One in four students admits that they have participated in an act of bullying without knowing it

One in four students recognizes that they have participated in a situation of bullying without knowing it. These students were aware a posteriori that their behavior fell within the category of bullying after going through a training workshop, in which they identified their actions and regretted having carried them out.

School bullying, the uncomfortable reality

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This is one of the conclusions that appears in the IV report The opinion of the students, which is prepared every year by the Anar Foundation and the Mutua Madrileña, on bullying in Spanish educational centers, which was published this Tuesday.

Given that it is an issue that cannot go well while it exists, the general outlook is cautiously positive, values ​​Benjamín Ballesteros, director of Fundación Anar Programs. “School bullying has changed in a very important way. The data is encouraging: they are better, there is a significant improvement,” he maintains, although he warns that with the pandemic and the confinement in between, harassment has necessarily been greatly reduced and it remains to be seen if that drop, still present in the figures today, is sustained or the rebound shown in this edition of the report is going to increase.

But in general today there is half the harassment that there is six years ago, according to the students. In 2016, half of the students claimed that bullying situations occurred in their class; today they are 24.4%. The negative side of this data, Ballesteros warns, is that it has risen compared to the previous year, that of the pandemic, when it fell to 15.2%.

"The following years will be decisive to see if this reduction is really the case," says the expert. “But the graph of the evolution is downward, although there has been a long period of stabilization 2017-2019 and now we do not know exactly what the behavior is. But the trend is downward. Since 2017 we do not have those figures of 50% bullying in the perception of students, ”he adds.

The report describes the prototypical bullying situation as reported by the students: most of the time (around 75%) the aggression is carried out by several people, and half of the time the victim is a single person (a little more than that mark in the case of men, a little less in that of women), a third of the cases last more than a year and insults, nicknames or ridicule predominate (there are 89.49% of the occasions in a upward trend), followed by isolation (41.7%) or spreading rumors and punches and kicks (31% of the time).

“There is a greater awareness of the problem”

Ballesteros believes that "the evolution is positive because there is a greater awareness of the problem." Much has also changed in recent years, he argues, in the system's response. “There are the protocols of the centers, which no longer profile themselves and understand that there may be harassment; In addition, people no longer consider it a children's problem and are aware that it can have serious consequences, ”he lists.

However, the report also detects in this sense many differences in the perception of case management from the centers: the students do not perceive that it is happening. While six out of ten students believe that their school (bullying is more common at younger ages) has not done anything in the face of a possible case, more than nine out of ten teachers maintain the opposite. "It's a communication problem," says Ballesteros.

And perhaps a relevant one, because experts point out that one of the steps that a minor must take in a case of harassment is to talk to an adult. “It is important to transmit a series of messages”, explains the head of Fundación Anar Programs: “That it is not your fault, that no one has the right to hit you, that you should not remain silent in front of the aggressor and seek support from an adult in your environment either call the Anar Foundation (900 20 20 10, it's free).

Teachers add other issues that families can do with their children: setting a good example, instilling and making good use of technology and educating their offspring in values ​​are others, says Ballesteros.

Anyone can be a victim

Because practically anyone can be a victim or perpetrator of bullying, the report points out through the responses of the students. "They are boys with high social skills, with a tendency to feel superior but who have psychological problems such as low self-esteem, fear of rejection, little tolerance for frustration and are aggressive," Ballesteros describes. But at the same time, he remembers, there are those who participate without even being aware of it.

Regarding the reasons for choosing a victim, the students speak of the "physical appearance" (56.5% of the time) or "the things they say or do" (53.6%). "In other words, we can say that anyone can be a victim of harassment if those are the reasons," says Ballesteros.

The report reveals, as the case of the harassing student unknowingly and regretful of their actions demonstrates, that training is the solution. Ballesteros has seen it. "When they become aware of what bullying is, they begin to recognize that they have participated in it." That is why workshops are so important. The teaching staff corroborates these impressions of the Anar Foundation expert.

“They talk about time and training. With the pandemic and the reduction in ratios that it brought with it, teachers had more control over the class. Now they miss having time to dedicate to training. It is absolutely necessary”, values ​​Ballesteros.

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