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TITLE OF DOCUMENT:

Bullying in primary schools: Prevention through the implementation of Social Work programmes

NAME OF AUTHOR(S):

Irene Katsama

NAME OF PUBLISHER:

4th Hellenic Observatory PhD Symposium, LSE, 25-26 June 2009

LANGUAGE OF DOCUMENT:

English

LANGUAGE OF THE REVIEW:

English

KEYWORDS:

School bullying, school violence, gender, ethnic diversity

DOCUMENT TYPOLOGY:

Research

TARGET GROUP OF PUBLICATION:

Policy Makers, Teachers, Researchers.

SIZE OF THE PUBLICATION:

21 - 100 pages

DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS:

Bullying has become a widespread phenomenon in schools worldwide, over the last years. Very few studies have been performed in Greek schools so far, while there has also been very little experience in the implementation of long-term programmes aiming at the prevention of the phenomenon. The increasing diversity of school population due to the immigration seems to have made school environment even more complex.

The present study focuses on the exploration of the phenomenon of violence and bullying, as it appeared during a certain period of time (February 08 – February 09,) in four different multicultural primary schools in Greece. The study of social and personal elements that constitute the problem and the ways that each school culture seems to influence/affect on the appearance of bullying were the main topics of research.

Combining qualitative and quantitative methods, research was conducted in two cross cultural schools in the region of Attiki and two in the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Two hundred and twenty one (221) students attending the fourth, fifth and sixth grade, completed two questionnaires (one related to their attitude towards bullying, and another concerning the levels of self-confidence and self-awareness). In addition to this, a three-month social work group intervention (action research) was designed and implemented on a weekly basis, in two of the four schools, for a period of three months, aiming at the prevention of the phenomenon of bullying. The title of the programme was “Communication Games” and it was conducted under the permission of Greek Ministry of Education.

The intervention in two schools through this programme had multiple benefits and promoted a better communication between students as well us between students and their teachers. The children that participated in the groups had the opportunity to share their concerns and thoughts and became more able to listen, interact, express their feelings, and show respect and acceptance to others. Teachers also expressed positive feedback towards the intervention programme and its influence to the school community, and were trained in dealing with matters within the classroom with alternative ways. Furthermore, the relationship and co-operation between parents and teachers were viewed from a different perspective.

REVIEWER’S COMMENTS ON THE DOCUMENT:

This document shows the need of intervention in Greek schools, in order to deal with the phenomenon of bullying. It presents the theoretical background of bullying, through citing the main research findings in the area. It also provides the statistics of the extent of the problem in Greek schools. But this study goes further than a theoretical bully-victim analysis. It is a research that combines research and action, aims at solving problems and provokes positive changes for the participants.
In this study the school is perceived as a dynamic system, so the bully-victim relationship takes place in a much broader system. This perspective implies that any intervention is unlikely to be effective unless it is carried out as part of a whole school anti-bullying programme. Thus, a multi-dimensional model is followed and all parts of the systems are involved.
Especially nowadays, the school environment has been developed more complex due to the multicultural environment, because of the increasing diversity of school population. This fact implies the need of the presence of social work in schools, an issue that has been discussed a lot in Greece. But, despite the Act of 1974 that acclaims the necessity of appointing social workers to all Greek schools, social workers only work in schools for children with special needs, or in Centers for the Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities.
The highlight of this study is the action research, based on social work theories and practices. The action research was conducted in two schools and lasted 11 weeks. The beneficial outcomes of the programme, prevail that anti-bullying interventions need to focus on how bullying is managed within a school setting. If students perceive teachers as being incompetent, they are unlikely to tell them that it is occurring either for themselves or others. This may result in the bullying continuing and students feeling unsafe. The implementation of social work programmes seems an absolute necessity in order for all school parts to cope with the contemporary complexity and a variety of challenges affecting everyday life at school.

NAME OF THE REVIEWING ORGANISATION:

ASPETE

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