age of appearance of new unknown changes for the children and their transformation into grown men and women. This age also marks a beginning of a new type of communication among them – namely, communication as grown people. It is not at all easy for a kid to start considering his classmate not as a partner for games, but as a grown peer. The constant changes that are taking place (physical and psychological) perplex the teenagers. The moods are changing quickly and quite often. Sometimes the mood is very good and in the next moment it is quite bad. The self esteem is also very low.
All of these are good prerequisites for the appearance of a number of problems. On the one hand the school environment is often quite dynamic and fast-paced and the teachers are unable to pay attention to each and every student individually. They are not always capable of finding the problem especially if it is well hidden. A lot of tact and trust are necessary from both sides in order for the problems to be discussed in a constructive way and solved successfully.
For prevention of this case the most important thing should have been the preventing work with the students.
The viewpoint of the psychologist is the most important in this case. His will to discuss, to predispose as best as possible the victimized boy, requires a lot of efforts. It is really hard to find the best, the most correct way to the heart and soul of a child. Via experience and practice of a good professional, the psychologist is doing everything possible in order to “enter the soul and heart” of the other party in the conflict – the bullies.
A lot of experience, a lot of human warmth and deep understanding of the problem is necessary in order for this problem to be solved in the best way and in favor of both sides, but mostly in favor of the victimized boy.
The view point of the victim is quite strong content and fact-wise, because his emotions, tension and psychological condition are most realistic and anyone able to place himself in his shoes and in his role would feel this horror, even if just for a short period of time.
The teachers decide to take measures for stopping the tension and bullying between the children as soon as they find out about the situation in question. They consider the children equal regardless of all their differences. All of them with the help of various conversations and discussions try to touch the softest part of those children’s souls – both victim and bullies.
The children who remain “numb” witnesses of the bullying events – are children, who find such treatment on behalf of the bullies unacceptable, but consider that they are incapable to handle this situation on their own.
In most cases the headmasters get the bullying signal first. They are the persons, who have to react in the quickest and most adequate way to the situation, with the support of the entire school team.
The student-bullies behave like that because they see in A’s attitude situations, which provoke them to such actions – “the rules do not apply to him” and then also “that big head of his”, a consequence from a health condition. The children understand that what they are doing is improper, but A’s daily activities annoy them and they resort to verbal and physical harassment.
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I Am Not Scared Project
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