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TITLE OF THE CASE STUDIES:

Τhe social network creates problems

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

On November 25, 2010, the 14year old Catherine decided to end her life by consuming an excessive quantity of sedative pills. That noon her parents had left her at home under the supervision of her 70year old grandmother, as they had to accomplish some of their business. According to testimonies of the old woman the girl was chatting in the website on Face book while some of her classmates who mocked and laughed at her inside and outside of school, a video uploaded on the website showing herself crying all alone in the school toilet. Another part of the stuff which was on her Face book wall was some photos picturing Catherine sitting alone in different places inside the school area. Under those photos had added mocking and ironic comments, such as “the foolish person” and “the whale is sitting and crying cause she is undesirable by her girlfriends while playing”. Catherine was found in an unconscious state, fallen beside her bed while on her book desk her computer was uploaded in her website at Facebook had herself written on her wall “my life was ruined since I matriculated at this school. Everyone is laughing at me. I hate you all.” Her grandmother who found her unconscious called an ambulance and informed Catherine’s parents. The girl was transported immediately to hospital where she stayed hospitalized for 5 days. By the time she recovered started to receive psychological support from an expert.

RESPONSE IMPLEMENTED:

The incident was let to know next morning as soon as the parents of Catherine phoned the School Director. Her parents requested the Director to search through the case and find those girls who had uploaded the video and the photos with the offensive comments on Internet. They also warned that if the Director did not find the girls- perpetrators, they would sue against the school and follow every other legal instrument in order to protect of their daughter’s the mental health.
On the other side, the Director convoked the professors’ association and announced them the incident as above. The professors were stunned and almost all of them testified that they had no understood the tiniest thing. As far as Catherine is concerned they had noticed she was shy and timid. But they could not imagine that she would reach the attempt, experiencing so strongly the rejection of her new school environment and the teasing of her classmates. Certainly the upload of the video and photos of Catherine taken by the school place concerned particularly the professors, as the use of mobile phones is forbidden in the school area and obviously the three classmates who were embroiled in the incident carried mobile phones and took pictures of Catherine in the school toilets. Catherine’s responsible class professor indicated that she had tried sometimes to approach her as she noticed that Catherine was isolated and solitary from the other children during the school breaks. But Catherine was particularly shy and assured her that she was fine. Furthermore she had noticed that 3 girls of the 3rd grade of High School were disturbing Catherine by using funny teasing but she would not consider it so grave to interfere as Catherine herself had made no complaints.
As soon as this objection was known the Director asked to know the names of these girls and invited them in front of the association of school professors. They were informed about Catherine’s incident and when, although at first they denied any involvement in the matter, the Director announced them the intention of Catherine’s parents to resort to prosecution of cyber crime in order to identify the perpetrator, they were scared and pleaded guilty. Afterwards, the Director called the parents of the three girls and informed them about the incident. They also announced them that the association of professors decided the expulsion of the girls from the school complex as they had violated the school rules about the use of mobile phones and other electronic means and above all because of their improper behavior they had led their classmate to attempt suicide.

IMPACT OF THE BULLYING ACTION:

This happening, as was expected, caused great upheaval in the school place and around it. For a long time, about 3 months, the student performance as both Catherine’s and the three other girls who changed school environment was significantly affected. Catherine was trying to recover her strength, to win her shyness, to reinforce her self confidence and find a location in the school place and finally “root” in it. Unfortunately, this would not always work and she was losing any interest in learning and participating in the educational process, regressing to depressive attitudes. Her classmates who almost all of them knew about the event were divided into two categories. To those who had commiserated with her were trying to approach her, to incorporate in their companionship and make her feel happy and comfortable inside the student companionship. They were making effort to make her feel safety and gain her confidence. In fact, some girls started to request Catherine’s friendship outside the school area intending this way to change her bad psychological situation as well out of the school community. There was also that category of children who considered Catherine’s reaction excessive and inane opposite the behavior and the mocking comments and the teasing of her classmates. They found Catherine’s school behavior depressive and talked behind her back continuously about the incident. In particular, some of them interchanging messages on Face book were dropping innuendos about the “sensitive and delicate existence of school, who in spite of the mental suffering, did not lose any weight….”.
On the other side, the three girls after changing school environment and also fighting the comments and “whispers” of this new entourage, found at first difficult to incorporate in the school community and devote to their student duties. It is worth noting that each of the three girls, Natasha, Mary and Christina, matriculated as required in different school areas for obvious reasons. Their student performance was falling at first, but after three months approximately they began to incorporate in their new school environment and to appear leadership trends to other children. Their student progress got improved gradually and one of them, indeed, Natasha, managed to collect around her some classmates especially vivid and rebellious. The critical comments such of the student as the general social environment did not discourage them for a long time. It seems they got over the incident because they were supported as both by their families and new friendships and by their strong confidence that they were not the actual responsible for Catherine’s attempt to end her life. They believed and still believe that Catherine had her own psychological problems and that their innocent and childlike teasing was the reason that caused her attempt to suicide. The educational staff of school started to embrace Catherine, to place her in the breast of the school community and make her vivid. So the professors started to charge her with collective tasks in order to lead her actively not only at the student but mostly at the collective and participating process and above all intending to change her negative attitude towards the specific school and the student population. The email on the wall of Face book “I hate you all” made the professors to consider their responsibility and activated them to the attitude as described above towards Catherine. She though, is not always receptive and cooperative. She is characterized of low self confidence, defeatism and many times she refuses to participate in team works because she is afraid she can not accomplish and so will become subject of scornful comments.
In general, the surrounding school atmosphere is democratic and liberal. The school climate favors the development of healthy relationships among professors and students, as well the conduct of democratic processions that allow any’s student activation and shake- up. The Director and the association of teachers have always acted with the view of students’ security and the opinion that the students should consider themselves as members of a community that takes care and interested in their physical and psychical health and their mental and moral constitution. Any matter that shows up is worked out by the Director and the association of professors according to democratic process, looking after for the best solution, many times with the collaboration of the parents’ and guardians’ association .

POINT OF VIEW OF VICTIM:

Three months before the attempt to suicide Catherine was in very bad psychological situation. Her family had moved a year ago from Thessalonica. The child every day was experiencing problems due to the way she was treated by her classmates. Often she complained to her mother about the jokes and the teasing she suffered at school. The reason was the girl’s obesity and her region accent. Particularly she claimed that a company of girls laughed at her because of the weight and the odd accent of Thessalonica city. She would bow the head, turn red in the face; her eyes were filled with tears and often ran to the school toilets to cry without being seen by her classmates. But as she was very timid and with low self confidence she would not react to the teasing. She was a sensitive girl with artistic temperament. She was occupied with the painting and music. She would never intend to hurt anyone. She was shy as she could not repel the other girls’ insults. Often, as well, she asked her parents to change school area. She was complaining she had no friendships and some girls were violent and aggressive. In particular, Natasha, Mary and Christina had targeted her since the first day she matriculated at the school. Catherine remembered strongly that the first day of the school year they used to call her “whale” in front of the other classmates, many of whom broke into laughing, making her burst into tears. So after three months full of teasing and mocking comments Catherine could not endure any more and wanted to revenge them as she confessed after all these to the hospital psychologist. When she saw on her Face book wall the video and the photos that ridiculed her she neither could nor bear up and she lost courage. She consumed the pills which found in her grandmother’s drawer and in a few minutes she lost her senses.

POINT OF VIEW OF BULLYING STUDENT(S):

The other three girls, Natasha, Mary and Christina, according to their confession they used to mock and make fun constantly of several, mostly timid, school students so they could hold their status among the other. They believed that they were superior to the other. They had never imagined that the consequences of their actions would be so grave for their classmate. The reason that they uploaded these photos was that days ago they had blackmailed Catherine not to mention anything at the professors and Director about their teasing. Catherine who was emotionally affected in her new school environment and petrified by the mocking of the three classmates that created laughs to the other classmates, in an unexpected outburst; she threatened them, that the following day she would confess every detail to the responsible class professor. This infuriated the girls and by the noon of 25th November they uploaded on Face book the video and photos with the insulting comments in order to embarrass and terrify her. In addition they claimed that Catherine was a girl odd and depressive. In other words, the girls would not consider that their photos of Catherine were the real cause who drove her to attempt suicide. In spite of all this they stated that they had regretted for their behavior.

POINT OF VIEW OF OTHER STUDENTS:

All the school students were informed the following day about the incident. Many classmates of the victim thought aw well the bad attitude of the perpetrators. They called them quarrelsome, selfish and many times violent. They mentioned that more students, just like Catherine, had fallen victims of that mocking and insulting behavior. But Catherine was too timid and sensitive to front them. It was also mentioned that other students were afraid to defend Catherine or approach her due to the fear of experiencing similar problems. In addition, often they would not mention to the School Director the negative acts of these girls under the fear that they would be on target of racism and being ridiculous. Some girls, indeed, who chatting on Face book that evening had seen the photos and video uploaded by Natasha and five of them expressed “like”(approved the act of Natasha) in order to express that way their approbation towards Natasha and her friends’ attitude. They wanted to gain a nice relationship with the girls- perpetrators so they would not get bothered.

POINT OF VIEW OF TEACHERS:

Many teachers supported that they had no idea about Catherine’s problem and had never been informed about any reaction or complain of her. The responsible professor of class had noticed that Catherine was a shy and timid girl and during school breaks she would not enter to the other companies but it charged to the fact that she was a new student at school and needed time to adapt to the new school environment.
In reference to the problematic behavior of the students- perpetrators many professors supported the opinion that these students had to obtain psychological support by an expert- psychologist. The whole association of the professors considered that these students should be punished strictly, even including the change of school environment. They suggested additionally, that their act should be subject of annotation and study in the whole school community, so all the students would get knowledge and any other similar phenomena appeared in the school community would be prevented. Finally the professors were palliative and patronizing towards Catherine and expressed their unreserved support.

POINT OF VIEW OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS:

The school Director was informed about Catherine’s attempt to suicide in the morning of 26th November. Indeed he got speechless when Catherine’ s father informed him on the phone about the incident and threatened that if the Director would not find the girls- perpetrators he would sue the school and follow any other legal path in order to protect her daughter’s mental health. Immediately he invited the professors association and announced them the happening. He asked them if any of them had noticed if Catherine had enemies and if there was peculiar strange with her behavior. After the responsible professor of Catherine’s class revealed the girls who had uploaded the photo and video stuff and they were found the Director acting in the concert of the professors decided that those girls who heckled Catherine and had taken pictures and video of her inside the school area making her ridiculous on Face book should be dismissed from school. After calling the three girls in front of the professors association and their confession of their act the Director also invited their parents and announced them the final and irreversible dismissal of the girls of the school unit. Suggested that each one of the girls should matriculate at different schools so they would lose every day’s contact. Afterwards the Headmaster informed by phone and Catherine’s parents and announced them that such he as the association of educators would act the best ever to help Catherine feel better at school and incorporate at the school environment.

POINT OF VIEW OF THE PARENTS OF THE PUPILS INVOLVED:

Catherine’s parents had many times got to know her complaints about the teasing and mocking and her objections about the new school. In spite all this stuff, they believed that it was something temporary and their child soon would get used to her new school environment. They could not consider that that their child was under this bad psychological situation due to the teasing of her classmates so she would reach the attempt of suicide. Their increased professional obligations and effort to get used to the new city did not leave them any chance to comprehend Catherine’ s problem and take seriously her complaints.
On the other side the parents of the three girls who teased Catherine could not believe that their children had caused something so grave. They tried to comprehend their daughters’ point of view who claimed that it was just jokes and teasing among adolescents and take in mind the view of shy and feared Catherine. They insisted though that if Catherine’s parents had taken seriously her daughter’s complaints and if they had informed the school Director and the professors about the problem, then the attempt of suicide and generally the relations among the students involved perhaps would be better. Although they accepted without any objections the removal of their children from the school unit, they left school claiming that their daughters’ teasing was not such an important cause to lead to an attempt of suicide and that finally Catherine’s parents should search at different reasons the attempt of their child to end her life.

POINT OF VIEW OF THE COUNSELLOR IN THE SCHOOL:

There is no reference to intervention by the school councellor of the school after the recording of the incident. However the contribution to the management of such incidents is essential.
Repeated victimization of a child at school often / leads to psychological problems such as excessive inhibition, loneliness and even depression. The victim has low self esteem, sees himself as a failed / or even ashamed. This increases the isolation from others and the chance to again become a victim. In parallel, showing changes in behavior such as refusing to go to school for fear of developing relationships with other children, intense feelings of frustration and appearance anxiety, and somatic complaints, eg headaches, pains in the abdomen. Often it and learning problems due to the fact that school life is the victim of an intolerable experience, reduced school performance and waives hobbies and interests
Her parents, Catherine had to perceive the seriousness of the poor condition experienced their daughter to school and the impact on psychology and had informed the school community as partners to help their child. Parents and teachers should have sought the assistance of the school board to refer the perpetrator and the victim to specialists (psychologists) if there were changes in emotional state and behavior of children.

With the help of an expert, the victim's family must instill the necessary confidence and pride in herself and in diversity, and for it to find the strength to ignore the perpetrators, giving them a clear message that is not so vulnerable as to believe. In addition, parents should help the child acquire interpersonal skills to make its own friends and friends and ask for help from a teacher or another adult when exposed to repeated verbal or physical attacks, social or electronic bullying.


The spread of the phenomenon is also due largely to lack of information, awareness of the school community education and ignorance regarding the management of such crises. Prevention should be based on training teachers in active, experiential teaching methods that foster attributes such as teamwork, cooperation and aimed at fostering self-esteem of the student and build empathy.

POINT OF VIEW OF POLICY MAKERS:

The cause of the crisis is the student’s lack of communication with the family and the school. At school level there may have been too few efforts on part of the teachers to approach the schoolgirl, who seemed to be a little introvert, although they were expected to do so. In addition, it seems that there is no communication between teachers and the students-abusers, whose deviant behavior appeared before the incident. In other words, mistakes were made by the teachers of the school, since they didn’t deal with the underlying problem behaviors that were systematically reported within the school environment and resulted in the tragic event. Furthermore, the lack of communication between the school and the students’ parents is evident. Still, after the incident, the School Director acted accordingly regarding the management of this crisis. He tried to defuse the tension and prevent any similar behaviors.
As a regional body we are trying to nurture the development of communication in the broad education community. The objective is to encourage the family to cooperate with the teaching staff and vice versa, as these are two very important environments in which students grow and manifest different sorts of behavior along with the development of their personality and particularly during the period of adolescence. For this reason we organize seminars and conferences that focus on not only the prevention of mental problems of adolescents, but also their effective management in cooperation with all mental health agencies. In this way we hope that we will raise parents’ and teachers’ awareness and promote their cooperation so that phenomena such as school violence and divergent behavior may be eliminated.

CONCLUSIVE DEDUCTIONS:

Through the incident as above it is perceived that the child who is introverted, shy and usually has a physical disadvantage becomes victim of school violence. At the specific incident Catherine experiencing strongly the change of school environment and simultaneously feeling bad about the mocking comments made by her classmates about her weight and her odd pronunciation, guided her in distress and hate towards her classmates. She wanted to express the violence that received at school through a violent act towards her, in order to take revenge of her classmates, as she confessed later at the hospital psychologist.
The reason that caused the incident above was the arrogant attitude and behavior of the three girls, who wanted, as they confessed to impose on the other children and distinguish. Those girls wanted to assure their leading capacities, by mocking and deriving children like Catherine, shy and introverted, and not strong enough to react.
On the other side, the school, the association of teachers and the Director, had no understood any offensive behavior of those children or, at least, did not evaluate it such as offensive, as they had no denounce of any child victim.
However now the situation at school has improved. Catherine with the support of an expert, of her professors and her classmates has managed to incorporate to the school environment. The classmates and generally the school students after a debate among the professors and students and also after speech of experts in the school area on the matter of school bulling, have been more sensitive on this issue and now are more informed.

SUMMARY OF THE CASE STUDY IN BULGARIAN LANGUAGE:

Социалната мрежа създава проблеми.pdf

Comments about this Case Study


Date: 23.04.2012

Posted by: MULDER FRANCIS
Type of school: School mediation service - Liège
Country: Belgium

Analysis :
The facts related show a young girl, Catherine, harassed at school and through Facebook, In particular targeting her appearance, her shyness, her tears, her isolation. The answer she gives to these attacks is a suicide attempt.
What is noteworthy is that when the school is aware of the facts, it immediately convenes a meeting of teachers and the young girls harassers must explain their behaviour before this assembly. The young girls' parents are also invited. The decision is taken rather quickly. Young-girls harassers are excluded and dispersed in different establishments.

Here in Belgium, there is a different procedure. Parents and young people who had a conduct constituting an infringement are called, but never before a general meeting of teachers. They are received by the headmaster in the context of a possible exclusion proceeding and a hearing is scheduled at which a council chosen by the family can be present.
Another observation: the girls excluded must register in different schools. Here in Belgium, this power of imposition does not exist.

I wonder about the appropriateness of exclusion to the extent it is found that the young girls reproduce their problematic behaviour elsewhere. In addition, students are divided and some do not hesitate to continue to stigmatize Catherine.

I think Catherine could have found support in the school earlier. Indeed, what generates issues is that many acts of bullying occur and nobody realizes it. This suicide attempt is needed to produce awareness of the problem. What are the devices of vigilance and prevention in this school?

In the other hand, what seems positive is that the Assembly of teachers decided to use this situation for the school to take such facts seriously and produce awareness among students. The school seems to be aware of the need to cooperate with parents, regional organizations and experts.

Recommendations in relation to this type of situation :

As far as the cyber-bullying is concerned, it is advisable to first educate the adults (parents, teachers, educators) to enable them to understand the issues of new technologies and be able to give the pupils advice about the dangers, especially by giving them awareness about empathy, prudence, respect for fundamental rights, while not demonizing these new tools. In Belgium, this awareness is growing and in most internal rules a chapter is dedicated to the use of these new technologies.
If I had to retain an important element of the situation of our Greek friends, I would especially highlight their concern to involve "the collective" in the prevention and intervention.

Pertinence of teachers' training to deal with harassment situations :
The initial teacher training deals with few or no bullying situations, except in continuing training. However, it seems to me important that a process of awareness is realized from the initial training, especially through a tool like “Intervision” where future teachers could share their internship experiences, in particular those who perform their professional practice in schools where this kind of phenomenon appears.

Date: 02.04.2012

Posted by: Claude PRIGNON
Type of school: Coordinator of School mediators in the Region of Brussels Capital
Country: Belgium

Previous :
This situation has particularly caught our attention because it allows us to define how we work and to offer our suggestions that are made on the basis of our practice.
However, we would like to spécify that we never judge what has been done by others, considering that only the persons who experience a situation are expert to handle the problem considered.

• Common elements
This type of situations is very similar to the type of situations we regularly meet. However, let’s try to set the emotional aspect aside to allow us to consider the situation. Nevertheless we are aware of the consequences of this dramatic act, but we suggest to analyze this situation while considering it with the benefit hindsight, ans that is what is requested.
 Conflict and harassment between pupils
 Pupils are afraid to talk about their ill-being, about their difficulties
 Difficulties are amplified by the social networks
 Role of the « other pupils » of the class
 Teachers’ and heamaster’s worry
 Headmaster’s reaction or even wish to « solve » the problem in an authoritarian way, especially by making it external (three girls expelled)
 The headmaster’s office reaction was to arrange the problem so that « it does not appear again »
 Making the families feel guilty, they should inculcate value in their children
 Making the teachers feel guilty, they don’t make enough efforts
 Confusion between sanction and education, between justice and pedagogy
 Lack of space to speak for all the pupils


Not in common :
• Common elements
This type of situations is very similar to the type of situations we regularly meet. However, let’s try to set the emotional aspect aside to allow us to consider the situation. Nevertheless we are aware of the consequences of this dramatic act, but we suggest to analyze this situation while considering it with the benefit hindsight, ans that is what is requested.
 Conflict and harassment between pupils
 Pupils are afraid to talk about their ill-being, about their difficulties
 Difficulties are amplified by the social networks
 Role of the « other pupils » of the class
 Teachers’ and heamaster’s worry
 Headmaster’s reaction or even wish to « solve » the problem in an authoritarian way, especially by making it external (three girls expelled)
 The headmaster’s office reaction was to arrange the problem so that « it does not appear again »
 Making the families feel guilty, they should inculcate value in their children
 Making the teachers feel guilty, they don’t make enough efforts
 Confusion between sanction and education, between justice and pedagogy
 Lack of space to speak for all the pupils

1. With Catherine’s agreement, the mediator would have suggested to meet the three young grils, event to set up a mediation between Catherine and the young girls (one at a time, or two, or three). The mediation would have existed without the Institution to be informed, allowing each party to tell his ill-being.
Maybe this suggestion of mediation would have led to a class mediation (we can feel that ill-being exists in the whole class…). But always only with the parties’ agreement.

2. Without all the parties’ agreement, the mediator would turn back to Catherine and consider with her the hypothesis of solutions and, why not, the hypothesis of calling for the headmaster’s office…., and, here too, the mediator would be able to mediate.

What I can learn from this case study :
What is striking in this situation is the confusion, at the level of the Insitution and of the parents (of all the adults actually), probably and largely linked to the emotion aroused by the suicide attempt, between « sanctioning » and « punishing ». Behind the word « sanction » we put « saying no », labelling the action (use of the mobile phone when it is forbidden to use it within the school ; non-agreement regarding some behaviours or the infringement of values). But we can see here that the headmaster’s office does not sanction but it punishes. And the punishement (the worse one, the complete rupture, that is to say expulsion…) is the only thing suggested. Nothing is set up to allow the parties to speak, to understand each other, to become aware of the consequences of one’s words or actions on the others…
And when the three young girls have left the school, after a certain time, questions come again between the pupils of the class, Catherine is still in trouble and the three young girls expelled develop similar behaviours again. Nothing has been suggested to them in order to allow them to work on the relationship with the others.

Recommendation :
The mediator’s point of view will not be to aim to « make cease », but the mediator’s work can probably lead to the stop of bullying. It is not an objective, it is a possible, even probable, result. Working that way is prevention : the mediator’s work can show other possibilities of relationships.

Date: 13.03.2012

Posted by: THERESE LUCAS - coordinator of SMSW
Type of school: SMSW - School mediation service in Wallonia
Country: Belgium

Elements in common :
This type of event can happen both in the French Community of Belgium and in Greece.

Elements not in common :
The comments show an « excessive » confidence in the experts. (Same comment for the other situations).

Recommendations :
The new technologies deeply modify the relationship and communication mode between the pupils, the educative team and the family. It is important that the educative teams are made aware of this evolution and are training to better tackle it. The SMSW, when it is called for this type of problematic, suggests to the schools to make the youths aware of the problematic but also the educative team and the parents. Allowing each of these three bedrocks to get common references to broach together the problems. The teachers’ training is very important for that, because they daily rub shoulders with the youths and they are witnesses of the relationships that established between them.

What would you recommend to deal with and strategies :
Cf. Supra : to carry out training and awareness activities intended for the youths, the parents and the educative team. The school should be able to integrate this new mission to educate to the use of the new technologies.

What training you would like to receive to improve the way you deal with this kind of episode :
See comments above.

Date: 07.03.2012

Posted by: Manuel Tejero
Type of school: Concerted
Country: Spain

The measures taken were the right ones I think. What if I think the school is that we should spend much more time to prevent these behaviors. Not so much to have measures and a proper protocol when there are cases of harassment (also) and have a plan of care to students who are new to the school, mentoring and work from all subjects on the need to respect all (also on Internet, where it seems that by not seeing the other person can write whatever we want, etc..). It is important to conduct an awareness campaign before, even before you see a problem of bullying, because parents should help us, speaking from small, accountability in the use of Internet, social networking, dangers of providing information and publish personal photos. Internet is not "touch" but not so not going to cause problems in our relationships. Teachers must be formed in what they are doing our alumni / ae on the Internet, Facebook for example is a tool that our alumni / ae little used, preferring Tuenti, etc, do not know and therefore do not know how to inform our students of what not to do and the responsibility we have to use these tools.

Date: 07.03.2012

Posted by: Asya Tsvetanova
Type of school: Secondary school
Country: Bulgaria

The described situation is quite similar to a previously analyzed case of cyber bullying, in which two girls published a defamatory material on MySpace. Like in that case, here again the direct aim of the harassment is one particular girl, but the attack is quite targeted. In this case the attacker dominate in numbers and the victim feels particularly stressed - there is an attempt for suicide. Such a scenario should be best solved through participation of the entire school team and general inclusion of the children in informational and educational activities. This is mainly connected to the fact that the attack is massive (it comes from a group) and it should be responded to by a massive education and prevention. From this and other similar cases we can draw the conclusion that girls quite often use indirect techniques for practicing psychological harassment. This is probably due to deeper empathy of the girl-bullies, because their actions hurt the victims very deeply.
Prevention could be achieved via regular lectures and presentation of specific cases and the outcomes from them (including the harsh consequences and measures taken by the school management for sanctioning the perpetrators of such harassment). The children should be made aware that everybody can be identified on the Internet; that every mobile number can be “caught”, that such indirect attacks have extremely serious and lasting negative effects on the victim's psyche. This, together with involvement of specialists and probably even police, could influence the behavior of potential wrong-doers.
Specific courses for teachers and psychologists on the topic of cyber bullying and the particularities of female empathy would be very useful. Ready lectures, which to be presented before the children, supported by similar thematic case studies.

Date: 06.03.2012

Posted by: Mariya Stankova
Type of school: Vocational school
Country: Bulgaria

A very provocative case, shared by our Greek colleagues, related to use of Facebook for defamation and humiliation of a child. Like other commented cases before, here again we see picking on a victim who is systematically harassed, insulted and mocked by online bullies. Facebook is where everything happens, this is where teenagers promote themselves and quite innocently start their campaigns against the uncomfortable ones. Some do it for fun, in order to show themselves off, to present themselves as important in the social network – as more important and significant than the others. Still the innocent picking on somebody starts to bring them pleasure, they like to humiliate, to insult and to harass the different fellow students. They get applauded for this and get positive comments from the other network members. This encourages them and makes them feel more important – makes them feel as “dictators”.
However, what provokes the youths to behave like that? Surely not the school. The reason in this case is what they have seen and copied from the movies. For the young person it is important to try him/herself out in all kinds of situations, which could appear in his or her life. The missing role of the parents as educators and mentors, which thus becomes visible, is another topic. It is important to make the difference between “good and bad”, “right and false”, “allowed and forbidden”, “worthy and unworthy“. The child does not recognize and accept these rules in its life, because nobody introduced them as norms, which it is supposed to abide by when communicating with others.
How should we react in a similar case involving our students? I would say that there is probably no exact strategy for reaction in such a situation. The responsibility falls on the parents mainly. They should undertake immediate measures concerning the upbringing of their children. The actions of the youths hurt another person who needs and has the right to be protected and rehabilitated before the society and the perpetrators to be adequately punished and reprimanded for their actions. In this case the victim almost succeeds with an attempt for suicide, which shows the gravity of the situation. The school institution is also involved. It is an educational institution, which other parents have also trusted with their children, feeling calm about their education and safety. If we don't pay attention to what is happening, if we stay silent about it and cover it up, the guilty ones would continue their actions towards the chosen victims. This requires immediate gathering of the students, the parents, the teachers who know all involved children, the headmaster and most definitely a psychologist. This meeting should have the objective of clarifying the reasons for the actions of the bullies, the feelings they were experiencing during the implementation of this “public inquisition”. This would give guidelines to the psychologist in connection with the consultations, which he/she should carry out with all students, as well as in connection with the topics, which should be discussed with all other children.

Date: 26.02.2012

Posted by: Rob Southern
Type of school: 11-18 Secondary
Country: England

There is a growing trend in cyber-bullying at school and it is very common to hear of name calling and threats on Facebook. As a school, it is very difficult to respond to this type of bullying as it does not take place on the school premises and is not able to be seen by anyone who is not “friends” with the person who posts or receives the messages. Therefore, a school can only become involved and attempt to prevent the bullying from continuing when a student or parent makes them aware of the incident. This usually happens when the bullying has become so extreme that something significant has happened such as the suicide attempt in this study.
I do think that schools can play a big part in reducing the number of cyber-bullying incidents through a pro-active educational campaign. In this case study there does not appear to have been any attempt to educate the students, either before or after the incident, about appropriate behaviour on the internet.
I would advise the school to work with the local police to inform students of the impact and consequences of cyber-bullying. I have organised a number of e-safety workshops within my school to look at the appropriate way to behave on the internet including cyber-bullying, Facebook safety and “sexting”. This approach has meant that all students are familiar with what to do if they are bullied on the internet and what will happen if they are found to be guilty of cyber-bullying.
The school also needs to work in conjunction with the parents of their students. I find that parents can be very quick to blame the school if something happens on Facebook without accepting that they have a responsibility to monitor the behaviour and safety of their children whilst they are accessing the internet. I have found that a whole-school campaign on e-safety, publicised on the school website, can help parents to monitor their children. I have shared good advice with our parents through publicising national cyber bullying and e-safety websites and campaigns.
I think that it is important that this school looks at the way they educate their students about e-safety. I would also encourage them to involve the local police in assemblies or lessons to highlight the consequences of cyber-bullying.

I Am Not Scared Project
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