This week in the “Vrai du Faux Junior”, students have questions about school bullying.
On January 7, 13-year-old Lucas committed suicide by hanging in Golbey (Vosges). His relatives, including his parents, say he was harassed because of his homosexuality. A drama that particularly marked the students of the André Derain college in Chambourcy in the Yvelines. They asked us about school bullying, its origin, its consequences and the possible solutions envisaged to fight against it. In this first part devoted to harassment, it is Eric Verdier who 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 notably created the “Sentinels and Referents” program developed in a dozen academies since 2010 to fight against school bullying and he also co-published in 2021, School violence and restorative justice.
School bullying and the scapegoat phenomenon
According to Eric Verdier, when we say bullying “we are talking about repeated daily micro violence, repeated small or large violence which alone seems a little innocuous and which happens every day and several times a day.”
But for Eric Verdier, harassment is a phenomenon that often happens very late in stories, at the end of the process, because before that, there is another phenomenon that happens, that of “scapegoat”. According to Eric Verdier “The phenomenon of scapegoating, generally consists of putting someone aside or making sure that someone understands that in the end, whether they are there or not, it does not change much.” For the psychologist, the scapegoat phenomenon “is at least ten times more common than bullying and scapegoating, it’s pre-harassed, but it’s also pre-harassers, it’s both.”
There is not necessarily more harassment today than 50 years ago
Gaëtan wonders “if it is true that harassment was less present 50 years ago.”
According to Eric Verdier “It’s hard to know because there wasn’t the same awareness 50 years ago.” He explains to Gaëtan that in “naming something, it feels like there’s a lot more than before, but it’s just that before, we didn’t look at it, we didn’t realize it.“
No, school bullying is not due to social networks
Julia asks if it’s true “that the school bullying suffered by victims today is due to social networks”.
“No” replies Eric Verdier, “It’s not due to social networks, but social networks greatly amplify this phenomenon.” He explains that sometimes “it even takes root in social networks and what is very serious with social networks is that the person cannot get out of it, unless they completely cut off the relationship with social networks”. The advantage with social networks, which we do not necessarily have in the “real life” is that we have “the possibility of having evidence” explains the psychologist. He therefore advises, “When you are confronted, whatever position you are in, with something that makes you think, not necessarily harassment, but violence, discrimination, things that do not seem fair to you, do screenshots!”
No, it’s not in college that we find the most harassment
Maxence asks if it is true “that it is in college that there are the most cases of harassment”.
According to Eric Verdier, “we can say that in college, it’s the age of all dangers, especially in relation to questions that affect sexuality and that affect the fact that it’s a very important transformation of adolescence, but no, that’s not where the harassment is the most.” Eric Verdier explains “that we now know that there are many more in primary school.” According to his 20 years of working on the subject, in the field, “a very large part of young people, in college and high school, who still suffer from scapegoating phenomena, even harassment, say that it started in primary school, it is very common.”
Yes often the entourage does not realize it
Ashley wonders if it’s true “that harassment can last for years without anyone around the victim realizing it”.
“Yes, it’s true”according to Eric Verdier, “it is even rather frequent, especially if there is a scapegoat phenomenon“. According to him, “if the young person is already in a situation where he is a little isolated or if he finds it difficult to be included, this is why sometimes, when bullying happens, there are so many things that have gone before, on which we have not reacted, that we do not see that a scale has been crossed and that it is becoming harassment.“