Appendix 2: Example of how to manage problematic sexual behaviour in lower secondary school

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In grade 8 at a secondary school there were a lot of pupils using sexualized and violating language toward each other, and a group of boys especially liked to initiate it. This usually affected the girls in the class, but would sometimes affect a few of the boys, too. The contact teacher expressed that he didn’t get to spend enough time with the pupils, and felt conflicts and violating behaviour weren’t dealt with properly as a consequence. Multiple other teachers went into the same class, but said the pupils neither listened to them nor followed the rules they made during lessons, resulting in many warnings being issued.

A lot of parents started contacting the school with concerns about the classroom environment, and several of the girls wished to change schools/classes. Finally the contact teacher called the local consultation team to discuss the sexualized language used in the class. He was advised to contact the Child Welfare Service for guidance and an assessment of the classroom environment, in addition to PPT for help with systemic change.

The teacher, the Child Welfare Service and PPT then agreed on the importance of working both individually and systemically. The Child Welfare Service and PPT held a meeting with available resource persons at school (contact teacher, school social worker, school nurse and management) to create an overarching plan for changing the classroom environment. The Child Welfare Service assisted the resource persons with assessing concerns around individual pupils. They also looked into the class dynamics along with PPT. It turned out several of the pupils were struggling for various reasons and not receiving treatment. Some of them had trouble academically and couldn’t keep up with academic progression, others dealt with poor conditions at home. This insight resulted in supportive measures being implemented in a few families by the Child Welfare Service, and individual assessments from PPT. The resource persons were in addition tasked with creating concise guidelines and structures for every teacher coming into the class to ensure a general and predictable approach towards every pupil.

The teachers were all to focus on building trustful relations with the pupils and model the kind of communication wanted in a classroom. The contact teacher would get some time freed up in his schedule every week to talk more with the pupils who needed it. The social teacher did the same thing. The school nurse and contact teacher spent time regularly holding lessons on sexuality, relations and boundaries, and consulted with the pupils to emerge at a set of guidelines for everyone to follow. The rest of the school, in turn, focused extra on the guidelines at the orders of the management, and this was communicated at assemblies and to guardians. All the teachers involved with the class regularly met to ensure coordination and update each other on what was going on.

After a while teachers, guardians and even pupils discovered the bad language had disappeared, and the environment in the class had noticeably increased.