Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This material reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Also available in:

"I Am Not Scared" Project

Homepage > Case Studies > Document

Case Studies


Marco's gang

  • Direct bullying
  • Indirect bullying
  • Non-especific

Mark is 15 years old, he attended the first class of a technical Institute.
Transgression is a universal feature of adolescence, the age in which the relationship with educational and social rules, is questioned. It is precisely for this reason that it is difficult to understand to what extent such aggression can be considered an expression of a desire for growth and greater autonomy and, when instead, individual distress signal is familial or social. The antisocial behaviour constitutes generally transitional episode, but sometimes it can represent the stage of a process, whose outcome is the stabilization of deviance.
To Mark the transition from violent impulses, from fantasy to shake their behaviors, occurs during the first months of first class. After a few days of school, Marco creates his band with boys of the same class, who usually meet with him outside school. The family of Marcus is culturally and socially deprived: he lives with the separated mother, who works part-time in a services company. He has two brothers of 18 and 19 years old, both dedicated to occasional jobs and with stories of drug addicion.
Marco shows little interest for lessons, out of school he is passive against a projection of his future life, depressive tendencies, often demonstrating confidence, a disturbed personality and suffering, and a strong aggressiveness, even against the mother. Within his gang, he is immediately accepted as the leader, so he often organizes and guides the action, but he does not execute it, this showing, he didn't have anything to prove to the Group and to have greater control of impulsiveness of gregarious members. The acting-out from the herd leader creates an implicit recognition in the hierarchy of powers, implement the recognition of the other domain, enable the deployment of the power of leader and subsequent rite of subjection-acceptance of gregarious. Increases in this way, the sense of belonging to the Group and the aggressiveness shake is deliberately exaggerated in its expression, to bring out the request for acceptance to adapt-all components.
The members of the group are two students who repeated the year, and three foreign boys who have been living in Italy for a few years. Marco is inseparable from the group, which activates a strongly emotional binding Pact.
Within the fragile group class, with bands of low-medium level, Alessandro becomes a victim of bullies. Alexander is a young boy, his is a middle-class family: father, mother bank manager employed at a health Institute. In the family there is a sister of ten years, attending the fourth grade. Alexander attended middle school at a private Institute, run by a religious congregation. The professors of the class Council considers him a polite guy, correct student.
Everything begins with the feast of San Firmino. they chose their victim to aggression. Alexander is waited for outside the school, before getting on the bus that brings students to the train station. He was removed the jacket, sweatshirt, and with indelible markers they wrote ridicule words and on his face many crosses were drawn. Many people were present and noticed the abuse: nobody talks about it, nobody rushes in defence of Alexander. they opened the backpack, took his books and burned them. Many bystanders were present: nobody intervened. For two months there have repeated episodes of abuse and muggings.


Mark wants to be at the centre of the stage: using his group of followers that are anxious, insecure, impulsive and fascinated by his arrogance. In the classroom, in social, family, Mark shows poor tolerance to frustration and implements its positive attitude towards aggression and violence, considered as valuable tools to achieve its target of abuse. Alexander is more and more insecure, anxious, sensitive, closed in himself, unable to react to abuse. We read in Mark's behavior a moral disengagement 'equity, as a psychological mechanism through which they are entitled misconduct, illegal Marco from responsibility, tends to diminish the consequences of his actions, which are the scene of execution, outside the school, while at school, through verbalness inappropriate, constantly trying to offend and mock his victim. Mark seeks to justify his behavior by devaluing his victim "is someone who does not know how to live." The group labeled Mark's "arrogant" and Alexander "rabbit". The role of executioner of Mark sclerosed, the status of violence and aggression, is recognized as a symbol of the leader. Mark lacks empathy and depth of capabilities, proved intolerant of suffering caused voluntarily to Alexander.
When the attitudes of aggression found space inside the school, and the victim begins to confide in one of the teachers of the Faculty Council, began a rehabilitation process emotionally significant relationships. It examines the factors personological, the family and social context of victim and executioner. We investigate parental educational styles, such as learning context of rules and values. In the family of Mark, before the separation of the spouses was a supreme coercive education, with violence, abuse, maladaptive behavior patterns introjected by the boy who felt entitled to use the patterns of violent behavior inside and outside the family. Alexander was part of a psychological journey of implementing self-esteem.


When the attitudes of aggression found space inside the school, and the victim begins to confide in one of the teachers of the Faculty Council, began a rehabilitation process emotionally significant relationships. It examines the factors personological, the family and social context of victim and executioner. We investigate parental educational styles, such as learning context of rules and values​​. In the family of Mark, before the separation of the spouses was a supreme coercive education, with violence, abuse, maladaptive behavior patterns introjected by the boy who felt entitled to use the patterns of violent behavior inside and outside the family. Alexander was part of a psychological journey of implementing self-esteem.


Alexander is being targeted because he is a shy guy, maybe even a little 'submissive and very polite. He comes from a family where there is a relationship of dialogue, understanding and mutual respect. The violence is alien to their own experience and the moment he is the victim of violence was helpless, unable to react and experience a feeling of shame that does not allow him to confide in or with parents or with teachers.
In the first period, Alexander did not find the courage to ask for help, but when aggressive behavior also occur within the school, he felt better protected and empowered, able to speak with one of his teachers.
He was immediately helped to overcome this humiliating condition from family, teachers and the help of a therapist who, thanks to an individualized path tries to improve his self-esteem and strengthen the emotional and relational.


Marco and his friends bullies come from socially and culturally disadvantaged families in which violence is a normal way of relating in everyday life. Often other family members, such as the brothers Marco followed a difficult path characterized by drug dealing and gangsterism. Within these families there are frequently inadequate dynamics based on the use of physical force in the management of discipline, high conflict between parents, lack of family cohesion and a clear and consistent discipline, as well as a lack of oversight by parents on their children's lives. Other guys in the band instead come from immigrant families living in Italy a few years and probably are in a difficult situation of integration and social exclusion.
In this context, the children develop towards society and life a sense of hopelessness, feeling inadequate and marginalized, deprived of ideals and dreams for their future and believe that the company claims only the strongest.
The band of Mark Alexander chooses as a victim because he represents everything that they are not: it is a boy of good family, is educated, is a scholar, respect the rules and is temperamentally shy and reserved. These features are seen by bullies as a sign of weakness. In fact, Alexander is accused by his executioners do not know how to live as unable to use violence and violate the rules.
This mechanism of violence and humiliation rages when the group feels that the increasing weakness of the victim: Alexander shows more and more insecure, anxious, sensitive, closed in on itself, unable to react


One factor that can support bullying behavior is the importance assumed by the group of peers. The events that have affected Alexander bullying occurred in the almost total indifference of comrades who, despite having witnessed for a long time to acts of abuse, they have never reported. In this way, the peer group has implicitly endorsed such behavior by reinforcing the aggression of the band of Mark that he perceived "indifference" as a sign of approval for his actions.
The group often happens that those who assume the defense of the victim is well accepted and integrated, unlike the children who suffer the bullying. In the history of Alexander this positive trend has not occurred.
More complex is the position of the band of young thugs, who despite getting a limited acceptance among peers, are still "popular" as socially visible. The informal rules agreed and shared within the peer group, may also legitimize and support the bullying and arrogant attitudes. Similarly, the uncritical attitude towards the group can facilitate the justification of acts of aggression and harassment, whether directed against the weakest members of the group, and poorly integrated.
We can say therefore that the companions of the class have participated in the assaults and abuse by supporting the gang of bullies as a silent observer of events and conspiratorial.


The Class Council, just heard from a teacher of bullying against Alexander, it is immediately activated. It has tried to study the relationship dynamics within the group class for any resources to help you better assess the situation. He also tried to detect the socio - economic of the boys to understand the motivations that led to attitudes of aggression and passivity.
From the reading of the case does not show specifically what strategies teachers have put in place. Therefore it is desirable that they have implemented, within the class, work of knowledge and awareness to the problem of bullying through:
- The use of tools and curricular materials (reading music, films, motor activities, music and art) in order to stimulate reflection on the phenomenon, peaceful coexistence and respect for diversity;
- Emotional literacy courses and enhancement of social skills, to strengthen the emotional empathy of students and to educate them;
- Group activities to redefine and renegotiate the rules of being together in the classroom and at school.
To ensure the effectiveness of these interventions need to work closely with families to identify shared goals.


If it is not apparent from a reading of the role played by the Headmaster. It is therefore considered that he should favor a policy of school anti-bullying, designing interventions that can act on the general school climate and strengthening the norms and values ​​of the group. This policy should involve all stakeholders of the school, the class group, teachers, other staff. Parallel paths should be enabled to offer training on the one hand the theoretical knowledge on the characteristics of the phenomenon, the other methodological and operational tools for the activation of educational classes.
In institutes where there is a significant number of foreigners, of children with psycho-social and a high percentage of early school leaving should be the Headmaster encourages teamwork, encouraging lessons in coexistence and also the continuity of teaching training on the management of the class. In these situations the most critical because the phenomena of bullying find fertile ground. He should create institutional moments in which teachers have the opportunity to share observations, concerns and strategies for classroom management. Teachers are often left alone to handle difficult situations, the existence of stable forms of collaboration between different professional figures could provide educational reference not only for teachers but also for children and parents.


Since the boys hardly speak explicitly (the victims because of fear or shame of Judgement, the bullies to avoid blame and punishment, and especially because they do not consider bullying a problem) parents are the only ones who can pick up the alarm bells launched their own children. Many families living on the margins of society, however, it does not have the tools to evaluate them for deviant behaviors contrast is often unaware of the misbehavior of their children. This is detectable by the analysis of the family of Mark.
The family of Alexander but is aware of what happens, in fact in agreement with the school, begins a therapeutic rehabilitation. Once parents have recognized the problem, first try to understand the causes and then to find the right tools to help your child deal with this situation.
The boy's family has tried to encourage dialogue without blaming and punitive attitudes and pay attention to the emotional experiences of the child. He also encouraged the boy to develop his potential and his ability, stimulating it to establish positive relationships with peers without isolating thus enhancing self-esteem.
Parents of children that perpetuate acts of bullying should strive to understand the moods of their children and make them understand the value of compassion, the value of the school, the value of the rules and especially the value of respect for the lives of others. And finally, should not Appease them for fear of not admitting that there is a problem, but finding the strength to talk together and listen to understand their illnesses.


As well coordinated efforts between school and home is also useful in many cases the external support of a therapist. In this case the intervention of the psychologist was very powerful activating action on several fronts:
- Support parents in helping their child at this time of growth, since boys tend to use the father and the mother as a model. So the therapist through the fundamental resource of the family provides adequate patterns of behavior for boys;
- Recognition of their work on the emotions of others and as scholars have shown that both victims and abusers have difficulty recognizing the emotions;
- Help the child victim of bullying at work urging him to recount their experiences with clarity and without fear for the situations that the protagonist has been learning to protect themselves and regaining confidence in himself.


the intervention of an external expert was not considered necessary


Olweus stated that "The guys who oppress and those who suffer are the result of a society that accepts the abuse." For this bullying is believed to be the result of a broader cultural context in which it pursues a model of strength, power, artificial life, oppression, arrogance, cunning, of competition.


Бандата на Марко.pdf

Comments about this Case Study

Date: 15.03.2012

Posted by: Claudia Carausu
Type of school: High School
Country: ROMANIA

If in the past it was believed that the families with an unhappy marriages and with children it is better to stay together for the sake of children, in our days many parents believe that is best for children when parents live separate, and instead of making the children witnesses of the permanent family conflicts.

Since the children are little, parents try to teach their children the difference between good and wrong. They grow, develop and at some points it is they who must make decisions about their lives. Sometimes it is too late for parents to figure out where they're wrong.

Usually, a child tries to follow the example of the parents but, in this case because they broke up, they have ruined all that they and their opinions formed about the family, that they considered perfect. For this reason, Mark tries to find a new "family". Its lack of interest in school and in its future shows that he completely changed his views about life, becoming head of the gang.

Wanting to get always in front, along with other gang members, Marco tried to commit aggression against other pupils, finding this way the opportunity to draw attention on him.

From my point of view school should organize more activities that involve family members, by:
- trying to consolidate the relationship and communication between the parents and children
- helping children to form a correct and positive self-image
- helping children to learn how to identify their interests, aptitudes and skills to reactivate the interest for school

The teachers must participate annual in various trainings on how to react on preventing and combating the bullying phenomenon among students and very important how to create a strong collaboration between children, school and parents.

Date: 13.03.2012

Posted by: Ana Popa
Type of school: Vocational School, School Group of Arts and Trades HUSI
Country: ROMANIA

Marco is a 15 years old boy,who created his own band with boys of the same class.He is the leader of the band and he organizes and guides the actions.
The child who became a victim of the bullies is Alexander.He is exactly the opposite of Mark:he is shy, polite,he knows what respect is and he comes from a normal family where there is a mutual respect.
They choose Alexander as a victim because he is exactly what they are not:they are deprived of ideals and dreams while Alexander fights for his dreams , he is a boy of a good family while they come from culturally and socially deprived families.
Why did they choose Alexander as a victim?
I think they choose Alexander as a victim because they consider him the owner of happiness.He is happy because he has "everything"( a good family),they have "nothing"(maybe just a mother who is always too busy to listen to them or too tired to be with them) .That's why they try to find a way to make Alexander unhappy,if they suffer then Alexander should suffer too.If only somebody could help them!If only they could find the right path.
In such a situation they need help.The school should help them, but not only.The school should encourage the dialog with the family.The school should make their parents understand that is very important to make their own children discover the value of the school,the value of the rules,the value of respect.But how?If they don't want to loose their children for ever, they should do their best in order to save them.They should spend more time (quality time) with their own children,should learn to listen to their problems, dreams,they should be next to their children when they are happy or sad, when they laugh or cry.
What should I do as a teacher in such a situation?
First of all, I would stay in touch with the family and I would use tools in order to help these children to find the right path.They should be motivated to see the beautiful part of the life, to discover what they have good and to use their qualities to make the others happy.
How should I do this?
Books, films, music and art stimulate the reflection on the phenomen,peaceful coexistence and respect for diversity.But the key is the respect, the appreciation.If these children feel that they are respected, appreciated , loved , maybe they will learn to behave normally.
These is what these children need:love, understanding, appreciation, time.

Date: 12.03.2012

Posted by: NATHALIE GOEBELS - social worker
Type of school: Use right service
Country: Belgium

The observations from outside :
• It does not seem that the actors of the school have used different methods to put an end to bullying : there is no mention of disciplinary sanctions imposed to the young bullies.
• A meeting with the parents has also been organized and activities have been set up in the class not to stigmatize the bullies, but to allow to speak about the bullying event.
• What were the group dynamic activities carried out in the class ?
The lacks observed :
• The fact that the other pupils have not reported the bullying event that Alexandra was victim of has been brought up. For which reasons ? Has the class been led to a discussion about that ? Do we have noticed any modification after these activities in the class ?
• How to stop the cycle of violence and to allow the young victim of bullying to express himself ? How to remove the young victim’s guilt feelings in order to make him comfortable to speak about it ? How to manage a situation when bullying occurs outside school ?
• The carried out analysis is mainly psychological and sociological. The reasons explaining the choice of the pupil bullied by the gang and the reasons explaining that these youths are bullies are only sociological « it is their background » and no place is left for the youths’ individual rights and responsibilities. But all the children who have lived in a climate of violence and who have grown up in one parent families do not become bullies. What do these youths tell about their own behaviour ? The authors don’t seem to have been really made aware of their own responsibilities in this situation, however it is shown that they do not understand.

The positive interventions observed :
• The meeting with the headmaster’s office and all the teachers
• The teachers in charge of the youth’s class have immediately shown their will for action, but they have also shown their limits.
• An intervention process has been set up by the adults of the school.
• The bullying event has been underrated by the headmaster’s office.
• The victim’s family as well as the bullies’ families have been in contact with the school concerning the events.
• Broaching the problem with the class without dividing it but trying to undertand what has occured and for what reasons.
• The efforts made regarding tolerance and pupils’ inclusion.
Interesting proposals for actions
• To make intervene external people from the school would allow the pupils to free their words at the time of the activities on the group dynamic.

Date: 12.02.2012

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

A case similar to the one analyzed by the participants from our school – a group of violent and misbehaved bullies torturing a weaker victim. The participants are boys. The difference comes from the fact that in the Italian case measures have been taken and the victim has been protected. Through regular consultations the victims has a strong chance of completely recovering and forming a strong character. The reasons behind the violence of the leader of the band have been analyzed and work and consultations have also started with him. This, in practice, deactivated the rest of the band members.
The activities of the responsible persons are correct and point at good preparation and high susceptibility of the school management and team towards incidents of this kind.
Training on prevention of the formation and dealing with the band phenomenon in schools would be quite useful for the staff of Bulgarian schools.

I Am Not Scared Project
Copyright 2024 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission