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Another way to deal with group bullying behaviour

There are similarities between using the Method of Shared Concern (MSC) to the Group Support Method (GSM) in my previous post. MSC builds empathy and understanding while using peer influence to take shared responsibility for changing the bullying behaviour. But it does so by working individually with members of the group.
Once the issue is know it is key not to interview the target to avoid the possibility of victimisation or retaliation. The group of peers which contain the suspected bullying behaviour user(s) and others likely to support the target are called into meetings individually. The meeting focuses on reports or observation from others - specifically emphasising it is not from the target - that the target is having problems.

They are asked what have they noticed. As soon as they acknowledge the target is having issues, the facilitator asks them what they personally could do to help the situation. It is not use to shame, seeking to find out who to blame or get an apology. Once the group member suggests something helpful they are thanked and encouraged to carry out the suggestion. A further individual meeting time is set to meet again in a few days time. All of the group is interviewed similarly as a matter of urgency.

After the group interviews, the target is then interviewed and more details gained. They are advised that group has offered suggestions to improve the situation and they should look out for changes. It is left to the group to carry out the idea's. Follow up is carried out a few days later individually with all group members and the target.

Once things have improved there is a whole group meeting can occur. This is to thank them for their help and acknowledge that things have improved for the target. Any issues such as provocation from the target can then be discussed. After this meeting the target can be consulted about wether they wish to be involved in a facilitated meeting with the whole group to close the matter.

Prior to the target attending a group meeting, the target can be supported regarding any revealed provocative behaviours and suitably prepared for the group meeting. This final group meeting is about allowing all concerned to discuss what went on and to move forward.


  • Therapeutically based intervention
  • Meeting suspects first reduces changes of victimisation
  • Process has more influence over adolescences than younger children (Rigby, 2010)
  • You do not need to be able to identify the ringleader
  • Uses peer group influence
  • Meeting the group members individually reduces the possibility of any initial negative reactions influencing other peers in the group
  • Is not judgmental or blaming
  • Uses cognitive dissonance to improve the groups attitudes towards the target
  • Group meeting helps reinforces positive peer behaviour and influences
  • Deals with any provocative behaviours of target
  • Flexible regarding if target joins final whole group meeting
  • Deals with group issues and social aspects
  • Considerable evidence to support that method can address a large proportion of cases (Rigby, 2011)


  • Ambitious intervention
  • Time consuming due to number of individual meetings
  • Requires some type of report or observation of bullying behaviour to instigate process which can make it impractical not to interview the target first
  • Requires training and sound interview/group management skills

Like the GSM some might oppose its use because it does not punish anyone. Again, my response to that is prioritising what is going to be the best outcome for the target. If the bullying behaviour is going to stop by using MSC then I think that is a better result than demanding justice be served and this fails to solve the issue.


Developer: Pikas, Anatol (1989) The common concern method for the treatment of mobbing and (2002) New developments of the shared concern method

Rigby, Ken (2010) Bullying Interventions in Schools: Six Basic Approaches

Rigby, Ken (2011) The Method of Shared Concern: A positive approach to bullying in schools
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