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Inappropriate talks and gestures, threats, sexual aggression from a young boy towards a girl of the 3rd year in secondary school

  • Direct bullying
  • Non-especific

When and how the event started, how the school detected it ?
In February 2011 the school realizes that Annik, a pupil of the 3rd year, does not come to school for more than one week. No news of her. The school is not informed about the reason of this absence.
The counsellor for regularity gets in contact with the mother. This one states that “her daughter is afraid; she is bullied and sexually aggressed by a pupil of the school”. The counsellor invites then the family to come to school for an interview as quickly as possible.
Annik and her mother come to school the day after. A note is written down. In this note Annik implicates a pupil of the 4th class, Axel. She highlights 3 events.
Her first meeting with Axel, end of September: he would have tried to embrace her, to kiss her and to touch her breast.
Then, all year long, indecent gestures and remarks, but with no real sexual connotation. Moreover, it is quite difficult for Annik to express easily in words these inappropriate behaviours.
Then she tells a scandal that occurred on the 25th January 2011 in a staircase of the school. Axel pulled her hair, smacked her, slapped her bottom and touched her sex, she says. Moreover, this same day, Axel came to threaten her at the bus stop telling her not to say the assistant head what had occurred.
Main actors involved
Three young girls and one boy. We will call them Françoise, Sophie, Annik and Axel.

Time period
From September 2010 till February 2011, that is to say 6 months.

Type of bullying actions carried out
Inappropriate talks and gestures, threats, sexual aggression.


Which actions have been undertaken ? Which strategies have been implemented to combat school bullying in this case ?
The assistant head in charge of discipline receives Axel who admits all the violent events, except the sexual ones. He accuses other boys who were with him when these events occurred.

Other pupils’ testimonies
The assistant head gathers the other pupils’ testimonies. All those who witnessed the events described here above confirm the events reported by Annik.

Dealing with two additional complaints
On the same day, the assistant head receives a second complaint from a girl of another 3rd class, Françoise, concerning events that occurred also end of January and that implicate Axel again.
On the bus, he would have pulled Sophie’s hair, a girl of the same class as Françoise. She would have tried to defend her fellow and would have been slapped.
A few days later, she would have met Axel in a mall downtown. There, he would have made her fall on the black ice before kicking her.
Finally, on the 27th January, he would have tripped her in a corridor of the school.
The investigation will confirm Françoise’s talks.
On the same day, the assistant head receives a third complaint from a group of pupils of the 2nd year. These pupils state they have been threatened by Axel.

Solving of the problem
After a contact with Axel’s parents, this one is excluded of the school for good. These different events added to an already difficult disciplinary situation made impossible for Axel to remain in the school.
The victims are encouraged to file a complaint.


Impact of the bullying action on the didactical pathway, on the students’ motivation, on the school environment…
Annik will never come to this school again! During the suspension procedure, she gives as excuse that Axel could be waiting for her outside the school. After the exclusion, she asks the school a bodyguard to protect her during the journey to school. She will finally change of school.
Sophie, who is a pupil difficult to direct, seems more emancipated since Axel is not there anymore.
Françoise goes on her own way. The pedagogical team does not notice any changes and thinks that, even if she has been an Axel’s victim, she has never suffered his bullying as Annik and Françoise.
After his exclusion, Axel went to another school (same year, same option) in the city of Seraing.


Perception of the causes of the bullying acts
The main victim, Annik, says that the bullying is sexual.
She is afraid. She has difficulties to express the inadequate behaviours.

Did they inform anybody ?
She informed her mother who warned the school.
What help did she need and from whom ?
At least, one meeting took place between the CPMS (psycho-medico-social centre), the victim and her mother.


What was his motivation ? Why did he choose the victim ?
Axel’s motivation seems to be the domination as well as a hold over the others.
He admits physical violence beyond the norm, but he does not seem to realize that his behaviour is constantly inadequate.
In fact, this pupil has been signalized by the educators as somebody having a bad attitude towards the other pupils: “he behaves as a dominator who frightens, touches often the others in an unusual way that aims to emphasize his superiority”. The educators interpret that way his strange and inappropriate behaviours in the common places.
His hold over Sophie is also reported by the educators.

Did he feel remorse ?
At the time of the meeting with the assistant head, he didn’t seem to feel any remorse.


Were they aware of what was happening ?
What did they do and why ?
What was their perception of the causes ?

Obviously, the pupils are afraid of Axel. This one has his own court behind him. He has a real hold over it.
It seems it is difficult to make them testify against him. A group of pupils of the 2nd year succeed in doing that, because they are not all over his direct hold.


Were they aware of the situation ? How did they manage to understand what was happening ? What did they do ?
Axel is considered as a pupil difficult to direct, not as a bully or as a sexual predator. But most of the events have been committed in the common places, or even outside school.

Which cooperation did they receive from the other teachers and from the headmaster ?
At the time of disciplinary difficulties, they have received the assistant head’s support. This one has interviewed the pupil and sometimes, he has imposed him a sanction.


Were they aware of what was happening ? What did they do to address the episode ?
The headmaster has approved the assistant head’s decision. The headmaster has excluded Axel from the school and has found a new one for him, in accordance with the law. Axel has not been followed up afterward.
As this case seemed clear, it has only been broached slightly at the staff meeting (gathering the headmaster and the educational team).


Did they notice what was happening ? Did they get informed and by who ?
The parents have been informed about the events by their children or by the school.

Did they have the possibility to modify the situation and how ?
Axel’s parents and Sophie’s parents remained relatively passive regarding the school decisions. Both seemed to be overtaken by their children’s attitude and they seem resigned.
Françoise’s parents have been very satisfied by the way the problem has been solved.
Annik’s mother has considered that “the school has not made its job”. That is why she has sent her daughter to another school.


The school has not called for external counsellors, because it has a huge supervision structure.
The internal counsellors (educators, chief educator and assistant head in charge of discipline) have solved the problem.
At the time of the staff meetings, the case was evoked, but no devices had been implemented because the events did not seem serious and the school faced difficulties to characterize them. Axel’s behaviours were at the limit of acceptable social behaviours.


The school authorities have approved the exclusion.


Concerning the veracity of the bullying?
There is no doubt. Moreover, the bully admits the events (except the sexual abuse).

About the causes of the event and the mechanism that allowed the phenomenon?
Will for domination amplified by the geographical context (most of the events occur in the common places as well as outside school), familial and cultural context…

About the answer brought by the school ? About the type of answer brought by the school (disciplinary or educative)?
Considering the seriousness of the events, the school could have call for external psycho-social counsellors. However, the school answer was only disciplinary: exclusion of the bully-pupil.
No educative work has been made with the bully-pupil: no call for the CPMS services, the mobile teams or the mediation service, no reorientation towards a re-schooling service.
We can wonder there was no following. The problem was simply transferred to another school.
The victim could have benefit from an immediate psychological support. The school reports a meeting with the CPMS services, but we don’t have more information.

About the lessons learned, about the mechanism of prevention set up to avoid the same situation to occur again?
For several years, this school develops a « pupils’ supervision » strategy.
In this school of 1,300 pupils, almost 9% of the total number of periods-teachers is dedicated to supervision, when the French Community’s decree only plans 3%.
The supervision staff is made of education auxiliaries (educators, assistant head in charge of discipline, counsellors in education…), as well as a numerous administrative staff (reception, library, regularity, external activities, data processing…) that allows the first ones to dedicate their entire time to education. Altogether, 27 persons are dedicated to pupils’ supervision.
This device is presented in detail on the online « good practice » form (prevention, intervention, complaint management, counsellor in education…).
It is very interesting but we can wonder all these persons didn’t remark anything during 6 months
So the device is perfectible. For instance, prevention actions about sexual bullying could be set up to sensitize the students regarding this type of problem.

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 19.03.2012

Type of school: Nicolina High School IASI
Country: ROMANIA

The case study brings into question the sexual assault as a form of human violence, interpersonal violence. This is a phenomenon becoming more prominent in the contemporary society, manifested in various forms, contexts and spaces. In this case, sexual assault occurs in a public place institutionalized – school. The persons involved (aggressor and his three victims - girls and women) are students. The aggressor (Axel) intimidates his victims (Annika, Francoise, Sophie) by threats, verbal abuse, making the girls to be afraid to denounce this abuse.

Such violent events may have multiple long term psychosocial consequences, so that prevention actions are absolutely necessary. Prevention is therefore the best way to stop any form of violence. In this sense, the establishment of a safe school environment (in which there is an effective and positive relationship between students, families, teachers, schools, partner organizations) is a condition in its efforts to prevent acute forms of aggression, including sexual.

In this case, would have required greater collaboration between the families of pupils involved in this act of violence, school, teacher-pedagogue, teachers and other qualified personnel, who would have reduced the time in which the aggression (over 6 months) has consumed. Also management solutions to stop these forms of violence should be identified. As the extended period in which the victim is subjected to such violence, the possibility of its psychological disorders is increasing. The manifestation of such violence affects physical, mental and emotional the victim.

In this case, the support of the counselor teacher or any other specialist (psychologist, therapist) is absolutely necessary. Particular attention should be paid to the victim's emotional rehabilitation. This would provide key support points for breaking the deadlock emotional and regaining confidence and self-esteem, thereby facilitating reintegration into school premises and eliminate behaviors that would promote the development of anxiety or depression.
Also, for the victim assaulted the family support is very important because the presence of loved ones (family, friends) helps to accept the reality (of the situation is facing to) and to identify solutions designed to revalue victim.

School plays a key role, especially on the side of prevention as the most effective way to address sexual assault, is to prevent them. From this perspective, creating and maintaining a safe environment for students, the tolerance, interpersonal relations and promotion of non-violence to the basic pillars is desirable. To fulfill this objective, development of educational programs and strategies focused on various educational methods and activities to eliminate aggressive behavior is absolutely necessary. Among the actions to be included in such strategies to combat school violence phenomena can be mentioned:
- establishing collaborative partnerships between school, family and the specialized institutions to manage such situations
- ongoing collaboration between families and students to combat this phenomenon
- regular organization of information courses on sexual assault prevention theme, the performances all staff regarding their school (for students, information is tailored to their age)
- conduct seminars which aims to focus on sexual assault and how to react in such situations (to the seminars should attend both girls and boys), etc..

In our school, involvement on reducing and preventing school violence is active. Actions for this purpose is developed in partnership with various institutions, such as Regional Center for Prevention and Counseling Science, Department of Child Protection, "Save the Children", Iasi County Police Inspectorate, CJAPP Science Foundation, "Solidarity and Hope" etc. . Better efficiency and performance had the school project "Youth against violence", implemented by Save the Children Iasi since May 2010.

Participation in trainings and activities with the theme of violence prevention and combating such violent events in school proves to be very useful and necessary, giving to all the parties involved in the education act appropriate solutions for mediation and management to tense situations.

Date: 16.03.2012

Posted by: Diana Iovcheva
Type of school: Secondary school
Country: Bulgaria

Firstly, apart from the long duration of the conflict which was not observed by the school management, it has taken one week for the school to get information on the absence of the girl. Her parents, on the other hand, are also acting irresponsibly by not taking the initiative to contact the school and express their fears and the problem of their daughter. The investigation undertaken by the school was ultimately thorough and exhaustive. It, however, once again led to imposing a sanction and even expulsion of the bully-pupil from the school, which does not solve the problem comprehensively because this boy will be moved to another school and will have the chance to bully somebody else. The right approach should include sessions with all stakeholders involved. Psychologist, pedagogues and social workers should have had sessions with the girl, with her parents, the class and the students who witnessed the conflict and the bully-pupil as well in order to achieve a long-lasting and fair end for everyone.

Date: 13.03.2012

Type of school: technical high school
Country: Italy

The proposed case- study analyses an event of particular gravity, since the acts of bullying made up by Axel end up into a sexual assault. In fact on January 25th 2011, the "Star-bully" performs inappropriate acts on the school stairs , attitudes that are repeated in different ways in other places and on different victims. What worries us is the fact that Axel is able to act violent attitudes in a short period of time against Annik, and on other victims. The wall of silence, formed to defend the bully, has definitely secured the actor- protagonist, who felt himself authorized to demonstrate without any fear an aggressive and bold behavior among his classmates. However, the resolutions taken by the school don’t convince us. In our opinion, in fact, the removal of Axel seemed to be a too dismissive strategy, almost "disclaimer", indeed. With the dismission of the bully the problem seems solved, Axel will not give problem any more to the Institute in question. Really, the case does not seem to be concluded, because Axel surely will continue to have a consistently inappropriate behavior in other educational institutions. The school might have adopted different strategies than those already described, without underestimating the bully who shouldn’t have been considered as "a student difficult to manage". The case in question in an Italian school would have been solved differently. In fact the class Council, once having identified the particular abnormal behavior of the student, would have reported the case to a Committee operating in the educational institution that deals with difficult cases, especially related to bullying actions of certain individuals within the school community. The Committee would have examined the case in the light of the various reports submitted by the governing class, thanks to a careful supervision carried out by the Coordinator-tutor. It would have assigned the sanctions and put in place appropriate interventions. The latter were certainly have been accompanied by specific intervention by the social worker or psychologist, to the ongoing recovery of pupil, in order to keep him anyway in the school community. All of these interventions should have been put in practice by the involvement of the parents of Axel, in the certainty that a good education can get better result only in perfect synergy with the affected components in the education and maturation of a minor. To limit the aggressive behavior on other boys, the student could have been addressed to a voluntary action center to feel the sense of community and, above all, the respect for the rules and the others. The school's task would be to protect Annik, allowing the victim to live a more peaceful school life and removing any kind of uneasiness. The fact, however, that the girl has changed school demonstrates perfectly that the educational institution in question has not been able to assure a climate of serenity and confidence.

Date: 12.03.2012

Posted by: Phil Ormerod
Type of school: School for children with 'Special Educational Needs'
Country: United Kingdom

This is an interesting 'Case Study' about a problem which is not entirely uncommon. It is also not uncommon for more examples of inappropriate behaviour to come to light after the first report. Perhaps the first thing to say is that it is disappointing that it took so long for someone to have the courage to report what was happening. Perhaps the school should look at what lines of communcation are open to their students if they are being harrassed or bullied, to make it easier for children to speak out. Earlier follow up of the unexplained absence of Annik, i.e. on the first day of absence would also have been a good idea. The school might like to look at the training for all staff, not just teachers, to be able to spot and follow up on signs when a child is in distress e.g. not talking or participating in class, poor school attendance etc. In the UK all schoools have a duty to 'Safeguard Children' with a named school 'Safeguarding Officer' and the actions of the alleged main culprit would have been treated very seriously. The parents may have been encouraged to report the matter to the police who would certainly have investigated thoroughly, possibly putting the alleged bully on 'police bail' not to contact or go near the alleged victim whilst investigations for possible criminal charges were ongoing. The fact that the bully refused to accept the sexual allegations and showed no remorse is of concern and may mean that similar incidents could happen in future. With this in mind we would expect full details of the incidents to be passed on to the new school in a confidential file, so that they could monitor Axel's behaviour. Follow up counselling for all of the victims, especially Annik should have been implemented. We would also have expected follow up action to identify and consider possible action against any other students who may have been involved.

Date: 07.03.2012

Posted by: Jésica Ramírez Medina
Type of school: Secundary School
Country: Spain

Here is to treat a case of sexual assault of a student on some girls in a French school. The case began in February 2011, and was detected by the school due to truancy one of the students victims of sexual harassment. Because of these absences, the center is contacted with the family, it said, the person responsible for school attendance, that her daughter would not go to class because there was a guy who intimidated the assaulted, threatened and even sexually harassed. The family had not discussed the case with anyone, not even with the center since the student was very afraid.
In this case, the stalker had an entourage of "friends" who tolerate their behavior and applauded, in which none had reported any cases of harassment. Once the charge of the center opened an inquiry, interviewed several students, and they admitted that the student harasser had starred in more events similar to what reported by the student victim. Following this, they left several students, who also fear, as the first victim had not reported the assault and had suffered in silence.
Since starting the first attack until it solved the problem of sexual harassment took longer, about 6 months. The response from schools was rapid, but it took longer to detect sexual abuse in the beginning. The main cause of this lack of complaint, in my opinion, was the fear that every student of the school had the student offender and his followers. So, it is essential to promote in schools, in students and their families, the need to report any situation considered humiliating, unjust or is a crime.
As a solution, the center quickly proposed the expulsion of the student center, as it was a troubled student, had already had several problems in school, although not as severe as the one described here. He also informed his parents, although they had already thrown the towel with him. The student offender admitted the facts of the victims that the students and many of his colleagues accused him except the fact of sexual assault, and never showed the slightest remorse. The pattern is still dominating the bully, always creating fear in their victims, and to secure their superiority over others
Parents of all students involved were notified and informed of what happened at school. The majority were in agreement with the work of the center, although the mother of the first victim, because the expulsion was adequate, but her daughter was still being afraid of the bully to continue assailing outside school. Although the school offered counseling to victims of sexual harassment.
In conclusion, we can say that it is essential to educate the general student population on the importance of reporting any degrading or humiliating fact of any member of our community. The case described is very serious, I have never personally encountered a similar case, or in my work or my private life, so it really would not know how to solve the problem as quickly and emphatically as possible. I think sex education is essential for young people, and promote coeducation.

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