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Case Studies


Bullying because of provoking appearance

  • Direct bullying
  • Non-especific

Friendly 7th graders had received a new class friend. It was their former classmate Sandra, who lived for three years abroad-she was fun, smiled a lot, hospital and especially a beautiful girl. After a few months, the situation began to change drastically.
Shortly after, the classroom was filled with a few of disagreeing groups: 2 girls-a newcomer, and the one that has never ever caught the attention, a calm, quiet, with weak learning ability girl who, when Sandra returned, started to change in a big way – she became a very noticeable by the boys girl. They were joined by several girls- active, sporty, not very well agreeing with parents and teachers. The girls stood out because of rude behavior at the school, the problems with the police, parents. But, in particular, their appearance was different-the improper use of make-up, inappropriate for school clothes, quickly led to other students being opposing to them.
The rest of the girls behaved normally, were not afraid of expressing their opinion or openly opposed the first groups’ behavior and appearance.
Boys, too, has been split into a number of "camps": multiple problem behaviors guys perfectly agreed with the first groups’ girls, after the lessons incorrectly behaved during their leisure time-they did hooligan activities, smoked, were always late to come home; the second ones were brave, responsible and studios and openly bullied girls with excessive makeup. More bullies were aimed at the silent girl because in the class she did not have the authority and was unable to defend herself.
Most open demonstration of bullying was the refusal to sit next to her because of the appearance. Comments were made when after physical education lessons the girl's not only didn’t shower but putted even more makeup and fragrance. Even more comments were made because of the specific underwear which was worn inappropriate because the large part of it was seen as a thin line over sunken jeans.
It lasted for more than half of the year, as the "newcomer" got conflicted with the majority of the students and teachers, and parents, she had more than one conversation with police officials, at the end of the school year has withdrawn her documents and switched to the other general-education school, where her conduct remained unchanged. Her girlfriend slowly recovered her behavior and solved all problems at school and well communicated with the other girls, however, did not change her new appearance.


These reasons were very evident not only to the other people, but also the girls themselves. The only difference was that, in their opinion, their appearance was the most appropriate and most beautiful self-presentation to the others way, and all comments have been interpreted and accepted as an expression of envy/jealousy. Behavior also seemed very independent, "cool". Whereas, by their conduct, they rebelled more in front of the adults, and the disturbance of lessons didn’t seemed to them as they did any harm to other students learning process.
The girls never complained, because, it seemed somehow they didn’t realize why the appearance and arrogant behaviour is unacceptable to many of the people. The coped with bullying and negative comments as if it was normal. Not comfortable with this situation were other children and teachers, not the girls. Seemed like they liked all the attention received. The situation began to annoy them, when it spread throughout the school, so when they would walk through the passage the guys would chant or sing indecent songs. Dissatisfaction was expressed be a newcomer whereas the other girl was silently agreeing with everything the friend does. She was like a shadow of her friend.
The girls didn’t want to accept teacher and parent advices. The girls usually talked with class teacher and social pedagogue of the school and failed to receive any attention from their families.


Many children thought that the girls behaved inappropriate, their appearance was not meant to be demonstrated in school, their friends were bad. Most class friends didn’t like their behaviour (not the appearance), which really frustrated them and had huge dissatisfaction. Younger students were stuck with girls’ appearance.
The girls have not been selected as bullying objects because of the weakness or other usual indicators. The image they created for themselves provoke hostility and ridicules.
In particular, the boys were often asked to not express their opinion about the girls’ appearance and not to ridicule them or offend them. The kids that bullied the girls said that they are completely annoyed by the constant disturbance of lessons, inappropriate behaviour being paraded at school, too strong smell of perfume.


All of the students of class one way or another participated in this conflict. The ones that didn’t pay attention to the girls' appearance, were angry for their rude behavior in classroom, jamming into productive work. Just some of the children didn’t express their point of view. They thought that girlfriends are the provocateurs of this bullying situation themselves.
Other pupils watched everything from the side and didn’t intervene. They did not take any action because the girls' behaviour overshadowed bullying.


I think that almost all the teachers saw the situation arising. During that year there were a lot of lessons, after which the teachers communicated with class teacher, the pupils' parents. Everyone saw that the class atmosphere was becoming very bad and everyone tried to rebuild it.
The girls ' behavior was very dominated the class context. However, the aftermath of the bullying behaviour, because, traditionally, one can be in the middle of a mockery if he is weaker and who does not know or does not attempt to defend themselves. This was not a classic case of ' bullying ', so the teacher's attention to this situation has been brought by the class teacher.
Teachers often expressed dissatisfaction with the girls' behaviour, so the bullying failed to being prevented at early stage.


There was a discussion with students on an individual basis and with the whole class at the time there were discussions with pupils' parents and teachers and there were extra meetings.


Parents of the girls were active participants in all conflict situations. They agreed that their daughter behavior was inappropriate and not complained about the fact that the daughters were bullied. The parents of Sandra were openly expressing the inability to deal with their daughter, because she caused too much trouble. Sometimes teacher or social pedagogue had to pause her parents that they wouldn’t humiliated or offend her. The mother of the second girl raised her as a single mother and she was usually abroad and the girl lived with her grandmother which didn’t have the power over her to control her behavior. The parents were informed about bullying by class teacher and social pedagogue.
The girls had to consult cosmetologist, their parents forbid them to wear excessive makeup at school, they constantly took their cosmetics, even occasionally came to school to have a look how they look at school, and with the permission of social pedagogue and teacher were present during some lessons. But it didn’t prevent the girls from behaving bad and even provoked more rebels. It was important to change the relationship in the families.
The parents of bullying students became aware about this bullying case from class teacher. They understood the whole situation as a multilevel problem and helped teacher to solve it as long as they were able to. They talked with their children at home and the situation quickly progressed.


Social pedagogue informed each party about present situation. She determined and explained actions that are expected from each concerned party.
Teacher were informed why the girls acts as they does and how they should react to it. It was made clear that teachers should not allow to overshadow other processes in class by these girls behavior and to observe them.
There were discussions with the class about the behavior of each and every one of them, about their responsibilities and etc. There were individual discussions with the girls; together with their parents; together with teachers.
There were free consultations for parents, because in this particular case the main reason of whole situation was the communication and relationship between girls and their parents.


This situation was formed because:
• The girls stood out from other children because of their demeanor and too provoking appearance.
• Situation was aggravated because of problematical interaction in the family between parent and child.
• Firstly not bullying but rebellious behaviour was noticed.
• The situation of one girls constant bullying was not resolved, and mainly because parents changed the school (for the 4th time), thus putting the problem on hold for future.
• The situation was lightened as the bullies were good students and good children, so after intervention they changed their behavior and helped to change the situation.
• Both sides of bullying found the justification for their actions and felt right.
• This was not a classic case of bullying when the victim becomes physically weaker child.

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 07.06.2012

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

I have difficulties in understanding the situation of bullying in this case. It seems obvious that the class atmosphere is much deteriorated and so in this case it could have been interesting to implement an intervention to work on class group dynamics (object of the work of mobile teams for the French community).

Moreover, a specific intervention on the issue of standards of appearance could be proposed in this case. This calls for a reflection of the establishment, parents and students on social representations conveyed on girls and boys in adolescence (beauty, choice of style, etc..) and social norms which may arise (choose a particular look to join a particular group).

Date: 07.06.2012

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

I have difficulties in understanding the situation of bullying in this case. It seems obvious that the class atmosphere is much deteriorated and so in this case it could have been interesting to implement an intervention to work on class group dynamics (object of the work of mobile teams for the French community).

Date: 06.05.2012

Type of school: CJAPP IASI
Country: ROMANIA

• Common elements

In Romania this situation is very often met as very many parents are working abroad (Italy, Spain, England, France).That is why I consider this case very well received and I would propose the development of a common working strategy with the children whose parents are working out of the country. I think that states, the country you leave from and the country you leave for are interested in establishing a method to optimise this situation of the children left behind. A study of the Iasi country school inspectorate shows that the number of children of preschool and primary school level with at least one parent working over the border has passed 10000 ,

Our study, developed by school psychologists underlines the most frequent disorders that these pupils can show.

The most frequent disorders that can appear in children with temporarily broken families:

• Shyness 1559
• Lying 1398
• Excessive communication on internet -1360
• Waiting for parents to come 1306
• Group isolation 993
• Aggression (fights with classmates) 819
• Passivity 671
• Emotional labiality 616
• Pride (they boast things received from parents)-605
• Will to leave 618
• Anxiety 559
• Incapacity to focus 514
• Absenteeism 474
• Frustration 405

These disorders cause problems at school level:
• School failure (especially in gymnasium and high school);
• Failing a class (especially in gymnasium and high school; the highest percentage of failing a class being in high school and professional schools );
• Computer dependency ;
• Frequenting street groups;
• Absenteeism ;
• School drop-out;
Back to the case, we can observe that the two aggressors, the girls, did not unite by chance. They are both victims of parents’ migration to foreign countries for work.
Both girls suffer from lack of attention from parents. The teenagers manifested a strong desire to "come forth" to be valued, taken into account. That is exactly why the girls stood out because of rude behaviour, make-up, inappropriate clothes for school, which has led the other students to be against them.
The remaining girls are behaving normally, not afraid to express their opinion and opposed firmly the first group. It is ultimately about self-image deterioration due to poor relationship with parents and school but because of labelling by colleagues, their marginalization and their being chased from one school group to another.
These causes are manifesting more acutely because the teenage girls are an age that raises their interest in boys. The boys, too, were divided into several "groups": those with multiple behavioural problems agreed with the first group of girls, after hours they had inappropriate conduct ill-mannered activities, smoking, were always late for returning home. The other guys were brave, responsible and hard-working and aggressive without any embarrassment the girls with too much makeup.

• Uncommon elements (please correlate the identified elements to the differences between the learning systems at European level and, as well, to cultural differences)
The case does not present visible differences.
• Please specify to whom you would have addressed your case and who would have helped you, in the case of such o problem (school management, didactic staff, specialists, parents, public authorities etc).
I would have first addressed the parents then the school psychologist that would have then created the necessary intervention group.
What can you learn from this case study?
The need to approach each child personally, especially when he is in his teens. Recommendations
• How would you intervene if you were faced with such bullying cases in your school? Please mention two actual strategies used to fight against bullying that are implemented in your school.

First we observe the existence of a conflict between pupils:
1. the girl aggressors and the girls
2. the girl aggressors and the boys
3. class and teachers
4. parents and the girl aggressors

2. Definition and problem clarification
a) Presumed problem – as the client presented the problem
-marginalization of Sandra at school after being away to a foreign country, making friends with the X pupil whose parents are away in a foreign country working.
-the appearance of some aggressive behaviour determined by tagging, rudeness, denials, humiliations etc
b) Real Problem - Low self esteem of the two girls; they want to be noticed (they stood out because of their rude, impolite behaviour in school, police issues, parents problems, but their image had to suffer the most because of their clothes and makeup, fact that turned the other pupils against them).

3. Causes for problem
a) Presumed causes: Both girls suffer from lack of attention of the parents. The teenage girls want to stand out, to draw attention, to be valued.
b) Real causes: Damaging of the self-esteem
occurrence of low self-image offset by aggressive behaviour - selfvalorisation.
4. Conditions of manifestation of the case
Comments were made when, after hours of physical education, not only did the two girls not take a shower, but they used more makeup and perfume. Even more comments were made when they let their panty line show above the low waist jeans.
5. Psychological analysis of client resources
I will start to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both aggressors.
smiled a lot,
intelligent WEAK POINTS:
Inadequate use of makeup,
Inadequate clothes for school,
Rude behaviour

Care of the class teacher
Care of the psychologist
Lived for 3 years over the borders
Tensed family relations
Lack of communication with parents
Inadequate communication with classmates
Parents’ lack of interest for the girl
Policeman intervention
Boys’ reaction

Action Plan / solutions
Step 1. Identification of qualities, discover other qualities they have: leadership quality, athletic talent
Step 2. Giving responsibilities (e.g. to lead the group in charge of the beauty of the class aspect) This concern is pleasant and focuses on the girl’s personality. It can develop the relationship with other group members.
Step 3. Improving the self-image of the girl by disseminating results.
Step 4. Setting up trainings for optimization of communication with parents and classmates. Forming assertive, nonviolent communication skills,.
Step 5. Setting up trainings for conflict solving skills. Using techniques to achieve compromise.
Step 6. Setting up joint meetings of psychologists, students, parents on issues of knowledge of the needs of teenagers.
Step 7. Evaluation of results. A gradual increase in self-image and self esteem is shown that improves the relationship between the accused girls and their peers (fellows).
The improvement of communication with parents and teachers creates the premises of change of behaviour in class.



Learning deficiencies
Without proper will (she was Sandra’s shadow)
Easily manipulated
Inadequate use of makeup,
Inadequate clothes for school,
Rude behaviour

Care of the class teacher
Care of the psychologist
Her mother took part in some hours and meetings THREATS:
Tensed family relations
Lack of communication with parents
Inadequate communication with classmates
The girl is lonely as her mother is working abroad
Boys’ reaction

6. Action plan/solutions
Step 1. Identify qualities, discover other qualities you have, identify interests of the girl. For example her interest in music.
Step 2. Attracting her into a musical group. Activity that focuses on the girl’s personality. It can develop the relationship with other group members.
Step 3. Increase the self-image of the girl by disseminating results. Participation in festivals and competitions. This would change everybody’s opinion about the "good for nothing" girl.
Step 4. Setting up trainings for optimization of communication with parents and classmates. Forming assertive, nonviolent communication skills.
Step 5. Setting up trainings for conflict solving skills. Using techniques to achieve compromise.
These skills will be transferred towards the family behaviour, thus optimizing this relationship. Changing the girls’ behaviour will bring a state of:
-between colleagues and girls
-between parents and girls
-between teachers and girls
Step 7. Evaluation of results. A gradual increase in self-image and self esteem is shown that improves the relationship between the accused girls and their peers (fellows).

So the strategy chosen in this case, to transfer the girl to another school did not solve the real problems that caused the aggressive behaviour but it only changes its objective The method chosen in the presented case only postponed the conflict.
Emphasis must be placed on ways to optimize self-esteem of people.

• Would you introduce in your school the strategies against bullying mentioned in the case study? Do you consider them useful and applicable in your school?
The used strategies can also be transferred to a Romanian school. I would vote against the policeman’s intervention, in this case.

Did you follow such trainings? What should such a training contain in order to better support didactic staff in handling bullying in schools?
-within the common project of the Iasi county school inspectorate, the Association “Social Alternatives” and the Association “Save the children – Youngsters against violence
- activities to develop prevention strategies and prevent and limit the use of violence
-very good knowledge of the personality traits of the teenagers

Date: 25.03.2012

Posted by: Lusi Nikolova
Type of school: Vocational school
Country: Bulgaria

The school and the management seem not to be sufficiently involved in solving the problem. This is a problem of self-expression of teenagers, which happens often, including in our institution, and usually is resolved by itself. Nevertheless, the dissatisfaction and the involvement of the whole student community ask for adequate steps to be taken by the school management. The imposition of a uniform, obligatory for all students, for example, would have contributed to the solution of the problem a lot. Additional methods for alleviating the situation would have involved organization of discussions on self-expression, dress-code and tolerance, so that everyone could express their ideas and feel acknowledged and understood, which is especially important for the students at this age.

Date: 15.03.2012

Country: Greece

This case hasn’t many elements in common with the study I studied “the lively and the calm”. In this case, the victims aren’t weak or calm, but the opposite. What is common is that in both cases, the school social worker interfered, so as teachers and parents in order to solve the situation.

As mentioned above, in this specific case the victim was not pathetic or calm, on the contrary was lively and “provoked” the classmates with her appearance. Moreover, the incident wasn’t solved as the girl changed school. As far as differences in the educational system or cultural differences are concerned, we cannot conclude any from the case study.

I would have found the main support to teachers and the social worker of the school, who through discussions and plans towards all the parties, could have solve the situation. Time and space available could have been a difficulty, as the parents of the victim, didn’t gave time to their daughter or teachers to solve the situation, as they changed her school environment.
From this case study, we can conclude that the victims aren’t always the weakest or the ones with any kind of physical differentiation. At the same time, the bullies aren’t always the lively or vivid students, but could be the “good” students as well. Every situation is unique and must treated as such.My recommendations to this event would be to take actions as soon as possible, if feasible, before the appearance of the bullying phenomenon. Any changes to the relations of the students, their appearance, their educational level, should be taken into account seriously and teachers or ither educational staff should react immediately. Teachers training regarding school bullying handling is not mentioned in this case study. Regarding the training that I wish to receive, I would like to have the opportunity to attend seminars dealing with aspects as students’ psychology, fights confrontation, children counselling and school bullying handling

Date: 22.02.2012

Posted by: Helen Redhead
Type of school: 11-16 Comprehensive
Country: UK

■This experience is not unheard of in our school, where the return or addition of a student can upset the equilibrium of a group. There is a jostling for position and the need to part of the "accepted" group. To wear what is deemed to be "in" or fashionable
■There does not seem to be any disruption to lessons in our school due to this type of bullying, mainly as we have a strict uniform and no make up policy. The UK, though, is very much following the USA where there is an "In crowd" and those that don't fit in are often categorised into various sub groups. Many students just accept this and can often be hostile to the others but mainly out of lessons. This attitude appears to have been more engrained in the UK and more commonplace
■All teachers, but in particular Form Tutors are the primary ones responsible for helping students deal with this scenario. Parents are often culpable and dress their children in trendy expensive branded clothes etc, allow make up and want their child to be popular. Teachers and PSWs stress the right for individuals to be individuals
■In Lithuania as in the UK rebel students can cause maximum disruption especially if they're seen to be cool and often students are not strong enough to withstand peer pressure. Those that don't fit the mould can often be targeted.
■In our school we have as part of our pastoral programme a unit of study entitled "Withstanding peer pressure". This is part of a spiral curriculum and so is touched on in every year group
■Two concrete strategies we have implemented in our school is one to one work with the PSW and help from outside agencies like School health or agencies like "BLEND" who work with students from a collection of schools running programmes to maximise a student's self esteem through various group activities and the work we do in-house in PSHE
All staff need training in how to help students develop and build their self esteem and so not involve themselves in abusive relationships

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