TITLE OF THE CASE STUDIES
"Help me to be like the others"
SCENARIOS OF BULLYING EVENT:
CAUSES OF BULLYING EVENT:
FACTUAL DESCRIPTION OF THE BULLYING EVENT
Sofía is a slightly retarded 14 year old girl. Last year she was isolated by her class mates. Her mother found out what was happening when she saw her daughter all alone at the end-of-term party. Until then she had not been aware of the situation because Sofía had never said anything to her. Sofía behaves very childishly and even plays with dolls at break time. For that reason, the other girls of her age are hardly ever with her. Sofía's mother started asking around and identified one particular class mate, Marta, who manipulated the others and persuaded them to turn their backs on Sofía. Some of Sofía’s class mates told her mother that Marta told them not to have anything to do with Sofía because she was stupid and if they played with her they would look stupid too. They did what Marta said because they were afraid that Marta would exclude them too and that they would be left without any friends. This year Marta is still trying to isolate Sofía and make sure that the other girls neither talk to her nor let her join in their activities. She is obsessed with Sofía and tells everyone that she hates Sofía and is not going to stop until Sofía is totally alone. She never leaves Sofía alone. She is always waiting for her to make a mistake so that she can laugh at her and get the other girls in the class to laugh at her mistakes or habits (like biting her nails). She even asked one of Sofía’s new friends how she could be friends with someone who sticks her fingers in her nose like a little girl (which is not true). Sofía’s mother has spoken to Marta's mother, who said it was just a question of girlish squabbles. She has also reported the situation to the school, but the response was the same as that of Marta's mother. According to the school, it is difficult to corroborate what Sofía and her mother said because there has been no actual physical aggression. Sofía’s mother is worried about the damage being done to her daughter, and she is trying to get Sofía to confide more in her and tell her more details, although as yet she has had no success. The mothers of Sofía’s other class mates also talk about the situation. They are trying to get their own daughters to tell them what is happening, but they have not obtained much information.
The different people involved adopted the following strategies to deal with the situation:
According to the students, the victim’s classmates did nothing. They ignored her so that the same thing would not happen to them. The students also think the teachers at the school did not take the situation seriously, perhaps because they were unaware of the problem. Others think the teachers merely followed the standard procedures, without going more deeply into the problem. Action is only taken in cases of physical or verbal aggression, not in situations like this. Others say: “If there is no evidence there is no crime”. Is talking to the person involved any kind of solution if it is not accompanied by punishment? For the rest of the students, the situation is not particularly worrying because it does not affect them directly. Talking to Marta’s mother? She is not going to accept any criticism of her daughter. She will just say her daughter is very good. Report the situation to the police? Yes, but... they think that looking the other way is the same as saying nothing. The parents think that the first thing to do is talk to their own daughter, and then talk to the mothers of the girls involved and to the school. But others say that nothing is being done, because the reactions and the attitudes that have been adopted contribute just as much to the isolation, and many people find this an easier option than actually tackling the problem.
IMPACT OF THE BULLYING ACTION
The students, parents, teachers, principal and school counselor believe that this situation is influencing learning and teaching in the classroom in the following ways: Above all it affects the learning and teaching of values. It seems as if the perpetrator’s rights were more important that those of the victim. They think the victim is a girl less equipped to handle the situation. Student demotivation. It is very difficult to generate situations conducive to learning when the climate at school is such that not everyone in the school community feels comfortable. There is a drop in the person’s self-esteem and motivation to learn, and he/she may feel afraid to play a full part in classroom activities. The teachers should take this situation into account in their methodology and implement the necessary prevention strategies.
Regarding whether or not the situation affects the students’ motivation (interest, effort, etc.): Those questioned believe that it does affect motivation. They think it may lead to emotional depression. All attention is focused on Sofía rather than on the classes themselves. Above all, the victim’s motivation is likely to decrease. Very few people are capable of withstanding these attitudes. To a certain extent this is normal at this stage of maturity. Good academic progress is impossible if a student is not integrated and relaxed. They think that this has an effect at the personal level rather than the academic level. Other parents think otherwise: that motivation is generated in other areas. The counselor thinks the situation exerts a great influence, because one of the most frequent consequences in these cases is that the victim may not want to go to school and will totally lose interest in academic matters. If the person does not feel appreciated by the others, he/she will not value him/herself and will not be sufficiently motivated to study.
Regarding possible effects on the students’ results. The students say they will be afraid of Marta, and that their school grades may be lower. Sofía will in time find herself totally alone and become more and more depressed. The students simply have no personality, and they too are therefore being made fools of. The teachers think the victim may experience a significant drop in her academic progress. Considering the link between a person’s emotional state and the learning process, bystander students may also be affected, although to a lesser extent. They may end up getting used to abnormal situations, despite the fact that they themselves consider those situations "normal". Everyone in the class plays a very active role in what is going on, although nowadays there seems to be more individualism and that means that the only thing you worry about is what happens to you, the possibility that you yourself may become the victim. The parents think this will depend on the character and upbringing of each student. The victim’s results will undoubtedly be lower in all areas of her life. Those of the other girls in the class will not be negatively affected in all areas, but they certainly will in some areas. The victim may feel inferior to her peers. The counselor and the principal believe that there is no direct impact on the grades of the bystander students, but that their performance would be much better in a climate offering a higher level of collective wellbeing and academic progress.
Regarding potential problems of classroom integration: All those questioned agree that classroom integration problems are likely to appear. Interpersonal relationships are vital in this regard. There may be negative consequences for the bully, the victim and for the bystander students, depending on their degree of involvement and conflictiveness. One of the teachers pointed out that the group as such does not exist: there is merely a convergence of students with different interests, incapable of working together to achieve anything. The victim in this situation lives her life isolated from the others and the others collaborate in prolonging this situation.
With regard to the possible impact of the bullying in adult life, as manifest in forms of social behavior, everyone thinks that bullying does impact adult life. Again, those involved in this case were in agreement. They think their future conduct will imitate the way people have behaved towards the victim. They perceive unhealthy social patterns: domination, submission, perversion. They will accept abnormal situations as being quite normal, and vice versa. They will lose confidence and self-esteem, and will therefore not be participative citizens. Is a citizen who is not actively concerned about the future of others a true citizen? Rather, he/she is only a person who walks along the same sidewalk as the others, but thinks that sidewalk is there exclusively for them. The students may grow up thinking that there are people they are allowed to abuse because they are weaker than others. This will affect their development as citizens because this way their social contribution will be to keep their mouths shut rather than to vindicate their own rights and ensure that others enjoy their rights too, thus guaranteeing respect. They may feel insecure and/or frightened when relating to other people, and become introverted, lethargic people.
Whether or not the situation affects the atmosphere at school: All those questioned think the school atmosphere is affected. Because everyone is exposed to inappropriate models of social interaction which they then assimilate. They will not develop a clear sense of balance between freedom and responsibility. All the students, not only Sofía, perceive that the bullies are the winners and fear rules. Without security, it is the law of the jungle. It is the biggest bully who imposes his/her rule and decides whether the others have the right to study or to enjoy a good atmosphere. In recent years, this has been happening more and more in school classrooms. It is affecting security and, therefore, the wellbeing of the whole school community. Students feel vulnerable to possible aggression by a bully who can make them victims. It is this preventive fear which paralyses bystanders and the rest of the community. If people are subjected to psychological intimidation they will not feel secure, they cannot develop as individuals and the climate in the classroom and the school will not be good.
POINT OF VIEW OF VICTIM
With regard to the victim’s thoughts and the reasons why she is being bullied, the students say the victim did not tell anyone about the problem, and that she is being treated the way she is because she is different. Marta puts ideas into their heads, and she will have noticed that she is a bit mentally retarded, so she will feel much worse.
Regarding the help the victim thinks she would find useful, she will think the best thing to do is stay silent and ignore them. The best thing to do would be to tell, because then her parents could help her, and she could be helped and accepted by her classmates.
POINT OF VIEW OF BULLYING STUDENT(S)
The bullies think they act the way they do because doing that makes them very cool and they will be respected. Because they are “stupid”. Because she has no personal life and prefers to interfere in the life of a handicapped person, because she knows Sofía won’t fight back.
The students think that the bully chose that specific victim rather than anyone else because that was the one she saw as the weakest, the most “stupid”. Sofía is retarded and Marta knew she didn’t have the courage or capacity to fight back.
Regarding the bully’s remorse: Everyone thinks that Marta will not say sorry and will keep bullying Sofía. But one student says that when Marta is older she will be sorry and will have a guilty conscience.
POINT OF VIEW OF OTHER STUDENTS
The bystander students knew what was happening but did not do anything about it.
Regarding what bystanders thought about the causes of the bullying and what they did. It’s because she was more retarded than the others. Others just walked past and said nothing because they didn’t want problems. Others, because they followed Marta’s lead.
POINT OF VIEW OF TEACHERS
Regarding the teachers’ awareness of what was happening: They say they did not analyze the situation well and were not really aware. Others think they did. Cases like this, if they go on over a period of time, are definitely spotted in day to day activity in class, in the playground, etc. Others think the teachers certainly cannot have known about the situation.
Regarding what the teachers did to find out and understand what was happening: Some say they seem not to have done anything. Others say they watched (in class, in the playground, when students were entering, leaving school or moving from one class to another), interviewed the possible victim, the helpful students in the group, the class representatives, the possible bullies. Others think that, first, they identified the problem and then talked to the parties in conflict before deciding punishment. Talk to the Head of Studies, the School Counselor, and the teaching team to agree on strategies. Observe, investigate, ask other colleagues, according to regulatory procedures. Observe and think these were situations that have always existed. Take measures right from the beginning with the victim, the bully and with their families.
Regarding the help contributed by other teachers: They seem to have done nothing. Others think that all the teachers were very aware of the problem, but it was up to the teacher in whose class it occurred to deal with it.
POINT OF VIEW OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
Regarding the principal's awareness of the problem: With regard to this situation the principal says only that Sofía’s mother got in touch with the school, but does not mention whether or not the principal knew about the problem.
Regarding what should have been done in this case of bullying: The teachers should have realized what was going on and/or the girl herself or her classmates should have reported what was going on, and the standard procedure should have been followed to solve the problem.
The principal’s role in this type of situation: The principal should know about the situation because he/she is the person in charge of the school and responsible for implementing the corresponding measures and procedures.
POINT OF VIEW OF THE PARENTS OF THE PUPILS INVOLVED
Regarding the parent’s awareness of what was happening: Some think that the parents were aware of the situation. But they only really realized what was going on at the end, at the end-of-term party. Others think they were not aware of the problem.
Regarding how parents would find out about what was happening and what information they would seek: The first thing they would do is not put a retarded daughter in a school with children with normal capacity. Others say by gathering information about everything relevant to their daughter. Others would talk to the tutor and the counselor.
Regarding whether the situation could be altered: Some think that the situation would have been avoided by not sending the retarded girl to this school. Others say the problem has its roots in the fact that a retarded or handicapped child should be in a school with specialized facilities for such children. Others think the situation could be changed, first with the help of the parents, and then with the support of the school and the counselor.
POINT OF VIEW OF THE COUNSELLOR IN THE SCHOOL
What the counselor would do: I would mediate between the parties, interview the families, work on the victim’s self-esteem, work on social norms with the bully and her group to try to alter their conduct, organize dynamic activities geared towards convivencia (harmonious relationships) in class to work with the bystander students, submit the corresponding report to the School Inspector, so that the inspector could pass the report on to the Gabinete de Convivencia (Office for Harmonious Interpersonal Relationships) if the problem cannot be solved directly in the school.
Regarding the prevention of this type of situation: The counselor thinks much emphasis should be placed on convivencia (harmonious relationships) and that the issue should form part of the tutorial agenda. In all these processes, the role of the tutor or class teacher is one of the key elements, because some people either stop or cut down on this type of behavior because everyone knows the teacher will take action. Here, the tutor’s attitude and personal example is of the utmost importance. To paraphrase Emerson: “What we are thunders so loud that our students cannot hear what we say”
Regarding what could be done to improve communication and cooperation among students (and thus prevent school bullying in general). The counselor considers the activities described above as being important, together with a general attitude of involvement and commitment in the whole education community, including families.
POINT OF VIEW OF POLICY MAKERS
The policy maker states that there are some areas from the beginning of the story where we should work:
First, the detection of the bullying episodes. It took a long time, and after this period only the mother noticed it. There was not any suspicion from teachers. All of them should have seen some signs before.
It is also surprising the responses offered by the families, when they stated the solution is the exclusion of the victim. It is necessary to work with them on coexistence, diversity, inclusion ...
Besides, it seems that teachers do not have effective tools to deal with the problem. Only the counsellor offers proposals adapted to the situation.
Policy maker understands that a good training plan in the school is the key. It must be organised including all school community members, fostering a whole school policy approach to fight against school bullying.
In this case there are two strong supportive points that are relevant, the mother of the victim, the partners (except the aggressor’s mother), the tutor and counselor are involved to clarify the case and intervene. This contrast with a very notable weakness which is the stalter’s mother does not consider the issue is relevant; teachers, school, and partners have also ignored the case in the absence of a direct attack, so this was the strategy to address the situation. In addition, some parents argue that “you cannot change the situation because the child is disabled (attributing the cause of the problem to the girl) and should be in a specialized school.
There is a consensus regarding the influence of the bullying in the way to learn and teach, motivation (relative values) the potential problems of school integration, consequences, in adulthood and in the school environment. However, several options are proposed for aspects related to the influence on motivation and results of the students. Likewise, there is agreement on the points of view of the victim aggressor, spectators and teachers with certain differences in some items such as repentance of the aggressor or the actions of the spectators. There are different points of view of the parents, reaching different conclusions from each other that support different positions.
Comments about this Case Study
Posted by: Rocío Muñoz
Type of school: Concerted
I agree with the opinion of many of the comments about lack of resources and training to conduct these cases, I think even when we are referring to students with cognitive difficulties exacerbated the problem of training the teachers themselves to address issues of this type, and it would be very interesting to have in centers where there are personnel struggling students.
But I would like to comment A. Kerton, as I thought it was interesting because it presents a different view as to the mode of intervention and approach, arguing for intervention through harassing agent, ie, the message facing the group in this way could be interesting, exceptional, the "weird" or out of place is harassment, and who has a behavior problem is the harasser.
I think it is essential to approach these problems as a problem of social projection, not only in the present but also in the future, and therefore I think it is important to emphasize that the social objective is not only to protect the harassed when such harassment is consummated, but try to educate the attitude that harass or abuse other is the real problem.
All this without leaving, of course, support and necessary support to the beleaguered, and training and involvement of the group.
Posted by: Mª VICTORIA FERNÁNDEZ ROLDÁN
Type of school: Teacher Training Center
In this case, the affected student harassment is a student with a developmental delay that leads behind academically. As shown in the associated development of the way as you learn in the classroom is greatly influenced by the relationships that exist between students. The picture's self-image and others do the other person is built differently if we organize our classroom in an individualized manner or in a cooperative manner.
During the last years, we are implementing cooperative strategies in different centers, both for group cohesion, as for academic learning and is proving successful when the students get more difficult to learn in the classroom along with the rest . At the time commitment relationships and improve school performance as well.
Cooperative learning is considered as a good response to the diversity and it is to admit that everyone is different key, in many cases, to avoid situations of harassment. It is therefore a preventive strategy to keep in mind this type of situation. Learning to cooperate in academic and perceived causes related to the other in a different way and helps you get "in the shoes" of another person and understand their reactions, feelings ...
Posted by: A Kerton
Type of school: Comprehensive 11-18
I was surprised to read that the school did nothing because there were no physical signs of aggression and therefore they could not confirm what they were being told by the child and her mother.
In the UK any diclosure by a student is accepted until proven to be untrue. So, coming from this background, it is difficult to get beyond thinking that the school has been negligent. There should be enough space within a classroom or within a school to accommodate two students who do not get on with each other. If Marta is, as is being suggested by Sophia and her mother, actively inciting others to bully, intimidate and distress Sophia then she must become the centre of adult attention. It is Marta who needs the support and re-education if she is not to grow into an unpleasant adult.
Contrary to comments made in the Case Study, I am fully in favour of integrating children with Special Needs within mainstream education. Sophia is being made to feel different and excluded. The solution is not to move her into a Special School.
Posted by: AUDREY HEINE
Type of school: Obervatory of violence and school dropping out - Ministry of Education
Common and divergent elements: this situation also tackes the issue of the integration of handicaps by regular education. In Belgium, education is divided in regular and specialized education, and specialized education in divided in several types (support for a light to a heavy handicap). However, similar situations can occur for different reasons (lack of places in specialized education, parents’ wish to subscribe their child in regular education,...) for the handicapped children, the collaboration of the school with the PMS and the PSE (centre for the promotion of health) is in general very close. The child’s needs and his/her integration into the school are considered by these actors.
Recommandations : furthermore, in this case of bullying, it would have been interesting to call for a centre specialized in the issues of integration and diversity (here linked to handicap). In Belgium, the centre for equal opportunities is very active and proposes activities and trainings to different publics. Their approach has the advantage of emphasizing the applicable laws against discrimination, and that can be used as a reminder of the rules in the case presented.
Training: according to us, there is no specific countinuous training regarding the integration of handicapped pupils into regular schools but numerous local initiatives have probably been undertaken within schools.
Posted by: Stephen Brogan
Type of school: Catholic Voluntary Academy
Again this is a very difficult, but typical of situation occurring of the difficulties faced by students of our schools. In this situation the isolation and exclusion of the target in question.
One system, which we have found to be extremely useful in our school for this is what we describe as the ‘Breakthrough Club,’ a group which meets every Wednesday lunchtime to form an identity and to quite simply somewhere to go and to have somewhere to go. Students have to be identified by staff and must be invited to attend, in which case, our Teaching Assistants invite certain individuals, who can build up a group of friends within the group. They eat together and have fun together in an attempt to help them through school.
As a school we would deal with this issue in quite a strict and serious way, gathering information and independent statements, before punishing and implementing sanctions, as well as helping both the target and the perpetrator.
A concerning issue here is the willingness of those who see what is going on and choose to do nothing for fear of not wanting to be victimised themselves. This is the vast majority of students and in our school we have worked hard to try to get the silent majority talking and helping staff to combat the issue of bullying. This is something, which does not happen in a short period of time and the students must be constantly reminded of.
Posted by: Munteanu Emil
Type of school: Vocational School, Octav Bancila High School Iaşi
The case describes the Sofia’s situation, a girl with mental retard, who has been aggressed by Marta and marginalized by her colleagues. Sofia presents a low self-steam, a low confidence in herself and the people around her. In same time, Marta is presented as the class leader, but in a negative way. Marta presents an overestimated self-steam and an exaggerated character of manipulation.
Failure to accept diversity, lack of empathy and tolerance for someone who is in a particular situation causes a tense situation in class. By not happening severe conflicts, or verbal or physical aggression, the colleagues and parents and teachers are tempted to deal with an attitude of non-involvement in the issue.
Marta is perceived as an important person because of her assaulting and manipulating acts. Marta, the aggressive person, is respected and listened by her colleagues. She develops a model of aggressive power based on: fear, threat and obedience from the other children in front of Martha.
This situation is a threat to the classroom atmosphere, climate and decreases the student motivation to learn, to do various activities. These kinds of situations are present in the Romanian education systems, especially in the integrated special education system. In this system, children with special educational needs or disabilities are enrolled / integrated in various classes together with the other children, those without any special needs. The risk could be on the appearance of various damages, marginalization, injuries, offenses, labeling, etc. but these situations appear in the absence of some specific educational strategies.
There are, however, situations in which in the mass education children with different disabilities have been integrated. In these cases the intervention / the integration process consist of applying different strategies, like the previous:
Activities with children:
- To remove the misconceptions about the children with special educational needs (disabilities)
- To learn how to respect any person
- To learn to accept differences (it is often difficult for pupils to accept children who are different from them, who have different needs).
- To help children to form a correct and positive self-image.
- To find alternative activities for children in which to learn on how to define themselves in terms of value.
- To help children to learn how to identify their interests, aptitudes and skills.
- To develop the children assertiveness, empathy and open communication.
- Let them learn to negotiate, to give and leave important things.
- To put children to work in collaborative teams
Activities for parents:
- To use the communication and relationship between the family as an opportunity to achieve individual and group counseling activities (parents must participate in the group counseling activities with the children)
- To involve the parents in the strategy of the conflict solving
- To convince parents that this condition reduces the children performance.
Activities for teachers:
- To support the teachers to recognize their competences and limits on getting involved and solving these kinds of cases and to invite them to collaborate with different resources (NGOs, psychologists, certified therapists, etc.)
- To empower the school management
- To put involve and collaborate / communicate with all the stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, local community and NGOs.
- To analyze the needs of the class (identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and use them to prevent and combat bullying of any kind.
In these kinds of cases, first of all the school psychologist should be contacted and then the parents and depends on the case the public authorities. The principle of confidentiality it is very important and the school teachers and management must be notified with care. School psychologist is the one who must lead the case and depending on the case to form the team which will be involved in solving the case and also will advise teachers and parents on how they can help contribute to solving the case. In this situation they (teachers, parents, school principal) become partners in solving the case.
Regarding the aspect that can be learned, I can mention:
- The violence between pupils may have as a starting point prejudices about children with special educational needs (disabilities)
- Diversity is often difficult to be accepted by pupils.
- Children, as any individual, need to be leaders, heroes, to stand out, to be valued. Often family or social education is not built on authentic values (mutual respect, morality, spirituality, support and mutual communication and understanding of the needs and situation of the others, the ones with special needs).
- It is necessary to help children to know their strengths and weaknesses and to understand that no one has only qualities. To help them to form a correct and positive self-image.
- To find alternative activities for children in which them to learn how to define themselves in terms of value, depending on interests, skills and values.
As strategies I can recommend:
- Forming groups / partnerships to solve conflicts between students
- Develop campaign on preventing violence in schools conducted by the school in partnership with NGOs., police and local authorities.
- Studies on the causes of school violence and the identification of forms of violence manifested in schools.
The strategies presented are certainly useful and we can use elements, depending on the situation.
A training program for teachers on this field should contain:
- Models of strategies to prevent school violence
- Strategies to deal with conflict situations
- General notions about the causes of violence
I certainly include in the school prevention strategy the actions developed by the teachers from Spain.
Posted by: Carmen Selma
Type of school: Concerted
I share the idea of teachers Loretta and Barbara on the case of a girl with a cognitive delay, which finds no support either on the part of teachers or families. Like them I think you should be in school a specialist in these cases and also in the calendar of meetings, the counselor should inform both teachers, parents and students that these students with these impairments can understand and act but a somewhat different from others. I also support the view that sometimes at any teacher can bring a case like this, so I consider essential some training by teachers to help meet these special needs children. As you say would be a good idea to create a network in which teachers appear to present their experiences related to this issue and give their opinion. I also agree that experts come and give some strategies to solve these types of cases.
Posted by: Maramotti Loretta; Pancosta Barbara
Type of school: High School
The victim closes in on itself. There is no cooperation from families and from teachers of the school (the students' families even propose to move the girl victim in an institution for children with special educational needs).In the Spanish case the victim is a student with a cognitive delay. In Spain you would have found the support of an experienced professional in the field of students with special educational needs in order to study the situation and inform, through scheduled meetings, parents, teachers and students involved for a share of value added in a class can lead a student BES, so take a course to show that the disabled person does not really mean that is unable to act or understand but it is just a differently-abled or differently using their knowledge and skills.
It is important that children talk to their parents and teachers also issues related to citizenship and that a case like the one analyzed do understand that it is wrong to underestimate the problem. It would be appropriate in all the classes you did health education interventions with external experts in order to deepen the value of diversity
Required courses in teacher training would be appropriate to dedicate themselves to the issue of forms of bullying. Important is the presence of experts such as psychologists and sociologists that illustrate the strategies used by teachers to address issues related to bullying that might occur in the classroom.
It would also be appropriate in these meetings there was a confrontation with teachers who have already faced this kind of experience.
Important is to create a network among teachers who have experienced and overcome these problems and teachers who are involved in the same issue, so it would be appropriate for the classes that they live such a problem might confront students who managed to overcome this difficulty.
Our experience has taught us that the class action at all in law enforcement with the aim of illustrating the rules and the sanctions resulting from behaviors that violate the rules leads to a self-reflection and self-analysis following students on their inappropriate behavior resulting in behavioral improvement.
Therefore it would be good practice to include, however, an intervention of outside experts into the classroom to illustrate and clarify the rules on citizenship regardless of whether or not there are issues related to bullying.
Posted by: Yordanka Rusenova
Type of school: Vocational high-school
Even from first reading of the situation, we find out that what we are dealing with here are girls with low self-esteem. Sofia feels different and lonely. She plays with dolls in order to escape from reality. The fantasy world gives her a feeling of security. She does not speak with her mother because she is probably ashamed. She does not want to disappoint her mother by sharing the problem with her.
On the grounds of my experience of monitoring our children, i have noticed that the children (and teenagers in particular) have a hard time to accept the different ones. Especially when we are speaking of a child with a health problem. The others do not know how to behave with her. They are not informed and everything looks strange to them. Everything which is unknown and different is branded as false or funny.
This exactly is Martha’s reaction. Despite the fact that her parents consider her as good and righteous and protect her in everything, they fail to achieve with her warm and effective child-parent communication. They protect her, but they are not sufficiently aware of the problem. They have not conversed sufficiently with Martha in order to discover the roots of this behavior. They have not explained to her that in the world that surrounds us there are different people, some of who need our help and not our mockery.
Considering the fact that Martha lacks discussions and communication, she decides to chose aggressive behavior. She uses verbal harassment, because it is harder to prove and it is easier to hide than the physical one. Martha does not receive enough emotions to make her feel good. By demonstrating aggression she thinks that she becomes more important in the eyes of her classmates – a leader, a strong person that noone can oppose. She increases her self esteem this way. Martha is afraid to make a mistake or to become the target of jokes. This motivates her to laugh at other peoples’ mistakes. This makes her look faultless and redirects the attention towards the others. When we focus on the mistakes of one person, we are unable to see the mistakes of the one standing right next to him.
Always when we feel insecure we look for people who can support us. Martha is surrounded by girl-friends in order to be even stronger and also to have support in case of problems. The other girls stay quiet because they probably understand their guilt as well as Martha’s guilt. Martha is afraid that her friends might abandon her and not need her anymore. Using their silence she starts to manipulate them. She manages to convince them that if they communicate with Sofia they would look funny. Nobody likes the funny ones at that age.
The verbal and psychological harassment is a way for the teenagers to become famous, to be recognized as leaders. For us, the grown-ups, in most of the cases, if there is no physical harassment then there is no problem. Engrossed by our daily responsibilities, we forget that this age is the most vulnerable, the most emotional and probably the toughest one.
A situation including a child with health problems is hard and delicate. Discussions are needed with the participants in the conflict at first and then with their parents. Probably the girls could also speak with some specialists in order to comprehend the real dimensions of this conflict.
Martha and Sofia can be included together in a useful school event, which to bring them closer together. Probably after Martha understands Sofia’s problem she would take the role of her protector, supporter. This would make her feel important, needed. She would be involved in something useful and creative and this can make her feel good and gain the emotions she needs.
Posted by: IRINI GIANNAKOPOULOU
Type of school: TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
The case study with the title of “Help me to be like the others” is similar to ours “Mary is leaving school”, because in both cases the victims of the bullying never mentioned to anyone the problems they had been facing into their classroom.
In the first case, victim’s mother was the one who accidentally discovered the fact, whereas in the second, a mistress.
Three important differences that we detected in that specific school and have to do with the organization of that specific educational system is the existence of 1)Counsellor in the school, 2)School inspector and 3) Office for the development of amicable interpersonal relations ,which are responsible of the problem solving inside the school.
Aw shown above the educator, in order to be supported in the confrontation of the bullying phenomenon, he should be dismissed of the above authorities after he had informed and talked to the director of the school and the other colleagues for a common strategy of diagnosis, treatment and action. The difficulties the educator would possible face, would had to do with the students and their parents, and with his existing knowledge in dealing with such a phenomenon.
Of the study of this scenario, I learned that as in my country so in others, we teachers are not ready to deal in a right way with the phenomenon of school bullying.
To address such a phenomenon of harassment I would suggest 1) working in teams in the classroom, so to develop good interpersonal relationships between children (always with the right guidance and possible intervention by the teacher e.g. to create a group) and 2) informing pupils themselves in the phenomenon of bullying with real examples and the impact of these that would lead to a constructive dialogue. I believe that the two above strategies would help in this case since there was virtually any particular tactics to address the above problem, since it was not known.
Because I believe that we have not realized the dimensions and the different forms of school bullying, I think it is necessary to have a real education for teachers, managers and directors of schools. An education which is not be based on theory but in practice, to assess and address the facts. An education would not have duration of two days but at least six months in order to help teachers become familiar with most forms of bullying and work up to meet them. Be an education that is carefully designed by experts from the fields of pedagogy, but also from the fields of psychology and sociology.
Only in this way we can help our students to develop their personality and get the necessary knowledge to become correct citizens of our society.
Posted by: Diana Nikolova
Type of school: Specialized school
The described case is not related to the practices we have shared, but it concerns us deeply, considering the character of the bullying involved. The children and youth from our school have special educational needs, to which we, as specialists and more importantly humans, try to respond in the best possible way, in order to prepare them for the requirements of the life, which awaits them after school is over. Situations in which youths with special education needs are being bullied and isolated are particularly important for studying and researching. Understanding the problems in depth, we consider very important the preparation of the entire school staff regarding the specifics of certain conditions, as well as the manners for supporting such children to follow the development patterns of which they are capable without being stressed. It would be honor for us to share our experiences and know how with colleagues from mixed classes, as well as to be aware and up-to-date with similar cases in other countries and the approaches used for their resolution.