Authors: Joanna Węgrzynowska, Agnieszka Milczarek

  There are two types of class room aggressor: active and passive persecutors.

These are the characteristics of the active perpetrator:    
  • aggressive behaviour towards schoolmates and adults alike;
  • fascination with violence and its tools;
  • acceptance of violence;
  • impulsiveness;
  • need to dominate;
  • low level of the empathy towards victims;
  • medium or higher then average self-esteem;
  • low or average level of anxiety and feelings of uncertainty;
  • valuation of physical strength;
  • physical strength and dexterity greater then usual (in particular than their victims);
  • average popularity in the class (may decrease);
  • often in the circle of their own "posse" (a 2-3 person escort).

These are the passive perpetrator's characteristics:    
  • this child doesn't initiate, but joins those who attack;
  • he or she is not self confident, feels better in a group;

Indications on how to recognise the violence perpetrator in your class.    
Child - perpetrators are usually:
  • annoying and teasing but mainly the weaker and helpless colleagues;
  • dominant and fond of subordinating others;
  • dextrous and clever;
  • prone to become agitated and flare out;
  • not able to cope with difficulties;
  • having difficulties with obeying the rules;
  • predisposed to saying "no", opposing;
  • with a low or zero level of guilt;
  • not understanding, compassionate or able to sympathise with their victims;
  • comfortable in their environment;
  • good at finding clever ways of extricating themselves from difficulties, e.g. if they are accused of violence;
  • able to play-act or simulate;
  • able to derive profits from their violence (either physical, e.g. their victims give them money, or mental);
  • either aggressive or excessively polite towards adults.
Teachers often perceive pupil-perpetrators as "evil, demoralised individuals" who should be immediately punished. This approach does not promote a solution to the problem or help other pupils. Children are not "bad", but behave in "bad ways". They may have been brought up with such patterns and norms or they may have difficult personal situations.

Reasons for violence among children.    
There is no single reason for children acting violently at school, but rather a set of different factors influencing the phenomenon. A few of them are listed below:
  • lack of warmth, engagement or interest in the child's life;
  • leniency and permission for the child's aggression towards others - so called 'permissive upbringing';
  • lack of the clear boundaries - limits, norms and rules of behaviour: how the child is allowed to act and what is forbidden; what behaviour is acceptable by parents and tutors and what is considered blameworthy;
  • aggression and violent behaviour among adults and/or towards the child; upbringing according to the rule "children have no right to speak";
  • using forceful methods in resolving conflicts and tensions either at home or in a class room.
  • double binding of adult behaviour (certain words are accompanied by contradictory behaviour, e.g. we say "you mustn't hit those weaker than you" and we twist their arm to amplify what we have said; or we want to teach a child respect - and we make fun of him or her in front of the class);
  • being in a group where the leader (a positive figure for a child) performs violence and profits from it by not losing his or her popularity; adults do not react in the appropriate manner to his or her behaviour;
  • watching TV or other media programs where violence and acts of aggression are not balanced against showing the suffering and harm of the victims, but the perpetrator is presented as attractive and deserving of imitation.

The experience of being a perpetrator considerably influences the child's future. The child may have difficulties complying with social orders, norms and values and this may lead to future wrangles with the law more often then the average child. Pupil - perpetrators need help in transforming their behaviour. To encourage them to replace the wrong, unacceptable behaviour with those which are positive and valuable may now be the challenge and opportunity for teachers.

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