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“Between a rock and a hard place”

  • Cyberbullying
  • Ethnic-cultural differences

Lu is a 16 year-old chinese girl who is in a very good zone of the town.She was adopted when she was one year and she’s been brought up surrounded of much affection and all needed attentions. She has a lot of friends and leads a normal life. She stands out for her good grades, although she is a little short and she is not very popular among boys, but still she’s really noticeable due to her sympathy. One of her friends, Luisa, is completely the opposite of Lu: she is the most popular of her friends, she is always dressed “trendy”, her grades are bad and, although she is more unpleasant, she is quite popular among boys.
Six months ago, Lu started dating with Toni. Both Lu and Luisa like him. Since then Luisa has been sending e-mails in which Luisa blackmail her and say things such as “a chinese girl can’t be with a boy who is not chinese and he would be happier with her because she would give him more things.
Lu doesn’t want to tell her friends because she thinks they wouldn’t believe her and is affraid of them to break off with her. She hasn’t told her parents because she thinks they will take internet away and things may get worse. Nowadays Lu is not like she used to be, her grades got worse and on recess time she is always looking at the ground so that she doesn’t see Luisa’s face. In turn, she threatens Lu saying to her that if she doesn’t break up with Toni she is going to get alone and she is going to say to all the girls not to go out with her. When they are al gathered, Luisa pretends nothing happens, even approaching her.
Lu is so overwhelmed, she doesn’t want to meet anyone and last weeks is having problems with Toni, since she is constantly nervous and thinks Luisa won’t leave her alone until she break up with him.


Regarding the strategies used by the characters of the case in order to react to this peer maltreatment situation. Students think nothing was done because she didn’t tell anyone and nobody noticed anything. Teachers say her grades have decreased, she is missings many clasess and she is always looking at the ground on recess time. This could alert the teachers, who are supposed to act accordingly. But they say they hardly ever see situations like the one described in the example. Therefore they do nothing. Moreover, the victims barely report their suffering, as they carry it in silence (what, by the way, make the situation worse). In the case they were aware of it, they don’t know what they could do. Parents think nothing was done because nobody knows, and Lu thinks it’s better this way.


Students, parents, teachers, director and counsellor think this situation affects learning and teaching in the class, as well as the consequences derived from it. The student suffering bullying is not concentrated and doesn’t pay attention to what he has to do (may be distracted thinkin of the possibility of meeting the bully, and worried about what could happen to him). The victim use to live terrified by the idea of attending school, making an influence on learnning.
Regarding this situation affects student’s motivation (interest, effort…). Partcicipants think it does affect and there is a consensus in their answers: as there are afraid of everything, they feel threatened and stressed so they do not make headway. It depends on how harassment has been. Harassed student loose interest for the studies. Classmates think they could have been a victim too. The director thinks fear generates a lack of stimuli.
Students results. Students think they should punish them because if they don’t consider this it wil end up in maltreatment. They think different bands can be formed among students, or the number of bullies can be increased, as well as the fear to be a victim of the harassment.
Teachers point out that if the situation doesn’t resolve it can lead in negative effects on the rest of students because they will observe an unfair and unresolved situation that could encourage other students to act as bullies to achieve their goals.
Bystanders wouldn’t be affected in a high degree. Victim’s results would decrease. Bystanders can fear to fall in this situation. Relations are marred and the group in general gets queasy. This affects the students state of mind and of course their performance.
The direction says a bad climate of convivencia generates bad academic results and a bad education as a free and responsable citizen. Parents think it affects too. Counsellor says this morally reprehensible behavior has to be moved away as a model. It impairs the healthy climate in class needful for proper learning process. It’s not a positive learning.
Regarding posible school integration problems that may accur. All participants think there will be school integration problems. Students think that maybe they don’t want to join them, or maybe they fear to deal with other people. The rest wouldn’t accept them as they are.
Most likely is that the bullied student loses confidence in the rest of the classmates and start being alone and independent, without dealing with anyone. Teachers think bullying cause gradual isolation for the victim. The director says the victim feel excluded and thinks nobody wants to be with him. Counsellor says a student suffering a situation of bullying can’t connect with people normally.
Regarding the influence the situation of bullying can make on adult behavior in society, everybody think it affects and the way it does is as follow: students think it causes consequences and they will be less friendly so they will have very few friends and don’t trust people around him and feel resentful. Depends on the person. If he is an insecure and closed person, he might not overcome what he went through. But if he is self-confident and able to get over what he suffered, he’ll be able to change and even avoid the situation and help others.
Teachers say bullying will create a painful trace which if not treated it can reinforce the isolation in order to avoid the pain caused by others. They think it’ll affect only the victim and in a negative way. They think in our society there are messages that promote bully attitudes; It’d be enough remembering that a political party has used FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU WANT as its campaign slogan: that’s exactly what Luisa does: fight for the boy she wants. She makes people adopt a passive attitude due to the fear to the reaction of the others faced with her own initiatives or the fear to point herself out with a personality the others don’t like.
The director think that victim feels socially excluded and rejected by the group, what will negatively affect her personal development, as she feels emotionally and intellectually subdued. Parents think that if one grows with fear, even though you’re a professional it’s difficult to overcome. Counsellor says that one learns how to deal with people, so the pain is received or given, leading to assume inappropriate roles in the future. It’s necessary to eradicate this kind of behavior because it disturb the basic principle of sociability.
Regarding whether or not it affects school environment. Students think it will because it will be harder for them to say what they want to say and deal with his classmates in the school. Obviously a school in which students behave their self and get along with each other is not the same than other in which fights are much more usual and students create conflicts quite often. Teachers say that an open and sensitive school climate will detect the problem and try to look for a fast and effective solution. Boys and girls are not relaxed in the school and don’t behave naturally if they feel they are being observed and harassed.
The director thinks that a person subjugated doesn’t participate in the group and feel insecure. Parents say there are just a few friends and there is always fear.


Regarding the victim thoughts. About the reason why she is being assaulted. Students think they wouldn’t have believed the victim and that’s the reason why she didn’t say anything. She felt weighed down, incompetent and sad. They think there’s no alternative but telling it. She will think everything was caused by dating with that boy her friend likes. She didn’t tell it for fear of her friends not to talk to her anymore. She thinks everything she does turns out badly, that she can’t do anything to avoid Luisa to make her friends overlook. She would fear to tell anyone and make him go from verbal to physical aggression. She feels guilty, she thinks it’s her fault that the aggressor is angry and is treating her badly.
If we focus on the help would be useful for the victim, the differerent opinions suggested by the students are: share what’s happening to her with someone she can trust. Break up with the boy so Luisa will leave her alone. Tell her parents, it’s important not to let Luisa understand she can do anything she wants. Report to the police and expel Luisa from the school center, so she learn her lesson. Making them solve their problems face to face would be a good idea, avoiding to turn to any other resources to be superior.


Regarding the reason why the bully behaves that way. They think to be an inmigrant is the reason and also because she has taken something she believes she deserves. Because she is embittered or has suffered emotional wounds. Because of rage of someone inferior can get something better than her. Jealousy, complex and envy.
If we focus on why they choose that victim in particular and not any other. They think it’s because she is more vulnerable and inmigrant. You never know who is going to be next victim. Because she knew her. Because she knows she is weaker and no matter what she said they would never believe her.
Regarding aggressor’s regret: students think she will, but it’s not her fault. Within tmie she will regret. Eventually she will regret. If she got what she wanted (dating Toni), I don’t think she is going to regret. If she didn’t get anything, maybe.


Observers didn’t know what was going on because she didn’t tell anyone. Others think they did know, but they didn’t want to get involve. The majority do not notice until some other students are involved. Thy both kept it in secret.
Regarding bystanders’ opinión about bullying causes. They didn’t do anything because they didn’t know and they couldn’t react. Because the person being bullied’s attitude is determinant. Bystanders would wonder what was going on and would worried about her.


Regarding teachers’ awareness about what was going on. Some think they could know, but it’s not mentioned in the example. They say teachers usually don’t notice and when they do is when the situation is irremediable. Probably not all. They would notice Lulu’s attitude change.
Regarding what they did to know and understand what was going on. Teachers say they would act as tutors, they would talk to the student affected, they would transfer to the Head of Studies, etc. Others don’t know what they would do if they saw something like this with their students.
A solution -a patch more tan anything- could be put the aggressor apart from the rest of the class or moving him to other center. They have read cases in which the aggressor had to go. The aggressor has to go and being damaged. They would talk first with the girl and then with the tutor. The tutor should make the counselor aware oh this. They would discuss it with the rest of the members of the educative team so that they could say whether or not they were seeing something strange too. If bullying is confirmed counsellor’s instructions should be followed and decide what is the roled played by the direction and parents. They use to watch the children when they are on recess. The observe if there is any of them isolated, if they talk to their students, ask them who they get along with better, if there are fights…etc. On tutorship time they tell students how important the union of the group is, helping each other to achieve or goals… They also try to remove any label or prejudices (clothes, color of the skin, accent, believes, kilos, …) and making learn the originality. They try to educate, not only teach.
About the other teachers’ help. They say it’s not specified in this case. If they had to deal with a situation like this they would turn to the counselor and teachers to who they confide more.


Regarding the director’s awareness about this situation, he thinks he use to find out through the tutor and head of studies’ office.
What he should have done in this situation is put into practice the School Conflict Prevention and Resolution Plan, designed in the educative proyect.
Regarding the role of the director in this kind of situation, the director of this center thinks the direction along with Head of Studies and Councellor must coordinate the actions that have to be carried out and act as mediators.


Regarding parents’ awareness about what’s going on. They think at least they would have noticed a change in her daughter in terms of both attitude and grades.
Regarding how parents would get information about what was happening and what information they would get. They say they talk to their children quite a lot. They tell them their experiences since one of them was a victim when he/her went to school and tries to have talks with him Besides, they are foreigners in Spain. They would contact the center and they would have been orientated.
About a possible change of the situation. The parents think it could have changed. If Lu had talked to her parents from the beginning and faced that girl she wouldn’t have gotten away with it. If they don’t know her they can’t change her, they only can act when they know her.


Regarding what the counselor would do. Intervene directly with the students, deal with the problem with de Head of Studies, give directions to the development of the involved tutorship, etc. A fast intervention is quite effective. Of course, monitoring of the situation is critical. Families must be aware of what happened. Their response es critical too.
Prevention of these situations: Implementation of preventive programs produce positive effects, and this kind of behaviors are usually removed. Nevertheless this problems eventually show up. Then, more repairing actions must be carried out.
Regarding what could be done in order to improve communication and cooperation among students (an while we are at it prevent bullying). Work in groups, to do activities that promote convivencia and a good climate, to develop tutorial action in an effective way, to involve the whole school center… Early intervention in the first years of school is a priority. The work with the families should be added. Parents’ attitude is directly related to the capability to avoid this kind of behaviors. But we always have to be ready, because students manifest different behavior patterns depending on whether they are at school or at home, alone or with someone. They are a continuous surprise box.


Which is the cause of the bullying situation described in the case? The only Lu’s different feature is her physical appearance. I think Chinese culture and language have nothing to do with it, as she has been raised in a Spanish family.
Rather, Luisa is used to get anything she wants, and faced with the difficulties to date the boy she likes, she had taken in advantage anything to humiliate her rival, for example Lu’s physical appearance.
A fact is proposed assuming that non of the two main characters say anything. Both are motivated by fear to say nothing. One due to low sel-steem and the other because she knows her performance is not the proper one and she is afraid of the reaction of the others.
Lu’s attitude change is a clear sign of something is wrong with her, but there is no mention to how it has been detected what is really happening. This change in her attitude may be motivated by many different things.
Here is where we have to look for the real reason for Lu’s attitude change. I find the intervention suggested by teachers, counsellor and headmaster suitable, and I agree with the counsellor proposal to improve communication and cooperation.
I also think a PROACTION would be quite beneficial for the educative community.


The situation of this case, Lu, is an example of harassment via email. Perhaps, today, many education professionals do not know the phenomenon cyber bullying and the consequences that entails. In this case, it is obvious manifestations in the personal and academic attitude of the victim, however, none of his teachers and even their own parents argue that there are a serious problem of bullying.

From my point of view, all stakeholders (tutors, teachers, parents, counselor and classmates) knew or at least suspected the existence of the problem suffered by the victim, without ever acknowledging the problem in question, the cyber bullying. In addition, I find it ironic that all these other responsibilities delegated agent agents in relation to knowledge of this problem. Problem in which there would be very important preventive intervention, systematic response to this social phenomenon.


Между чук и наковалня.pdf

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 28.03.2012

Posted by: Mª Victoria Fernández Roldán
Type of school: Teacher Training Center
Country: Spain

I think in this case contains various items. Differences of race, misuse of electronic mail, a situation of helplessness or lack of faith that does not tell anyone ...

The centers should act globally, so that all students know that they will not consent to this type of behavior. On the other hand it is necessary to work with students in a code of ethics in the use of new technologies and social networks and also give them confidence and establish channels of communication, so that when they are harassed, they can tell with confidence and know who have be addressed.

Noteworthy is the effect of these situations in academic outcomes. Whenever the person harassed low and almost always results also take more classes. These two indicators should make us think something is happening, something that may not see and nobody tells us.

In all of this is essential both in preventive work items previously targeted, and the acceptance of diversity, from an inclusive perspective and understood as something enriching and connecting element between people.

Date: 20.03.2012

Posted by: Mrs E Spalticen
Type of school: 11-18 Comprehensive
Country: UK

A very worrying case, particularly as "looked after" children are statistically more likely to under achieve academically. She will want to fit in and not be seen as Chinese or adopted and anything that gets in the way of this is likely to cause her stress. On top of this she is clearly being bullied by another girl and this is having an adverse effect on her level of achievement. In the UK this would be extremely important to her school as we are judged on the results we achieve at sixteen. In my school we would move heaven and earth to ensure that Lu maximised her potential. This might be achieved by organising a managed move for the girl who is displaying bullying behaviour.

Our first priority would be to protect Lu from any further unpleasantness. This would involve a member of staff being pro-active, organising parental meetings and drawing up some kind of contract between the two girls. It would also mean that Lu received additional academic support to bring her grades back up to the expected level. We would also be asking ourselves if we considered this incident to be racially motivated. If there is a racist case to answer then the girl who has been doing the bullying would find herself in much deeper water.

Date: 20.03.2012

Type of school: Obervatory of violence and school dropping out - Ministry of Education
Country: Belgium

In this situation, a supporting cell has been set up. Similar actions would have been undertaken in Belgium via services such as the CPMS, the mediators, the mobile teams and the assistance number (toll-free number).

It seems that an awareness action regarding diversity (of gender, cultural…) with a main work on prejudices would be worthwhile. The Observatory has worked on these issues and has a set of working cards on the subject with resources, practical tools, associations and contact person.

Training : transversal trainings on diversity also exist and they are carried out by the Institute of continuous training.

Date: 15.03.2012

Posted by: Carlos José Pérez
Type of school: Concerted
Country: Spain

I agree with Professor Iskrova that it is very important to strengthen the trust between students, parents and teachers. The problem here is that the victim is locked in silence and do not share any of what happens, so the performance is very difficult. In this case, as the harassment via email, would have been easier to uncover the facts and talk to the guardian or guardians involved in the students, but stumbled again with the problem of lack of confidence victim with their parents and teachers, so I agree with Professor Iskrova we need some training for dealing with these situations where, from my point of view, the problem is so large as the barrier that has risen to the victim around them.

Date: 14.03.2012

Type of school: „CONSTANTIN PĂUNESCU” School for children with special needs, IAŞI
Country: ROMANIA

It should be noted that, most of the time the victims of violence of any kinds prefer to hide their suffering for different reasons: fear of other people’s opinions, shame, fear of rejection and isolation from the group, etc. Unfortunately, this only makes matters worse, as the situation reaches a point where there is no resolve in sight or finding a solution proves extremely complicated.

Moreover, the internet has become a source used time and time again for harassment and intimidation through e-mails that can contain threats, sexual remarks, hateful messages, teasing or false statements which are meant to humiliate the victim.

The fact that Lu is of Chinese descent was easily used by her colleague, and also the fact that she had good grades, but wasn’t very popular.
The problem in this case is that Lu never spoke to anyone about her problems and in time, the trauma only got deeper. It would have been better if she would have told her parents, to whom she feels very close, even though they would have prohibited her from going online. In these type of cases, it is much more difficult for teachers or the principal to notice the conflict and its nature.

Although in Romanian schools there have been no incidences as serious as this one, there have been programs which are meant to train teachers to deal with the possible situations of school violence, trainings which should be centered on :
• Assertive communication
• Tolerance and support
• Understanding and accepting differences
• Methods of influencing the behaviors
• Activities which would help identifying the problem of school bullying among the different categories of students and among the public opinion
• Training students to deal with conflicts and to communicate / interact in a non-violent fashion .

Date: 06.03.2012

Posted by: Tania Iskrova
Type of school: Vocational 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. 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 Lu's parents, considering the impossibility for a change of the situation, could have probably moved their child to another school. It is unfortunate that Luisa was left feeling dominant and unpunished for her actions. Turns out that anyone who does not like somebody else is free to torment 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.

Date: 05.03.2012

Posted by: Maramotti Loretta - Pancosta Brabara
Type of school: High School
Country: Italia

Closing in themselves by victims of bullying. Menacing attitude on the part of bullies. In Spain, the victim of bullying 'of Chinese origin while in our case none of the victims' of foreign origin.
In the Spanish case you do not have the intervention is 'part of the households are' of the school as not aware, while in our case we have the involvement of families, teachers, psychologists and authorities
In Spain you would have found support in families and institutions, while in our case and we are 'made use of such media
From the Spanish case shows that it would be appropriate that there be greater observation on the part of teachers to understand the attitudes of some students, while in our case and we 'realized that the intervention of institutions helps to overcome some problems related to bullying
It would be appropriate that the projects were made on the behavior of citizens through the support of external experts such as police and psychologists so that students have knowledge of what can lead to behavior not correct.
It would also be desirable to train teachers through courses in sociology and psychology.
The teacher training is crucial to deal with any bullying events. It 'important that the Faculty Council is prepared
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 any case of police intervention, police, army into the classroom to illustrate and clarify the rules on citizenship regardless of whether or not issues related to bullying in the classroom.

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