TITLE OF THE EXPERIENCE
Let’s break the silence
NAME AND SURNAME OF THE TEACHER
YEARS OF TEACHING EXPERIENCE
TYPE OF SCHOOL
DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE
In the year of 2010, our College (“Grigore Ghica” National College Dorohoi) developed a socio-educational project “Let’s Break the Silence”, which I coordinated in my school, in partnership with other schools from the town of Dorohoi and schools from Cholet, France. The aim of the project was to eradicate and prevent all kinds of violence that could appear in students’ life. The students-target group belonged to extremely poor family, parents working abroad and students prone to early school leaving.
During a common project activity and discussing with the students for whom I was their head teacher, I was brought to my attention that in the classroom, there was a student who constantly threatened her classmates and one of the classmates was beaten by the student’s boyfriend. I presented the situation to the headmistress of the college, who surprisingly told me to mind my business. The situation was getting out of control and I resorted to announce the police who confirmed that the student and her family had always been in police’s attention for violent behaviour. The things didn’t stop there, but in the classroom a tense atmosphere with threats and hidden phone calls was installed. Moreover, the threats was headed for me and interestingly, the student make complaints about a so-called aggression from me. After a very long period of questioning, it was proved that both my students and I was the victims of indifference. Although I was not allowed to apply the legislation, supported by my colleagues and students’ parents, I made the right decision for my students.
I strongly believe that all of us are the systems’ victims. A sole man cannot cope with the challenges that society offers to him, mainly if the young people who are involved need a real support in order to be guided in life. The authorities’ indifference and carelessness can leave deep traces in young people’s life and thus, change negatively their existence.
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Posted by Julien Lecomte, Gilles Fossion and Erika Benkö (Université de Paix) (Belgium)
Message: We have based this comment on our experience as supervisors in the pilot project “well-being units” in schools.
This pilot project is part of a project that brings together three ministries (Education, Health and Equal chances, Youth and Youth Aid): “the policy regarding well-being at school will be thought in the long-term. It will be integrated in a global well-being project modulated according to the context and needs. It will foster interactive methods built in partnership with young people” (from enseignement.be)
In this framework “Université de Paix” assisted ten schools during two years. We are recognised as a youth organisation. Our specificity is violence prevention and conflict management. Our interventions fostered dialogue between the different stakeholders at school or related to school, including the students, the teachers, the headmasters, counsellors and other professionals who work occasionally or not with the school (speech therapists, psychologists, etc.), parents, the parent association, associations to promote health and protection of environment, the municipality, etc.
Reading the experience, we identify several intervention levels (those we identified in the experience from São Louenço school in Portugal, but here we focus on different elements):
- Informing teachers on the phenomenon of bullying – prevention and awareness level. In this specific case, it may be interesting to present figures on the topic: all schools are concerned and affected. Educational teams and/or headteachers may be in “denial”: “here we don’t have bullying”. It may be because of their external image or because they turn a blind eye on what happens. In reality, bullying is not an isolated phenomenon.
- In this case, it must be emphasised how important a global approach is. The concerned teacher feels alone facing the problem. Prevention policies can be defined by the teaching staff, with the headteacher’s support (welcoming new students, rules and sanctions defined together, cooperation council, etc.). They should also think together about pedagogical consistency in the school. This reflexion is oriented towards “solution” and “well-being in the school”.
- Activities can be proposed in classes in the framework of general prevention (living together, creating links) and specific prevention (group dynamics, bullying).
- During the resolution, not only the victim but also the bully, the “witnesses”, those who can unconsciously support bullying (watching, laughing, not acting etc.), must be mobilised.
- Finally, external communication to parents, on what the school sets up and why. An information conference can be organised to explain parents school bullying is not an isolated phenomenon, and how the measures chosen are less a symptom than a promising sign that the school creates a framework against the phenomenon.
Posted by PATRIZIA SIMONETTI (I.P.S.I.A. “FASCETTI” PISA COUNTRY: ITALY)
Message: The experience of our colleague Otilia shows the lack of interest from school authorities about serious problems such as bullying, violence, vandalism. Teachers are often left alone to face them, while they need the collaboration of all the scholastic members and families. Unfortunately, in our country there is not a National Plan Anti-bullying. Until now, each school has tried to do its best by seeking effective strategies to solve problems and fighting against headmasters’ temptation to deny the problem in order to defend their good school reputation. Some headmasters minimize the serious facts without knowing that “wounds” caused by abuses remain in the future and exert a negative influence upon the personality and the psychological development of victims. For these reasons, it’s necessary institutions and adults set a limit to illegal and dangerous behaviors and they state shared rules and punishments with students and colleagues. Moreover, the teaching staff with the headmaster have to state sharp disciplinary measures for very serious events. In my school, a month ago there was an unheard fierce act of violence. A boy (who played martial arts) deliberately hit a classmate for trifling reasons. While the victim was lying on the floor unconsciously, the aggressor kicked his face breaking two teeth and his jaw. Then he left the poor wheezing boy, without helping him. Only the fast intervention of the doctors on the ambulance avoided his death. The school television cameras filmed the event and the aggressor was accused of attack and failure to give assistance. This terrible violence upset all the school, because facts like that have never happened in our school. The teaching staff thought it right to discuss about this serious event during an extraordinary Teaching Board and later the School Council unanimously stated to expulse the aggressor from school. Under these circumstances, it’s necessary that the school gives a strong message against violence and abuses. The aggressor’s parents tried to defend their child without realizing the gravity of his actions. This family’s attitude shows the deficient upbringing context where the bullies often live. Their parents, neither teach them the fundamental social rules to live together (first of all the respect for others) nor stimulate their children to solidarity and sociability. It is a school duty to prevent aggressions and protect students from very dangerous fellows.