Why a competent user of SCm
 always succeeds?

Anatol Pikas

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 in itself 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.
  1. 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 clandestine bullying.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 a bully.

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 that a 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 care of.

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 anatol@pikas.se I specially appreciate critical comments because I am constantly improving my attempts to explain the SCm.