TITLE OF THE CASE STUDIES
Alessandra: a case of stalking
SCENARIOS OF BULLYING EVENT:
- Direct bullying
CAUSES OF BULLYING EVENT:
FACTUAL DESCRIPTION OF THE BULLYING EVENT
Alessandra attends the fourth year of a high school. She is an only child: the middle-class family is careful to the needs of the girl. Father and mother work in a small privately-owned company.
During the third year she started a relationship with his classmate, Mauro, a bad student wih a borderline personality. Mauro has a strong passion for techno music and he works as DJ in a disco at weekends.
During the summer, Alessandra knows Stefano, a high school student, who attends the fifth class in a city and a school in another province. they fall in love each other and have a wonderful summer. In September the new school year starts: Mauro repeats the fourth class, and as he attends the same school, Alexandra meets him inevitably. Alessandra is very clear and speaks about her feelings for Stefano, but, for this, Mauro begins to harass Alessandra. He forms a gang, becomes the leader and starts to follow Alessandra closely, he lurks in front of her home, sends anonymous letters to parents and friends of the girl, he forced his friends to make defamatory calls, injuring Alessandra psychologically and creating within her family a climate of nervousness and tension. Anonymous and threatening phone calls or text messages are constant and very frequent in the first months of the school year.
The episode that, added to countless incidents of harassment and defamation acted out by Mauro, makes Alessandra act tough and determined against Mauro is an anonymous e-mail that Alexandra finds on Stefano's computer full of offensive words and photographs.
In February Alessandra reports the fact to the police because of harassment and violation of the privacy.
Alessandra confesses the fact to her teacher of law, that advises her to report the fact to the related authorities. Through the post police the author of the anonymous e-mail was discovered: one of Mauro's friends, who was charged by him, was the perpetrator. A complaint is made to "harassment and violation of the privacy" article 660 of the Penal Code, which says: anyone who, in public places or open to the public, or by means of telephone, or other reprehensible petulance reason causes to individuals harassment or disturbance, is punished with prison up to six months or with a fine …
IMPACT OF THE BULLYING ACTION
Alessandra, after the first harassment, begins to isolate hermself from the group class, counts painfully the intrusive and repeated offenses acted out by Mauro, who becomes increasingly bold in his behaviour, since he feels protected by his friends.
The motivation of Mauro is mostly jealousy, but because none of his mates expressed their disapproval of him and his attitude. He acts undisturbed and supported by accomplices, who help him also in the actions of persecution.
The context is that of an Italian high school. The class and the school apparently do not have any abnormality that justifies deviant behaviors.
POINT OF VIEW OF VICTIM
Alessandra, after the first persecutions and offenses, becomes harassed victim and starts living with psychological terror, she accuses sleep disorders, her school performance suffers a sharp decline, she does not speak to her family, she is frightened and helpless towards Stefano. Her mood changes: sad, pensive, terrified, she often cries, even in class, and avoids other friends and confines herself in her social and private life.
POINT OF VIEW OF BULLYING STUDENT(S)
Mauro is a mediocre student. He failed the repair exam in September of the 4th class, and so he has to repeat it. He has a wide passion: techno music. When he works as a DJ, he uses the evocative power of sound to communicate a feeling, and so a sentimental listening turns to a "sensitive" listening. In fact the techno is a sound stream that causes no feelings but body sensations and makes you dance, it fits into the present moment. Mauro lives its time as space and vertigo.
POINT OF VIEW OF OTHER STUDENTS
Why did Mauro's classmates perform the tasks they received from him?
They have a completely lack of awareness of what has happened and there are no obvious causes that connect these events to experiences (neither personal nor within their families)lived by the other students.
Mauro has exerted an influence on them which derives primarily from his image as leader, who has a passion for music and the DJ, an icon of success and fame.
POINT OF VIEW OF TEACHERS
In the case the fundamental help comes from Alexandra's teacher of law, that gives her the proper advice to overcome this insidious situation.
The complaint to the post police will be the last act of the unscrupulous Mauro and his friends.
The teachers of the class have registered the decrease in Alessandra's performace, but the action of the school has been completely ineffective.
POINT OF VIEW OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
The educational institution attended by the protagonists of the story was not involved in the affair, as well as the School Director has not played a significant role in the affair.
POINT OF VIEW OF THE PARENTS OF THE PUPILS INVOLVED
Parents played an irrelevant role and had no active part. Stronger was the impact that the fact had on Alexandra's family. In a few moments,the harassment and offenses, even anonymously, have caused a climate of tension and nervousness that has partly aggravated the situation.
POINT OF VIEW OF THE COUNSELLOR IN THE SCHOOL
there was no awareness and certainly within the Institute the communication system did not work properly. An improvement must be to implement counselling services offering a large number of operators, and more flexible opening hours.
Alessandra hasn't considered this solution.
POINT OF VIEW OF POLICY MAKERS
It was the month of February 2008, when Alexandra reported the fact to the police. Unfortunately, only a few months later, on 18th June 2008, the Council of Ministers, approved the Bill that introduced in the Penal Code the crime of stalking. The art. 612-bis provides not just a fine, but from 4 months to 6 years of prison detention for stalking. After the claim of the offended person, the crime is punishable. If you verify aggravating reasons, you have the admissibility of Office, if the stalker in question previously had already been identified as responsible of persecutions, the admissibility is immediate.
This case is a clear case of stalking. Only a gap in time between the fact and the approval of the law did not allow the institutions to frame the problem from the point of view.
Alessandra has suffered for too many months, due to a legislative vacuum, a serious existential problem that she could not face properly. A fundamental result is the the help of the teacher of law who encouraged the victim to report the fact to the police.
The family seemed to be very close to his daughter, but definitely lacks educational point of view and could not manage dissuasive actions of the phenomenon.
There are groups of peers. Mauro's gang is closed and apparently protects the actions of the leader.
Posted by: Irina Nikolova
Type of school: Secondary school
A very strange and inadequate action is taken by the girl. Usually any legal actions against a minor (fine or a jail) are not a suitable or relevant reaction to a situation. The teacher would have probably been more helpful if he/she had tried to communicate the problem with the school management, the pedagogical counselor and the families of the bullied girl and the bully.
The boy was obviously suffering from an impossible love with the girl so that he also deserves an adequate response and help to go through this difficult moment. The long-lasting and most effective resolution would involve actions at all levels including all relevant parties, the bullied and the bully, the whole school, the group which was helping the bully, as well as their families.
Posted by: IONELA ZAIT
Type of school: V.MADGEARU High School IASI
It was a good point that Alessandra had one teacher to help her when she felt that her parents were not able to do so; it is a pity she couldn’t resort to a person who had more expertise such as a counsellor in the school.
In such cases students usually ask for help from people whom they feel close to. Students should be encouraged to open up and talk about their problems with an adult whom they trust. Students should be encouraged to talk with teachers about their problems instead of keeping them to themselves. The existence of a special place in a school, such as the counsellor’s office, may be an ideal space where students feel free and safe to speak about their worries.
On the other hand students should be engaged in a wide variety of activities to socialise and to learn to respect each other. School is based on relationships. It should focus on teaching tolerance and respect. It should focus on prevention.
Posted by: LEILA SLIMANI - Criminologue
Type of school: Use right service
When I write this case study, I notice that the actors realized that the school did not really take the problem into account.
It is about to know if the school had made special places available for listenning and for speaking, and if some persons identified as professionals and considered as reliable was a fact recognized by the pupils of this school.
I think that the way to consider this type of space is highly important. Only a specific working method and a well organized and considered framework can allow teenagers to dare to speak about their problems.
An aspect that seems essential to me within the school is the need for the teenagers to know that they are going to benefit from a right to be listened and a right to speak, and that the themes broached will not been revealed to other persons without their agreement, even to their parents. I think this type of space could have been meaningful for all the pupils involved in this bullying event. The victim could have found a sympathic ear to talk to about her suffering and someone who would have informed her of the different possibilities of action she could attempt.
I also notice that despite of the tears, the teachers have kept inactive (voluntarily or not) when they have faced an explicit suffering. Do the teachers feel skilled enough to listen to their pupils ? Do they know how to approach them and where to lead them to in case of difficulties ? Do they fear to intervene in a more intimate way towards a youth ? According to me, these questions should be developped.
I also notice that the bully suffers from borderline difficulties and that he has not succeeded in managing his impulses linked to a feeling of jealousy. Beyond a purely repressive and peanl aspect, could other sanctions have been imposed ? A attempt of mediation coud also be, according to me, meaningful concerning « criminal » bullying events. It would give the victim the possibility to express her feelings, and to lead the author toward a possible realization of the reproved facts.
Another essential point in this situation is the position taken by the other youths, intially considered as victim’s friends. Their involvement can not be denied or passed over in silence, but it must be considered in a way that allow to realize the consequences that this type of behaviours can generate. It is not about pointing an accusating finger at the pupils, but to turn them more responsible and actors of changes.
Finally, I think that the victim’s parents, who are perceived close to their children, did not know how to manage the situation. It would have been interesting that the parents dare to ask for the shool help. If the school actors felt unable to help, they could have considered a re-orientation of the parents in order to talk about the difficulties experienced by their daughter
Posted by: Carlos José Pérez Fernández
Type of school: Concerted
This case is unlike any that I have encountered, as Alessandra was harassed to the point of having to go to the authorities to end this, advised by her law professor. However, if my experience is common to the fact that Alessandra hold off "until the end" without going to help. That fact is one of the most difficult to solve these cases, so I think we should focus more on prevention. So I think that teachers should have a friendly to students, to be able to realize that something is happening but do not have what. Of course, it is difficult, as in this case, being aware of the confidence of pupils and their relationships, but we can be aware of other indicators that do exist in this case: isolation of class group of the victim, group formation around the stalker to be "emboldened" in his attitude, lower class Alessandra performance, changes in mood, the fact that even cry in class ...
Given these symptoms, the school itself could have acted differently, putting more attention and devote more esfuerzoa Alessandra (precisely in the case mentioned the need to improve this by more personal and more flexible hours of care for students who need advice)
Faced with a similar case, I think it's important to see the real effect bullies who are having their actions on the victim, since in this case may Mauro's followers were not entirely aware of what they were doing, they were only carried away by a perceived leader. I see well that last (and always in last place) go to the authorities if things get out of control, but only if unavoidable.
In this particular case, we had to get to go to the authorities, and very soon there was a change in Italian law that would have solved much harder Mauro harassment. In this regard, I think it should formarme about Spanish law about harassment / cyberacoso and know in case you need to reach those limits.
Posted by: PANTAZAKOU CHRISTINA
Type of school: SPECIAL EDUCATION SCHOOL
The current case study does not have many common elements with my personal experience “the lively and the calm”. In this case study, a girl is harassed due to a relationship broke up whether in the case study I studied, a boy is harassed by one of his classmates, that enjoys being powerful and leader. The common elements are the long duration of the bullying phenomenon, the isolation of the victims and the fact that both victims decide to speak after a serious incident.
When educational system is concerned, as far as I can conclude by the specific case study, there are some differences in the educational system, regarding the grades. The Italian educational system has more grades in high school, at least five as it is mentioned in the case study, whereas in Greece, the high school has three grades. As far as I can understand, there are not many other differences between the two educational systems or any cultural differences.
The educational administration is often far from students’ relationships and affairs and thus it is difficult to acknowledge any problem occurred to school. On the other hand, when problems are important and get bigger dimensions, the educational administration could take some action. School staff and parents are the ones that could be involved more in bullying phenomena actions, support victims, suggest solutions and help all parties involved to overcome the problem. Training is very important also and any actions of teachers training or education should be welcomed.
What we can learn from this story, is that teachers must be very careful, close to students and examine any change in student’s behaviour and in their educational level, as this change could hide a problem or a bullying action.
My recommendations to similar events, if occurred to my school, would be to speak separately to all parties (bully, victim and the observers) and organize sensitization actions as well. All parties need support either to understand the impact of their actions (for the bully and the observers), or to empower the victim. Both these two recommendations have been implemented to the school I work, and their impact was significant, although there wasn’t a 100% success and change to their behaviour. As far as the strategy took place in this case study is concerned (police involvement), would be the last I would like to see implemented in my school, but some times these kinds of solutions are inevitable.
Teachers training regarding school bullying handling is not mentioned in this case study. Regarding the training that I wish to receive, I would like to have the opportunity to attend seminars dealing with aspects as students’ psychology, fights confrontation, children counselling and school bullying handling.