DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
Main actors involved
The main harasser, François. Ten followers. A victim, Jean. The victim’s mother.
When, where and how the story happened
The incident took place in a 2nd year class of a vocational education institute (14 year old boys), during the school year 2005/2006.
Starting from the beginning of the school year, an atmosphere characterized by tension and hostility establishes between François and the rest of the class, because François is a disruptive student.
Jean’s harassment begins during the gym class, the class in which he entrusts his watch to François.
At the end of the class, François does not want to give him back his watch. He asks for an exchange with a “kinder”. Jean accepts to bring it the following day and receives back his watch. François does not go to school the following day, but two days later and claims the “kinder”. Jean, given François’s absence, ate it.
In the following weeks, the attempted extortion becomes harassment.
François keeps asking for the “kinder” (verbal aggression, teasing, threats). Jean is scared because he is the leader of around ten students of the class. He behaves like a gang leader.
Jean is getting always more stressed until he decides to speak with his mother who directly takes contact with the teacher and meets him. The teacher also receives Jean and records his complaint. During the month of November, François is expelled from the school. It appears then that other complains already existed for similar incidents and fights.
Soon after the expulsion, Jean bumps into François on the bus, at the end of the classes. He is accompanied by his gang. The bus is full and Jean is leaning against the driver’s cabin. François gives him two slaps and the other members of the gang strike him several times in the ribs. François says he is taking revenge for his school exclusion.
The driver, who has seen it all, had already called the police station and the police arrive soon. The doors open, the gang disappear. Jean goes in another bus without bringing the attention of the police on him for fear of reprisals.
He got a little injured but it is not serious.
His mother, instead, decides to complain at the police, considering that François already suffers of other similar incidents.
The following day, Jean is again victim of teasing from the members of the gang that were in the bus. But the situation doesn’t develop and the teasing stops. His mother kept contact with the school, where two or three students of the gang will be expelled.
The harassment lasted for 4 months, from September to December.
Reasons why the story can be considered a success.
• The victim could express the problem and continue a normal education. The harassment didn’t have any impact on his school results.
• The harassers have been punished.
• The mother of the victim acted several times with the responsible of the school and with the police.
• The school has immediately registered the complaint.
Starting point of the student.
• The victim is disturbed. Jean is more and more stressed. He withdraws into himself. He is scared of reprisals.
• The main harasser has a hard past. He comes from a criminogenic environment (brothers, friends). He lives in a city where a gang reigns supreme. He repeats the behaviours he has witnessed repeatedly. He is a predator. He created a website where he shows his misdeeds.
Possible explanation of the success
• The intervention of the mother and her determination have been crucial.
Without any intervention, the bullying would have continued and the consequences for Jean would certainly have been worse because he did not come out unharmed of this episode. He was stressed for a long time. He was afraid of meeting François and his gang again. At the end of the classes he preferred to take another bus or walk, even if this meant making the way back home longer. He did not want go to downtown anymore. He was afraid of colour people, because François has African origin. It lasted for 2/3 years.
He did not meet François anymore but he has heard about his offender path and still fears him.
Jean didn’t ask for a psychological support, he choose an evasion strategy and he joined a Muay Thai course for 2/3 years.
• The good reaction of the school: immediate management of the complaint and continued dialogue with the mother.
The mother of the victim expresses satisfaction for the reaction of the school. She has been understood and listened to. She considers the institute a human school. However she doesn’t take any position regarding the level of the sanctions decided by the school.
Interaction between the different actors involved
There has not been much interaction between the different school actors:
• François bored everyone in the class but as far as Jean remembers the students did not complain to the teachers. In the class it was “everyone by himself”.
• François was considered as a trouble maker by the teachers. He irritated them. He was regularly punished by the teachers.
• The victim’s mother took and kept the contact with the responsible of the school. The mother of the harasser was informed and summoned by the school. No meeting was organized between the parents.
Transferability potential of the experience
This experience shows that the parents are a key partner for beginning and achieving adopted measures. It is therefore important to keep a permanent dialogue with them.
In this regard, we remember that the activities that are not directly academic (school fair, for example) are very important moment to maintain this dialogue.