Authors: Joanna Węgrzynowska, Agnieszka Milczarek

The first step    
To help the victims of violence we should first of all make them feel safe at school, which means stopping all violent acts against them. The teacher should talk to the child about the situation and assure him or her that he or she will do their best not to let the violence happen again. The child may co-operate with the teacher: tell him or her about certain cases, point out the perpetrators. But he or she also has the right to stay silent, sidelined, not engaging into any formal procedures. It is the adults' duty to resolve the problem.
The teacher should inform the child about plans and strategies for counteracting the violence, what he has already been done and the outcome of the actions. In many cases it is useful to invite in the parents and work out the problem together.

After engaging in these activities the teacher may also support the child  
in the following ways:    

Showing interest  
  The teacher may talk to the child about the situation. A pupil who has become the object of bullying rarely has friends to share his or her sadness, fear and misery with. Sometimes just listening to his or her stories helps release the tension. The teacher may show concern with the pupil's feelings and tell him or her about the actions he or she has planned.

  The teacher may want to remind the pupil of his or her stronger points and of his or her successes. Pupil-victims usually have low self-esteem and don't see the good points in themselves. Skilful and regular offering of various kinds of rewards and valuing help to restore self-confidence and provide a new strength to face the difficulties.

Teaching reaction skills in the case of bullying  
  The teacher may give the child some hints on how to react in a case of aggression or provocation. The victimised child is sometimes not aware that he or she speaks in a silent voice, does not know how to respond when schoolmates make jokes at his or her expense. The teacher can show different ways of responding, using play-acting scenes; he or she may also practise them with the child.

Showing the provocative behaviour  
  In the case of the provoking victim, the teacher's role is to show the child how his or her behaviours contribute to the rise of aggression in others. The teacher may indicate that particular behaviour that has provoked violence and then, with the pupil, work out methods for changing it.

What should be avoided during talks with the victimised child:    

Blaming the child for the situation - A teacher who notices weakness  
  in a child may feel like blaming him or her for what has happened. The following kind of statements: "why don't you have any friends?" or "couldn't you just tell them to let you go?" or "perhaps it is your problem and you'd better go to see the psychologist" will only contribute to feelings of misery and low self-esteem. All such victimised children would very much like to have friends and be able to protect themselves, but stuck in the victim role they cannot do it.

Underestimating the problem - From the adult's point of view,  
  many troublesome situations seem very easy to resolve. It's hard to imagine that they can be such a problem for a child. Therefore some teachers may say: "don't exaggerate" or "you're making a fuss about such a small thing", "come on, cheer up, everything will be fine". Such statements often mean that the child won't seek help from his or her tutor any more, or tell him or her about any new troubles.

Giving "good" advises - If the adult is not able to help the child immediately,  
  if he or she hasn't recognised the situation fully, he or she should not give casual, hasty advice, e.g. "if they want your money, tell them you won't give it to them", or "you should find a friend and always come home with her", "just don't bother about what they say". Such statements carry the message that the child is left to his or her own devices and that she or he should not count on the help of others.


In most cases, children - victims are not willing to talk about their troubles. There are many reasons for this: they are afraid of revenge attacks, they are ashamed, the matter is too difficult, they don't trust their teacher enough, they have bad experiences, etc. Under no circumstances should the teacher force the child to speak. The only way is to remain patient and tactful, trying gently to find some ways to come to terms with the pupil.
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