Circle of Friends & Support Groups

Circle of Friends

A support network can be set up to build relationships around a vulnerable child/young person. Welsh Assembly guidance (2003) states that the circle of friends method must first be explained to the individual and the parents/carers, whose agreement and support are essential. If in school, a trained adult meets with the class to discuss how they would feel and behave if they were isolated or socially excluded and consider how they may help and volunteer to form the individual’s circle of friends (6-8 individuals). The group considers strategies for helping the individual which are recorded and then prioritised. Case studies confirm that this is a flexible and creative method of forming positive relationships with peers and increasing insight into the individual’s feelings and behaviour. Newton and Wilson (1999) give a step-by-step guide to the method and list some useful resources.

Support Group Approach

The Support Group Approach (sometimes referred to as the ‘No Blame’ approach) follows the seven key steps below in resolving an incidence of bullying. The emphasis is on getting together the young people that engaged in the bullying behaviour and sharing responsibility for making amends.

  1. Step one – talk with the victim
  2. Step two – set up meeting with those involved
  3. Step three – explain the problem
  4. Step four – share responsibility, don’t blame
  5. Step five – ask the group for their ideas
  6. Step six – leave it up to them
  7. Step seven – meet individuals again and evaluate

Impressive statistics have been cited by Young (1998), where over a two-year period, 80% of cases in primary schools were dealt with successfully by this method. In 14% of the cases, three to five reviews were needed before the bullying stopped. The individual continued to experience bullying only in 6% of cases. Results in secondary schools were similar.