Peer violence Training path
Adolescence: age of changes • Adolescence is the life period between childhood and adult age • It is a developmental phase characterised by biological maturations, physical changes and development of own sexual identity • Such developments influence adolescent’s relations with others and with own self, modifying the representations that have regulated own relations with the others • Also requests addressed to adolescents change: others expect more adult behaviours, not yet considering adolescents as autonomous persons • Self-definition process is characterised by tendencies to acting, opposition, rebellion, self-tries through excesses. Such behaviours are useful in the light of self-development. • Adolescence is characterised by feelings of isolation, loneliness, disorientation and uncertainness: who you are, what you want, what you like, what you believe in and what your aim is, are not often clear.
Social relations as critical elements • Adolescent’s social relations are crucial for the development of own personal identity • Meaningful persons are those influencing choices, decisions and values (influence on socialisation), those to which one is attached (affection) and those admired, those one would be alike (identification images) [Blyth 1982] • Adolescent’s social relations could be explained by three “sub-nets”: • Family • Other meaningful adults (teachers, coaches, neighbours) • Peer group
Family • Adolescence represents the attempt to accomplish the separation-individuation process initiated during childhood • During such separations, adolescents match with own resources and abilities, search for new referring persons and try to build presupposes for self-organisation • From relations with own family members derive capabilities that will structure self-individuation and identity later on
Educational styles Educational styles strongly influence the level of autonomy of an adolescent
Function of family • Parents’ emotional availability activates adolescent’s exploration behavioural system • Family function is to provide a secure base from which it is possible to explore own emotional moods • A missing developmentof fiduciary relationships with own family may foster destructive and aggressive behaviours in adolescents • Relevant familiar aspects to enhance competence and trust are: • Encouragement to be autonomous and independent • Quantity and kind of conflicts among members • Strength of familiar links • Support given • Emancipation: transformation of familiar relations, making them become more equal and reciprocal • Independence: affective freedom to build new relationships, and to take on self-responsibility in different frameworks • Even if adolescents search for freedom inside and outside own families, they need their families as a source of safety and help
School • It represents a fundamental experience for adolescents (a place to learn but also to live) enabling comparison, development of new behavioural models and of new interpersonal relationships • It is a transitional area between family and society, central for youths’ future • Scholastic failure represents a predictor of adolescent path in terms of personal diseases, behavioural problems and participation in anti-social activities • Scholastic failure is caused by a concurrence of many factors: socio-cultural variables, individual and cognitive characteristics, but also difficulties related to teaching style
Teaching modalities PERMISSIVE INFLUENTIAL DICTATORIAL disorganization motivation passivity inefficiency efficiency rebellion A group works well when its members feel themselves as responsible about it, and when they believe to be able to develop a collective work ↓ ↓ ↓
School function • In a phase of separation from parents, characterised by anxiety and sense of guilt, the identification with a teacher or a support from him/her may anticipate emancipator process • School fosters the acquisition of cognitive tools enabling a detachment from obviousness of situations in which one lives • Class group has a function of social modelling for youths, easing autonomy processes and personality development
Peer group • During adolescence the peer group has an importance that it did not have in the past and that it will not have in the future • It provides a congenial and reassuring environment that fosters separation from families, emancipation • Group membership has a function of protective niche offering narcissistic support, and favouring a game of mirror identifications • Group approval is fundamental for self-redefinition process (“ideal of I”), supporting youths in recognizing own experiences • Groups have their own rules, a non-written code felt by their members • Group experiencing is important in everyday life, absorbing most of own free time
Function of peer group • It offers the opportunity to learn social abilities as: • Conversation abilities (making questions, debating constructively) • Assertive abilities (assert oneself) • Abilities in relations with persons of the opposite gender • Abilities in tackling own aggressive impulses • It brings an autonomous symbolic status A status based on own attainments, making adolescents feel equal to others (symmetrical relations) • It represents a social lab A place to test behaviours without any control from adults • It favours the development of a less rigidSuper-I Through comparison one learns to tolerate some personal aspects that were not accepted before, but that others do accept, so to tolerate own senses of guilt
1. Peer violence Definition of the term, motivations and typologies
Peer violence Peer violence may take 3 different forms: CRIMINAL ACTIVITY NORMAL CONFLICTS AMONG TEENAGERS BULLYING
Criminal activity • It occurs to coincide with real crimes commission : • Damaging • Beating • Lesions • Thefts • Molestations • Sexual abuse • In these cases the role of an educator is to alert an official, and to make magistracy intervene.
Dynamics of a normal conflict among teenagers • There is not any attitude of persistent will to hurt someone • Limits are not overcame with the scope to impose own will • In most cases conflicts are expressed through a verbalization of individual reasons • Conflicts are overcame through an identification of possible solutions, coming to an agreement and negotiating
Bullying • It represents a form of oppression through which a victim is subjected to a condition of humiliation and suffering • It is a “systematic abuse of power” characterised by: • Intentionality Conscious will to perform physical and verbal acts aimed to damage and hurt someone else • Persistence Interaction between the aggressor and the victim is characterised by repetitiveness of overpowering behaviors lasting for quite some time • Imbalance Asymmetric relation in terms of strength and power played • It is a very unpleasant kind of aggression, being directed towards vulnerable individuals that are usually unable to defend themselves
Kinds of bullying • Direct bullying: behaviours that make use of physical strength to damage someone else • hitting, shoving, etc. • Verbal bullying: behaviours that make use of words to damage a victim • Insistent and reiterate sneering; • Indirect bullying: behaviours not directly addressed to a victim, but that damage him/her in his/her social relations • Such behaviours are often not visible, leading to victim exclusion/isolation through a diffusion of gossip and rumour, ostracism and refusal to accomplish his/her requests
Functions of bullying Bullying may be oriented to social inclusion or exclusion: • Inclusion function • Initiation rites directed towards newly arrived persons (“baptism”) • Exchange of “attentions” between bully and provoker victim • Exclusion function • Expressive: scapegoat mechanism (interaction between perpetrator and passive victim, perceived as weaker and different from others) • Utilitarian: recurrent thefts, extortions, blackmails on homework to copy
Bullying as a kind of aggressiveness • It is a sub-category of aggressiveness characterised by repetitiveness and power imbalance among partners • It is a pro-active kind of aggressiveness (not reactive): a behavior directed towards precise scopes, especially of dominance and creation of interpersonal status Such forms are often overlapped.
2. Characteristics of the phenomenon Size, places, gender differences, victim and perpetrator characteristics – diagnosis of the phenomenon
Bullying diffusion in Italy • In Italy bullying phenomenon is pretty evident, if compared with European and extra-European countries statistics • 45.9% of pupils attending elementary schools, and 29.6% from Italian middle schools declare to have undergone bullying • The percentage of those declaring to perform bullying is lower, but it is very consistent too (22.8% for elementary and 13.8% for middle schools )
Bullying contexts • It may occur in any group made of aggressive persons, with an high need to dominate others, and insecure, weak persons, afraid of being aggressive or assertive • It occurs within permanent peer groups, where membership is not voluntary (school or work) • It occurs especially at school, within less controlled places: school gardens, dressing rooms, toilets, but also public means of transport and school exit. It happens also within bunches of teenagers that take around a quarter searching for a victim • 41.3% of pupils declares that bullying happens within school garden, a place where non structured situations take place, where the youngest come into conflict because of the use of spaces to play in, while the eldest because of the play itself and the way to put it into action
Italian ways of performing bullying • Insults or menaces • Shoves, hurts to make someone fall down • Unpleasant nicknames, mocking • Diffusion of malicious gossip • Offences related to: • Gender • Religion • Language or dialect • Way of dressing • Weight • Skin, hair, eyes colour • School performances • Way of expressing • Difficulties in speaking or moving/walking • Laughs or noises while someone speaks • Use of a code of speaking when someone is present • Offensive sms, emails or calls • Ignore someone • Force someone to do not desired things • Hide books or personal objects belonging to someone else • Take photos in secret and put them on Internet or show them to the others
Gender differences • Usually males put in action a more physical aggressiveness (directly targeting their scopes); • while females a more indirect and relational aggressiveness (preventing the setting up of close and friendly relationships, values that are mostly believed by females)
Bully Belonging family • Hostile climate • Parents’ low acceptation of own son • Authoritarian and violent educational models • Excessively permissive, inability to fix a limit to youngster’s conduct • Incoherent educational style, making the youngster unable to foresee own parents’ reactions (considering innocent gestures as offences worth punishing) Fellow • High self estimate • Favourable attitude towards violence • Impulsiveness • Strong need to dominate others • Few empathy towards victims • Considers aggressiveness as positive, because it helps to obtain whatever you desire • Willing to justify own behaviours • Aggressive towards both schoolfellows and adults • Socially competent individual, using own abilities for instrumental and Machiavellian aims Risk factors ▪ Birth of a brother/sister ▪ Transfer to another school/city ▪ Divorce ▪ Death of a dear person • Separation from a parent
Victim Fellow • Anxious, insecure and fragile individual • Low self estimate • Negative opinion about own self and own competencies • Lives a condition of isolation and social exclusion • Difficulties in recognising own emotions • Tends to accept own fate negating any problem or putting in action self-accusation Belonging family • Really cohesive and protective families • Strong dependence among family members, making relationships with others difficult to manage Passive victims • Not inclined to provoke others, to protest verbally or to begin fights • Negative attitude towards violence • When provoked, they react crying or closing or withdrawing into own self • Difficulties to impose oneself within peer groups Provoking and aggressive victims • Even if they undergo bullying, they put in action reactive and aggressive reactions • Emotive, moody characters, with difficulties in controlling own emotions • Agitated behavior • Possible cognitive difficulties • Provoking modalities
Other participants • 85% of bullying episodes occurs in the presence of other participants • The roles of bull, helper and supporter are strongly correlated, and may mutually interchange accordingly to specific situations • Children playing similar roles in bullying situations, tend to set up social networks and friendship relations among them
3. Indicators Visible and invisible symptoms of the presence of the phenomenon
What are the premonitory signals? • Bullying may be very difficult to identify • Victims may already have problems in rubbing along with other pupils or teachers, so they are often picked on because of that • Bullying acts often occur far from teachers or other adults view • Usually only the other members of a class know what is happening • Peer violence is a phenomenon that tends to be hidden from view: 50% of youngsters declares not to tell anything to teachers nor to parents
Silence of victims • Often bullying victims tend not to speak about aggressions • Why are they still? • They are not conscious to be bullying victims • They fear a revenge from aggressors • They believe as wrong to “spy” about other schoolfellows • They fear to be derided if they tell something • They do not trust the help that may come • They choose to get themselves out of trouble alone • Especially males are reluctant to share their own feelings with others, even if the others are coetaneous • If they speak to someone, they probably speak with their parents – usually mom – or with their schoolfellows, before involving a teacher
Indicators of abusing behaviours (at school) • Dan Olweus (1996) identified some behavioral indicators that, within a scholastic context, indicate a need to broaden a situation • Such indicators are not to be considered as univocal spies of bullying, but they should stimulate in adults a stronger educational care • The primary indicators represent more marked risk indexes for the condition of victim • The presence of two or more primary indicators with an high frequency indicate a very risky bullying situation • The presence of only one primary indicator or of exclusively secondary indicators with a low frequency, indicate a possible risk of occasional victimization
Primary indicators Being heavily ragged and/or ridiculed by schoolfellows Being intimidated, menaced or humiliated Being beaten, shoved, physically attacked without being able to defend oneself Being involved in quarrels and conflicts without being able to defend oneself adequately Personal objects have been damaged, robbed, hidden Presenting livid, scratches, damaged clothes without being able to explain how they were produced Secondary indicators Staying alone or being isolated by schoolfellows during free interaction moments among peers (break, table…) Being lastly selected within team plays Avoiding any interaction with schoolfellows during free interaction moments among peers (break, table…) and remaining nearby an adult (teacher, caretaker…) Being depressed, in low spirit Whimpering Being anxious, insecure (e.g. public speaking – in a class – is perceived as difficult) Scholastic performances becoming lower, suddenly or gradually Indicators - Victim
To rag heavily schoolfellows and/or to ridicule them To intimidate, menace one or more schoolfellows To humiliate and/or rule with a rod of iron one or more schoolfellows To beat, shove, physically attack schoolfellows, not for play To be involved in quarrels and conflicts To damage, rob, hide other students' personal objects To be angry with one or more weak or undefended schoolfellows To isolate one or more schoolfellows during free interaction moments among peers (break, table…) To diffuse gossip about one or more schoolfellows To provoke or roundly set against teachers Indicators - Bully
Indicators of abusing behaviors di (at home) • Bullying victims hardly speak to adults about what is happening. Parents must learn to catch signals that children may provide or hide. Some signals of bullying victims are: • To come back from school with ragged or crumpled clothes or with rotten books • To present livid, wounds and scratches without any clear explanation • Not to put up schoolfellows or coetaneous and to rarely spend own free time with them • Not to have any friend to spend own free time with (playing, making shopping, attending sport or music events, making phone conversations) • To be rarely invited to parties, and not to be interested in organising them, believing that any schoolfellow will be glad to participate in • To seem timorous and reluctant to go to school in the morning, presenting a loss of appetite, frequent headaches or stomach-aches (especially in the morning) • To prefer longer and more tortuous ways for going to school and coming back home • To sleep badly and having bad dreams • Not to be interested in scholastic activities and obtaining low marks • To seem unhappy, sad, depressed, moody, or to become unexpectedly irritated • To ask for or to rob money at home in order to satisfy bullies requests • To refuse to speak about what happens at school
4. Roles and responsibilities School and family for prevention and combating of peer violence phenomenon
Whose fault is it, who pays for? (Italian context) • Full grown bully • He/she has the full responsibility • Underage bully • Guilt belongs to the bully, the teachers (that must keep watch youngsters), the school managers (they must control that supervision do exist) and the parents (that must educate the youngster) • Guilt of underage bully • The art. 2046 c.c. states that those who perform a damaging action are responsible about it only accordingly to the level in which they are able to understand the importance and the meaning of own behaviour, provided that the state of inability does not depend on them. • Also a minor, if believed as able to understand, is responsible of bullying acts, together with their own parents and the school.
Guilt of underage bully • It often happens that bullying is performed by an underage bully, so adults that take care of a bully are responsible for him. • Technically we speak about: • culpa in educando for parents’ guilt; • culpa in vigilando and also in educando for teachers’ guilt; • culpa in organizzando when a school does not enable a monitoring and control over students’ behaviours (as for instance foreseeing ad hoc meeting rooms). Culpa in educando of parents • Parents are not ruled out from responsibilities related to their children’s behaviours • The art. 2048, 1° clause, states: “parents are responsible for illicit behaviours of their underage children or of persons in tutelage, living together with them”. • The entrustment to other persons releases the parent from a presumption of culpa in vigilando, ensured in the school, so also outside of the classroom. Culpa in vigilando of school (but also in educando and organizzando) • A student, through the subscription to a school acquires the right to receive an adequate and serene education, the school has the duty to guarantee it and to prevent all illicit acts. • Teachers can be considered responsible, but there will be the school to pay for damages. • A student (and parents as holders of subjective right to educate own children) have the right to scholastic service inside of the right-duty for education. • So it is a school to have to compensate for damages caused by a teacher during the practice of his/her profession inside of a school and during his/her working hours. Culpa in organizzando of school • The supervision should be guaranteed inside of school and also outside of classrooms. • It should be the management of the school to ensure that the students are adequately followed for all the time in which they are inside of the school. • The school organization which does not prevent acts of bullying, for example with establishment of consultancy offices, can be considered as guilty in culpa in organizzando.
Result of the process • The penal process could bring to: confinement or other penalty, as for example social useful works (but it is difficult that it happens, especially for underage author of violation). • The consciousness to face the process (with legal costs and the real possibility to be sentenced) is for a bully a deterrent for the whole life. Unfortunately, in Italy a sentenced person is indelible marked. • It is possible to carry out the activity of penal mediation between an author of a violence and a victim. • The civil process brings to the sentence to compensate the damage. The damage to be compensated is those moral one, biological and existential. • The Law Court of Bologna, in front of cases of damages between underage peers has recognized the existence of the responsibility of the School as a defect of organization connected to the lack of supervision by school personnel; the same law court has sentenced the Ministry of Education to compensate a biological, moral and existential damage.
Parents’ task • Children must learn that bullying is a wrong behaviour and that it is not part of a natural growing process. • In order to avoid them to become victims of bullying it is necessary to: • Enhance their self-estimation • Encourage them to develop their own positive features and abilities • Teach them that, in order to defend oneself from bullying, it is not necessary to use physical strength, but it is more useful to be self confident • Stimulate them to build relationships with schoolfellows and not to isolate oneself; so it is important to play sport, identify friends with similar interests or features • In order to avoid them to become bullies it is necessary to teach them how to: • Express own anger constructively and with maturity • Communicate sincerely • Identify oneself with others and understand the consequences of own behaviours • Follow the example of what they see at home.
Practical suggestions for parents Not to do • Parents that behave as follows are not helpful: • Make children believe that it is a non important thing • Blame own son • Blame the school • Accuse someone without understanding the facts • Search for a scapegoat • Demand for all the particulars all in once and identify easy solutions. • Many parents get angry, and rush immediately to the school. It could be a mistake. Firstly because their son might prefer to keep the secret, so not to inform the school. Secondly he might feel endangers, being afraid of a revenge from the bully. To do • Encourage your son to speak about what happened, in order to understand the facts • Try to remain objective, and consider that you are listening to a partial version of the story • Don’t try to punish bullies on your own. Such solving often get things worse • Once acquired a clear picture of the situation, and of how you intend to solve it, contact the school • Make clear that you desire to cooperate with the school in problem solving • Remember that school mangers need time to make proper enquiries and to speak to teachers, students and maybe other parents. Consider that school staff may have not assisted to bullying acts, so it is not always easy to establish if bullism or only innocuous jokes that passed the limits occurred
What school staff members should do 1/2 School manager • Admit that bullying concerns any school, and that the educational task consists in preventing and combating it • If necessary, place students’ well being and school educational role before the defence of the school image • Promote and participate in building up a culture against bullying, undertake it officially and make it shared by the school globally • Promote initiatives aimed at understanding the existence and entity of bullying at school • Stimulate teachers to take care of the educational aspect of their work, and to check what happens among students • Search for the most proper organizational modalities to reach foreseen aims • Intervene directly on most difficult and serious cases • Establish, together with teachers, necessary disciplinary proceedings • Keep decisions taken • Search for alliances outside school A teacher • Insert, within didactics, cooperative activities promoting relations set up and mutual knowledge among pupils • Propose, in class, activities for bullying prevention and contrast • Involve colleagues of the parent-student-teacher association representing a class in a joint dealing with problems detected
What school staff members should do 2/2 Parent-student-teacher association representing a class • Share observations and information about youngsters, being conscious that each one owns a partial view and that all the different points of view may reach together a more articled understanding • Agree on clear and comprehensible conduct rules, and on related sanctions, being committed to their respect in class in a coherent and uniform way • Establish intervention strategies, e.g.: how to transmit a message refusing bullying, who is available for speaking to bullies and victims, who is in charge of building a dialogue with the class, haw all can make relations among students easy, how to give support to a victim without ridicule him/her, etc. • If necessary, establish incisive disciplinary measures • Monitor the evolution of the cases and verify effectiveness of the intervention A school collaborator • Report any bullying fact observed to the teachers of involved guys • If, within an informal speech, someone relates you about what happened to him or to other fellows, listen sincerely and try to defend victims and to invite bullies and supporters to reflect upon what they have done • After a conversation like that, if the case is grave, report it to a teacher trying to keep all due respect for who related the facts
Teachers’ task Behaviours to pay attention to are those that transform a joke into humiliation, arrogance, finally falling into illegality. It is suggested to: • Monitor jokes in order to prevent excesses; • Identify the limits of respect in order to prevent that a joke falls into humiliation/arrogance; • Identify the limits that enable to clarify that humiliation and arrogance contain characteristics that may easily take shape of crimes, that lead to penal sphere. The premonitory signals for preventing the phenomenon should be identified in the excess of joke, in the limits that may be overcame and that often lead to humiliation and arrogance. Joke >>> To monitor Excess Limit Bullying Humiliation Arrogance Illegality >>> To denounce
When penal or civil laws are violated • By now in Italy there is not any specific law regulating bullying. • Bullying actions are: 1 insults, offences 2 defamation 3 racism 4 unmotivated critiques and excessive control 5 slight thefts 6 extortion 7 menaces 8 private violence 9 aggressions or violent games 10 personal damages 11 exclusion from games 11 beatings 13 damages to others’ stuffs.
Typologies of damages that may be repaid in Italy 1) MORAL DAMAGE (physical or moral sufferings, perturbation of victim’s mood, tears, pains, concerns); 2) BIOLOGICAL DAMAGE (damage to health, to personal physical and psychical integrity); 3) EXISTENTIAL DAMAGE (damage to person, to her existence, to life quality, relational life, reserve, reputation, image, sexual self-determination). • The existential damage implies that a person cannot act anymore as she used before, as aspired.
Practical suggestions for teachers • In order to understand the dimensions of the phenomenon, it is useful to make pupils fulfil a questionnaire and to organize a day of debate involving teachers and parents. • A better checking activity during recreation may put victims away safely, being recreation a situation in which bullies act undisturbed. • Usually elder students make bullying against youngest. Spaces and times devoted to recreation may be divided. • Praises, rewards and sanctions may modify behaviours of the most aggressive students (even if they are not the sole tool) • Itoften happens that students fear or feel ashamed of personally reporting what is happening. It could be useful to have a telephone number to apply • “Boxes of bullying” may be established, in which students may leave notes reporting what is happening: identify leader students that may help victims; open a psycho-pedagogical desk to which student and adult may refer • It is important to make students used to relate what is happening, being silence a strong ally of bullies • Once identified a bully or a victim, in order to help him it is necessary to immediately speak to him about what is happening • In class, students may jointly identify few simple conduct rules against bullying. Such rules should be exposed in a well visible way, and all the students should respect them
What should be avoided at school? Avoid to put bullies on a pedestal Avoid the perverse effect deriving from a systematic stigmatization and generalization: “You are always as usual, it is always your fault, etc.”. Such communication forms emphasize the social role of the bully, and give him power within a group, that somehow teachers recognize. Such phenomenon was noticed also within studies on “ultras” football supporters: at a certain point researchers realized that TV shootings acted as amplifier of violence, because “ultras” supporters wanted to demonstrate to their friends to be brave, fearless, able to challenge and to perform transgress actions. So they were glad to be seen, and TVs, shootings fostered such behaviours. During the last years TVs stopped to shoot conflicts among supporters, and the situation got better. Even if the same strategy could not be brought to schools, the logic under such strategy is that it is necessary to avoid a “wall against wall”, that paradoxically ends up with an overemphasizing of the bully’s negative identity, the same to fight against.
What should be avoided at school? Avoid to make school as the unique depositary of interventions on bullies School should, as much as possible, involve the resources that city and territory offer concerning such phenomenon. Avoid any pushiness of the territory School must perform its role, that is to foster learning, also social and relational learning. In any case it is a limited role, clearly defined. It should not be a therapeutic role of social assistance. It is necessary to avoid on one side any delegation, and on the other side that all the possible interventions of the territory converge towards school. In other terms each actor should play own role, otherwise a confused situation may be set up, leading to an inability to produce real changes.
What should be avoided at school? Avoid any identification of the victim with own role, making it a flag A lacking identity finds a sort of compensation and gratification in being a victim. That may seem as paradoxical. But youngsters search for a collocation, that may also coincide with a passive role. Teachers should help them to find an active collocation, and to de-emphasize victimization in order to avoid it repeating endlessly. It is a very complex intervention, because victims may induce certain behaviours unconsciously.