Just had an incident of bullying

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Just had an incident of bullying

#1  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 5:03 pm

Just some background info, I'm currently doing my final intern ship as part of teaching course at the university.


This morning I was teaching one of my classes, 15-17 years old.
While student X went to the bathroom and I was talking to another student, someone took the books of student X from their bag and hid them in a cupboard in the back of the class.
Student X was, no surprise, visibly upset by this. When I asked the students around them who had taken his stuff and demanded they return it immediately, everyone acted as if they didn't what I was talking about.
Since no-one wanted to fess up, I told the entire class that I would not tolerate this kind of behaviour and that if the books were not returned before the end of class, the entire class would get detention.

So finally, with one minute left, one student retrieved the books from the cupboard and handed them back.
When I asked them why he would do such a thing, he said that someone had handed them to him. When I asked who, he said he would not tell.
Therefore I told him that, until he does tell, everything would be his responsibility and that I would contact his tutor/counsellor (not sure what the correct word is in English, the teacher who manages your affairs during the year).

So I mailed his tutor which also happened to be the tutor of the victim and we're going to discuss the matter tomorrow.

Again, student X got visibly upset by the situation and mentioned how 'everyone/many people' were 'out to get him', leading me to suspect he's not fitting in well with the rest of the group and possibly being bullied on a regular basis.

I would appreciate it if people with teaching experience would give their view on the situation.
Criticisms and advise are both welcome. Mainly I'm looking to create a safe teaching environment and how to deal with the culprits.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#2  Postby Sendraks » Nov 24, 2015 5:12 pm

*content warning - comments below are from someone with limited teaching experience and who keeps his contact with children to a minimum.*

I think your approach was the right one, although I hope you explained to the student in question the importance of taking responsibility for their own actions. Someone might have handed the books to him, but he chose to hide them and he has to take responsibility for that as a would-be adult.

I'm not sure you'd get much by way of a rationale from the children as to the why behind their behaviour. Kids do stupid and thoughtless things without thinking about the consequences or having much empathy for the target of their pranks. I'm not sure how you can teach them empathy either.

It might be worth following up with the victim as to whether they've been harassed further following the lesson, given that kids are wonderful at misplaced aggression and will happily blame the victim for their nearly facing detention, rather than take the culprits to task.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#3  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 5:18 pm

Sendraks wrote:*content warning - comments below are from someone with limited teaching experience and who keeps his contact with children to a minimum.*

I think your approach was the right one, although I hope you explained to the student in question the importance of taking responsibility for their own actions. Someone might have handed the books to him, but he chose to hide them and he has to take responsibility for that as a would-be adult.

Did that, using the analogy of someone giving him stolen goods.

Sendraks wrote:I'm not sure you'd get much by way of a rationale from the children as to the why behind their behaviour. Kids do stupid and thoughtless things without thinking about the consequences or having much empathy for the target of their pranks. I'm not sure how you can teach them empathy either.

The guy who handed back the books said it was all a harmless joke, eventhough the victim was visibly upset, and making it clear he really did not like the situation.
Not to mention I explicitly told them to hand it back.
So even if they did not realise the distress of the victim they should have acknowledged my demand.

Sendraks wrote:It might be worth following up with the victim as to whether they've been harassed further following the lesson, given that kids are wonderful at misplaced aggression and will happily blame the victim for their nearly facing detention, rather than take the culprits to task.

I suggested to their tutor/counsellor that we have two separate talks, one with the victim and one with the culprits. I want the victim to feel safe during my lessons so I need to get an idea of his relation to the rest of the class and how we can improve the situation.
At the same time, it needs to be made clear to the culprits that their behaviour is completely unacceptable, even if they think it's a harmless joke.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#4  Postby Sendraks » Nov 24, 2015 5:29 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Did that, using the analogy of someone giving him stolen goods.

Awesome.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:The guy who handed back the books said it was all a harmless joke, eventhough the victim was visibly upset, and making it clear he really did not like the situation.
Not to mention I explicitly told them to hand it back.
So even if they did not realise the distress of the victim they should have acknowledged my demand.


I do think they need a lesson in understanding the importance of not projecting their emotions onto others, because its awfully sad to see kids grow up to believe everyone else should be able to "shrug" stuff off as "harmless joke." Otherwise they'll grow up to be sad, emotionally stunted individuals lacking in empathy.

I'm not quite sure how you go about this, although acknowledging that whilst there are far worse things that they could do (to be clear you have perspective on this), they really need to try and think outside the box in terms of how other people might feel.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:I suggested to their tutor/counsellor that we have two separate talks, one with the victim and one with the culprits. I want the victim to feel safe during my lessons so I need to get an idea of his relation to the rest of the class and how we can improve the situation.

Good plan. There may well be a history between the culprits and the victim and this incident could be the "straw that broke the camel's back."

If its a genuine one off event, signs of distress in a teenager like that could indicate some sort of underlying mental health problem (anxiety, depression) that need tackling.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:At the same time, it needs to be made clear to the culprits that their behaviour is completely unacceptable, even if they think it's a harmless joke.

Indeed - its a classroom and they should keep their "jokes" to their own time and ideally between their friends, rather than people outside of that social circle.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#5  Postby Ironclad » Nov 24, 2015 5:32 pm

Maybe the student who gave the books back wasn't a perpetrator at all, maybe they were 'not wanting to get involved' (hence the silence) but didn't fancy punishment for this act by other student(s). That, they simply wanted the event to pass, and only witnessed the 'theft'.
Could they be overly punished now? :dunno:
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#6  Postby Sendraks » Nov 24, 2015 5:36 pm

Ironclad wrote:Maybe the student who gave the books back wasn't a perpetrator at all, maybe they were 'not wanting to get involved' (hence the silence) but didn't fancy punishment for this act by other student(s). That, they simply wanted the event to pass, and only witnessed the 'theft'.


I get the impression from Thomas' OP that the person who returned the books was also the person who hid them.
If they didn't in fact hide the books and are lying that they did, then they need a chat to express why they think this lying is worth it.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#7  Postby UncertainSloth » Nov 24, 2015 5:49 pm

aye, possibly something deeper here than meets the eye, especially with the 'victim' reacting in such a way...

if the 'hider' did so, then it's the correct approach to ensure they assume full responsibility for their actions - however, ironclad's right in wondering whether he's just a scapegoat and actually played no part in it, in which case there's work to be done with him as well...

the whole thing about 'pranks' is kids have no concept of the helicopter view - they may see it as harmless fun and disregard the psychological effect it may be having upon their target, particularly at that age...to work with them as much as the 'victim' is, again, correct

with the 'tutor' (would this be form tutor, head of year?) spend the time to get to grips with the situation and dig back to its roots - only then can you start working to improve things from now on

tbh, ive taught primary kids for over 20 years but im pretty sure the approach is the same....;)

whoever said teaching was an easy job.....? :doh:
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#8  Postby Ironclad » Nov 24, 2015 6:03 pm

Just seems a little over the top to me, to investigate and find a single kid to punish. The threat of a blanket-punishment was plenty, but followed up with a social lesson on bullying would be just right.
Noticing the child was overly upset could help with some future interaction/intervention, but I'm not sure that hunting down the enemy is a good idea. It might create bitterness. But what do I know, I am not social worker :D
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#9  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 6:03 pm

Ironclad wrote:Maybe the student who gave the books back wasn't a perpetrator at all, maybe they were 'not wanting to get involved' (hence the silence) but didn't fancy punishment for this act by other student(s). That, they simply wanted the event to pass, and only witnessed the 'theft'.
Could they be overly punished now? :dunno:

The student who gave the books back is kind of a smart ass, not at all the shy, stay out of trouble type.
More-over he basically admitted his involvement by trying to defend his actions by claiming it was all a harmless joke.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#10  Postby UncertainSloth » Nov 24, 2015 6:06 pm

Ironclad wrote:Just seems a little over the top to me, to investigate and find a single kid to punish. The threat of a blanket-punishment was plenty, but followed up with a social lesson on bullying would be just right.
Noticing the child was overly upset could help with some future interaction/intervention, but I'm not sure that hunting down the enemy is a good idea. It might create bitterness. But what do I know, I am not social worker :D


yup, a pshe approach is the way forwards...the incident is done...its what you do about it going forwards that's important...
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#11  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 6:07 pm

Ironclad wrote:Just seems a little over the top to me, to investigate and find a single kid to punish.


That's not the case.
If you read carefully, I asked the student who else was involved and he would not say.
I said, that, until he does tell who else was involved, he's the only one I know who was and therefore the only one who'd be punished.


Ironclad wrote: The threat of a blanket-punishment was plenty, but followed up with a social lesson on bullying would be just right.
Noticing the child was overly upset could help with some future interaction/intervention, but I'm not sure that hunting down the enemy is a good idea. It might create bitterness. But what do I know, I am not social worker :D

It's not about seeking out enemies, it's about seeking out the people involved and having a chat with them about this type of behaviour and why it's not to be tolerated.
A general chat about bullying will likely have far less of an impact on the perpetrators than a personal conversation.
Also, since the vast majority of the class likely wasn't involved in this incident it might make them feel unduly associated.
But that's why I want to have a conversation with the victim and his tutor/counsellor to see if a general discussion about bullying would help/is required.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#12  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 6:08 pm

UncertainSloth wrote:
with the 'tutor' (would this be form tutor, head of year?)

:this: was the term I was looking for, yes.

UncertainSloth wrote: spend the time to get to grips with the situation and dig back to its roots - only then can you start working to improve things from now on

That's the plan. :thumbup:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#13  Postby UncertainSloth » Nov 24, 2015 6:11 pm

good man...i see too many teachers just react to the situation at hand, do nothing about its cause, then are dealing with the same issues again and again and wonder why...
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#14  Postby The_Metatron » Nov 24, 2015 7:26 pm

I have difficulty remaining calm and useful when I read of such events.

It makes me want to visit great and terrible things onto the bullies. I know perfectly well it is what they understand best. I would be the bigger fish. I would be their new bully.

Now, I suppose you have a pretty good guess which group of bastards is picking on this kid. Probably narrowed down to a small group.

Probably what I'd do is make them personally accountable for any bullying that happens to the other kid, no matter who picks on him. Maybe not as a group, but visit punishment on one of them randomly, any time that kid gets bullied. My intent would be to make them personally responsible to see that behavior end. Since it is almost certainly a small group of punks, by picking one of their group at random to take the heat, it would be using peer pressure among that group to leave that kid alone.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#15  Postby laklak » Nov 24, 2015 7:42 pm

6 of the best, that will sort them.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#16  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 7:45 pm

laklak wrote:6 of the best, that will sort them.

:?
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#17  Postby crank » Nov 24, 2015 8:16 pm

Maybe I'm missing something, but how is it that more than one person is involved? Person X hides books, even if others express approval in some way, they are not 'involved' to any real extent. I think you need to find out what it's like generally for the kids there. How common is bullying, how brutal can it get? Hiding someone's books is rather tame. If bullying is a problem there, it won't stop without a concerted effort by the whole school.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#18  Postby The_Metatron » Nov 24, 2015 8:19 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
laklak wrote:6 of the best, that will sort them.

:?

I probably wouldn't go that far. But, I would relieve them of some of their leisure time.
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#19  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 8:26 pm

The_Metatron wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
laklak wrote:6 of the best, that will sort them.

:?

I probably wouldn't go that far. But, I would relieve them of some of their leisure time.

I don't get what laklak means to say?
6 of the best what?
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Just had an incident of bullying

#20  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Nov 24, 2015 8:29 pm

crank wrote:Maybe I'm missing something, but how is it that more than one person is involved? Person X hides books, even if others express approval in some way, they are not 'involved' to any real extent.

The person who returned the books said someone else gave them to him, which means at least two people are involved.
Add to that the fact that people around surely noticed this happening, they're complicit in not telling me who did it when I asked them to tell me, nor where the books were hidden when I demanded they be returned to their owner.

crank wrote: I think you need to find out what it's like generally for the kids there. How common is bullying, how brutal can it get? Hiding someone's books is rather tame.

Not if it's part of a larger set of 'pranks' and other forms of bullying.
And not when the person who owns the books gets visibly upset and the teacher asks you to return the books.

crank wrote: If bullying is a problem there, it won't stop without a concerted effort by the whole school.

That's why I want to talk their form tutor.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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