School bullying through the eyes of a teenager
Bullying in schools leaves a lasting mark on its victims. It is important to understand these processes in order to deal with situations effectively.
How do teenagers view bullying and harassment at school? What are their experiences? What do they think could be the solution?
Ferenc Alexi's ninth grade thesis seeks to answer these questions. The author's study, based on his own research, provides new perspectives on this difficult topic. Everyday phrases and simple but precise wording make the essay easy to read and it feels like talking to a flesh-and-blood teenager. The honesty and responsibility with which he approaches difficult social situations at school is striking.
"Bullying in the classroom can be like the Hydra: if you cut off one head, two grow back. Of course, this analogy is not entirely accurate, because although the hierarchy in the classroom rarely and for a short time breaks down, and everyone is equal for a while, a new hierarchy is slowly being established. Usually, the hierarchy can be upset when the bully becomes involved with a teacher/student with a stronger personality than him, creating a conflict from which the bully, if he backs out, loses his reputation. He or she may then either become a victim, or the rest of the class may not notice the bully's withdrawal, in which case the authority is preserved but the conflict between them is not resolved."
Who is the study for?
Her work speaks to her peers, who she says can benefit from knowing what abusive situations can be, so that they can talk about them accurately, and even reverse them if they have more information about what their own role in a situation might be.
"While I was looking at studies/research on the perpetrators of abuse, I was involved in a lot of roles, even roles I didn't know existed or didn't think were harmful. Because of my own experiences, I thought it would be important to introduce these roles to others, so that they could recognise themselves, find it easier to notice if they were in a similar position in the abuse, find it easier to recognise the same situations through realisation, and find it easier to step out of these roles."
As adults, whether we are educators, support professionals or parents, we feel spoken to, because we can also hear vivid experiences of what it is like to be the teacher who is the abuser. Quoting the answers to the questionnaire often makes us feel uncomfortable, which may just prompt us, the readers, to ask children more questions about the situations they are in, to take their experiences seriously and to review our own practices.
It is particularly exciting that it compares responses from Waldorf, state and church secondary schools, and although the results are not representative, the responses from the questionnaire are thought-provoking.
Read the full study here. It is worth. The author has made a small sculpture and a small sculpture for the study.
What can we adults do?
It's reassuring that many people mention sensitivity training and talks as a solution - we believe in this too, and our experience shows that community grievances can be addressed together. Restorative practices, mediation, playful group exercises and guided discussions are tools that can be learned and applied in any school or kindergarten.