a competent user of SCm
So far, all competent users of SCm have succeeded. The
incompetent ones have, quite simply, not tried. So my aim is to recruit
people to become competent SCm users.
Have you noticed that some people try a method because "many others
have succeeded" and some people do it because they have understood its
purpose and start reaching for it. The expression Shared Concern method
usually elicits spontaneous goodwill. I have not met a person who
openly declares that "I am against the idea of shared solution".
Some years ago I met teachers who said: "We don’t have much bullying in
our school". Then I asked: "How do you find clandestine bullying?" and
explained how SCm discovered covert bullying. In fact,
there are two kinds of sayings that challenge the appeal of
shared-concern: (1) “I have no time. My daily work is so demanding” or
(2) "I cannot reach my principal (or head teacher) to allocate
resources to those of us who want to try SCm".
The first approach leads us to scrutinizing our ego-rewards. The
second argument needs help from enlightened public opinion.
Three levels of ego-reward when
meeting the bullies
Our ego will get a considerable reward if we can lift the burden of
bullying from the victim. A teacher who can do it without bullying the
bullies becomes popular. And a popular teacher can teach more
effectively and thus save time.
Would the easiest way not be to strengthen the victim so that he could
defend himself? Unfortunately we cannot be sure that the bullies are
weak enough. On the contrary, a teenage bully group is frightening even
to adults. This problem is, however, mastered if we start by having
individual talks with the members of such a group. But how? Apparently,
we need to analyse the options for action that we have available to us
when managing bullying and the bullies and see how they contribute in
obtaining our distal reward – to help the victim.
The natural ego-rewards for school staff, who are encountering students
suspected of bullying, are of three kinds.
- The adult’s ego finds its
reward in expressing righteousness by admonishing, threatening
or punishing. This reward can be earned responsibly only if the
measures in question are sanctions for deeds the adult has seen. If the
students are not caught in the act the measures often do not hit the
real perpetrators. Good slogans which may hit wrong targets encourage
- The adult’s ego finds reward in
expressing love. Ego feels compassionate and big-hearted when
approaching the suspected bullies in a friendly manner, expressing or
implying that "You are basically a nice person who understands the
victim’s suffering and will stops bullying." Or you explain that they
need to co-operate for a shared solution. However, the ideas that
emanate from an infinitely noble mind may become disastrous for the
victim when the bullies are out of your sight.
- The adult’s ego gets its reward
from the idea of making peace built on the ideas of those involved.
For this, SCm, the Shared Concern method, is helpful.
When teachers say that they “lack time for SCm” they have not grasped
the difference between the second and third ego reward above. True,
these both imply understanding and kindness. However, in the second
ego-reward system, "love of the enemy" is the main ingredient; in the
third, our SCm, friendliness is a peripheral
ingredient. When people grasp SCm they perceive it as a No-Blame method
and think that "being kind to the bullies" ("Loving the enemy") makes
SCm work, which, quite naturally is perceived as laborious.
But most people have understood that the core of SCm is listening to
the student. And this is, in fact laborious for teachers if they know
that this student is a perpetrator. That’s why I keep repeating: the
bully is (normally) not a "bully" in his own eyes. This approach is
rather relaxing compared with the purpose of persuading him that he is
Generally speaking, it is evident that the more years a teacher has
spent in the profession of teaching the stronger the habits of knowing
better than the student. I trust these habits relate to teaching
subjects. Teachers’ inspiring security in their own knowledge is
helpful in creating a good classroom atmosphere. It is, to a great
extent, also healing and prevents violent behaviour tendencies.
However, a child-centred teacher is aware of the possibility that she
cannot always reach the life of teenagers behind her back.
Interestingly enough, these teachers are the most talented to grasp the
therapeutic ingredient in SCm: listening and reinforcing tiny signs in
the suspected bullies, indicating a way to solution. They also
understand that if they – contrary to our expectations – should fail,
they could always switch to "more decisive measures". But you cannot do
it the other way round.
Probably you have understood all this. What is needed is having time
for training in the therapeutic listening to suspected bullies. You can
first do it in role-plays with colleagues in your anti-bullying team.
But soon make your own attempts with real cases that seem easy. Take a
step at time. To begin with you will probably include ingredients from
the two first dimensions mentioned above. By trial and error you
increase the components of the third dimension – SCm.
A two-factor theory
Massive evidence shows that two actors are needed to introduce a new
methodical approach for the management of cases of bullying in a
school: (1) An active staff member, an enthusiast who can gather a
small group of colleagues for action. (2) A principal (or head teacher)
who himself or herself takes an interest in the method that inspires
the anti-bullying team and participates in their meetings and fieldwork.
I call the above “a two-factor theory of effective implementation”. The
coincidence of these two factors is like a miracle but if it occurs
(and such a thing has happened) the work begins that lightens the
burden of bullying from the clandestine victims.
At present, average head teachers like organising
whole-school-approaches. If results of a bally-hoo are "scientifically
investigated” and show progress the administrators don’t mind if a
spectacular method has not reached clandestine bullying. If the
head teachers knew about the idea of SCm they would understand
permanent anti-bullying team needs to be organised. A head teacher
could pass on a hint to the potential enthusiasts among the staff
members. However, the problem is how to spread knowledge about
SCm amongst head teachers?
My personal plan is this. At first I will send short articles about SCm
to professional journals that may be read by head teachers and staff
members who themselves have used approaches similar to SCm. They
realise that only SCm can discover and treat clandestine bullying. If
they have the capacity to act, they contact me and we explore the
conditions of my coming or, if I am engaged, we find some other SCm
practitioner who can give a course.
We use the course meetings for workshops that must be prepared by
reading. The participants will get a 150 page manuscript on SCm to
study before we come and lead workshops. Probably the course will lead
to discovering and managing real cases. They will write reports that I
will quote in my manuscript, which a well-oriented publisher will take
Journalists need not to understand SCm but they would like to get a
scoop when making interviews with students involved in bullying cases
that have been resolved with SCm. And then this phenomenon occurs which
I have mentioned: a mass movement begins amongst teachers who have
heard that "many are using this method".
You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org
I specially appreciate critical comments because I am constantly
improving my attempts to explain the SCm.