Pupils tend to play down the seriousness of their wrongdoings unless they see the harmful consequences of their actions.


 

Ask the pupil to think about what negative consequences his wrongdoing has caused for other people and for himself. If the pupil has difficulty in answering, resist the temptation to provide the answer. Instead, have him find out the answer himself.

 

When the pupil has admitted to his wrongdoing he shall apologize. Prior to that he should, however, he should demonstrate that he understands why what he did was wrong and that he understands what the consequences of his actions were. If this does not happen, any apology will be bound to sound shallow. An apology without remorse or understanding why it was wrong, does not really count. Often adults try to make youngsters understand how wrong they did by pointing out to them what dangers and negative consequenses they have caused by their action. This is, however, often to no avail as pupils tend to experience it as preaching which makes them not want to listen. A better alternative is to let the pupil think about it and to try to come up himself with an answer to the question of danger or harm was caused bu his actions.

If the pupil finds it difficult to find an answer, the teacher should resist the tempation to provide the answer. (”Don't you understand how dangerous it was what you did? Somebody could very well have died!") It is better to let the pupil find out the answer. He can, for example, talk with his friends, his parents or even those who were in danger or suffered because of his actions.

It is suggested that the pupil be coached to write down his answers on sheet of paper, as this will make it easier to review and discuss his answer. More dangers or negaive consequences can be added later as they come up. In the next step this memo can come handy as the the pupil will think about how to apologize for his action.

Questions for the teacher
- How does what you did influence Susy?
- How does what you did influence the relationship between you and Suzy?
- How does what you did influence the relationship between you and your parents?
- How does what you did influence the relationship between you and your classmates?
- How does what you did influence the classroom as a whole?
- How does what you did influence your own reputation?

Example
A girl verbally abused her classmate by calling her ugly in front of others. The teacher found the victim sobbing in the school hallway. During the next lesson the teacher brought the issue up. The teacher took a clear moral stand and said: "Girls and boys, you know what I think of verbal abuse. I don't accept it, I consider it unfair." Having said that the teacher asked her pupils to tell her why they thought verbal bullying is wrong. The dicussion yealded a list of reasons why verbal bullying is wrong and why nobody should be subjected to it. Gounds for stopping such behaviour included: 1. it makes the victim feel bad, 2. it can have a negative effect on the victim's self esteem, 3. it can lead to a cycly of revenge, 4. it tends to separate pupils into groups that don't talk with each others, 5. it ruins the atmosphere of the class, and 6. it creates fear among the pupils.


Next step
When the pupil admits his wrongdoing and and also demonstrates that he understands what negative consequences it has had, he is ready to express his apology which is is the next step in the process of accepting responsibility for one's wrongdoing.

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