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Case Studies


Empowering students to prevent violent behavior

  • Direct bullying
  • Non-especific

M.C., 17 years old, is student on the last year of an Arts and Trades School. The student was reported several times before by the form teacher as being very violent, with problematic and aggressive behavior, constantly involved in various conflicts in and outside school.
Type of violence:
-against colleagues: insults, beatings, hits, injuries
-against teachers: bad language, disrespectful behavior


Teachers along with the school management during the councils discussed about the M.C. student situation who is constantly involved in violent situations. It was discussed the family situation of the student, and the teachers told that they know that his parents have left the country, to go to work abroad and that M.C. lives with her aunt. The family relationship was also characterized as being distant, cold, and the parents present a sort of indifference: the mother lack of authority and the father is more concerned about business than his son. Although the school principal tried to contact his parents, this did not succeed, but were held discussions with the student aunt, to get involved in the student's behavioral change, also she was guided to introduce another family system of rules with sanctions and rewards.

School intervention: more strict school regulation with sanctions and rewards and involvement of MC in a program for pedagogical and psycho-social assistance for the awareness of the violent behavior consequences.
It was also discussed in the teachers council what sanctions the school may apply. Sanctions applied in school and have low benefits and are for short-term. The sanctions are effective if:
- Occurs immediately after the event, having weighted intensities (a severe punishment has no large effects);
- To be established from the beginning;
- Not to affect the emotional relationship with the one sanctioned.
The school principal said that he agrees with the sanctions only under the conditions mentioned above. For aggressive behaviors education it is considered important to combine sanctions with positive reinforcements. Giving to the students lower grades for school indiscipline is not considered to be effective, and expulsion from the school is not a solution because this would have devastating effects on the student future.
To the teachers have been required to have an active involvement in developing prevention programs on anti-violence, in giving special attention to the emotional side of students' education and to understand their needs, other than knowledge.
As a solution to the situation of M.C. student it was proposed that due to his desire to always get in front and be more important than his colleagues, to be included as a promoter in a program to combat violence in schools. Having also the support from teachers and school counselor the student will develop activities to inform students on the effects and consequences of violent acts in schools.
Thus this, M.C. becoming an emblem of combating school violence, first will realize the gravity of his acts better and will not resort to such behavior anymore, not for ruin his new image created in front of his colleagues.


The causes of this behavior are hereditary heritage (father manifest a violent behavior) and the negligence of family.
Involvement of the student in activities to combat school violence can have a double impact on him: first can reduce his violent attitudes and behaviors by developing new character, attitudes, more mature and more controlled; and secondly, raising self-esteem, respect and valorization of his person as being important in school, maintaining the leading position, but channeled to positive aspects by building and exploiting the potential of behavioral change.


Teachers and Director attended most of the times in a "passive" manner to the phenomena of violence and delinquency (thefts) that occur relatively frequently, the authors being students in school who have a precarious financial situation.
Offering only warnings or giving to the students lower grades for school indiscipline is not enough. There should be more severe sanctions, expulsion or other sanctions which involve them in activities that keep them busy and not to do bad things.


M.C. appreciate that he have indeed a violent behavior in and outside of school, telling with sincerity and without loss about various situations in which he was involved, considering that is one of the students who make use of physical and verbal violence.


Colleagues characterize the student as a person with a tumultuous temperament and predisposed to aggression, but sociable wishing to have friends with whom to spend time.
Sometimes have an uncontrollable behavior.
He likes to be admired, to lead and to shock the others.


The M.C. student is currently causing the biggest problems. Especially after his parents have gone to work abroad, simply did not go a month without causing a serious incident and acting violent.
He has serious problems with class frequency, and the teachers have come to tolerate his absence from school, because when he is present, they barely manage to hold the classes.
It is true that he has no problems at all disciplines, during some classes is quiet. The latest incident is one in which he spit a teacher and threw the class catalog out of the window.
His involvement in information and awareness activities on violence in schools may have a great impact on him. Will become a leader not by promoting violence but by fighting against it.
Is very important to him to be empowered.


Teachers are very important in terms of school quality education. Having teachers honored for what they teach, dedicated to student interest would contribute positively to increase students participation and decrease violence in school.
The director said that he would insist on the counsellor role by paying more attention in advising and informing teachers on how to combat violence, how to intervene and to introduce a system of monitoring and reporting cases of violence.


Parents of students belonging to the M.C. class said that teachers do not have strategies and methods on how to combat violence in schools, because they are inexperienced or do not pay interest.
The aunt student said that teachers do not have authority and that MC should be helped in organizing and planning learning activities.
The students should be more involved in social activities, volunteering to know each other better and not to act violent.


The main causes are related to his parents and then to his entourage/friends. To his parents, because they not only did not argued him when he act violent, but he was encouraged with every opportunity to be tough, both with other students and with teachers.
Basically it is a child who seems to be out of hand, without control. It also has unhealthy circles of friends, some recognized as being particularly violent. Colleagues regard him with fear.
Sociable and he recognize his mistakes.


Experts say that adolescence is the most sensitive period of physical, mental and social development of young people, they are not only changing from one year to another, not only from month to month, but even from one day to another, and, what is more important, not only changes one or other of the components of personality, but the whole personality, the whole behavior.
In adolescence young people are being in a constant search for self, self-discovery, self-recovery and self-involvement in social life.
School is a very important factor in shaping behavior.
On this case were highlighted the importance of awareness of the consequences of violence in schools, primarily by teachers and by the school management, and after that by students. The school involvement is also important in shaping behavior, motivating and valuing students.

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 25.03.2012

Posted by: Emilia Yordanova
Type of school: Secondary school
Country: Bulgaria

I believe that this was a very good, timely and efficient approach for solving the problem. I absolutely agree that sanctions (if any such are imposed at all) are good only if they are combined with positive incentives for a change of the behavior and discussions with professional psychologists and pedagogical and experts.
The approach of the school, which presented this case study should be further multiplied and used not only by other schools in Romania, but also in our secondary education system. I consider it as a very good practice.

Date: 22.03.2012

Posted by: Ana Cobos Cedillo
Type of school: Secondary Education
Country: Spain

The common elements are similar cases we have in regard to the type of student and related performance measures.
The unusual element is the high level of coordination among professionals.
As a counselor as much support is received from the management teams of schools, tutors, families and educational administration. The higher efficiency is obtained the more coordination there.
I can learn from the case so systematically to bring analysis and record as exhaustive. The performances, which have a tendency educator about involving students in activities of living.
In my experience, the best strategies are:
Encourage self-protection in the network.
Demystifying the role of informer and promote the reporting of situations.
Working for coexistence to prevent these events.
Encourage students there mediator involved in the resolution of conflicts among peers.
Would be receiving training related to:
Training teachers to know the life of teens on the net
Training teachers in self-protection on the network
Training teachers in education for coexistence and conflict resolution
Training teachers about adolescence

Date: 05.03.2012

Country: Greece

• It is obvious from the description of the fact, that the MC’s aggressive behavior had its root in the abandonment and marginalization by the family environment. With his behavior he wants to "stand out" in the school environment, and to grab the attention of his parents, even in a negative way.
• Such cases are no exception in schools worldwide. Each school has to face not only the fact of a violent momentary behavior, but the cause of this which is outside the school environment (mostly family) where born or kept, as well as to prevent future such behavior.
• Actions to face and prevent such cases with disciplinary practices such as expulsion from school lessons or to change the school environment, generally support the aggression as they draw attention of classmates and teachers.
• Actions to face and prevent such cases with social work in a school environment based on skills and abilities of students with better chances of success would boost the ego and redirect his interests.
• Another way of pressure on the student other than specialists (counselors, social workers, etc.) could bring the parents club of the school.
• Improving the way that teachers react in that kind of episodes, could be a targeted selection of presentation and referense to specific incidents, beyond the theoretical background.

Date: 01.03.2012

Posted by: Mick Flower
Type of school: 11-18 Comprehensive
Country: UK

MC's problems centre on his ability to socialise and form positive relationships. The first issue I would like to explore is why this anti-social, aggressive and unpleasant behaviour hasn't been picked up earlier. It is unusual for 17 year olds to suddenly start throwing their weight around. He must have presented as anti-social at a younger age. Why is he being kept in school? If he is in his last year, it would make more sense to have him gaining some useful work experience. He will need to modify his behaviour in a work environment; so it might make sense to bring that experience forward a few months.

MC's situation is unlikely to occur in the UK as he would be beyond the age of compulsory education and would hav been asked to leave a Further Education establishment.

MC is clearly aggressive, confrontational, lacks maturity and an ability to rationalise. He also challenges authority - but what evidence is there that he adopts bullying behaviour? He does not appear to have any followers and is very much an isolate within his school. He is not venting his anger towards one particular victim. I'm not sure that he is a bully by the definitions that appear on the website.

In the UK parents of other students would be bringing considerable pressure to bear on the situation. There would be a lot of pressure to exclude MC. If his behaviour did not improve then it would be likely that MC would be permanently excluded.

Date: 29.02.2012

Posted by: Liana Papadopoulou
Type of school: High School
Country: Greece

The case of MC shows how important the process of socialization is in shaping people's behavior. The role of family in this process is very important as the person learns not only the values and norms of society as a member but works as a standard of conduct for its members. MC’s socialization in the absence of the parents can be considered incomplete and explain his behavior. Both family and school does not have clear positions and principles toward MC. They failed to help him feel part of a team, cooperate and act collectively. The child is trying to gain attention in any way and regardless of the cost is that of behavior. It's a strong personality, expressed in an aggressive manner in a space that is also the second largest operator after family socialization. The aunt is supportive but in no case was able to effectively substitute for the lack of parents' MC.
No information in the case of MC for the way in which the school so far faced the aggressive behavior. If implemented graduated sanctions and how they impacted on the subsequent behavior. If the MC was operating without boundaries at home and at school hardly be accepted without opposition the new data. According to the teachers of the MC create problems during the course which means that the program is important to relate in some way with the learning process in the sense of a holistic response to the problem of aggressive behavior and certainly not linking low-rated sanctions which could have adverse effects. On the other hand, the expulsion of a student from school should not be considered as a likely possibility because only effects will cause the MC who has been a traumatic experience of abandonment by his parents. In the case of elimination from the school only has negative consequences for the future of psychology and behavior as it would lead him to feel that he reject and exclude him from everywhere.
The decision of the board of teachers to help MC through participation in a program of psychosocial support to raise awareness about the consequences of violent behavior will help the MC as it will give him a leadership which seeks every time he shows violent behavior towards classmates and teachers of the opposite. Only through this program will work in a positive way and not aggressively as it did until the intervention of the school environment. It will help him understand the meaning of the rules and limits that must be a member of a set of such school.
On the other hand it is important to be organized in such a way that program so that the system of penalties and sanctions to be clear and short works correctly as pointed out by the school to be effective. Moreover, positive reinforcement can work effectively especially in the case of MC that the lack of his parents would not allow him to have the family environment. An important role will the consultant who could help teachers to deal more promptly and effectively aggressive behavior of the MC as well as a new program to deal with aggressive behavior at this school, which will be led by MC.

Date: 20.02.2012

Posted by: Anastasios Athanasopoulos Georgios Revas
Type of school: School of second Chance
Country: Greece

Cooperation between family and school on a long-term and consistent basis is considered indispensable on such occasions. Prerequisite for the efficiency of this is the acknowledgement on behalf of the family of the problematic behaviour and the determination of the school to deal with it and come up with a solution. Any inconsistencies in the process deriving from either side will lead to a failure. A holistic approach of the problematic situation would be advisable taking into consideration all the contributing factors (family, friends, habits, interests, school performance, violent or delinquent behaviour inside or outside school, motivation offered for changing behaviour and attitudes). In this specific case there is a conspicuous shortcoming in terms of a balanced bilateral collaboration and interaction due to an inefficient, unsafe, dysfunctional family environment that appears reluctant to take responsibility. Thus school is summoned to play a major role and cover the deficit in family care and supervision.
Given the above-mentioned conditions the school counsellor and teaching staff are the two agents to dynamically and interchangeably act since they are directly involved in the problematic situation on a daily basis. There should also be constant feedback in order to readapt or modify the strategies adopted.
In particular the school counsellor along with the teachers could make an attempt to sketch the student’s character, concerns, insecurities and weaknesses, potentials and strong points of his/her personality, detect his/her emotional and educational needs, interests and talents in the perspective of devising a series of methods and strategies aimed at motivating the student to reconsider his/her attitude towards school and life in general driving his/her energy towards constructive domains. Teachers and counsellor should foster joint tactics making the student realize that he/she has the undivided support and good will of all. His strong, dynamic personality, straightforwardness, frankness and will to surprise people can be utilized by employing the proper encouragement and admonition.
The idea of the student playing a leading role in the school’s campaign against violence would be more effective if the student were first persuaded of the good intentions of the teachers. This could be attained by their providing him/her with proof of confidence through granting him special assignments/roles in class or in school (students’ delegate, creative or other tasks requiring leadership skills) which will definitely raise his/her self-esteem and constrain violent acts. Establishing distinct stepping-stones through the process will increase likelihood for the whole venture to succeed.
Selectively changing part of social circle is extremely necessary for the effectiveness of the process, which outside school can be monitored by the family alone and achieved only by the student’s realizing the incorrectness of deeds and will to reconsider. It is also very important that the counsellor and teachers emphatically stress that being involved in stealing things or fighting and by and large committing misdemeanours could escalate to other more serious criminal acts that might occur outside school sending him before justice and subsequently to the harsh and inhuman environment of a reformatory or prison with disastrous consequences for his life.

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