ESP Case study: Meet Marco

Marco is 14 years of age and is having some struggles at home and at school. Life at home has been tough, resulting in Marco living with his grandmother for a period of a few years.

He has only recently returned to live with mum.

Marco struggles to concentrate at school and often gets in trouble as a result. He is also bullied by other students, and this usually ends with him getting into fights. This has made Marco feel angry as he perceives he is not treated well or looked after by the school and his family.

Feeling alone he starts to play games online and there he meets new people. Marco feels that these people are his friends as they sympathise with him and encourage him to act out violently towards the bullies at school.

This escalates and Marco starts fighting with other students and is eventually suspended. Feeling that the teachers don’t believe him, he then directs his anger and threats towards them which leads to more school suspensions.

Marco’s online friends congratulate him on his actions and encourage him to speak about what he does and plans to do online. He then attracts followers feeding Marco feelings of bravado and leadership. Harnessing this new persona he starts encouraging others to hurt those who threatened them, especially people who look and speak differently.

Marco’s behaviour online draws the attention of the Police. He is spoken to about his behaviour and instead of being charged with serious offences Marco is offered a chance to work with ESP.

ESP spoke with Marco and his mother about the program and how it can help. Marco described his problems at home and at school and how he prefers to be on the computer speaking with people who like him.

Marco’s ESP Case Manager spoke about the dangers of being involved with people online and provided examples of how other people got themselves into serious trouble, including prison time.

ESP were able to work with the school and put other supports in place to help Marco and his mother. ESP also organised and paid for activities Marco liked to do where he was able to meet new friends with the same interests as him.

Clients such as Marco demonstrate the importance of effective and timely interventions.

Assisting this client to overcome what some would consider basic hurdles has formed a foundation of trust which will then allow for those more meaningful and challenging conversations to take place. It has also contributed significantly to the diversion away from his ideology and an acceptance back into the community.

ESP are able to assist and respond to our clients as well as provide direct assistance to family members. This facilitates the momentum required to build rapport and trust, and the foundation required to then work on the issues contributing to our clients’ risks.

Advice and support

If you would like further advice and support on how best to help someone you care about, contact our Step Together helpline workers.

Last updated:

26 Oct 2023

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