"I Am Not Scared" Project
A Long History of Bullying
The student who was the victim transferred from Primary School with a long history of poor peer group relationships with her parents having made many allegations of bullying during her time at Primary School.
Throughout Key Stage 3 the student and parents made a number of allegations relating to bullying behaviors regarding a number of other students.
Each incident was logged, investigated, action taken and parents informed of the outcome. In Year 10 the victim was subjected to verbal unpleasantness by another Year 10 girl. This escalated into one incident of physical intimidation.
Following this particular incident, restorative justice was used with members of the Pastoral team acting as mediator and facilitating the restorative justice. The perpetrator was also given an internal exclusion.
Parents of both students were informed of the incident and the outcome.
The victim has been counseled by both SafeSpeak (Young People’s Counselling Service which works in school one day each week) and Education Welfare Officer who has developed a very positive relationship with the victim.
The perpetrator was also offered counselling and continues to work closely with a Youth Worker both in and out of school. Issues relating to low self-esteem have been addressed.
Both parties have subsequently had Family Resource Workers allocated to work with the families due to complex home situations.
The victim of the bullying has, to date, had a much more settled and successful Year 11. She is predicted to achieve her target grades in most subjects. She has been included on the school’s Year 11 mentoring program to help ensure academic success with a view to her possibly continuing to the sixth form at this school.
The perpetrator continues to require much pastoral support. Low self-esteem and a complex home situation continues to have an impact on the student. She is following a more vocational pathway at Key stage 4 with a view to completing a Childcare course at college.
The perpetrator has received help from the School Nurse in how to give up smoking. Recently it has been evidenced that it is not just tobacco which is being smoked.
The victim remains a student who continues to lack social skills and who finds it difficult to relate positively with her peers. She is, however, able to name a couple of friends. Other students are wary of forming relationships with her due to knowledge of the family and their culture of making allegations and complaints.
The victim would feel really ‘fed up’ with the situation and would perhaps not want to attend school as they would feel isolated and alone and perhaps victimized after the ongoing problems throughout her school career.
The victim would wonder why they were constantly being singled out for verbal physical/abuse – what was wrong with them? It would really have a negative impact on her self esteem.
The victim could even decide that she did not want to go to school at all.
The bully obviously has his/her own issues and did not think about the impact on the other student. Perhaps they selected that student because they didn’t think they would retaliate and thought they were an easy target, the behavior displayed towards the victim may make the bully feel powerful and ‘good’ about themselves.
The bully obviously struggles to show empathy or understanding of why she carried out these actions and the extra support she is getting will hopefully help him/her develop more self awareness, awareness of others and understand the need to reflective on the effect of her behavior on others.
Due to the history of the bully and the victim the other students might view them as ‘trouble causers’ who they do not want to get involved with due to previous incidents.
Students may have not stepped in or intervened because they may not have wanted the victim or bully to turn on them.
Not all students questioned viewed this as bullying – was it a disagreement/friendship breakdown that resulted in the unpleasantness?
Are these students that create their own problems due to lack of social awareness and if there are, what help does the school offer?
Due to the history of both students involved this would be a very difficult situation to deal with.
It would be unlikely that you would be able to come to a solution that all parties would be happy with, restorative justice and external support to address the other complex issues involved would be the best way forward as detailed by the school.
Maybe the incident should have been passed to senior management for a more detailed investigation of the root causes of the problem and the victim could have been offered a confidential route to report any future problems.
A very difficult situation! To address this, the way forward would be support and relevant intervention for both parties who obviously have their own significant needs.
Restorative justice is a good starting point. Both students need involvement in positive activities that will raise their fragile self esteem. The support would need to focus on developing social skills and positive interaction with others to ensure students can be successful and happy in school and as they move on to further education.
Support for the parents of both children is also essential - parents cannot abdicate responsibility for their child behaviour in school and I am sure that responsible parents, especially the victim's parents would have welcomed guidance on how to watch for future problems and how to support their child.
Parents would be very concerned about what was happening. The parents of the victim would be particularly anxious as there has been a history of such behaviours towards their daughter throughout her time in education, they will surely have been aware of their daughter’s isolation/inability to form positive relationships with others.
The parents of the bully may have been angry as to their daughter’s involvement or may have felt that the school over reacted – we feel the school acted appropriately.
The school did a good job in keeping all parties informed of the actions taken and referring them on for further/external support so parents should be pleased with the level of intervention put in place by the school.
The school responded quickly to the physical bullying and put in appropriate support for both victim and bully. It is clear that both students have their own difficulties and there has been a range of support offered that takes account of this.
The school could have considered counselling and additional support for both students when they first came to the school. The victim clearly had a history of difficulties and it should have been recognised that she would experience further problems in the new school.
Counselling has been offered to both pupils, which is good.
As a counsellor I would initially listen and support the student to tell their story. The student has a long history of being bullied and may have held on to her feelings for a long time.
Involvement of the counsellor in this case could develop communication and co-operation, eg:
• Identify their behaviour and their way of communicating and how
this may have an impact on others.
• Identifying existing support network/friendships and building
on them if appropriate.
• Looking at acceptance and valuing/loving of the self.
• Learning different ways of expressing the self eg. role play
Due to long term issues of bullying there may be some effects on self-esteem and confidence that may influence future relationships.But the very positive reponse to the support may counteract this.
In this case it is likely to be helpful if the perpetrator continues to receive support from the Family Resource Worker and is encouraged to continue on the childcare course. Also for them to continue to receive support from school nurse re: smoking and drug use.
From the case study report it is evident that effective action has been taken and procedures followed, this suggests that an appropriate school policy is in place (not verified).
The use of restorative justice is a useful strategy which can help to support both the victim and the perpetrator; it is not clear whether this was an offer made to the victim prior to implementation.
A positive action was undertaken to ensure that parents of both victim and perpetrator were informed about the incident and the outcome, it is not clear that both parties were also informed of the support actions that were used.
Again, the use of other partners and agencies indicates effective provision being made; the response implemented indicates that two sources for counselling were used; one issue that may be explored is whether it is useful, for consistency and the build up of relationship, for just one source of counselling to have been used. Importantly, the perpetrator was also provided with counselling. Counselling focussed on helping both individuals to be more self aware, aware of the implications of their actions and the use of existing support networks.
The use of the ‘Family Resource Worker’ for both parties was also evidence of effective practice.
The report on the impact of the support actions provided identifies that the victim is on track to achieve her academic achievement targets in most subjects and has received additional academic mentoring. There is no formal indication of the impact of actions on the perpetrator other than they are in need of ongoing pastoral support and have received additional school nurse support in relation to smoking and substance abuse.
The Local Authority pupil safeguarding teams will continue to offer advice and guidance to all schools on request and as needed.
This is quite a difficult case to deal with as it has been going on for such a long time. Clearly the school has good systems in place and has made use of outside agencies whenever possible. Unfortunately the perpetrator forgets what she has learnt and returns to anti-social behaviour. It is easy for past incidents to be lost or forgotten as children move between Key Stages and Pastoral Managers but this school seems to have done a good job in keeping all the pieces together.
Clearly both girls have needs that extend beyond school and the school has done well to engage outside agencies that may be able to support beyond the normal school day. Both students are going to have to come to terms with their own shortcomings and this may require expert counselling in the future. This is clearly a case of genuine bullying but both girls are victims in different ways.
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I Am Not Scared Project
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