7.3.2 Meeting with the support group

The second step (and most challenging) one is the meeting with the “support group”, consisting of the bully(ies) and colluders/bystanders on the one hand and friendly students on the other hand (6-8 pupils). The students receive an individual invitation for a meeting during classes. There needs to be a close consultation with the teacher whose lesson is concerned. The support group meets in a separate room.  Initially, the teacher expresses also here his/her deep concern about the fact that one of the students is being bullied and clarifies that this is an unacceptable situation which needs to be changed. He/she tries to arouse empathy with the affected student. Then he/she is going to ask the students for help to overcome the bullying and addresses them as “experts” for the situation in class. This expresses the explicit difference to other bullying interventions.

The view is future oriented; students are treated as potential supporters/subjects of a change of group dynamics.

This attitude also involves the protagonists, in a setting where it is obvious that the teacher knows who is bothering whom it will not be possible for the bullies to just continue. They are observed by teachers and classmates. But – and this is the big chance for them:  stopping the deviant behavior now also means not being punished plus having the chance to re-define their role in class, it is face saving. The teacher explicitly mentions a positive skill each of the students has, including the bullies, focusing on resources rather than on deficits. The next step is to ask the students to come up with concrete ideas how to help/support the affected student X. What can be done? (E.g. walking X home, inviting X, spending time with X…) The teacher takes notes of the ideas on a flipchart/ blackboard and adds the names that are responsible for what.  In the case of the protagonist(s), it is sufficient to say: I will stop bothering him/her.

Finally, the teacher thanks the students for their constructive ideas and support and finds a date for follow-up meetings.