Although all children and young people may fight occasionally as part of their normal coexistence, bullying is characterized by being sustained mistreatment of the same person over time. It can be continued for weeks, months or years. This behavior is neither normal nor conducive to growth.
The fact that a child or adolescent does bullying against a partner does not mean that they have high self-esteem, but simply that they are aware of a difference in power between themselves and the harassed partner.
This difference in power is not real. It is not true that children are bullied simply for being fat, or for belonging to a different ethnic group. The real reason is that children perceive themselves as weaker. This perception of themselves is motivated by social models that favor certain physical characteristics over others, but it is not predetermined.
Bullying situations are not determined by a single factor but for multiple reasons. The perception of the difference in power between the harasser and the harassed is the indispensable requirement, but it is not the only one. The psychological resources of those involved, the capacity for empathy, the reaction of the group and the position of the adults significantly affect this dynamic.
Bullying can be :
- Physical: It is not as frequent because it is more likely to have negative consequences for the aggressor.
- Verbal: It is the most frequent since its consequences are usually minimized by both the aggressor and adults.
- Gestural: They are forms of aggression that are exercised without touching the other.
- Material: It is usually carried out when there are no witnesses since it allows the victim’s belongings to be destroyed without consequences for the aggressors.
- Virtual: It is a more invasive form of verbal harassment since it does not allow the victim to move away from the aggressor.
- Sexual: All the forms of harassment mentioned can have a sexual charge.
Examples of bullying
- Damaging a classmate’s study materials: Throwing a drink on a classmate’s book can be a joke if he is your best friend, and he will probably do the same with your book. However, if it is a partner with whom you do not have that trust and that you think will not defend itself, it is a form of mistreatment (material damage). If these are also repeated events, it is bullying.
- Making obscene gestures at peers is not appropriate in any educational context. You can’t know for sure when you start to bother someone else. Repeated obscene gestures to another person can be considered sexual harassment.
- We have all insulted and have been insulted at some time, without causing us significant harm. However, repeated insults to the same person cause psychic damage and are a form of verbal violence.
- Nicknames: Nicknames can seem like an innocent way of referring to someone. However, if the nicknames were designed with the aim of humiliating someone and are accompanied by other insults or some form of abuse, they are part of a bullying situation.
- Damaging a classmate’s desk is not only damaging school property but also invading his or her daily space, forcing him or her to see the results of an act of violence.
- Everyday physical assaults: when a child or adolescent physically assaults another repeatedly, it is a form of bullying, even if the assaults do not leave visible marks, that is if they are supposedly harmless assaults such as pushing or small blows. The negative effect of these blows is produced by repetition, which is a way of humiliating the partner.
- Nobody should send obscene photographs to another person through social networks or mobile phones if the recipient did not clearly request those photographs. Sending this type of material without being requested is a form of sexual harassment, regardless of whether the person sending it is a man or a woman.
- Repeatedly posting insults towards a partner on social networks is a form of cyberbullying, even if these comments are not sent directly to the attacked person.
- Repeatedly taunting another’s difficulties in learning or doing certain activities is a form of verbal bullying.
- Hitting: they are the most obvious form of bullying. Fights between partners can occur for different reasons. However, it is bullying when violent situations are repeated, or when the aggressors are several and the victim is only one.
- When an entire group decides to ignore a classmate, not invite them to group activities, not speak to them or even not give them important information within school activities, it is a form of non-verbal abuse, which if sustained over time is a form of bullying.
- Robberies: anyone can be the victim of a robbery in the school context. Bullying is considered when robberies are always repeated towards the same person, with the aim of harming him more than benefiting from the objects obtained.