Authors: Joanna Węgrzynowska, Agnieszka Milczarek

Have you ever seen an older pupil pushing or shoving a younger and weaker  
  one in the school corridor?

Have you ever seen a group of older kids forcing their way to the front  
  of the queue to the school shop?

Or perhaps you've heard school mates sniggering about someone's name?  

  You've probably witnessed such violent acts often without even being aware that they are in fact violent acts. Many young people think such behaviour is "normal", as it happens every day, while "real" violence only involves weapons, blood and fighting...  
But this is not true!
  Violence is not only fighting, but involves all cases of harming or ill-treating of the vulnerable and helpless by stronger, more self-confident or elder people or groups.

At school you may witness violence of three kinds:

Physical violence:  
  • beating
  • kicking
  • spitting
  • pushing and shoving
  • destroying things
  • locking up
  • tricking someone out of money
  • theft

Verbal violence:  
  • name calling
  • ridiculing
  • threatening
  • gossiping
  • humiliating
  • blackmail
  be careful though!
there is also a third kind of violence:

Non-Physical and Non-Verbal violence:  
  • hostile faces and gestures (sometimes it is a thumbs-down sign or a holding of noses when someone approaches)
  • isolating (excluding someone from games or chats; sometimes there is an unspoken agreement among the group not to talk to a selected individual or to sit with him or her)
  Ridiculing or isolating may be even more painful than beating, but many people don't show that they are suffering.

  Almost all of us have experienced some form of violence at school at least once. It is not nice to be the subject of gossip or called names or spat at. But the hardest part is being continuously put upon by the same people.
Such constant violence is called bullying.
Violence means injustice, harm and suffering of the other person! Violence should not happen at school! If you want to know what other pupils think about violence go to >>> We are against violence

If you experience violence from your schoolmates you are in difficult position.
You will probably feel unhappy, ashamed or lonely. You may tend to think of yourself as: "Not fitting in with anything", "Worse then others", or that "the world is horrible" or that "I will always be unhappy".

There are many victims of violence that feel and think this way.
  It is useful for you to know that:

  • You are not guilty that it has happened to you. Nobody deserves such treatment. And nobody has the right to treat you this way.

  • You are not alone. It happens to many children. If we counted all those who experience violence a few times a week in all schools this would constitute a whole class.

  • You are not fated to be a victim. Violence can be stopped.
  What can you do?
First of all: Don't give in! You are able to help yourself! Get to work!

You can do things to help yourself against many violent situations. It is handy to know a few hints of how to cope with name calling, ridiculing, pulling faces, aggressive gestures etc.

Our hints:
  • Try to ignore the aggressors. Pretend you are not concerned. Don't show that you are distressed or angry. Your distress only gives them satisfaction and stimulates further attacks.

  • Try to look like a self-confident person. Walk upright (straight back, head up). Practise this posture at home in the mirror. Remember, aggressors are always on the look out for those who look shy and avoid confrontation.

  • Train your voice - answer back with a confident and strong voice. Aim to look into peoples' eyes. It often happens that people in your situation speak with a silent or shy voice, but this only provokes the aggressors even more.

  • If they keep annoying you - just move away! Forget what they may think. Remember - the longer you stay and listen to the aggressors, the more fun they have.

  • Have ready answers. For instance: "Don't you girls have anything better to do with your time?" or "It's not fair to laugh at someone!" or "You can say what you like, I don't care".

  • Answer in a short and firm way. State firmly that you don't agree with such treatment: for instance: "Don't talk to me like that!", or "You're wrong!" or " I'm not called that!"

  • Try some jokes. A sense of humour is sometimes the best weapon against aggression. If you are able to turn the situation into a joke - you win! In this way the aggressors often discover that you don't care what they say or do and will let you go. Practise this at home.

  • Try to surprise the aggressors. Do something unexpected that may confuse them, for example pretend you haven't heard what they say ("Sorry, I didn't catch what you were talking about?" "Can't you speak up a bit?", etc.); or pretend you are fainting; or perhaps change the subject altogether ("Have you seen the latest Warhammer?") etc.

  • Tell friends what's happened. You will feel better if you share your troubles with another person. Ask for help and advice. Sometimes it is enough to walk around together during break time. Aggressors usually look for lonely prey.

  • Talk to your parents or other people close to you. Tell them what is going on. Adults sometimes have clever ideas as to how to solve such problems. Their knowledge can also be useful.
  Sometimes more dangerous scenarios also happen at school - for example: frightening someone into handing over money, beatings. What then?

  • Don't get provoked into a fight. Your position may get worse (you might get hurt and they would still bully you). Aggressors are usually stronger and often accompanied by an "escort". Try to use some of the methods mentioned above or just run away.

  • Stick to the group. Larger groups often discourage aggressors.

  • If they bully you into giving them your money - better to give them what you have. Your well-being is more important then any money.
In all these cases inform adults:
It is a crime. Adults should respond immediately.
  If you have used all the possibilities for self-defence,

but the perpetrators keep bullying you - it is necessary to inform the adults.

Tell your parents or other people close to you,

Tell your tutor or a teacher you trust.

You need their help. Don't suffer in solitude.

The sooner you do it, the sooner violence can stop.

  • Informing adults is not snitching, but just looking for help. Perpetrators are breaking the law and should bear the appropriate consequences.

  • You are a guardian of the school community. By telling the adults of the violence you have experienced you help others who are going through the same thing.

  • If you keep it for yourself you harm yourself and help to protect the bullies

We realise it is not easy to tell adults about bullying. You may be afraid of revenge attacks by school mates or doubt if your position will improve anyway.
Remember - it is possible. Adults have more power and possibilities to exercise it. Use their help.

How you can do it:
  • Make a list. On a sheet of paper write down all the cases of violence you have experienced (it will help you to tell others about it).

  • Choose an adult you can rely on (Mum, Dad, a member of your family, a tutor, school educator, the teacher you like best, pupil's rights counsellor, member of the school board...).

  • Ask him or her for a word, alone (at home, in the classroom, in the educator's office).

  • Tell him or her clearly about the cases of aggression you have experienced (where it happened, who was the aggressor, what he or she did). Describe your emotions, e.g. that you feel upset, distressed, lonely, that you cannot bear it any more (sometimes an adult doesn't understand that, say, ridiculing may be a big problem). If you speak with your tutor you may ask him or her not to say anything about this at the class forum, or not to tell the aggressors you name (the teacher can explain to the perpetrators that he or she has decided to stop the violence him or herself). It may happen, though, that the tutor will need your help - this help put procedures in motion.

  • Look for someone else if the first doesn't give you the help you need. Don't give up if you fail! Keep looking for the someone who is able to help you.
Your parents have the right to demand of the school that it is a safe place for you.

This is an obligation of the school.

Many teachers who learn that some pupils are being abused will try to do their best to solve the problem.
Unfortunately some schools are less sensitive to the problem of violence. If your school doesn't help you and you don't feel like bearing the humiliation any more, then you can use your last chance - change school. It is not an easy solution, but you may gain a lot - some peace of mind (and body). You could then go to school just to learn, without the hassle. You will find new friends there, for sure.


Closing this chapter we would like to encourage you to use the help of psychologists.
Perhaps there is an educative advisory centre in your area, or a psychological centre for children and teenagers, and there may be a supportive group for young people. Look around, find a nice person who will talk to you, advise, encourage and give you support in hard times.

The thing is not to stay alone in a trouble!

Good luck!

We keep our fingers crossed!

Write to us:

If you have ever been a victim of aggression or bullying at school and you managed to defend yourself - tell us: how did you do it? Share your experiences - you may help the others with your advice. We are looking for your story. We assure you remain anonymous.
The most handy methods (but only those, which are not violent themselves) will be put together in a special chapter: "We managed the violence".

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