DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
This is the story of a 14-year-old student who attended the 8th grade in 2009/2010 in a class with an Alternative Curricular Path in EBI João Roiz, Castelo Branco, Portugal. The student, female, was considered as a near risk social situation. She was prone to generate conflicts at home and causing bullying at school.
The student’s family context was one of violence. The social worker at school was able to find out that when the student’s mother was expecting her, she had been beaten several times by her husband. These episodes of domestic violence continued after the child’s birth, who witnessed the repeated scenes of violence between her parents until they split up. When this happened, the student was around the age of 4. She was placed under her grandmother’s guardianship by the Court. Given the context in which she had been living and the family background, the student was given counselling by a psychologist from the age of 4. This happened through development medical appointments at the Amato Lusitano Hospital. This service referred the young child to the Child psychiatry service at the hospital in Coimbra when she was 11, due to the complexity of the student’s socio-familiar and personal situation. At the beginning of the school year 2009/2010, the student had ceased to have psychological support.
The student’s mother, who is a housekeeper, has reorganised her life and she is living at her mother-in-law’s house. From this new relationship, she has two kids and the relationship with the stepfather is quarrelsome. The student’s father also organised his life and he is living in France. On her father’s side, she has two brothers with whom she doesn’t have many contacts, expressing a certain sadness and a feeling that she was abandoned by her father. She is a young woman who felt unloved in her family, with the exception of her grandmother.
Due to the emotional discomfort in wihich she lives since an early age, the student created bullying situations at school. These bullying episodes involved several students from different grades, and generally they happened because the student misunderstood what her peers communicated to her. She even invented situations that did not correspond to the truth about others students from the school, which created a bad school environment. The student also had some self-control issues and a very moody instability.
A meeting with colleagues and parents of the students involved, with the student’s grandmother and with the School Board was arranged to discuss the issues head-on. A permanent personal supervision was arranged with systematic reflections on her attitudes; there were several meetings between the student’s grandmother and the Board to work on the student’s positive reinforcement and improvement of her self-esteem. A protocol was also written between the student, the Social worker and a ME (Ministry of Education) representative, at the CPCJ (Children and Young People Protection Comittee), with the knowledge of the student’s grandmother, aiming at improving her school behaviour. Support was guaranteed again by a psychologist from the Amato Lusitano Hospital development department. As a consequence the student improved her behaviour at school and the relations with her colleagues.
Due to a DREC (Regional Direction of Education) resolution, the 8th grade class with an Alternative Curricular Path (PCA) did not have continuity in the school year 2010/2011. The Diretor de Turma (Class Diretor) articulated with the student’s guardian to enrol the student in a CEF course (Professional Course for Youngsters), type 3 of Photography, at the Schools Cluster Faria de Vasconcelos. The student was interested in this area; there were no more episodes of bullying and the student completed the 9th grade successfully with both an academic and a professional certification, level 2
This is a case of school and behavioural success, achieved through a direct intervention on the phenomenon of bullying, which involved the student, her colleagues and the parents of the students involved, the student’s grandmother and the School Board, to discuss the issues head-on. There was a permanent personal supervision of the student with systematic reflections of her attitudes, several meetings between the student’s grandmother and the School Board, which aimed at giving the student positive reinforcement and improving her self-esteem.
A behavioural commitment was written between the student, the Social Worker and a ME (Ministry of Education) representative, at the CPCJ (Children and Young People Protection Comittee), with the knowledge of the student’s grandmother aiming at improving her school behaviour.
Psychlogical support was guaranteed by a psychologist from the Amato Lusitano Hospital Developmental Psychology Department.
The student was led to a vocational course that interested her.
This story displays a way to combat bullying through the survey of the student's story both at the family level and at the education level; it describes the close articulation needed between the school and the family; it emphasises the importance of personal supervision at school with the intervention of external actors, such as the commission for the protection of minors at risk, the school social worker and the Amato Lusitano Hospital appointments in terms of behavourial psychology counselling; also relevant is the written commitment between the student and the school which highlighted the student's accountability for her own behaviour at school.