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Verbal and physical aggressions on a teenager during several years by a group of people (young and adult people)

  • Direct bullying
  • Non-especific

When and how the event started, how the school detected it.

During the school year 2006-2007, Sylvie had to achieve a group work with another pupil of her class, Anita. Anita had gone at Sylvie’s place to tell her that she did not want to do the work with her.
Sylvie’s sister had encouraged her to carry out the work alone and to say it to the teacher.
The day of the work presentation, Anita directly said the teacher that Sylvie had not made the work. Sylvie wanted to explain the situation but the teacher stopped her and gave her a bad mark (zero score).
Then Sylvie went out the classroom and spoke with her referent educator who said her to go back to the classroom and to explain to her teacher the situation. That is what Sylvie did and she could present her work.
Following this event, Anita felt resentment. Sylvie received death threats from one of Anita’s brothers. He threatened to wait for her to come out of the school.
In reaction to these events, Sylvie’s elder sister got in touch with Anita’s parents.
Anita’s father proposed a meeting at Sylvie’s place. Sylvie, her sister and their mother agreed.
At the time of this meeting, Anita admitted that she had not been really correct with Sylvie and she committed herself to make an effort. The problem seemed to be solved.

At the end of the school year 2006-2007, Sylvie had to realise a work with another pupil, Julie. Julie had gathered documents and, together with Sylvie, they had made a summary. Then Julie wanted Sylvie to typewrite the whole work.
Sylvie’s sister thought that it was not fair. And she encouraged her to achieve the work alone and to say it to her teacher. That is what Sylvie did.
Following this new problem, Anita and Julie, who were apparently not really close, started to spend a lot of time together and to become allied to harm Sylvie.

During the two next school years, bullying against Sylvie took the following forms :
- Pact between Anita and other pupils in order to set them against Sylvie, in particular by spreading rumours to tarnish her image (she kisses all the boys, she is a prostitute, etc.), and that generated a reject of Sylvie.
- Thefts (2 times her mobile phone, 3 times her wallet, one time her keys),
- Mockeries in group in the toilets,
- Violent physical aggressions. Some aggressions committed by persons unknown by Sylvie: one adult man at least, (4 violent aggressions and many others such as rushes, kicks, strangulation). One of the aggressions led to a double concussion of Sylvie who had to be followed by a neurologist and who suffered serious headaches.
- Death threats and intimidation, always by groups of 2 up to 9 persons. One time by two persons with a knife, in the toilets.
- Complaints from Anita by the headmaster for similar facts, so disciplinary sanctions were taken against Sylvie.
- Complaints for thefts from Anita and her father, so Sylvie was summoned two times at the police station.

Main actors involved

Three young girls. We will call them Sylvie, Anita and Julie.

Time period

Three school years: 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009

Type of bullying actions carried out

Inadequate remarks, mockeries, theft, death threats, physical aggression.


Which actions have been undertaken ? Which strategies have been implemented to combat school bullying in this case ?

At the beginning, the parents tried several times to solve the problem by organising meetings and debates with the youths involved, but without success.
As time goes by, other pupils become allied against the victim and the aggressions were on the increase during three years.
The victim complained by the assistant head and the headmaster but they did not really trust her. No prevention and intervention device existed in the school. Finally, they called for the psychologist of the CPMS (Psycho-medico-social centre) and the Youth Rights Service (“Droit des Jeunes”).


Sylvie has had different health problems due to the aggressions. She had to be followed by a psychologist and she asked for the support of the Youth Rights Service (“Droit des Jeunes”).


What was her perception of the causes of the bullying acts ?

Sylvie has put forward that one of the causes of these bullying events could be racism. In the framework of their moral/philosophy lesson, the debate had turned towards this matter and Anita had told that her father forbade her to go around with Black Men and Arabs.

Did she inform anybody ?

Sylvie has informed her elder sister who has informed the assistant head and the headmaster as well as an external counsellor, the Youth Rights Service (“Droit des Jeunes”).

What help did she need and from whom ?

Sylvie needed the help of the CPMS psychologist and the support of the Youth Rights Service.


What was their motivation ? Why did they choose the victim ?

We can imagine that the fact that Sylvie is a good and assiduous pupil who has acted to stop bullying, as well as the lack of neutrality of the school and the prejudice of the adults in general, have probably reinforced Anita in her acts and have allowed a context that favours bullying.

Did they feel remorse ?

We can suppose that Anita (the main author) has felt remorse because, in March 2008, she has expressed the wish that everything stop towards Sylvie.


Were they aware of what was happening ?

A huge number of pupils were probably informed considering that the number of facts that occurred in the school or nearby was huge and that the number of bullies hasn’t stopped to increase.

What did they do and why ?

Some pupils have changed from authors to allies, and others have stood up for Sylvie.
We can suppose that one of the reasons why some pupils tended to become allied with Anita was to be in the group of the strongest, and not to turn into victim at their turn.


Were they aware of the situation ? How did they manage to understand what was happening ? What did they do ?
Which cooperation did they receive from the other teachers and from the headmaster ?

No information about this topic.


Were they aware of what was happening ? What did they do to address the episode ?

The assistant head and the headmaster were aware of the events without really knowing the real responsibility of everyone and the consequences for the victim.
In order to manage the events, they punished Sylvie several times, and that, only according to what Anita said.
Anita has also been heard by the assistant head. And she has been frisked when Sylvie complained of theft pointing an accusing finger at her.
They have also accepted the intervention of the Youth Rights Service as a third party in the situation and they have proposed the intervention of the CPMS (psycho-medico-social centre).


Did they notice what was happening ? Did they get informed and by who ?

Of course Sylvie’s and Anita’s parents have been informed of the events, directly by their daughter or by the school.

Did they have the possibility to modify the situation and how ?

Anita’s and Sylvie’s parents have tried several times to find a solution, in particular by organising meeting to debate.
The meeting that took place at the very beginning has allowed the pacification of the things during a good part of the school year, but it has not allowed to solve the problems durably.


Were they aware of the events and what did they do ?

The Youth Rights Service intervened at the instance of Sylvie’s sister and in accordance with the school headmaster, through a space for listening and for dialog.
The Youth Rights Service has also boosted the mediation of the Youth Help Centre of Liège.
This service emphasizes the difficulty that it faced when bringing suitable solutions as well as the needed time to implement the actions and coordination of these interventions. Even if they were implemented quickly, they were quite slow regarding the events that happened serially in the school.

What did the counsellors do? What solutions were proposed?

The psychologist of the CPMS (psycho-medico-social centre) has also intervened to support Sylvie.


The school authorities have not been informed of the events.


Concerning the veracity of the bullying event?

It is a real bullying event: numerous physical and verbal aggressions during three years. Disproportion of power (one victim, numerous bullies), with verified intention of harming (police, doctors, etc.).
On the causes and the mechanism that have allowed the phenomenon to occur?
When reading this case, we are wondering about the number of actors (both at the level of the bullying acts and at the level of their solution).
Sylvie, her sister, her mother, Julie, Anita, her father and her brother as well as the assistant head, the headmaster, Sylvie’s and Anita’s referent educator, the CPMS psychologist, the school secretary, other educators, the Youth Rights Service, the Youth Help Centre of Liège as well as a huge number of other pupils have been involved, without forgetting the adult man who has aggressed and threatened Sylvie near the school.
We are also wondering about the school reaction time or rather about the school non-reaction in suitable delays. Bullying perdured during three school years.
Finally, we are wondering about the lack of suitable response when some Sylvie’s requests seemed to be well founded and simple to solve (for instance, to change her place in the class).
A feeling of unfairness resounds. The victim will maybe suffer psychological aftereffects due to this unfortunate experience.
How a banal work in group that goes wrong can lead to a so extreme situation?
The victim did not find the needed support by the school headmaster, and that reinforced the aggressor and his allies.
Indeed, the fact that the school has had a certain prejudice for the author and for what he said, that it has minimized the feeling of the victim and has refused some of her well founded requests has probably allowed the development of a context that favours bullying (the author could feel reinforced) and has contributed to a balance of power between the author and the victim.
The cultural and familial context has definitely played a role. The victim comes from a humble social environment. She has Moroccan origin. The author comes from a well off environment and his parents have good contacts with the school’s headmaster. The victim’s mother doesn’t speak French. The elder sister rather acts on impulse. The school’s headmaster probably felt aggressed.

Concerning the answer brought by the school? Concerning the type of answer brought by the school (disciplinary or educational)?

The school actors seemed to be paralyzed and they have chosen a strictly disciplinary logic. Concerning the first line actors (teachers, educators), it seems they did not intervene.
Why does the school have so many difficulties to solve this kind of situation? Is the role of education and pedagogy limited to pass on knowledge?
Furthermore, it is amazing the school has no procedure to face this kind of situation.

The lessons brought from the experience and the devices set up to prevent the phenomenon
The school could have :
- make the school mediators and the CPMS intervene much more quicker and avoid this way the problem to take such an extend;
- give the same credit to each student’s say;
- not minimize the victim’s feeling;
- not refuse some of her requests for a meeting, accept her request to change of class or, at least, to change of place (justified by her position just ahead the bully).

An emergency unit regarding bullying, working in a multidisciplinary way (connected to the CPMS for instance) should be implemented in this school.
This unit would be a relay for the school. Obviously this case was beyond the school capacities. This unit would provide the victim with a quick and appropriate help. It would maybe also help the aggressor and allow him to avoid recidivism in the future and judicial problems if these bullying attitudes increase.
Actually, the culprit(s) come(s) out unharmed and she/they feel(s) stronger in her/their dominant position. How can she/they learn a lesson from this event if she is/they are unpunished?
The emergency unit to combat bullying events seems to be a good idea but it could be useful to set up a prevention device beyond the bullying issues which in this case would be more specifically about interpersonal and intercultural relationship, non-violent communication…


Вербална и физическа агресия - Силви.pdf

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 13.03.2012

Type of school: « VIRGIL MADGEARU » High School IAŞI
Country: ROMANIA

These types of situations are also wide spread in Romanian schools/high schools.We also encountered such a situation in our high school, which , fortunately, did not escalate. The initial situation was similar ( students who were unable to cooperate , to work in teams, fact which triggered the misunderstandings) ;but, in our case, there were no acts of physical violence, the situation did not last that long and there weren’t so many people involved as to take the conflict to such a level where there is no resolution in sight.As for us, the students, in front of the form masters, talked about their dislikes and a amicable solution was reached. Because the situation was solved quickly and peacefully, there was no need to involve other parties, meaning the parents, the headmasters, the School Inspectorate or any other organizations.What is more, in our case, there was never an issues with people of different race, nationality, religion or with special needs being treated any differently than their peers. This is how we want to inspire our students to be, in other words, tolerant, respectful of their colleagues in order to be able to get the same treatment in return.
Still, if the same scenario that was presented by our Belgian colleagues would have taken place in our school, I think I would have first called the parents, because they know their children better than anyone else and could anticipate their reactions and feelings. Then, I would have notified the school phycologist because I consider he has the experience and the knowledge required in such a conflict . Lastly, I would have called upon the local representatives: the local authorities, the School Inspectorate, the police, the church. Involving them in this kind of situation is an important part of a strategy to combat violence, a strategy we would not hesitate to use whenever necessary.Our school has always developed partnerships with the police, the church and with different organizations, such as the „Save the Children Association”, „The Organization for the Protection of Human Rights”, etc. Also, our high school counselor is in charge of a center of resources for the aggression in schools, which educates, forms, mediates and assists in such cases of violence. He is often present during the form master’s classes which discuss violence, offer students examples of actual cases, ways of properly identifying the situation, ways of getting the parents and the community involved in actions of prevention and fighting school violence.
Coming back to the case presented by our Belgian colleagues, I think that there was no actual, efficient strategy put in place in order to deal with such a development, which ultimately lead to the escalation of the conflict. Furthermore, I think the authorities were brought in much too late, when the situation was already out of hand. I am sure that from this stand point, our high school would have reacted sooner, with much more responsibly and would have demonstrated the same amount of empathy towards all the involved parties. Maybe this is the lesson we are learning from our Belgian partners, that when dealing with this type of conflicts, the able person must take action, be an impartial judge for the people involved and ultimately make concrete, correct and pertinent decisions.

Date: 12.03.2012

Posted by: Marta Cortés Pozas
Type of school: Concerted
Country: Spain

Common Items: An imbalance of power between the bully and the victim. This imbalance may be real or only perceived by the victim.
The attack is carried out by a stalker or a group trying to harm the victim of a deliberate way, being the victim a good student and worker.
There is aggressive behavior toward the same victim, which occurs repeatedly.
Common elements: The victim has been hypothesized that one of the causes of harassment as racism.
The lack of neutrality has led the school to reinforce the aggressor in their actions and have fostered an environment conducive to harassment.
There has been too much information and has not compared the versions of the students, lack of appropriate response.
The principal and vice principal were aware of the events but did not perceive the actual responsibilities and the consequences for the victim.
The main support would have found the school staff and families that would have been a great partner for the achievement of the measures proposed, perhaps the greatest difficulty had been in the little time and space devoted to work tasks such as: completion of a social skills program, conducting questionnaires.
We learn that sometimes only the dialogue between parents is not sufficient to complete certain aggressive actions, and that these actions should be the responsibility of the entire educational community.
Perhaps if they had taken preventive measures may not have existed if harassment and assault and had not been extended or repeated over time.
This case reflects only heard one version and that we should not influence us as teachers through the origin and culture of the student, but by the attitudes and actions that each student makes.
To deal with these situations provide appropriate solutions and appropriate responses implemented effectively. Teachers should intervene to prevent such actions and to be consistent with the process of solving the problem.
Interventions should be comprehensive and address both the recovery of committing the assault, and victim.
Exploration of interpersonal relationships and the problems of coexistence (questionnaire for teachers, students and families)
Involving participant brokers to do all the students of the injustice that is happening and there is a victim support from their peers through a program of social skills, empathy and working through role change activities .
We must find the truth of a fact giving credit to both sides and relying on the word and then to be consistent with the solution.
Need for training in prevention and cooperative work activities. Specific regulations promoting good social relations and violence against

Date: 29.02.2012

Posted by: Tanya Iskrova
Type of school: Vocational high-school
Country: Bulgaria

This situational analysis makes it quite clear that the relations between parents, teachers and children is of major importance for the building of trust between these three partners, as well as for raising the children’s self esteem. I have not had observations of bullying cases that have progressed so seriously, but I have seen how in some classes some children sit away from the others – on a table at the farthest back part of the room or alone. Such children are considered as different and their difference is denied directly or indirectly. The jokes of such children, even when they are really funny and original, are not taken well and understood by the other children and this turns everybody against them. Seeing the hostile and mocking looks coming from the others, such children shrink within their cocoon.
If such a case progresses in our school, the participants will be called to the headmaster’s office and a consultant from the Department for child care would be summoned. I think that Silvi’s parents, considering the impossibility for a change of the situation, could have moved their child to another school. I am not able to understand the behavior of the management, which left Anita feeling dominant and unpunished for her actions. Turns out that anyone who does not like somebody else is free to turn everyone else against him/her without punishment.
We all need training for dealing with cases of violence, because fortunately, at our institution we still have no such cases. In such situations measures should be taken from the mere beginning. The time we live in, the freedom and Democracy gave too many rights to the teenagers and quite often they forget their responsibilities. Being a part of a society requires from a person to abide by its laws.

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