Bullying is an increasingly frequent occurrence in schools and occurs when a student or group repeatedly and continuously physically and psychologically assaults a child or adolescent. Aggression, intimidation, isolation, threats, insults, mockery, and other similar attitudes are different expressions of bullying suffered mainly by children between 6 and 17 years of age, but with a significant violence component between 11 and 15 years of age.
Physical: this focuses on physical aggression towards the victim (pushing, kicking, attack with objects, etc.) and is more frequent in primary school than in secondary school.
Verbal: This is the most common type of bullying and is based on insults and belittling the victim in public, trying to ridicule them at all times.
Psychological: it tries to generate fear in the victim, causing a very significant loss of self-esteem.
Social: the ultimate goal is to completely isolate the victim from her peers, achieving her total exclusion from shared activities within the school.
Consequences of bullying
The phenomenon of school bullying not only carries consequences for the victim, but also for the aggressor(s) and even for those who witness the bullying:
- Failure and school difficulties.
- High level of anxiety.
- School phobia.
- Deficit of self-esteem.
- Depressive symptoms.
- Suicide attempts.
- Low expectation of achievement.
They are submerged in an attitude of continuous helplessness as they feel unable to control the bullying situations by themself.
Carrying out the bullying allows him to learn unhealthy ways to achieve his goals.
This learning places him in a position of high risk of developing criminal behavior.
The bullying provides him with recognition within the group and strengthens his leadership, although this is within the limits of a youth gang.
The success of his actions will likely lead him to generalize his behavior to other areas of his life, such as his family, work, or partner, which could lead him to acquire the profile of a potential abuser.
But bullying can also have negative consequences for those classmates who witness it without doing anything to prevent it (passive spectators), as they develop a lack of sensitivity to unfair situations and develop an attitude of tolerance and inability to respond to violence.
10 guidelines for parents to prevent school bullying
We refer to bullying when we talk about situations based on “inequality” between the aggressor and the victim, in which a dominance-submission relationship is established. We can describe it as actions or behaviors where one or more students insult, defame, threaten, blackmail, spread rumors, hit, steal, break things, ignore or isolate others in a systematic and prolonged manner over time. These acts produce feelings of helplessness and inferiority in those who suffer them.
For this reason, we propose the following tips to prevent and detect bullying in time:
Remain attentive to the warning signs:
If your child is suffering from bullying, he/she may avoid going to class, is more nervous or withdrawn, presents psychosomatic symptoms (stomach ache, headaches, vomiting, insomnia…), his/her school material disappears frequently, if he/she loses interest in studies or performance suddenly drops.
Talk to them about their worries and their day-to-day life at school, conveying calmness. If we do not act calmly, children do not dare to talk about their problems for fear of our reaction and avoid distressing us, and therefore we will not be able to help them.
Talk to your child about how to solve their problems:
Give them some examples of your difficulties and how you have been able to solve them. By doing so, you are demonstrating two critical lessons: that we all have problems, that we are not alone, and that we need to talk about them to find solutions.
It boosts their self-esteem:
The value of being unique and convey to him that his differences make him special. Make an effort so that your child feels valued and loved, have a healthy vision of themself and realistically accept their defects.
Contact the school and inform them of the situation:
Schools are obliged to get involved and take action; they must also act in cases of Cyberbullying even if the bullying occurs outside the center. You can ask for a meeting with your child’s tutor to tell them about the situation. They will put in place an action protocol involving: the tutor, guidance counselor, head of studies and direction, to protect your child, help them, promote healthy social relationships and equality, and work with the student who is harassing. If the bullying is taking place through new technologies, there are specialized groups of the Police and Guardia Civil to which you can go to report the situation.
Ask the school center to provide training on bullying and cyberbullying, as well as on the management of emotions and conflict resolution:
Centers that carry out these types of activities and teaching essential tools for life identify situations that can still be prevented.
Help your child to put their emotions into words:
When your child is sad, angry or frustrated, connect with his or her emotion and teach him or her to understand and overcome his or her discomfort.
Teach them that there are limits:
They cannot be crossed, neither at home nor outside the house, and that violent acts have consequences for those who do them. Ensure they are clear about the difference between “being popular” (by being aggressive or bullying) and being accepted and liked by others for their healthy way of relating to others.
Indicate to your child that if there is a situation of violence in the school, they must be supportive:
Not defending a classmate and silencing the situation also implies being part of the bullying game and strengthening the aggressor’s position of power. “If you remain silent when bullying another classmate, you become an accomplice and a passive aggressor.” Help them to be empathetic: “put him/herself in the place of the victim.” Reflect with your child: If someone bullied you, how would you feel?
If your child shows violent attitudes to achieve some goal, correct them:
Do not let this be how they achieve their goals, and show them through your example as a parent that goals can be achieved without the need to be violent. Learning to respect others is essential in any coexistence relationship.