A technique which
can be used to tackle bullying in school is the No Blame
Approach. As the name suggests, one of the most important
things about this approach is that it deliberately avoids
accusations, blame and punishment. The first step is to
interview the victim, with the aim of finding out how he/she
feels. The child will be asked to draw a picture or write
something to communicate his/her distress. With the child's
full knowledge and approval, the next step involves getting
together the children involved in the bullying (including
bystanders) and perhaps some non-involved children. This
group (which does not include the victim) will then be made
aware of the victim's distress and will be encouraged to
take responsibility for their actions and to come up with
ideas for making the bullied person feel happier. It should
be mentioned that the No Blame Approach (which may mistakenly
be viewed as a technique which condones bullying) can also
be described as the Support Group Approach.
It is difficult to
argue that serious, intentional, repeated, physical bullying
should not be met with the imposition of some sort of sanctions.
Indeed physical violence such as this is a crime - and schools
are subject to the law of the land. However, this type of
bullying is far less common than name-calling and exclusion,
although we know from the testimony of victims the hurt
which can be caused by being taunted and deliberately isolated.
Many parents, pupils
and teachers expect "bullies" to be punished,
but in many cases punishment will be ineffective or inappropriate
- and children cannot be punished for refusing to play with
another child. That is why schools are increasingly adopting
new reactive strategies such as No Blame, (which is now
often called the Support Group approach) and the related
Shared Concern method. These strategies allow effective
intervention in situations where guilt cannot be proved,
or where it is unclear whether what has happened is bullying
or a relationship problem.
The 'shared concern'
method is a Swedish technique which has much in common with
the "No Blame Approach". It has not been widely
used in Britain, perhaps because it is more elaborate and
time consuming. Both of these methods have been criticised
for failing to allocate blame but both aim to bring an early
end to episodes of bullying and to encourage young people
to accept responsibility for their actions.
It should be noted
that the No Blame Approach is particularly useful in dealing
with group bullying and name-calling. However, it may be
an inappropriate response to other types of bullying. It
should only be applied with the full agreement of the bullied
child and after a professional judgement has been made about
whether the bullying children are capable of understanding
the hurt they have caused. A small number of children who
bully others have serious social, emotional and behavioural
problems. In such cases the No Blame Approach could expose
the victim to the possibility of even more bullying.