Bullying What to do about bullying?

Bullying What to do about bullying

What is bullying?

What is bullying

Bullying is an increasingly frequent phenomenon. In a previous article, on child abuse, we emphasized that bullying due to its high incidence and its peculiarities deserves to be treated in a separate topic. Bullying has become a serious problem that appears, not only in schools, but in many more sectors of our society.

Social interactions are always complex. No matter how old you are, social relationships are present from school to advanced age and even in the world of work. Social interaction can take place from a positive point of view or from a negative point of view.

One of these negative variants in social interaction is “Bullying”, which can appear in various contexts, from school to prisons.

Bullying is nothing more than an aggressive behavior or a form of violence between equals, where there is a systematic abuse of power by an individual or group of people over another individual or group of people, which is carried out repeatedly and intentionally in order to to cause physical or psychological harm, either in person or online.

Consensus specialists highlight the following as fundamental criteria:

  1. The intentionality.
  2. The repetition. That is, the violent behavior has to occur more than once.
  3. There must be an imbalance of power, which makes it difficult for the victim to defend himself.
  4. The relationship must be between equals, that is, between students, between workers.

Is bullying something new?

Although the presence in the audiovisual media is a current issue, bullying is not something new. The first publications on the subject appeared at least 30 years ago in Scandinavia. However, it is not until the beginning of the new millennium that research and publications on bullying have increased significantly.

According to Professor Peter Smith, from the Gold Smith College of the University of London, only between the years 2011 to 2015 6,095 papers and reports on the subject were published. The environments with the most studies and reports are educational, labor and prisons.

Most common causes of bullying.

Harassment generally occurs as a type of discrimination, so within its causes we find:

  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Discrimination based on gender identity.
  • Discrimination based on nationality.
  • Discrimination due to immigration status.
  • Discrimination by ethnicity.
  • Discrimination based on health status.
  • Discrimination based on sex.
  • Discrimination based on socioeconomic status.
  • Discrimination for religious beliefs.
  • Discrimination towards the disabled.
  • Discrimination due to differences of opinion.
  • Discrimination due to social stigma

Is bullying just physical violence?

Is bullying just physical violence

Although we tend to think of bullying as physical violence, in reality this bullying can include several types of violence, which can occur individually or in combination:

  • Verbal violence : is that which occurs through the word, either by insulting, making malicious comments or damaging the social reputation of another person, among others.
  • Psychological violence : It is any action that tries to damage the emotional integrity of people, such as excluding or encouraging the deliberate exclusion of a person.
  • Sexual violence : either by comments, threats or sexual exhibition.
  • Physical violence: any action that violates the physical integrity of a person (pushing, kicking, assaults with objects).
  • Material violence : Includes everything that is damaging, destroying or taking without consent any property of another person or threats that force the person to hand over personal property by coercion.
  • Social violence : is one that isolates the victim from their environment.
  • Cyberbullying : it is when technology and communication networks are used to do bullying.

Participants in bullying and their roles.

  • The victim: It is the person who is being attacked.
  • The harasser: It is the subject who exercises violence. Among the bullies we distinguish the ringleader or leader (he is the one who initiates the intimidation) and the reinforcers who are the ones who laugh and encourage the ringleader’s behavior.
  • The observers / victims: are those who sometimes annoy the bullies and are sometimes attacked.
  • The protectors or defenders: they are those who help the victim in some way.
  • Bystanders or witnesses: those who observe the harassment and ignore it.

Bullying in educational centers and its consequences.

Harassment within educational centers is not a behavior that has appeared recently, but it has been exposed and evaluated intensively in recent decades.

Today we more commonly observe the consequences that this aggressive behavior brings within the educational community , since it deteriorates coexistence and harms the well-being and development of children and young people. In addition, it violates the rights of children and adolescents. Likewise, it increases the risk of work stress.

But it not only has consequences at the level of the educational center , but it deeply affects the victim in this process. The student who is a victim of bullying may suffer psychologically from nervous instability. You may suffer from fear, loneliness, insecurity, and mistrust. All of this translates into physical health problems, such as chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, and eating disorders.

The victim, when suffering all this, begins to present alterations in school and family life, which are reflected in lack of interest, demotivation, poor academic performance and can even reach school dropout, social isolation, apathy and introversion, and in Extreme cases may attempt to harm your abuser or harm yourself.

The most common mistake in these cases is to blame the victim with phrases such as “what has he done to be treated like this?”, Which makes the person feel alone and abandoned, with no one to turn to, and the process begins isolation.

The different roles in bullying.

In the case of the student who exercises violence , we can observe a distortion of what is good and evil. There is an overvaluation of anti-values, which can lead to generalized insensitivity, a lack of empathy and lack of solidarity. For all this, he is not able to understand his companions and feel remorse.

Generally the violent student does not face his responsibilities. People in your environment excuse you for your behavior, be it because of your family or school history. As a result, it continually generates problems of discipline and respect for authority.

It is usually caused by the absence of a parent or that one of the parents has a violent behavior, lack of organization in the home or tensions between members of the family nucleus.

And finally, observing students, being directly or indirectly involved, get used to bullying as something everyday. They end up normalizing behavior and end up accepting that violence is normal behavior within society and within their lives, as a normal way of relating.

Bullying characteristics.

Bullying characteristics

The characteristics and manifestations of bullying are not always the same. Among the factors that contribute to its variability we find:

Age differences.

Published studies suggest that the first signs of bullying emerge between the ages of 7 and 8 in kindergarten or nursery school. At this age the roles change frequently so they do not take it as bullying. This behavior can be extended to the first years of primary school.

The peak of bullying cases is reached as recorded between the ages of 11 and 14. After this period its frequency decreases. There is evidence that this peak in pro-bullying behavior is due to the fact that young people at this age feel an impulse to have a dominant status in the peer group.

This need to exhibit dominance is characteristic of the adolescent period. At this time there is a great concern of young people to be rejected by their peers, especially after puberty.

Another reason for this spike in adolescent violence is that bullying leaders feel rewarded if followers support them in bullying or if they remain passive.

Additionally, some stalkers are especially skilled at manipulating others, are able to understand what the victim is experiencing, and know how to be more efficient in causing harm.

Gender differences.

There is a tendency for males to assume the role of stalker more frequently and females that of defenders. Regarding the role of victims, both sexes are equal.

When men take on the role of stalker, they do so mostly from physical violence. When females take on the role of bullies they mainly use indirect, rational bullying and cyberbullying, at least until early adolescence. Then boys take predominance in cyberbullying in later adolescence.

Disability bullying.

Children who have a mainly physical disability are more likely to be victims of bullying. This is because most of them do not have the necessary social skills to deal with bullying.

There are also some cases, in which these children with disabilities are involved as bullies, either because they have fewer friends or friendships of low quality.

Warning signs.

There are some red flags that have to be taken into account to start investigating whether we may be facing a case of bullying:

  • The child does not want to go to school.
  • He does not play with other children.
  • Has uncontrolled crying.
  • Has flight behaviors.
  • Manifests extreme emotional responses.
  • It becomes a person who is in constant alertness.

Bullying prevention.

In order to work on preventing and reducing aggressive behavior within institutions, work must be done on several aspects at the same time:

  • Rescue of values: respect, justice, tolerance, equity, peace, honesty and responsibility.
  • Strengthening of self-esteem: in order to make them feel better about themselves and their environment.
  • Work on conflict resolution in a constructive way: we must think about what we are going to say, in order to be able to dialogue and negotiate.
  • Teach that there must be clear limits in any healthy relationship, to avoid behavior patterns that can lead to bullying.

If we cannot prevent the behavior, there are protocols on how to act in bullying situations.

What to do in bullying situations?

The document published by UNICEF on how to act in a situation of bullying may be useful . When any member of the teaching staff or director of an educational center is informed about a situation of bullying or perceives it, they are responsible for enforcing the protocol. This requires a quick but not hasty intervention, which guarantees the right of the students. The objective of this intervention is to ensure that bullying stops and does not happen again. It is important to prioritize discretion and confidentiality. Only professionals and those involved should know the facts.

UNICEF gives us an action guide with eight steps to follow.

Detection of the bullying situation .

It is important not to downplay student complaints. Listen respectfully without minimizing or ignoring reports. It is important that the complainant feels heard and is taken into account.

Report the situation of abuse to the school principal.

It is important, when faced with a complaint of bullying, inform the director of the educational center or institution. It is important to emphasize that the lack of involvement of the management should not slow down the application of the measures of this protocol.

Attention to the harassment situation .

Take the necessary actions to stop the harassment and ensure that it is not repeated. When dealing with a situation, take care to speak separately with each person involved. It is not necessary to directly confront the attacked with the aggressors. Mediation between equals must be avoided, so it is extremely useful to attend to the parties involved privately, avoiding publicity, to avoid further grievances.

Communication with families .

The member of the educational center responsible for dealing with the situation must communicate with the father, mother or person in charge of the alleged aggressor, the victim and possible witnesses, avoiding that they are summoned on the same day or at the same time.

Interview with all parties .

The interview must be personalized and different depending on the party involved. The fundamental objective in all cases is to achieve the highest possible confidentiality. It is essential to make it clear that the responsibility to stop bullying is collective (teachers, families, professionals, implicated).

Define the measures to follow with each part .

Whether the existence of bullying is confirmed or not, the purpose of the protocol is to guarantee the protection of schoolchildren.

Monitoring of the implementation of the measures .

The measures should not be only punitive, they must be preventive, formative and socio-educational in order to support the development of the individual. These measures should not only be specific, but will require continuous monitoring of them.

Mediations to restore coexistence .

Remember that it is a process of prevention and awareness of other incidents of bullying.

The issue of harassment is very complex and can be approached from different aspects. Fortunately, there are many recent research works thanks to the globalization of information. For those who want to delve into this topic, you can find more information on these sites:

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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