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А teenage girl saved her friend from being bullied. Lawyers helped stop bullying at school

Publication date: December 22, 2023

Nastia*, a 15-year-old resident of Zaporizhzhia, contacted the NGO Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas to protect her friend from being bullied. The girl said that her classmate was being bullied at school.

Nastia’s friend is an IDP, and her family is in a complicated situation: the girl is being raised by her mother alone, and the family is experiencing financial difficulties. As a result, the mother cannot buy her daughter clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc., that are considered “cool” by her classmates.

Tetiana Pliasunova, lawyer at the NGO Agency for Democratic Development of Donbas.

– Unfortunately, not all children show compassion, even during the war. Our client told us that when she tried to talk to her classmates and suggested that they discuss this issue with the class teacher and psychologist, they called her a “snitch”. The girl was very worried about her friend’s fate and psychological state, asked for advice, did not know what to do, says Tetiana Pliasunova, a lawyer with the organization.

The lawyer explained to Nastia when she should contact an adult:

1. Danger and Emergencies. If a child or youth faces danger, a natural disaster, a medical emergency, or any other emergency, adults should be the first to provide help and notify services.

2. Bullying and Conflicts. If a child or youth is the victim of bullying or conflict in school or other settings, it is essential to notify adults who can take charge of the problem and provide protection.

3. Mental Health. Suppose your child is experiencing emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. In that case, reaching out to a professional or adult who can provide support and help find professional help is vital.

4. Sexual Violence or Harassment. In the event of harassment or sexual abuse, adults should immediately contact law enforcement and professionals who can provide help and support.

5. Learning Disabilities. Teachers and parents can work together to find solutions and develop a support plan if a child has learning difficulties.

6. Health issues. For medical problems requiring treatment or consultation, adults (parents, doctors) should be involved in the treatment and care process.

After this conversation, Tetiana Pliasunova met personally with the class teacher, the principal, and the school psychologist. It turned out that the girl who was being bullied had started dating a classmate, and one of the girls in the class did not like it. Out of jealousy, she started a bullying campaign involving other students.

After learning about the situation and understanding the circumstances, teachers and a psychologist held discussions in the classroom. Now, the school assures us the problem is solved.

*Name has been changed for ethical reasons.

Photo for illustration purposes, source: bullyingstop.org.ua 

The material was created with the support of the international charity platform GlobalGiving and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The publication’s content is solely the responsibility of the Legal Development Network.

P. S. More relevant information on legal and humanitarian issues – is in the special section #StandWithUkraine. It accumulates materials that may be useful to those who suffer, whose rights are violated as a result of the war between russia and Ukraine.

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