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Situational game “This could have happened to me”

  • Direct bullying
  • Non-especific

The information has been provided by School for students with special education needs “P.R. Slaveykov”, Pleven – Mrs. Diana Nikolova (senior teacher) and Mrs. Petia Marcheva (psychologist).
The case of fiction-violence has been presented before students with special education needs and their parents in the form of a situational game „This could have happened to me”. The project took place during extra-curricular activities in two parallel sessions. A part of the movie “The class” was played to the participants. The students were separated into three groups: victim, bully/harasser and by-stander.
The parents worked in one general group.
The part of the movie in question presented a group of students playing basketball in the school gym under the supervision of a teacher. One of the students (A) is often avoided in general and in this particular case his fellow-students are not passing him any balls and therefore not giving him a chance to participate in the game. During the game they throw insults at him, kick and hit him and show him with obscene gestures that this is all just a part of the game. The present teacher is not reacting to the aggressive behavior of the students. The game continues and becomes even more rough and aggressive. At a certain moment the ball suddenly falls into the hands of A. Without passing it on to another school-mate, he shoots the ball towards the ring. Right away a blast of insults and kicks pours onto him, and then again the teacher takes no action, but just announces that the period is over and puts an end to the game. The real terror of violence and humiliation for A starts on the way towards the changing room.


The presented description is not connected with a case that has really happened at the School for children with special education needs “P.R. Slaveykov”, but is a part of a movie, depicting school violence, which has been discussed by children, teachers, parents and school administration with prevention purposes.
Within this analyzed case the reaction of the currently responsible teacher is quite inadequate. He does not stand by the student A in any way and does not stop the aggression towards him. The response of the school administration and staff afterwards, after the systematic harassment towards A comes to light, should follow the rules described in the conclusions to this case study. Should these rules have been initially observed however, such situations and such attitude towards a child would not have been allowed in the first place.


The effects of the case of violence, presented during the “This could have happened to me” game at the School for students with special education needs “P.R. Slaveykov” have been discussed by the participants and according to them, these effects on the victim of the constant bullying, neglect and rejection are low self-esteem, constant fear and insecurity, loss of interest towards the educational process and shutting everybody out. No effects are seen in the bullies, because the latter consider their attitude towards A as something normal – nobody likes A, everybody avoid him, so in a certain way he must deserve all that is happening to him. There is no change in their grades or results at school, but there is an increase of their inclination towards aggression, because they see that their actions remain unpunished and that the rest of their fellow students not only fail to undertake any action to protect A, but actually admire their “freedom of thought”.
The school team and the school administration are quite disturbed because the situation got unleashed out of any acceptable boundaries. The whole team should be made aware of and trained to apply specific patterns of behavior in cases such as this one and which is more important – methods for prevention, so that such cases are never reached. The reaction of the physical education teacher is being discussed. He failed to respond to the plea for help form student A and does not undertake any other action than declaring the end of the period and sending the children off to the changing room, where things become even “more interesting” for A.
The integration at this school is seriously off balance, because what the allowed violence does is mostly to separate – the students, because it placed them in the positions of bullies, bullied and participating or nonparticipating witnesses; the teachers and the administration, who need to point out some guilty one/ones, who with their actions or inactions allowed child aggression to take the real form of a concrete and targeted bullying.
The principles of active citizenship, at the school with the act of bullying, are broken – the victim cannot be expected to carry out his responsibilities and obligations towards the institutions, since the institutions are unable to protect and guarantee his rights and safety; the bullied cannot expect to receive whatever they consider righteous to them, because they have stepped over the boundaries of the acceptable behavior; the school management and the teachers cannot expect the required results from their students, because they are obviously unable to guarantee equal rights to everyone – the positions of the institution, its authority have been shaken. The parental “institution” as such is also suffering, because the family sensors obviously are not as functional as they should be, considering the fact that they failed to register on the time the signs of low self-esteem, depression, introversion and sadness mingled with anger.


Through a brain-storming and discussion session the students who were placed in the role of victims outlined the main elements: the main reason for the demonstration of aggressive behavior is the desire of the person to feel important and dominating his/her fellow students.
All students agreed that the victims of violence are almost always inclined to suppress and not share the event with others. Even to forget the act for a while and not share it with relatives, friends, despite the fact that he/she feels miserable and lonely.
The students shared that they would first turn to the teachers for help and support and only afterwards – towards their parents.


Via the method of “studying a case” and a discussion among the students, who were assigned the role of bullies, were outlined the main elements from their point of view: motivation – the desire to feel important and different from the others because of his/her power; the selection of a victim is never random – the student under attack is someone who is different in the eyes of the others; in this case there is a lack of regret and the feeling that everything that happened took place in the correct time and in the most appropriate way is dominant. The explanation for this lack of regret or demonstration of conscience at work according to the students is the fact that the present teacher, who is supposed to easily tell proper from bad and take action whenever needed, obviously saw nothing wrong in what was taking place.


The group of by-standers, through a discussion, also outlined the main elements from their point of view: they comprehend what is happening, but are not ready to allow too aggressive or unacceptable behavior; they express readiness to help the victims of harassment, as well as the harasser; the by-standers suppose that the harasser is a student, who likes to dominate, to be constantly an object of attention and love. The witnesses accept that the bully could feel week, lonely and unneeded and this could also urge him to attack a fellow student; the witnesses would tell what has happened and would search for support and help from the headmaster, from the teachers and the psychologist. According to the witnesses the professionals from the school and those who are in closest contact with the bully and have a most proper comprehension of what and how should be done in order for his/her behavior to be changed.


Through the method “studying a specific case” and an open discussion among the pedagogic staff, were outlined the following main elements according to the teachers: complete understanding and comprehension of the problem and understanding of the aggressive reaction; the act of violence is announced through student signals for harassment towards a certain student; the teachers would like to urge both the victim and the witnesses to provide information, to share with the school management, the psychologist and the rest of the teachers; teachers also consider that they should provide collective support and undertake individual psychological and pedagogic consultation and work with the bully.


Through the method “studying a specific case” and an open discussion among the school administrators were outlined the main elements: understanding the act of aggression and the violence; if the information reaches the headmasters first then they should immediately present the situation to the teachers and school psychologist; together with the teachers and psychologists the headmasters should outline measures for prevention of cases of aggression, individual pedagogic and psychological work with the bully, provision of psychological support and help to the bully and his/her family.


By using the “studying a specific case” method and an open discussion among the members of the parents’ group were outlined the elements, which appeared most important to them: the parents unfortunately are not direct observers, witnesses of the act of violence; information about the aggression is received directly from the students; the parents seldom know how to act or provide support and are often afraid that bringing the attention towards their children by filing a complaint or requesting punishment would attract further violence and acts of bullyism; the parents mainly rely on the timely and adequate interference on behalf of the school management.


The case study method helped the psychologist of the school to outline those elements of the bullying situation, which appeared most relevant and important to her: the psychologist should remain always vigilant in order to be ready and open to detect cases of violence at school; when the act of bullying is admitted by one of the sides and there is information for it – it is dealt with more easily, however, sometimes the bullied remains silent and/or is considered an ultimate outsider by most of the fellow students, who also fail to share information on the occurrence of bullying. When there is information for act/s of bullying the psychologist will share the information with the school management and the pedagogic staff and a general solution for the situation will be sought. The involvement of all possible sides is crucial in order for the participants in the scenario to be monitored and approached with understanding by the entire staff of the educational institution.


Violence is definitely one of the biggest problems faced by children in Bulgaria. Milen Purvanov would like to greet the School for children with special education needs “P.R. Slaveykov” for the conducted analysis and their long-term work and efforts on this problematic issue.
The team has implemented the initiative by means of using the innovative approach of the situational game “This could have happened to me”, which demonstrated to the youths in an easy to comprehend and understand real practical case of school violence.
Approaches such as this one are particularly useful and greatly supportive to the process of upbringing and educating students with special education needs.
Milen Purvanov is the leader of the Youth information and consultancy center “Intellect” Pleven, and junior expert in department “Regional development” – district administration Pleven.


With an order of the headmaster of School for students with special education needs “P.R. Slaveykov”, Pleven has been created a school committee for prevention of violence and juvenile delinquency.
The committee developed a plan for the activities during the school year, which includes:
1. Obligations for activities and rules of work
2. Procedures, which include:
- the order for signaling the competent bodies for undertaking specific measures;
- at certain places throughout the school has been placed a chart outlining a mechanism for interaction in case of a signal for a child which is subject of abuse or in the risk of becoming one – this is done for the purpose of giving a path to the first person/s to whom to provide information;
- as an additional measure a research of the problematic students, living in unfavorable environment and falling within the risk group is undertaken.
For the purpose each head-teacher will fill in a special form with information for its class.
3. Within the list of responsibilities of each staff member will be included a text that he/she is obliged to follow the Agreement for collaboration and coordination of the work of the territorial structures of the bodies for protection of children at risk of harassment as well as during crisis intervention. Another obligation is to undertake the responsibility to immediately submit initial information for identification of cases of violence or crisis situations.
4. All staff members should get acquainted with the information for the functioning of the national telephone line for children 11 61 11
5. During the periods each head-teacher should present to the students: the national telephone line for children 11 61 11 as well as the hot-line for children 080019100; the types of violence and how to be recognized; which are the competent bodies, which have to be informed in case of doubt of violence or presence of such, as well as the responsibilities, role and rights to action of the different institutions; the aims and tasks of crisis intervention, which are the target groups.
Through the situational game “This could have happened to me” the contemporary Bulgarian specialized school demonstrated that a priority of the educational and upbringing process is the development of a value system, conducting of constant open dialogue and care for the students with special education needs.
The teachers from the school for children with special education needs “P.R. Slaveykov”, Pleven execute their responsibilities following the main values and principles for work with children:
1. Childhood is an extremely important period of life for each person;
2. The family is the most natural environment for the development of the child.
3. Every child possesses uniqueness and great value.
4. Every child has the guaranteed right to:
• Freedom of expressing an opinion;
• Freedom of thoughts, consciousness and religion;
• Forming its own views and right to express them freely.
5. Every child has the right to protection against violations of its dignity via educational methods, physical, psychical or other harassment of forms of influence.
6. Every child has the right to protection of its normal physical, mental, moral and social development.
7. Every child and each family deserve to be supported for fully developing their potential.
8. To protect the child’s interests in the best possible way.
9. Every child at risk needs special protection in order to be lead out of the risky situation.
10. The educational and non-pedagogic staff must possess certain personal, moral and social skills.
The educational staff at the school is aware of the specific moral responsibilities to the children, considering their special education needs. These moral responsibilities call for the following requirements:
1. To base our practice on the contemporary knowledge about child development and to be aware of the individual characteristics of each child.
2. To understand and respect the uniqueness of each child.
3. To consider the specific vulnerability of each child.
4. To create a safe and healthy environment, stimulating the social, emotional and physical development of the child.
5. To support the child’s right to free expression of opinion on all topics of interest.
6. To work in favor of the child.
7. To provide to children with disabilities equal opportunities for access to adequate care and education.
8. Not to participate in activities, which fail to respect the dignity of the child or are dangerous or harmful to its physical and emotional health and development.
9. Not to participate in activities, which discriminate in any way the children on the basis of race, ethnic background, religion, gender, nationality, language, skills or on the basis of the status, behavior or believes of their parents.
10. To be able to recognize the symptoms when a child has been harassed – physically, sexually, verbally, emotionally or has been neglected. To be aware of and abide by the laws and procedures, protecting the child.
11. In case of doubt of harassment to inform the child protection bodies and to make sure that actions are taken.
12. When someone else expresses doubts that a child is harassed, we should fully support him in order for protection measures to be undertaken.
13. If we are aware of activities or situations, which endanger the health and safety of the child, we have the moral and legal responsibility to inform the child protection bodies.
The activities under the „I am not scared” project motivate the youths with special education needs to participate vigorously and find their place in life, because the change begins from each and every one of us.

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 30.03.2012

Posted by: Isabelle GRIMEE, Chantal BROSTEAU, Christophe BOURGOIS, Stéphane VOGELEER
Type of school: SMSW - School mediation service in Wallonia
Country: Belgium

_According to our perception, the situations described do not correspond to the definition of « bullying » that has been made clear during one of the meetings. The acts are not recurrent, they occur during a short period and in some situations, they do not targer a single person.
Anyway, this situation shows main violent events which require interventions.

Common elements:
We regularly meet similar situations (settling of scores through ICT) and, most of the time, between girls. Situations in which anger and jaleousy induce rumors, violences…
The cases whe have faced so far target a single victim and never a group of teenagers as described in one of the analyzed situations.
We notice that the adults play their role. It seems that the whole educative team was willing to collaborate. That way, the problem seems easier to solve.
As far as our service is concerned, we are called when some other solutions have already been tried without success, either by the parents who had already contacted the school, or by the headmaster’s office that had already tried an approach.
Brief description of the Bulgarian device as shown through the situations :
Meeting with all the parties (heamster’s office, teachers, psycho-medico-social centres, victims and bullies, parents). A great attention is paid to the listening to each protagonist’s point of view, then individualized follow-up, and finally proposals for reparation, for reflexion, for solutions profitalbe for all parties and sanctions if recurrence. Sometimes
It seems that the culture of conflict management is well established. It seems that the open discussion between the parties already calms people down.
Maybe the conclusions focus too much the fault on just a part of the problematic. Example : ICT, the parents who don’t supervise, the parents who work abroad, the political and economical conditions, the teenagers’ non-participation to extra-school activities. Hence the importance of the work to be done upstream, on the theme of « living well together ».

Date: 26.03.2012

Posted by: Philippe Lehette
Type of school: Secondary School
Country: Belgium

Comparison :
As a teacher, I never experienced such a situation, because I would have never coped with this. But as a child, I remember of having witnessed a boy in primary school, victim of harassment, because himself was kind of harassing the others, by not playing the rules, disturbing the others, looking for fights. It was real odd: he seemed to seek attention, but not the right way. Even teachers were upset by his attitude, and in the end they didn’t take care of him anymore. Some pupils, noticing this, began to harass him with impunity and reject him. This boy had bad results at school; I think he left the school at the end of the year.

Main support and/or difficulties to deal with this bullying scenario (eg: educational administration, school staff, parents, training, time and space available…) :
It was a small school, with no school counsellor or social worker. No one was there to help this boy, but the teachers.
In this particular case, the teacher had to intervene and tell the school management and the school counsellor. They should have treated the case collectively.

What can I learn from this case study?
Teachers must be educated to bullying so they can detect inappropriate behaviours. They are not always aware of how much a bullied child can suffer.
In this case study, teachers show how, themselves and their pupils, would react to such a situation. This case study is benefit to all, so they are prepared to set quick management procedures.

Recommendations :
Prevention and information are important to me concerning those phenomena. Management structures have to be set to deal with bullying. Involving the parents is also a good strategy, because children’s education towards tolerance can also be part of the problem.

Relevance of teachers’ training to cope with bullying/cyberbullying events :
Teachers are not trained to cope with that. In normal school, they just learn how to manage difficult situations that happen to them. Trainings and information sessions should include those aspects, as bullying has consequences not only on the school community but also on family clusters.

Date: 20.03.2012

Posted by: Petia Marcheva
Type of school: specialized school
Country: Bulgaria

I am very grateful for the comment and the point of view shared by Gertrudis Moreno Hernández, Spain. They demonstrate that the approach we use for work with students with special education needs is appropriate and should be supported.
The work of the School for Children with Special education Needs „P.R.Slaveykov” – Bulgaria, under the “I am not scared” project enriched the specialized education in general and in particular the education of students with multiple disabilities in my school. This project is a remarkable guideline, which should be considered and observed by all of us in order to be able to live in a world free of violence and tears.

Date: 15.03.2012

Posted by: Gertrudis Moreno Hernández
Type of school: Secundary School
Country: Spain

This example reminds me of the case of a foreign student enrollment in my school and having integration problems in class as well as being teased by some classmates. The problem of ignorance of the Castilian language is added that the boy is diagnosed as Asperger and costs related to the boys / as their age. This course sometimes being teased by classmates, who jostle you, hide your stuff, etc.. But sometimes, the boy, trying to be like others, he also repeated these behaviors with others.

Both tutor and other teachers who conduct classes have looked at the boy's integration problem: do not speak Spanish or speak it with difficulty, is alone at recess and when he observes that teachers do look like you're actually participating in the games with others, etc..
Other partners / as say he also "makes jokes but then does not know accept" and do not realize that this guy is really special. Precisely why make fun of him when teachers are not around (in between classes mainly).
He began acting in response to a visit from his parents to the center to communicate that her son was being harassed by other students and also informed us of his difficulty interacting with others.
The main problem we have as teachers we have no very clear what to do to successfully integrate the boy in the group. Have been discussed with other colleagues / as and pledged not to mess with him anymore, yet not do anything to integrate it into the group rather not have in mind at all. Also the guy has trouble integrating and recently for a rapprochement with the rest.

Concerning the case of the text, it is clear that the physical education teacher "looks away" does not really know why, it seems as if unwilling to get into "kid stuff", when in this case is assault and harassment quite clear, and the humiliation of the boy victim.
In this study we learned the need to observe the behavior of young people, their preferences when establishing groups of friends, by whom and who refuse are opting to join the group. Also observe the behavior of boys / leaders as they carry on, if they are positive or negative leaders, and the effect it can have on the group: if you handle or manipulate at will or if instead exerts a positive influence on the rest .
It seems very good idea from a fictitious example, such as viewing a movie, and from the same cause for reflection on the guys / as on the situation and how it could be resolved. Also to the family.

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