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Vodcast Five: Working with groups of students involved in bullying. School Bullying. Dr Ken Rigby Consultant. Developed for. Assumptions about the nature of ‘the bully’. Cruel, sadistic, violent Utterly lacking in empathy and conscience Suffering from low self-esteem Socially inept

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Vodcast Five:

Working with groups of students involved in bullying

School Bullying

Dr Ken RigbyConsultant

Developed for


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Assumptions about the nature of ‘the bully’

  • Cruel, sadistic, violent

  • Utterly lacking in empathy and conscience

  • Suffering from low self-esteem

  • Socially inept

  • Alienated

  • Unpopular and without admirers

Developed for


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The group embedded-ness of most bullying

  • Enjoyment is gained (and sometimes safety secured) by doing what it is thought their friendship group expects of them – this sometimes entails bullying someone!

  • This insight suggests that to change individuals, one must work with the group they associate with.

Developed for


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Group methods of dealing with bullying

  • The Support Group Method (Formerly the No-Blame Approach). Developed by Maines and Robinson in England in the 1990s

  • The Method of Shared Concern developed by Anatol Pikas in Sweden in the 1980s

Developed for


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Common assumptions of the two methods

  • Typically bullying behaviour is strongly influenced by membership of one’s friendship group

  • To change the bullying behaviour of the individual it is often best to work with their friendship or peer group

  • It is counter-productive to engage in blaming them – or implying that they are to blame

  • They can in fact be reached by an appeal to their sense of empathy

Developed for


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The Support Group Method

  • Interview the victim and find out how she/he has been affected by the bullying

  • Learn from the victim about who have been involved in the bullying. (It is made clear that it is not your intention to see them punished.)

  • Convene a meeting with the bullies and some other students who are compassionate and supportive of victims

  • Share with them what you have discovered about the victim’s distress and ask each one at the meeting how they can help improve the situation

  • After thanking everyone for their contribution, the practitioner may leave the meeting to allow them to talk together longer, if they wish.

  • It is made clear – before leaving – that the practitioner will be talking again with everyone to see how things have progressed

Developed for


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Comments on the Support Group Method

  • Its strength lies in empowering the ‘bullies’ to fix the problem – with assistance from pro-social peers

  • Evaluative studies in the UK show that it is often highly effective and popular in many schools

  • However, it runs into opposition from some government authorities because it does not seem tough enough

Developed for


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The Method of Shared Concern

  • Begin by identifying the suspected bullies and interview them individually

  • Share your concern for the victim. Obtain recognition by the bully of the victim’s distress. Avoid any suggestion of blame. Then request help from each interviewee

  • Once there is evidence of positive action, convene a meeting of the group of bullies and help them to work out a plan for when they meet with the victim

  • Convene a final meeting with the bullies plus the victim and help them to work through and resolve the problem

Developed for


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The Method of Shared Concern (continued)

  • Meet with the suspected bullies again, as promised, singly to determine whether progress has been made. When progress has been confirmed, convene a meeting with all of them

  • At that meeting, thank them for their cooperation and help them to plan what they will say at the final meeting to which the victim (if willing) will be invited

  • At that meeting the problem is finally resolved. Sometimes mediation is needed – especially if the victim has been provocative. Both sides may need to compromise

Developed for


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Evaluation of the Method of Shared Concern

  • Like the Support Group Method, it is usually effective. (In Australia 17 applications of Shared Concern were recently evaluated and 15 were found to be effective in reducing or stopping bullying.)

  • Its strength lies in being especially applicable to secondary students and to cases in which victims have been proactive.

  • However, it sometimes meets resistance from supporters of the traditional disciplinary approach.

  • It requires more training than most methods and requires more time to apply it.

Developed for


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Factors influencing choice of interventions

  • The severity or criminality of the bullying behaviour

  • Whether individuals or groups are involved

  • Whether the targeted person can reasonably acquire the necessary skills to act appropriately in confronting the perpetrator

  • Whether those in conflict would be prepared to come to a mediation meeting and whether the practitioner could remain strictly neutral

  • Whether there has been any provocation on the part of the victim

  • The resources (time and skills) needed to apply the different methods

  • What the school sees as acceptable methods

Developed for


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Questions

  • In your experience, how often is bullying behaviour related to membership of a peer friendship group?

  • How often have students who are victimised at school behaved in a provocative way and need to change theirbehaviour?

  • Review the relevant power point descriptions of (i) the Support Group Method and (ii) the Method of Shared Concern and discuss the applicability of the methods at yourschool.

  • Consider each of the accounts provided of student behaviour (see handout) that may (or may not) require teacher intervention. Which method or methods (if any) do you think could best apply?

Developed for


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