This week in the “True of False Junior”, second episode of questions devoted to school bullying.
After answering questions about what school bullying is and the notion of scapegoating, Le Vrai du Faux Junior answers new questions fromhe students of the André Derain college in Chambourcy in the Yvelines. They asked us about the different reasons that lead to school bullying, the consequences that this can cause and the solutions envisaged and already applied to fight against it. Eric Verdier answers them. He is a community psychologist, that is, he is interested in social causes and uses the community as a resource to work with. He is a member of the SEDAP association, the mutual aid and psychological action society in Dijon. He created the program “Sentinels and Referents” developed in a dozen academies since 2010 to fight against school bullying and he also co-published in 2021, School violence and restorative justice.
Sexuality, a major cause of harassment
Camille asks us if it is true “that sexuality is the first cause of harassment” and Ashley questions the fact that the LGBT community “could be more exposed to harassment”.
Éric Verdier replies that in college “yes, sexuality occupies a place of choice and it is for this reason that we could speak of homophobia, transphobia, when it affects the LGBT community.”
The psychologist also found that “girls and boys, more generally, are not attacked in the same way, girls are attacked on their freedom of being, for example, or even on the way they dress, while boys are rather attacked on their sensitivity.” Éric Verdier explains that “the first insults that will come out will often be homophobic insults for boys and sexist insults for girls, that is to say that a girl does not have the right to be free and a boy does not have the right to be sensitive.”
Bullying can lead to depression
Siffrandie wonders if it’s true that “bullying can lead to depression.”
“Yes of course”answers Éric Verdier, who specifies that “this can not only lead to depression, but it can lead to all the consequences of being unwell and unfortunately even to suicide.
Éric Verdier explains that harassment also leads “to the fact that the person can become violent.” He is pointing out that “sometimes the scapegoat, or the person who is being harassed, his only way to get out of it is to try to attack his author or to attack someone who has done harm and therefore he will become completely a very violent blow.”
Always about the consequences, Camille wonders if it is true “that by witnessing harassment, without reacting, one incurs a prison sentence”.
Éric Verdier replies that before the age of 13 it is not possible, and even after that it is unlikely, although “failure to assist a person in danger exists and could be punished.“But according to the psychologist, “The most important thing is not to say to yourself: ‘Will I go to prison if I don’t intervene, but what harm am I doing to the other person by not intervening?'” He explains “that very often people who have been harassed say, that what hurt them the most was not what was done to them, it was all those who did not intervene.
Solutions to fight bullying
The Ministry of Education launched the pHARe program in 2021, compulsory since last year. This is a plan to better prevent bullying in schools and colleges. It aims in particular to educate and train students, but also the staff of establishments. The training consists in knowing how to better identify cases of harassment in order to intervene in the right way when it is detected.
In practice, this means training at least five people per college and five people per district for primary schools, to deal with situations of harassment. The pHARe plan also provides for the training of student ambassadors responsible for identifying and helping harassed students. For Éric Verdier, this device is “a base, which sets a framework and forces institutions to do something, but that does not go far enough.“According to the psychologist, “there are two things which are fundamental and which make it possible to truly fight against harassment and against what is upstream of harassment, the phenomenon of the scapegoat.”
It is necessary, according to him, “first look at the causes, why it started, how it started and then work on the repair, as the device does Sentinels and Referents.“He explains that when”harassment stops, if we have not repaired, with the victim, with, for example, what are called restorative justice commissions between victims and perpetrators, that will not be enough.“