Bullying in schools is a challenging subject for all educational staff.
The definition of the word bullying can and has been understood in different ways indifferent times and different societies. In everyday language there is a wide range of behaviourcovered by this word. In the school environment bullying is different to thenormal rough and tumble of play.
Bullying can be single actions in which a person uses their strength or power to gain anadvantage, to hurt, frighten or intimidate a weaker person (e.g. pushing past others onthe stairs, using the belongings of others without asking, insulting words ...).However not every conflict is an example of bullying.
If we translate this form of the understanding of what a bully is into German, it wouldbe “brutaler Kerl” or “Tyrann” (male or female).
Now we look at the part of the definition of bullying which has the same meaning as theGerman understanding of the word “mobbing”.
There are five clear indications of this form of bullying which, from now on, we refer toas bullying/mobbing. These are clearly different to other forms of violence:
- Imbalance of power: the victim stands alone against one or many perpetratorsand their sympathizers. “The word bullying/mobbing is not used when twochildren who are of equal physical or emotional strength fight or disagree witheach other.”
- Frequency: the incidents of violence occur at least once a week.
- Duration: the incidents occur over a longer period of time (weeks or months).A conflict which lasts only a few days is not bullying/mobbing.
- Solution of the Conflict: the victim does not have the power to end the bullying/mobbing alone.
- Exclusion: one aim (conscious or unconscious) of the bullying/mobbing is toexclude the victim from the group.
However, bullying/mobbing is often not recognised because the victims, maybe out offear or shame, are slow to communicate the problem to the adults around them.
Bullying/mobbing that occurs in school must be solved in school. Prevention methodsdo not just involve the victim and perpetrator but the whole school as a social network.The basis of prevention is to make our school a safe place for all the members of ourcommunity.
Social competences must start to be learnt from the beginning of school life (especiallyin the earliest classes) in order to develop socially appropriate and socially acceptablebehaviour.
This behaviour is based on uniform clear guidelines that apply to the whole Schuldorfand form its “Leitsätze” (Mission Statements) (www.schuldorf.de, Schulprogramm,point 3.3).
The following of these rules is continuously observed.
After the breaking of these rules there follow timely sanctions as detailed in the SchuldorfSchulordnung (www.schuldorf.de, then Service/ Download), which is based on theHessische Schulgesetz (www.kultusministerium.hessen.de).
For the State International Primary School these guidelines are simplified into theGolden Rules.
SISS GOLDEN RULES
- We treat each other respectfully. Nobody gets hit, pushed, insulted or picked on.
- Everybody is allowed to say what they think. Nobody gets laughed at.
- We listen to each other.
- We handle problems as soon as possible. We talk to each other, use the STOP sign and, if necessary, ask an adult for help.
- We treat animals and plants with respect.
- We take good care of our own belongings and those of others.
- We look after our school and keep it clean and tidy.
- We respect the dining hall rules.
- We respect the toilet rules.
- Inside the school building we keep our voices down.
- We walk on the stairs slowly and with care.
- For running, playing, jumping etc we use the playground.
In cases of “small violence” or minor conflicts, a clear word from a peer or an adultusually suffices. For more complicated issues, depending on the situation, small groupor whole class etc. sessions (mediation, behaviour management based on effective behaviouraltherapy, situational approaches ...) mostly lead to a solution.
In cases of bullying/mobbing the protection of the victim is of supreme importance(physical/psychological protection, reinforcement of self esteem, reinforcement of socialcompetences to build friendships...).Depending on the situation, constructive behaviour may be supported or sanctions usedto punish problematic behaviour.
A variety of anti-bullying/ mobbing strategies are feasible: meeting with victim, meetingwith perpetrator, counselling of groups/ classes; rehearsing anti aggression strategies;rehearsing civil courage; recognizing, setting, defending and respecting boundaries.
The “No Blame Approach” (developed in the early 1990s by Barbara Maines andGeorge Robinson, England) is a method used in the SISS and whole Schuldorf. Withthe “No Blame Approach” despite the severity of the whole area of concern it is trustedthat the children and adolescents have the capability and resources to produce an effectivesolution. This method has shown great success. In most of the documented cases,bullying/mobbing could be stopped swiftly (www.no-blame-approach.de).
In dealing with bullying in all its forms in the SISS, we have the professional experienceof Mrs Lehn, Diplom Sozialpädagogin, Primary and Mrs Koniarski, Head of Supervision,who work in close cooperation with each other and the Educational Team.
They are also the link to external specialists such as psychologists, therapists and otherforms of support. The whole Schuldorf Prevention Team can be reached on the emailhotline .
If you have concerns that your child may be bullied/mobbed (because she/he is afraid togo to school, often complains of headaches or stomach aches, “looses money”, sleepingproblems) please contact the school.
If we have concerns about an individual child, that parents should be aware of, they willbe informed by the class teacher or the Social Pedagogue.
Information about “visionary”, a European cooperative project can be found at
Written by C. Elliott, A. Koniarski and J. Lehn, June 2011