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A case of racism

  • Direct bullying
  • Ethnic-cultural differences

In class of Gymnasium the relations between two students (both 14 years old), George M. (bulling) and Roberto J. (victim), the last two years and especially during thιs school year , has come to breaking point.
These students-especially during the last six months - have daily frictions between them, usually verbal abuse and incidents of racist attacks, rarely escalate to violence.
Specifically, on October 25, came in fighting among themselves, with great brutality, exchanging obscene phrases, threats, punches and kicks.
The incident ended with intervention by teachers and bystanders students


The actions taken were:
• led to the Director for an apology.
• informed their parents.
Assembly was the teachers' association, and having into account the testimonies of those involved, the testimony of the bystanders students and teachers, the testimonies of the families whom children involved and the history of rivalry, namely the fact that they had created accordingly - lighter volume - problems in the past, received a three-day expulsion from their courses, while employment in extra curricular activities within the school under the supervision of teachers (library fit, counting books, etc.) in order to accustom the coexistence, cooperation, mutual tolerance and forbearance.


This bullying event upset the school community in many ways. School life has been disrupted often by students’ racist behavior and thus the specific incident triggered teachers’ worrying on the subject.


The perception of Roberto J. (victim) about the causes are:
• that the rivalry is nothing serious and that is part of the "fun"
• It is evident that he is afraid and insecure.
• additionally argues that the relationship is friendly.
• did not need help or inform anyone.


George M. (bullying) argues that:
• was the only friend of the victim when at first he came to Greece from Albania and that the victim is not considered.
• he feels bitterness, argues that he is not racist and that all what happened motivated by "fun."
• selected the victim because of this 'friendship' and has no regrets about it.


The classmates said that:
• Incentives are racist, that's why George M. occasional calls to Roberto J. "Albania" and not by name, so the victim of a reaction calls George M. "Greek".
• Others of their classmates, adopt the view of those involved say that everything is done for "fun."
• Repeated episodes among them are "normal", "expected" and they do not consider those very seriously.


• Teachers who witnessed the violent incident, have not the view of those involved, that everything is done for "fun." Contrast and the extent of the brutality of the incident which saw, are almost sure that there are deeper causes..
• Most teachers were aware of the rivalry, but not the exact cause.
• After the incident, tried interactively to understand the behavior of the parties and causes. Also, understood that the cause is racist and that the family of the bullying incites a degree of racist attitudes.


The Director of the school:
• Invited the children involved in his office the first in one to one basis and then both together to properly reflect their views.
• Informed the parties that their actions are upon the responsibility of the the board of teachers.
• Informed their parents about the incident and the background, and asked them to report if they know something about the rivalry and the possible causes.


• The family of the bulling claimed that ignored that conflict and did not expect that behavior from their child. They said that probably their child's reaction due to the provocative behavior of the victim.
• The victim's family claimed that they also ignored the controversy and that they can not explain the reasons.


My experience of 20 years as a Social Worker Counselor in both violence and racism but also my work over the last 10 years exclusively with students gives me the opportunity to give another perspective on this incident.
The work we do in KEDDY of facts as evidence that steps have been omitted here and have made mistakes.
This reinforces racism - though deep down there, and recycle.
The criticism that the society is not ready and has technical problems is a myth.
There are shortcomings and deficiencies consultants but the lack of knowledge handling the school what to do in similar situations and how to handle problems within the school.
These actions could have done to not get the situation at this point:
First the teachers should have knowledge of that adolescents will show aggressive behaviour in one way or another at one stage of their adolescence.
The root of bad behaviour comes at a very early age. So we expect that the first cases of violent situations can trace the social history of children to see if there were previous causes.
We investigate the profile of children to identify if there are reasons from older or if indeed appear at this time.
It is important to take into account one's marital status, relationships and perceptions of parents that reinforce and perpetuate these attitudes.
Evaluate and identify the problem and not the entire part of why sometimes we can fall into errors and instead offer a solution to strengthen violence and bad behavior.

We find that is the cycle of violence.
It is important to know clearly that begins and as it develops its violent episode to be able to stop and not information differ from mouth to mouth. So that means seeing a discreet glance the entire situation.
The Statement is organized and not piecemeal.
It is best to be proactive before we get to extremes to cure the condition.
If this is not possible again operate cooperatively instead of "police action" We are talking about children that shape personalities and not about infringing people. Not to grow prospective racists and violent people act on the rate of children and psychology and not as police investigators.
We strive to implement programs to strengthen positive attitudes of the positive characteristics of children. Eg. George manages this well. The Roberto that. A project to complete together and rewarded both for it.
There is multiculturalism in schools. It is good to stress the positive of the countries from which the children and not enhance differences and distinctions.
In a celebration, a trip in an environmental program so it could show its differences complement positively the puzzle of a different nationality and culture.
Differences and empathy to perceive children differently than adults entrained,
A counseling program for parents.
A discussion of information with appropriate specialists greatly improves things and anticipate situations.

And talking about helpless teachers and schools are institutions in Greece can and try to help effectively.
It is now clear that the phenomenon of violent and racist behavior can be prevented if we act in collaborative networks and not lonely.
When adolescents show positive alternatives rather than recycling concepts and reinforcing stereotypes and outdated penalties serve no children themselves, we reduce the problem significantly, especially in small places like the village living George and Roberto.


In this particular case, as in most cases which arise at schools of all levels, the causes of the incident at hand as they are identified as a conclusive deduction, are much more complex than they first appear to be. Xenophobia and racism, as a result of the fast changing Greek society into multicultural, create insecurities which lead to conflicts.
The absence of a Psychologist-Counselor from the school deprives the entire school community (Principal, teaching staff, students and parents) of being fully informed and thus aware of school bullying and the appropriate ways to confront it.
It is for this reason that proper knowledge obtained by means of informative seminars, for example, concerning the causes and characteristics of school bullying, is deemed invaluable not only for teaching staff and students, but also for parents.
The decision of the school Board of Teachers for the punishment of the involved students – as it is aplly accounted for, to expel them from classes but to be given other school duties, is considered to be an appropriate and fair way of confronting the situation at hand. However, the students involved should be given assistance and guidance by an expert, so that an analysis of the causes of their behaviour and the consequences of their actions can lead them to a deeper understanding of themselves as well as of the necessity for co-existence and confrontation of the new social conditions which are imposed on them, aiming not only at the correction of their behaviour but also at their smoother induction in the reality of the present society they live in.


Both the bullying and the victim lying on the causes of the rivalry. The bystander student, however, have a more realistic perception of the reason and causes of conflict.
In this fact distinguishes the parental influence on the bullying of racism, but fortunately there seems to be the norm.
The inability of the victim to confront the logic leads to physical violence, to confirm his ego.
It is also clear that the victim and his parents are frightened and insecured so teachers are not helping to prevent violent racist attacks.
It is a typical behavior based on racism and xenophobia.
The decision of the board of teachers to punish students, was designed in addition to trying to pass the message of tolerance to those involved in prevention of outbreaks of similar behavior in the future by themselves or others.
The Greek society is probably not ready yet to societal changes caused by changing the structure of the nation state in both the EU and globalization. But the majority of students seem to respond better than their parents on issues of multiculturalism, tolerance, religion, national origin, different culture and cultural identity.
The Greek educational structures, focusing on the learning domain of the child, while for the mental domain structures are inadequate, underperforming or absent. The lack of Advisor (counsellor) from Greek schools, depriving the right of children to better social integration, since the effort is fragmented.


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Comments about this Case Study

Date: 02.04.2012

Posted by: Claude PRIGNON
Type of school: Coordinator of School mediators in the Region of Brussels Capital
Country: Belgium

Elements in common :
This situation could have happened in a school of Brussels : same problematic, same actors, same actors’ reactions.

Elements not in common :
No difference.

Where I would have found the main support and/or difficulties to deal with this bullying scenario :
Attendance of a mediator. In the situation described, the « school counsellor » (page 5) could play the mediator’s role.

What I can learn from this case study :

According to me, the mental block experienced by both protagonists that leads to learning difficulties could be dealt with another way.
See recommendations below.

Recommendations :
1. « Caring , yes ; « Making cease » depends on the actors themselves. The mediator’s position will not be to aim at « making cease », but il is possible that the mediator’s work leads to the stop of the bullying. I it is not an objectif, it is a matter of a possible, even probable, solution. Working that way is prevention : the mediator’s work can show other possibilities of relationships.

2. A first intervention, which is the « sanction ». This intervention must be carried out by representatives of the School. At this moment, it is not a matter of punishing or not punishing (the debate is not there) but stating that insults and strikes are unacceptable. So at this stage, the conflict must be stopped because it is dangerous or painful.
A second intervention with each pupil : to recongnize the conflict, to make the protagonists speak, each one separately, regarding what he/she has experienced, what has led him/her to ». To allow them to speak, the speach must be heart by a neutral and independent actor (with no link to the sanction), so not by a member of the educative team or by a headmaster’s office member.

3.These two phases must be distinguished without possible confusion. The first intervention must be realized by the school : calling the parents, punishing…. to be discussed…
The second intervention : working with each of the protagonists in a first time, working on the relationships between the protagonists in a second time (if they are willing), working on the relationships with the class-group if the protagonists and the pupils want to. Each time with a neutral and independent actos, making sure that the protagonists can decide what they wish.

Date: 28.03.2012

Type of school: Secondary school
Country: Lithuania

This particular bullying case is interesting for me, because racial bullying is a rare case in Lithuania’s schools.
In this bullying description the most amusing part is that both sides of bullying and the observers claim that there is no bullying happening, everyone is friends and are just joking around. Also, parents of both the bully and the victim have no issues with this communication between their children. The only ones concerned are the teachers, who take this as the matter of their dignity or respect and they feel they have to prove everyone that they are very well aware about bullying happening in the schools, so they decide to solve this issue even if nobody wants any intervention.
For me, the important part was that the administration of the school wanted to address this case not only by penalties, but also by peaceful means – the dialogue and debate.

Date: 16.03.2012

Posted by: Nadia Antonova
Type of school: Vocational
Country: Bulgaria

This case is a very common type. Anger and dislike, which build up gradually to a serious conflict. We have seen it happen and from the practice of this Greek school we can draw a conclusion that the approach used was quite appropriate - it involved all parties and relevant stakeholder while at the same time did not involve sanctions. The school management and staff aimed to achieve mutual understanding and tolerance through dialogue, not via sanctions. This usually brings about positive outcomes and good results for all parties involved. We consider the approach used by our Greek colleagues as useful also for our daily practices and in general for conflict resolution. Training on the most effective methods for consultation and hearing out of all involved parties would be quite useful.

Date: 07.03.2012

Posted by: Giovanni Antonio Addis
Type of school: Tecnical School
Country: Italia

Our school is located in an area that has had over the past 50 years a great increase in population so as to triple its residents. The flow of population came mainly from the region and only in part from other regions of Italy. Over the past 15 years, the former population was accompanied by a good percentage of immigrants of non-Italian.
Consequently, even in high schools like ours there is a substantial presence of non-Italian students, even if they do not exceed 15% of the total school population.
This is creating new mechanisms into a reality, however tolerant. Although there have been numerous cases of discrimination, however, there were some signs that are not still thinking.
The most frequent cases are those of misunderstandings due to the habit of giving nicknames or imitate the pronunciation of non-EU partner. For example, a boy of Chinese descent in a joking way it makes fun of mangling words, for instance by using the L-shaped instead of r.
These "misunderstandings" led families to complain that in some cases created the boys felt embarrassed and not fully integrated.
Unfortunately there was an episode of intolerance a few years ago that caught us completely off guard because we realized the incident once it had become irreparable. A girl of Moroccan origin was bombarded with jokes, and jokes were made at the end of the heavy writing in her diary that she decided not to attend anymore. The school, since she did not attend classes, tried unsuccessfully to contact the family. After about 50 days we finally had a contact with the family and the only time we were aware of the facts and knew that she would no longer be returned to school.
He intervened on the class, punishing the perpetrators, but the damage had been done.
Now we, despite ourselves, we understood the lesson and we faced the problem of acceptance, tolerance and inclusion and we are passing this way of acting and thinking in the students' culture.
Remains the regret of a missed opportunity.

Date: 07.03.2012

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

Today it is essential to have registered a protocol for action in these cases because of multiculturalism in our society. In our area of work is common to find groups of students trained especially for different races within the same social environment.
In our cases have occurred in cases of racism, always among adolescents as in this case study, because the banter between adolescents are often very heavy and insistent until you come to tire each other with insults and shoves.
When this happens an event of this nature in the school, the teacher perceives required to report to tutor, who calls attention to students and should establish a disciplinary part communicating to parents of those involved, imposing a penalty latter or punishment related to the cause of the incident, as it could be a joint effort of those involved.
In the case where students declared passed reincidiesen severe case.
If aggression is very serious, are ejected from 1 to 3 days as in the case, and at the time of reinstatement, must attend one or two days a week to a classroom of living that exists in the center, formed by teachers and parent representatives. In this classroom, students will work a series of values for the improvement of their attitude (both the harasser and the harassed student) and will monitor your progress.
After a suitably agreed time, meets the guardian of students with teachers who have worked with them in the classroom interaction, and evaluate the improvement, being, if need be, after their situation.
When we find a center children from different cultures or races, we must work systematically to prevent these conflicts. At the beginning of the course, conduct retreats that serve to foster different types of students for better understanding and closeness between them.

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