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Deffenu case

  • Direct bullying
  • Non-especific

When and how the event started – The events happened during the period before the date of March 17th, 2010 in a second class of the surveyors course.
Main actors involved – Five students picked on several students repeatedly, particularly two classmates: S. e P.
Type of bullying actions carried out – Bullying was directed to "victims", who, for fear, were forced to endure teasing,beating, throwing objects, threats, etc.., significantly affecting, especially in the case of P., the school performance.
Time period – The actions, though it was possible to see the first signs at the end of the previous school year,occurred in significantly between September 15th, 2009 and March 17th, 2010


After the first reports by the pupil S., the teachers of the class council discussed the situation and sought to identify appropriate strategies to address issues to arise and resolve conflicts and misconducts in the class.
It was decided to bring in an expert in conflicts mediation, who operates within the Institute, to facilitate the relationship between teacher – pupil.
The parents of the students who carried out the act of bullying were involved, students who were the protagonists of other negative episodes have already had disciplinary actions. Parents accepted the request for cooperation from teachers and set out to stop such conducts with their children.
Despite all these strategies attempted by the class council to limit and restrict the actions carried out by the identified pupils, the wrong conducts remained until it took note that the action of mediation was not producing any positive results.
It was decided, at this point, the application of sanctions, as the bullies did not show to gain any sense of civic and moral responsibility.
Therefore, it was called an extraordinary meeting of the class council, with the students responsible for their misconduct and their parents, to initiate punitive action.
At the end of the process required by the school regulations and the students status, the pupils were suspended from teaching activities for a minimum of five to a maximum of eight days, depending on the responsabilities.
Only after the intervention of sanctions, the climate in the class was normalized, although the effects of what happened let consequences. In fact, three of the protagonists of the story (those who did mobbing and the one who suffered mobbing), decided not to continue their education or enrolled in another school.


The “Deffenu” Institute has been demonstrating a high attention for years to fight all the outbreaks that occur in the form of discomfort, trying to prevent uneasiness and difficulties that may result in acts of bullying, with high attention as regards the social inclusion, recovery of dropouts and the reduction of school dropout. In this regard, with the use of funds from other sources ( ESF funds, ROP funds, Leonardo Projects etc., the problem of discomfort has been faced and focused interventions have been identified and tested. We take into account that in our school we have pupils of at least 18 different centres, with difficulties in creating homogeneous classes from very different cultural situations.
 Didactical pathway – The reported case requested to scan in a different way the normal programming, slowing down the disciplinary objectives and their implementation times. Each discipline had to limit the specific topics to their field and pursue a path of inclusion aimed to develop a citizenship consciousness.
 Students’ motivation – There was a widespread unease within the class that divided it into small groups. The bullies, while showing good attitude of learning, did not put those skills to good use, and were leaders of disorder actions and intimidations during lessons. The others who suffered the activities of the "bullies" were diverted from activities, and sometimes they were afraid to show what they knew. Several events took place in the classroom, mainly when the teachers were not in, and they were revealed by witnesses of the facts but not by the most impressed "victim" who, when called to the office, probably in fear, tried to minimize and / or justify what happened. Of course, the overall performance of the class, even though considerable skills were present, was below average. Only after the decisive intervention by the class council it has been able to get results.
 Students’ results – The incident happened in the class has
led, at the end of the school year the following results:
 The overall program carried out in the individual disciplines
is below the one completed on average in previous years.
 Some of the targeted children have experienced the
discomfort until the end of the school year showing problems
during testing, especially if these checks were oral.
 The most picked on person, who had not the courage to
denounce the mistreatment and abuses suffered and who
did it only after being called by the manager, despite the
reports of others and the partial admission of those responsible, then tried to retract even against the evidence, living the last
period with the feeling of '"infamous" because he had spoken
and caused the punishment of bullying perpetrators. After
finishing the school year with difficulty and having been
promoted, having not completely overcome the trauma, she
preferred to change school and moved to another institute.
Two of the sanctioned students were rejected in June and the
other two had a suspended outcome and then promoted in
September. One of the two students not admitted to the next
class retired because he passed the mandatory school age,
and the other one moved to a private school.

 School integration issues – The school is in a city that has endured, over the last 50 years, a population increase and this created a multicultural environment. To facilitate the integration of pupils of the first class, in the early days of attendance in our school, they are followed by a host group that, with focused activities and the intervention of the last classes students, reduces the impact and presents the institution and the surrounding environment. Sometimes, however, randomness brings together in the same class a large number of students in distress, so the work of education and standards becomes more difficult, as in the case reported. For this reason the institute has got a listening group to prevent and help if there are particular needs. If necessary, a mediator acts of
conflicts attends.
 Active citizenship – Taking into account the multicultural type of the population in the city of Olbia, and given that over 30% of users are commuters coming mostly from the surrounding, school has implemented curricular and extra-curricular activities which are really focused in acquiring a nationality in the sense of her potential. The Institute believes that it is important for students and other professionals in the School to acquire values such as solidarity, respect of others and of the environment and the promotion of diversity as an enrichment of individualities, fundamental values for a civil responsability that may contribute to the realization of the democratic coexistence among people of different origin, nationality and cultures.
 School environment - The Institute is located in a city that is at the centre of an area known for its tourism and shows different aspects of social complexity. We have to point out that in the last 50 years the city had a population increase so fast (about 10 times for the period) to create suburban neighborhoods where groups and cultures of different origin live together. Consequently, the original identity is so weak that it is difficult to understand what the culture of the place is. In addition, the Institute is operating in a context where, from the scholastic point of view, there are lack of motivation, social, cultural and family hardship, so that a good percentage of students does not finish compulsory schooling. From the experience gained in previous activities and the analysis of the overall social context of the users, the Institute believes that it can and must contribute to the solution of the problems already described, and must endorse the concept of "open school” by providing its own facilities and activities, laboratories and initiatives that can be activated in the future.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:Children who have suffered the action expressed difficulty in understanding the origin of the behavior by the so-called"Bullies" who revealed an aggressive attitude towards the deserving students and / or temperamentally weak students (in fact the "bullies" kept going, mainly, at those who studied and obtained good results and at those who had difficulties in reacting. The act of bullying created a very strong frustration that they couldn't have the strength to ask for help, although there was the desire to uncover what happened, for fear and then, not to be considered the "infamous". Only when S. decided that it was no longer possible to tolerate what was happening and found suitable to tell his mother, light was shed on what happened. During the interview it was possible to understand that a small amount of facts had been hidden, and only now, taking into account the time spent , the boys felt ready, anonymously, to expose as other people, besides S. and P., had suffered from misconduct by the "bullies". The boys have acquired the knowledge that they could not resolve the situation alone and eventually they found appropriate to inform the Magement and the teachers. In fact, it has been possible to intervene only after the signal by S., who, accompanied by his mother, told that of his knowledge and broke the wall of silence. Students recognize the effectiveness of the intervention so that later, as the class was still "lively", the actions of bullying ceased and were not repeated because the "gang" was fragmented losing the negative force that the group created.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:From their point of view only in the case of S. there was originally a certain intent, due to a certain antipathy aroused by the results achieved with their skills and, in the opinion of "bullies" by the way he showed off to the teachers. In the other cases they were mere jokes eventually became too heavy. When the teachers were not present or they could not be seen by them, they mocked other students just to have fun.Except in the case of S. who they supposed to be proud and did not let them copy, in other cases what happened was considered to be random; when they made jokes at the end too heavy, there was not, they said, the awareness of such an effect of hardship and difficulty. They recognized that perhaps the companions who were surely annoyed were more sensitive and not available to support the way they do. After a certain period of time from the facts, the "bullies" recognize that the penalty was fair and received well deserved. While they admit the voluntary action against S. and admit that they overdid, they tried to justify themselves for what has been done in other cases, especially against P.. In this case they say they are sincerely disappointed with their behavior, perhaps because they have determined, after the end of the school, the transfer of their classmate to another school. When they did the pranks and jokes, from her reactions and responses they were convinced that she would accept everything without difficulty, but, probably, she could mask the discomfort. Only after she accused them, they understood that such situations would create discomfort. They also argue that if they knew the uneasiness created or if they understood something, surely they would have acted differently and would have ignored her.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:Classmates in part tend to minimize what happened. They also distinguish the different situations. In the case of S. they had made all aware that what they did to him was pushing the limits of due, even if not all winked at him, because many of them disliked him. In the case of P. no one had realized her difficulties. They recognize that the language and jokes that were addressed to her were very heavy, but she seemed to accept them and could mask the discomfort. In other cases, it is true that the jokes were heavy but they believe that they could be solved among them. Besides the antipathy towards S. in other cases there wasn't a specific trigger cause or a real motivation, which had createdthe situation. It began with jokes, witticisms and challenges among boys, but as time went by they gradually weighed down, so as to exceed the normal limit. Probably with P. they were not the individual actions that had created the hardship, but their repetition. Students, for the second case, are not entirely convinced that the reporting to the Management had been the right thing. According to them if she had talked about it first with the class or with teachers with whom they had some more confidence, the matter would be resolved more easily. They recognize that it was serious and that the intervention of the Management was effective, as they recognized with certainty what were the reasons that brought the boys to target and isolate S.. They are not still convinced that there was premeditation against P. According to them everything is born from a misunderstanding and that perhaps she unconsciously lent herself to it having been able to mask her own discomfort and sensitivity so that no one had realized his mood. If she were not so closed, things could have been resolved more easily in the class group. They are still disappointed not to have realized what was happening and that she has gone.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:Ø Teachers have noticed a "split" within the class group into several subgroups, which did not seem to talk to each other, or talk with difficulty; the class was often difficult to manage but they didn't realize that the difficulty of managing was caused by what was happened. Ø Only after S. has found the courage to confide in her mother and to break the silence, bringing everything to the Management, the fact was aware to the Class Council. It was made a survey in which were heard other boys, including P. and his parents. Only at that time the teachers of the class have reached full knowledge of what was happening in the classroom.Ø Once became aware of the situation, each teacher has addressed the problem individually, both in a Class Council extended to parents to share what was happening and to deal with the problem. Then they met individually “bullies” pupils and their parents and have also set the disciplinary procedures to sanction improper behavior. It was provided a temporary suspension in proportion to the seriousness of the responsibilities determined by the behavior of each individual pupil. Ø Once known the fact, the teachers and the Headmaster moved in perfect synchrony, planning the following lines of the action and their operation. They tried to understand the extent of the phenomenon and, soon after, they carried out the best strategies to bring the situation back to normal and recover a good atmosphere in the classroom. The operational strategies made by the school showed no hesitation with the attitude of some overprotective parents, who defended the behavior of their children even against the evidence of the facts. It can be said that the intervention was highly effective, so that in this class such cases have never occured.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:The facts have been brought to the attention of Management through the intervention of the mother of one of the mobbed students. The lady, during the meeting, was listened and provided different data that were useful to identify with certainty the perpetrators.  Once aware of the facts we proceeded with several interviews to verify the different responsibilities; the disciplinary proceedings ended with the suspension of "bullies". The episode showed a clear need to activate the training courses for teachers to identify situations of distress present in the class. The "bullies" have acted undisturbed until the Management made an interview with one of the mobbed students. And, there is no doubt that, once established such episodes, you must act resolutely, to ensure accountability, identify the "bullies", involve families and enable disciplinary procedures.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:Ø The boys between fifteen and sixteen have a transitional period in which they do not even know who they are, they challenge everything, become uncooperative and often make difficult the parent-pupil dialogue as the teacher-pupil dialogue. In this case none of the parents had realized that it was not just an adolescence crisis and they were very surprised to realize what happened in the classroom.Ø The first information on the situation of S. came from the same student who communicated the facts to his mother. All the others were informed by the school, after having checked and verified with certainty that bullying had already occurred. Parents had not previously information neither by the operators nor by their children so that they didn’t suspect the existence of such an action.Ø The parents behavior was varied:Some of them took their responsibilities immediately, fully cooperated with the school and, if the parents of the “bullies” students, accepted the sanction given to their children, and monitored more carefully their behavior. These parents said that if they had known what was happening, surely they would have intervened to prevent their children about what happened.Ø Parents of boys marginally concerned tried to minimize the facts, they did not understand or wanted to understand the gravity of what happened;Ø Other parents sought to justify their children and considered unjust the punishment assigned; Ø The behavior of the parents of P. was ambiguous, because after a first collaboration, they tried to minimize and partially retract, although it is now cleared for certain episodes.


Please take into accounts at least the following elements:In the school there is not the role of the counselor.


Please provide their feedbacks on the interpretation of the event.The “Deffenu” is a school that has been standing out for years in the fight against the early school leaving and discomfort through the activation of a number of courses aimed at rehabilitation of the children. Many teachers followed refresher courses on the subject. Therefore, even if the institution is not exempt from bullying, it can be said that it has done everything possible to limit the cases. Every year it faces, in a strong and determined way, the first phase of schooling in classes where these phenomena are more frequent. Once this phase, in the following years, classes are usually more responsible and work with a certain calm. In the specific case the school was puzzled because it has not been able to detect in time what was happening, because it happened during the change of class or during explanations when the teacher wrote on the blackboard and had his back to the students. In addition, there was a wall of silence that reveals no abnormalities. Many disciplinary notes were made to misconduct, but there was no suspicion that there was a systematic action. It is seen that, as expected, to be targeted were the figures that stood out and had good school performance (e.g. S.), or the figures considered weaker and easily intimidated (e.g. P). These, probably out of fear and not to be considered weak or "infamous", could not reveal their discomfort and the action lasted over time. The Council and the Management, after they learned of the facts, moved with determination, identifying many of the behaviors to punish and imposing the respective penalties to those who put in place the bullying actions.After this intervention, the classroom climate was normalized and resumed to work with serenity and profit, including a large part of the boys involved in the facts too.


The phenomenon developed in an environment that is usually active in the prevention of bullying, especially in the first classes where there are pupils from different realities. Being aware of this, the school directs its efforts mainly, targeting it to the education and inclusion, while respecting their different personalities. The fact that strikes is that it happened in a second class, where it was assumed that these phenomena were non-existent, and that teachers did not realized what was happening. Five students, even of good abilities in adolescent crisis, showed less interest in the study and targeted the other classmates especially S. because he is a good student and his way of doing does not attract the sympathy of the classmates and P. masking the discomfort, so that the “bullies” felt no responsibility for what was happening. After the complaint by S., the different components of the school became aware of the facts, so the phenomenon has been faced in a timely and strong way.We have tried to understand what was happened and it was discussed in a Class Council restricted to teachers and widened to parents.Finally, we imposed exemplary penalties to perpetrators to remember that the school does not accept and will never accept such behaviors.It is regrettable, because the phenomenon was not perceivedimmediately but after a few months, but we are satisfied that the case was then discussed and overcome in an appropriate way.From the analysis of the “bullies” behaviour, remembering what happened and examining the findings revealed from the interviews, we can summarize as follows: Ø teachers, regretting in having noticed the phenomenon so late, are convinced that, once learned of the facts, they dealt with the situation firmly and fairly and that was useful to solve the problem and to calm the atmosphere; Ø students who committed the acts seem genuinely sorry, especially for P, because they realized that their classmate did not like some "attention"; Ø the bullied, with the exception of P. that has not been possible to interview as she was no longer in the school, are satisfied of the school action and recognize that the climate is cleared, and there are no more actions such as those reported; Ø the other pupils, although acknowledging that the actions taken by their classmates were to be punished, consider the penalties "excessive"; in fact they acknowledge that St. was unjustly persecuted, but diminish the responsibilities of their fellows calling into question the behavior of S.. Even in the case of P. they declare not to be surprised because they realized the state of frustration of their classmate and they would have preferred a more straightforward behavior so that they could intervene; they consider excessive the fact that she went straight to the management office with her mother, without talking about it first of all with them;Ø among the parents, there are different positions those of justification and those hard and severe; some parents believe that the sanction was necessary, but it could be administered not with the seriousness as it was imposed.


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Comments about this Case Study

Date: 19.03.2012

Posted by: Mª Ángeles Lobatón Ayala
Type of school: Concerted
Country: Spain

This case has not been in my heart.
There should be close coordination among all teachers.
Signal the importance that big of values ​​education.
I think there must be exaustivo control of computer use by parents, warning them of the consequences that can result in misuse.
Through regular tutoring, tutor-student, tutor, parent, parent-student-tutor.
Seminars, courses ... on behavior problems, school Parent Appropriate use of ICT, etc ...

Date: 07.03.2012

Posted by: Mercedes Rodríguez
Type of school: Concerted
Country: Spain

The common elements with the center of my case is that is very similar protocol monitoring and treatment of the case with the type of treatment we conducted ourselves in a similar case possible.
The truth that we have not been presented as a case, if similar but less aggressive levels we did not encounter many cultural, social or racial.
If we had any similar case we have found between groups of different social class or education.
The greatest support to carry out the protocol is on teachers who teach these students, then in, in the classroom of living that exists in the center (parent, teacher, counselor)
The greatest difficulty is we can have to grasp the problem, teachers must get students persecuted, insulted, abused can contact them immediately occur to us to take action as soon as possible. One measure would be that students know they can use the Internet and contact with teachers, the problem is that they think it is cowardly to tell the teachers and so much is lost in order to tackle the problem. Another preventive measure is to work in tutorials with the students the problem
that can be found if they are not strong in reporting harassment.
In this case I can learn how to deal with it, the ratio of faculty, students and family.
The issue is resolve the situation immediately to more than painfu results. We can meet students that although they are accused of abuse are unable to recognize it and for the teacher who takes the case may involve a complicated situation that should be assisted by a charge of management that can resolve extreme situations that are almost on the verge of crime.
As an enhancement to resolve conflicts, I can suggest a permanent training for teachers, as society and students in particular are changing the value scale, and must continually be prepared to work in tutorials basic values ​​that may be improving personally and live in society.

Date: 01.03.2012

Posted by: G Rutledge
Type of school:
Country: England

I am disappointed to see that the school’s protocol did not stop the bulling from escalating to the severity of a student (victim) performing worse in school. However, when sanctions were put into place they were successful and similar to those that our school would have done.

If students are being bullied in a lesson by another group of students, we have a Pastoral system that can be used. This is where a Pastoral Manager specific to that year group, will take statements from students and see a full overview of the situation. From that we are able to deal effectively with the bullies, whether that may lead to exclusion or isolation and also tend to the victims. In rare cases it could be that a victim may need extra support within school. If this is the case, we run a Positive Support Programme with specialist trained TAs who could help victims of bullying gain better social skills and self esteem.

In order to try to stop the potential behaviour of some students from escalating into bullying to this extent, we are able to remove student/s from the classroom and have them put into a relief timetable, or it is also possible to telephone Senior Leadership team to have the student/s removed by them.

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