Individual Counselling: Secondary School (Teacher Strategies)

Pure Victim

Keung's case

Keung was studying alone in a quiet area of the school when a few classmates suddenly ran up, snatched his new glasses and started playing with them. When Keung implored them to give his glasses back, they threw them onto the table and broke them. Just at that moment, a teacher passed by and asked Keung what happened, but he was too afraid to tell the truth, and only said that he broke the glasses because of his own clumsiness.

Keung's considerations and actions
  • Regards the outside world as terrible and uncontrollable: Keung thinks the outside world is terrible and he cannot change anything, despite his efforts.
  • Negative and passive thoughts: he often thinks that he is bullied because of his own incompetence, and therefore there is no point in complaining to the teacher.
  • Sense of helplessness: he feels that teachers, parents, and social workers cannot help him to change the situation.
  • Depression: he always blames himself.
  • Passive and withdrawn: even if the teacher shows concern for him, he does not tell the teacher about the bullying.
  • Keeps silent: he does not dare to speak proactively in front of different people.
Social network
  • Avoids interacting with others: Keung would rather stay at home so that he does not have to face the outside world.
  • Being looked down on: the classmates who bully him know that he will not fight back, so it is easy to pick on him.

Instant intervention

  • Bring them to a safe place to reduce their anxiety.
  • Assist them to calm down and help them to explain the details of the incident.

Because pure victims feel scared and helpless after being bullied, teachers should first lead pure victims away from the scene to a safe place, to reduce their anxiety and increase their sense of security.

Intermediate intervention 1

  • Teachers should patiently listen to the victims’ explanations, and provide appropriate emotional support.
  • Teachers should help students to build up a sense of self-confidence in their ability to resolve the incident.
  • The school should emphasise the importance of fairness when dealing with bullying. It should also ensure the personal safety of the students to enhance their trust towards the school.

Relatively pure victims need more space to build a sense of security. Teachers should show a gentle attitude towards them, to enable the pure victims to rationalise their emotions. Accordingly, in this video, Miss Sum was not in a hurry to immediately ask for the details of the incident, but instead gave Keung time to calm himself down. Teachers should give pure victims more time and patience to respond and give them space to talk about what they want to actually express.

Furthermore, teachers should help pure victims to gain a sense of security in the world, beginning with feeling secure in school; e.g., teachers can reaffirm that the school will not tolerate such bullying incidents. To this end, after the incident, the school must take action to investigate the incident and give fair and appropriate punishment to the perpetrators of the bullying.

Intermediate intervention 2

  • Encourage and help students to establish a long-term support network.
  • Help students discover their potential and strengths to enhance their self-confidence.

To negate the long-term effects of bullying on a pure victim, it is necessary to integrate them into school life and improve their skills of self-expression in addition to punishing the bullies. Teachers should encourage more positive and optimistic students to build relationships with the passive victims via quiet activities, such as playing chess, which does not require too much communication, physical contact or eye contact. This will make pure victims feel secure. With the help of teachers and classmates, pure victims will establish social networks with others and have more resources to deal positively, constructively and effectively with any future bullying incidents.

Educating other students

  • Encourage other students to befriend the pure victims.

As mentioned above, in addition to paying attention to the academic grades of the pure victims, teachers should pay more attention to the characteristics of the classmates, explore the resources for passive victims to confront bullying incidents in the school, and understand their interests and aspirations.

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© 2019 City University of Hong Kong          Project on Children and Adolescents at Risk Education (Project C.A.R.E.)