Death of a schoolgirl
:Psychology Professor: “Now everybody has to talk to each other”
Policemen secure on this Monday – the first day of school after the winter holidays – the entrances to the Hausotter elementary school in Reinickendorf. Many parents accompany their children to school. “I do not feel good about leaving my son here today,” says a mother.
Several parents take part in this cold morning on a minute’s silence for the eleven-year-old classmate, who died shortly before the beginning of the holiday. At first, parents in the media had claimed classmates had bullied and driven them to their deaths. But this is completely unexplained. Sister General Yeliz Demirel pointed out that the girl’s parents had asked for silence. They also saw to it that the flowers and stuffed animals laid down in front of the school in the past few days were taken away, says Demirel. Partly, they came to the mourning room, which the school has now set up on the mezzanine floor. There, classmates have also left letters. “We miss you!”, Reads in the candlelight.
Education senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) has already visited the place. Outside the building, the parents are in small groups and discuss the actual extent of bullying at the school. In the coming weeks, parent evenings will be held in each class.
Herbert Scheithauer, professor of psychology at the Free University and anti-bullying expert, is to accompany the process of work-up at the Hausotter School. The 48-year-old is in contact with headmistress Daniela Walter.
Mr Scheithauer, you are supporting Hausotter Elementary School in the coming months. What exactly is your job?
I will now discuss this in detail with the Headmistress. The school was recently in the center medial. This has caused a lot of uncertainty among the pupils and parents, but also in the teaching staff. Already the death of the girl has burdened everyone, mourning is now important. Then calm must come in, so that we can discuss what really happened.
What is it about?
To clarify why certain parents think that things went wrong at school. It is not even clear whether bullying at school was responsible for the girl’s death. Therefore, we have to wait and see if any anti-bullying program should be established at school.
Some parents have come to the public with serious bullying allegations. How can the trust in the school be restored?
These were just a few parents, not all. Now everyone has to talk to each other.
The headmistress criticized by some parents is quite new in office …
And she has already started something. If the allegations refer to events from two to three years ago, we have to look at whether these things may have developed differently again.
The former headmaster is certainly not decided enough against disrespect and bullying, according to the inspection report.
I can not conclusively judge that. But when many things have dammed up in the past, a new headmistress will not be able to stop it with a snap of his finger. In any case, local parents are not well advised to go public immediately or to comment on Internet forums.
The cooperating with some parents bullying coach Carsten steel has fueled with his anger speeches the whole thing.
His performance, as I was told, was not conducive. An objectification can not be achieved in this way. The death of the girl is a shocking event. To yell is of little help.
To what extent is a mourning room helpful at school?
If a classmate dies, this can be traumatic for other students. There a school must set a sign. Especially primary school students may be confronted with death for the first time. A mourning room helps to say goodbye.
What is the danger that such a publication in the media traumatized other students?
Reports of possible suicide can lead to adolescents being affected in critical situations and imitating them. Therefore, there is a press code not to publish such a thing. Especially since this is an eleven-year-old child.
How will you proceed at the school now?
I am in contact with the headmistress. With understanding and calm I want to look at the situation at the school and analyze with the school management, what to do. Maybe there are also different perceptions.
How could bullying be contained among students?
We do not just look at the perpetrators and victims. Bullying acts as a group dynamics event involving many. Even as spectators who do not contain this, possibly even support it. We know from the perpetrators that they often have a history and also develop significant behavioral problems over time. Nothing should be covered. I would rather send my child to a school that actively combats bullying.
Where should parents go if they think they have discovered wrongdoing at school?
First of all, they should talk to the responsible subject or class teacher, the parent representatives can also be involved and – if you can not get any further – also the school management. The supervisor or the complaints management of the senate education administration can be informed as ultima ratio.