SCm is a new “paradigm”!
By "new paradigm" we mean "a new way of thinking in order to solve an old problem". First we try a spontaneous idea in treatment of bullying (for example to elicit sympathy with the victim); we see reasonable results but we want more. Then thoroughly new points of departures turn up so we can talk about a paradigm shift. And so we reach results desired: bullying ceases behind the backs of the teachers. As an extra bonus we discover that students begin using the same method as we did; school atmosphere improves and students trust the personnel who masters SCm names of them "who need help."

We can describe the development of SCm in three different ways:
  1. By setting the outer frame: we refer to documents that originated as a result of a debate against bullying
  2. By reconstructing motives in adults: we explain how the general public, school personnel, and system developers operationalise (realize) their goals through provided means.
  3. We gather observations about the effect that the adults' operationalisations  (i.e. actions) have had on the pupils' own conflict solution.

The first two points are here for the third. Our findings in this point of decisive importance do not become comprehensible until we have accounted for the outer frame of the events and reconstructed their driving force among the adults.

1.    Setting the outer frame for method development
In 1972 a Swedish school doctor  Peter-Paul Heinemann published a book on bullying as a group violence (Mobbning. Gruppvåld bland barn och vuxna”) which became a bestseller. He introduced a new word “bullying” to the Nordic languages. The so called debate broke lose. Everybody was against bullying and the contributions to the debate ended with the statement “somebody should take actions against it”. An investigation Top-dogs and whipping boys (“Hackkycklingar och översittare”) was published by an other author that was provided with the fashionable word “bullying” in its subtitle. Still however – no publication showed that the author had developed any method of treatment which everybody had agreed on needed treatment.

In 1973 went to schools and handled two cases of bullying based on the simple idea that bullying can be resolved when you break the group of bullies with individual conversations. It worked. I advertised a course at the Department of Education at Uppsala University for second and third year students that was entirely intended for treatment of bullying the participants would handle two cases as their exam requirement and write a report which critically analyzed their own proceedings.

We started off the course with seminars which analyzed the method that I had used in my handling of cases of bullying and asked which psychological mechanisms I had mobilized within the pupils (“What made it tick?”). Thereafter the participants of the course went out to the schools in Uppsala and handled the cases which they had been provided with by a good collaboration with the local school administration. We asked “What can we learn from our trials?” The rapports I reproduced in the book I published 1975. (Så stoppar vi mobbing! Rapport från en antimobbningsgrupps arbete). The first edition was followed by the second. Our handling of cases got successors in the  “Farsta method” which referred to me as the originator of the method which they said they were following. It was however, according to their own statement they were trying to  simplify the practice of it.

However, whilst I always had just one adult carrying talks with the bully suspects, the Farsta method uses two or more adults. Whilst I begun by conversing with them individually the Farsta method began with the student who was supposed to be the victim and then used the information received in individual talks with the students whom they now knew “knew” were bullies.

These changes seemed to me as to be (1) legal offences – since the individual pupil who was the alleged bully did not have a defender, (2) a psychological faux pas – the alleged bully experienced that the group of adults was guided by gossip from someone who claimed to be exposed to bullying and (3) a pedagogical sabotage against democratic values  – by the adults illustrating power and psychological violence against their young conversation partner.

In 1987 I offered a new university course for second and third year students which indicated its distance from the Farsta method and concentrated on a new approach: to arouse a shared concern amongst those involved and lead it to a shared solution. I characterized the old method from the 1970’ts as the Persuasive-Coercion- method, PCm. The participants of the course went out to the schools and focused on the new method which has the same name to date: The Shared Concern method, SCm. This was manifested in my second book Så bekämpar vi mobbning i skolan. (How we fight bullying at school.)  Uppsala. AMA Dataservice. 1968. It also had/got two editions and was sold out.

I published the method in periodicals written in English and gave it the name Shared Concern method, SCm. These articles led to several invitations to England and Australia. A number of my course participants published books where they described the “Shared Concern method of the Swedish psychologist Anatol Pikas” on ten or so pages. When I read these descriptions however, they seem more like a step back to my 70’s when I used the PCm method (Persuasive Coercion method).

In 1998 I published a third book where I still more ostentatively pointed out the difference between SCm and PCm: The Shared Concern-method. Handbook for a paradigm shift in treatment of school bullying (Handbok för ett paradigmskifte i behandling av skolmobbning) Uppsala. AMA Dataservice. (Order by phone 018-14 11 72 eller

Even though I have used five years trying to make the book readable and those who have read it think it is comprehensible, it has not had as much success as the two previous books. The expression “shared concern” seems in itself be exiting for many people  but the word “paradigm shift” appears a bit odd for most teachers. I suspect that their reluctance is founded in their old classroom habits which I actually support: quick decisions have to be made: which of the offenders is guilty?

By paradigm shift I mean transforming the school personnel’s’ responsibility oriented function (in giving advice, judge, educate) to the role of a mediator who facilitates a shared solution derived from the parties’ own conception of the conflict including bullying.

In terms of method development from the 70’s to the 20’s a paradigm shift occurred from PCm to SCm.

I would like to demonstrate how we with SCm can reach the long-range aims what we want: a society inclined for democratic co-operation with its rights and obligations. However, I would like first to tell about my failures to clarify in what way SCm is separated from PCm.

I have tried to explain the mentioned paradigm change through graphic presentation. I have drawn a figure during lectures with two-dimensional coordinates representing “zero tolerance” and “humanistic attitude” . I have explained that both these dimensions start with the ego’s dominance over the conversation partner (“the orther or "alter") because the adult knows better to handle her/himself also in the “humanistc attitude”.

Thereafter I have added the SCm as a third dimension and emphasised: in SCm the adult is a mediator between parties. Has this appeared to abstract to the audience? I suspect that there is something else that makes them perform PCm (STm) instead of SCm (GBm).

2. To reconstruct motives in adults
The mission for SCm is to take contact with the autonomous, i.e. the  intrinsic motives in the pupils that are useful to their own constructive and lasting solutions. But also PCm seems to aim at the same – but the course of action is different. It appears most clearly in a method that is wide-spread in Sweden: the Farsta method.

What gives people who use the Farsta method their satisfaction? I think that it is the same feeling which drove me when I used my first method (STm): “To give the bullies an offer they cannot resist”. The adult gets the experience to control the bullies – lovingly or aggressively. In order to increase the teacher’s personal satisfaction the Farsta method begins talks with the probable victim, which gives material for accusations

 against the alleged bullies and then together with colleagues accuse the one who is said to be a bully. The accusations can assuredly be lenient characterized by understanding and openings for solutions but they are yet aroused from the dominance of the adult. A group is downright dominating an individual in the Farsta method. What do you call that?

Is it possible for a bullying therapist to get longer when emphasizing shared concern by increasing his/her kindness? I see such an ambition in Rigby’s film and on many recorded videos of role-play within my courses. Yes, you can extend your friendliness to captivating depths and in many cases you are able to make the young conversation partner do as you say merely because the adult is so decent.

The problem is that there has been an inflation of kindness. The conversation partner is then kind in return. Later however, his own impulses take over when he is reunited with his friends.

Many bullying fighters really want to build on autonomy impulses from the within of the suspected bullies. They, as well as I, believe that the feeling of compassion already exist in several of the individual suspected bullies. Sympathy can be brought to the fore by individual talks. If you are able to get the conversation partner to feel this feeling with charming virtuosity so that he or she forgets that the feeling was initiated by somebody else, then you are able to come far. The only error that may reverse the situation and make it worse is if the pervasion fails.

Thus it is of importance to find more autonomy holding points, rather than just the feeling of pity. Altogether individual motives in the conversation partner who does not have to take the risk of failure since the method never makes a lead where the ego is dominating over the “alter ego”.

We find the answer first in the adult’s neutral stand. This is also several teachers’ standard behaviour when there is a conflict amongst the pupils. However, the pupils then say: the teacher does not care. Accordingly, it is important to find a neutral stand which on the same time portrays involvement.

I find the solution in the role of being a therapeutic mediator.

It is important to make a commitment to this role in the future, and to be interested in other ways than in just a me-you relationship. It is obvious that the mediator can not be a judge who considers anybody to be guilty. A mediator as an adviser is also a bad idea. The crucial commitment in our handling is the one of the therapist whose involvement is expressed only by listening to the different parties of the conflict.

The therapeutic mediator also has an ego that requires to be rewarded by satisfaction. Where can we find this satisfaction that feels nice to the ego as well as to those whom have been involved in the bullying?

The answer is an abstraction: peace itself. The joy from the fact that the quarrel, conflict, war has stopped is in the interest of all of parties.

But is it enough to say only that? Because the situation is so that there are bullying fighters who on one hand celebrate the SCm as a designation but on the other prefer the PCm in practice. I find the solution by trying to find the criteria of the pupils’ success.

3. We gather observations concerning the effect which the adults' "operationaliseringar" (i.e. actions) have had on the pupils' own conflict solution
The best sign of success of the SCm has been provided by Ritha Mälström when she told how a boy, who were one of the assumed bullies she had handled, came to her spontaneously and spoke about his attempts to mediate. Some colleagues have also said that the atmosphere is much calmer now. We observe that Ritha’s class is sixth graders. She often remains present on the breaks and is generally available to the pupils. They know that she likes to hear such things. However, they are not sophisticated enough to make things up. Why, she has not spoken about mediation as an ideal. She has just put mediation to practice. Those of the pupils who were parties transferred her meditative behavior as an ideal meditative behavior of their own. They have instinctively understood that this teacher has chosen to take a different role in the handling of conflicts rather than the one by teachers usually chosen.

We are beginning to understand that people who stubbornly hold on to the PCm (STm) whilst thinking that they are using the SCm are doing so because that is the ordinary role in the proceedings for a teacher. Ritha had left this role and instead begun to work as a therapeutic mediator. Some pupils could transfer this to their on actions.

Wherever this occurs we have reached a result superior to “bulling stopped”. I value this more than “they have become friends”. Here we have the start of a model for operational peace work. An abstract ideal of peace in adults has been made concrete by the pupils.

The fact that the idea of therapeutic mediation shows itself in what the co-workers and I consider to be the next step of SCm- a 4 hour program within the teaching of Swedish: Everyone in the class are able to Become Mediators, AKBM. There happens, according to what we can predict on the basis of the well-known psychological obligation towards law, a stimulus generalisation with favourable effect on the individual behaviour also – as part of conflicts. An observer of the mediator’s part in role-plays has from the outside been given a chance to witness an approach to conflict solution and has thereby been influenced himself. This obviously does not bring any guarantees, only an increased probability of a more peaceful outcome than if you were not allowed to view mediation and were only exposed to the teacher’s admonitions, the advocate of value foundation’s objectives or the proclaims of a preacher of peace.