Should bullies be expelled from school

Bullying at school - how to protect your child

How does bullying arise and how can parents protect their children? education experts spoke to Dr. Karl Gebauer, author of the book "Mobbing in der Schule", who himself worked as a teacher for 35 years, on the causes and consequences of bullying.

education experts: Dr. Gebauer, what does "bullying" actually mean? Where do “harmless”, “age-typical” conflicts among children end and where does bullying begin?

Dr. Karl Gebauer (Photo: Wolfgang Schmidt)

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Occasional quarrels and scuffles are part of everyday life for children. But bullying is an aggressive act and means that a student is harassed, bullied, or ostracized over a long period of time. The bully - it can also be a bully - gathers others around him who support him in his humiliating actions. One speaks of bullying when everything comes to a head with a child. The victim usually does not understand why they are being insulted, tormented and humiliated. This “everyone is against me” experience has a massive impact on his self-esteem. It finds itself in an absolutely helpless situation and therefore almost always needs the help of other people. Perpetrators want to hit, but get nothing themselves. It is very important to them that adults do not see through what they are doing.

education experts: What forms of bullying are there?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Bullying can be indicated if, for example, school supplies are damaged or rumors are spread.

It happens that a student is excluded from group work. Humiliation takes place through facial expressions, gestures and drawings. Insults of all kinds are communicated on slips of paper, in school newspapers and in letters. Often victims are brought into humiliating situations and photographed with the cell phone. The scenes are then viewed together, sent as an e-mail or even posted on the Internet. Sexual defamation also occurs among young people.

education experts: Has the number of bullying cases in schools increased in recent years?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: It is difficult to tell if there has been an increase because of the lack of comparative figures. The current numbers on the frequency of bullying occurrences fluctuate. This has to do with the definition of bullying, among other things. Some scholars believe that around one in six students can be considered a victim of bullying.

education experts: What makes children bully other children?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: First of all, I want to emphasize that children with good self-esteem do not need to bully others. You feel good, you have friends and, as a rule, you also have learning success. So why should they humiliate others?

The following can be seen as the causes of bullying: deep insults, experience of violence, traumatization, shame and experiences of exclusion. Bullying feeds on an unsuitable internal work model with which a person tries to convert self-experienced powerlessness into power. Bullying is based on a destructive-emotional dynamic. This can develop when children in a fainting situation did not have trustworthy and protective helpers. They then adopt the behavior pattern of their tormentors. According to a new study, 14 percent of parents bring up a violent upbringing, i.e. the children affected are exposed to considerable acts of violence. If you then consider that 90 percent of all parents want to bring up a non-violent upbringing, but only 30 percent manage it, then there is a reservoir for future users of violence.

education experts: Can parents counteract bullying?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Building healthy self-esteem is the best way to protect yourself from becoming involved in bullying. A good sense of self-worth develops in early childhood through the experience of security.

Secure attachment experiences are the best basis for building behavioral patterns that largely protect a person from having to humiliate others, because with the experience of security, the child's brain develops the ability to empathize. Bullying is characterized by the absence of empathy. Children with good self-esteem have no reason to be bullied. They can, however, become victims.

In this case, however, they are more likely than others to be able to get help from teachers or their parents, since they have experienced trust in the course of their development.

education experts: What signs should parents pay attention to?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Parents should pay attention to everyday things. If, for example, your child previously enjoyed going to school and performed well, but is now slowing down, if he or she cannot get up in the morning, no longer feels like going to school, is constantly feeling uncomfortable, with headaches and / or stomach aches complains, this can be evidence of bullying. Parents should use these observations as a starting point for discussions with their child.

education experts: And how can you help your child as a mother or father if they have already got into a bullying situation?

If there is a relationship of trust between parents and child, then a child will also speak openly about their situation. In such situations, many children do not talk to their parents because they are of the opinion that the parents are not present in the emergency situations of everyday school life and cannot help them anyway. If a child confides in his parents, the top priority is not to do anything without the child's knowledge and consent.

In a real bullying case, a child has already lost significant amounts of self-confidence. If the parents turn to the class teacher or headmaster behind their child's back, then the rest of the trust goes down the drain. Above all, parents should make it clear to their child that they are entirely on his side. In joint deliberations, she should consider the next steps. These can then be discussions with the teachers or the school management. It is important to ensure that everything is done on their part so that the child concerned can feel safe in the following days and weeks. Victim protection is the top priority in all measures.

education experts: How do you get out of this vicious circle as a victim of bullying? Are there places you can turn to anonymously and where you can get help?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: First of all, from my point of view, it is important that the victim looks for people he can trust. These can be parents, good friends or relatives. In principle, victims can turn to school, local or regional advice centers.

In general, bullying should be dealt with where it occurs. That is the school for students and teachers. The school management must ensure that there is an in-house bullying intervention team of well-trained teachers that students, teachers and parents can turn to.

education experts: How can such an invasion team help?

Just knowing that an intervention team exists helps calm the often turbulent events. It is therefore important that students, parents and teachers are informed about the working methods and competencies of an intervention team. It is important to create an atmosphere of trust. Then - but only then - there are a number of possibilities: Conversations with the victim; Conversations between victim and perpetrator; Conversations in small groups; Conversations with parents, conversations with everyone involved.

education experts: When it comes to bullying, there is usually a “lead wolf” and several followers who bully because they are afraid of becoming victims themselves. What can I do if I find myself in such a situation as a student?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: The question already indicates that the feeling of fear plays a decisive role in bullying. This experience turns some children into followers. In order to deal constructively with bullying, it is crucial that the responsible adults have an idea of ​​the feelings of the actors in order to understand why children often feel incapable of acting in such a situation.

The inner world of the fellow travelers is characterized by feelings such as fear, lack of power and insecurity. They behave "coldly" towards the victim, they act submissively towards the perpetrator. The ambivalence of their feelings often leaves them with no peace and drives them to at least signal that something is going wrong here. Offenders have no reason to change the situation. In all cases, the basic feeling of fear is at work. The pattern of feelings can be summarized as follows: The victim does not know why this is happening to him. The perpetrator seeks power and superiority. Followers are torn back and forth. So it takes trust and courage on the part of the victims and followers if they want to change something in the situation. Unfortunately, these emotional potentials are often too severely impaired or even destroyed.

education experts: Are there typical images of victims, or can bullying affect everyone?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Big, lean, small, fat, thin, pretty and less pretty, smart and less smart children can be victims. There is no such thing as the typical sacrifice. For example, if a student with outstanding achievements is a victim, it can easily lead to the assumption that he is a nerd and that this has become his undoing. But it also affects students with learning and behavioral problems.

A quick search is made for possible shares of the victim. It seems that we would like to identify the reasons for bullying as quickly as possible. Often we orientate ourselves on external characteristics. It relieves us of the knowledge that an internal dynamic is at work in a bullying process that we often do not understand. We have to endure the fact that we do not yet know why a person becomes a victim of a bully.

There is also still no answer to the question of the instinct with which a bully selects his victim. We know the structures of bullying, we can describe the actions of the actors and we have knowledge of the consequences of bullying. We can also imagine the suffering of the victims concerned. We can set up hypotheses about the background and the interaction of these complex group dynamic events, but we do not yet have any knowledge of the finely woven interaction of internal patterns of action in connection with external events. The question remains: How does a perpetrator get caught in his victim?

education experts: One hears again and again of “cyber bullying”, at the moment the bullying website “Isharegossip”, on which users could anonymously abuse other students and teachers, is causing a sensation. What is actually meant by “cyber bullying” and why is this topic so present?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Cyber ​​bullying is a variant of bullying. People are insulted, insulted and defamed and excluded from Internet activities. Often it is about sexual exposure or certain sexual practices are assumed. In the broadest sense, it is about a violation of the personal sphere of life.

Cyber ​​bullying is often used by those who also exercise violence in other ways, so it is related to bullying attacks that take place in school reality. This means that cyber-bullying can be dealt with at least partially through prevention and intervention measures, with which one also counteracts the bullying that occurs in the school community.

Some observers consider the consequences of cyber bullying for the victim to be devastating. There are known cases in which victims chose death as a “way out”. According to a study, however, 84% of the students surveyed describe cyber bullying as less bad than traditional bullying. An investigation also provides a “reassuring” result with regard to the “great unknown”: 89% of the victims know who is behind the humiliation.

This is a clear indication that the phenomenon of bullying needs to be worked on in reality. The known forms of prevention and intervention should take effect. From an individual point of view, prevention is about building a good sense of self-worth; In relation to the school community, it is important to keep addressing values, work ethics and social rules.

education experts: Can bullying victims ever break out of this role? Or does someone who has been bullied at school also have to be afraid of being bullied as an adult? Who can adult victims turn to for help?

Dr. Karl Gebauer: Uncovered and processed bullying situations contribute to the development of psychosocial competence. This competence creates protection against future bullying situations.

If teachers manage to deal with bullying in a cautious manner, then everyone involved can benefit from it. You are no longer at the mercy of future bullying situations. This applies to perpetrators, followers and victims. The decisive factor is the experience that you have contributed to solving the problem. This experience leads to patterns of success developing in the brain. If such processing was not possible, then one can assume that this intense negative experience will be suppressed. The associated fear can then be triggered again by similar experiences.

education experts: Thank you for the interview!

The interview was conducted by Sarah Dreyer

Author: Dr. Karl Gebauer
Published on July 1, 2011

Tags: cyber bullying, bullying