World Day of Bullying Prevention: Myths About School Bullying - Step To Health
 

World Day of Bullying Prevention: Myths About School Bullying

May 2 has been World Day of Bullying Prevention since 2013. It's a day recognized by UNICEF for its importance in educational settings and in the quality of life of millions of children and adolescents.
World Day of Bullying Prevention: Myths About School Bullying

Last update: 25 October, 2021

May 2 was declared World Day of Bullying Prevention thanks to a proposal of the non-profit organization International Bullying Sin Fronteras (Internacional Bullying Without Borders). World-renowned institutions such as UNICEF have recognized this date, and many countries also echoed the World Day of Bullying Prevention to establish actions in society and schools on May 2.

Before we continue, please note that other organizations also recognize International Bullying Prevention days in October and November. But, here at Step for Health, we believe that the more dates, the better!

Bullying is an English term that, in our current context, refers to the violence and intimidation that takes place in educational environments. It’s a violent practice between peers, which can be physical, verbal, or psychological.

This violence isn’t exclusive to schools, as it can occur during sports practice or in public spaces such as parks. However, schools are where this behavior’s centered. Children and adolescents spend many hours in classrooms, and the space becomes a small society with its own power groups.

The World Day of Bullying Prevention is an opportunity to highlight myths about bullying. The problem with myths is that, as they spread, they delay the identification of many violent situations that could be preventable.

In this article, we’ll tell you about 4 of these myths about bullying and what we can do to banish them.

1. Bullying is only physical

The very definition of bullying that the World Day of Bullying Prevention promotes shows that violence isn’t only physical. It can be verbal or psychological as well.

Perhaps psychological bullying is the most difficult variant to identify. But let’s think about the strategies of social isolation that certain groups of children exert on others. Repeatedly not inviting someone to play is a method of segregation, for example.

On the other hand, physical violence is the most notable. Some studies suggest that there’s a link between this violence in schools and that which comes from the home, producing a vicious circle from which it’s difficult to escape.

Although more evident, physical violence isn’t always detected, as it’s common for children and adolescents who suffer from it to hide their condition from parents and teachers. This is why it requires a lot of attention from adults.

A teenage girl holding up a clenched fist.
Physical violence is the most obvious, but there’s also bullying with psychological and verbal violence.

2. Violence is a child’s thing

This myth is one of the most dangerous and widespread. For many adults, fights between children are normal, as is the use of physical violence to resolve them.

If a child tells their family that they’re being hit, they can even get told off by their parents, forcing them to defend themself and return the violence. In this case, all the parents are doing is concealing the bullying and producing aggression in their child. Ultimately, this myth further buries the possibility of addressing the problem. In fact, it fuels it.

The World Day of Bullying Prevention aims to stimulate constructive dialogue between children and adults to move towards less punitive ways of dealing with these issues. In other words, it aims to discuss ways to reject the idea that two children fighting is OK. They also aim to carry these out among all parties involved.

3. Children’s problems can be solved by the children themselves

Boy with writing on hands stop school bullying
The normalization of violence and the lack of dialogue further isolate children and adolescents who suffer bullying.

Another very common mistake when it comes to the normalization of bullying is the strange belief that children should solve their problems on their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Adults have more tools to approach the problem of violence and, therefore, to help resolve the situation.

When adults act as mere spectators, they’re no different from other children and adolescents who also watch the violence without intervening. Passive subjects fuel bullying, and it’s worse in the case of adults, who should have the obligation to act according to their age.

Educational institutions should have a protocol of action against bullying. The earlier a bullying process is stopped, the better the results, thus avoiding a snowballing effect that can fuel the problem.

Responsibilities on the World Day of Bullying Prevention

The day of World Day of Bullying Prevention can be a great way of establishing communities of accompaniment and treatment in schools. Adults can accept the opportunity in order to provide tools that children and adolescents don’t have. It’s not a problem just for children, but rather for communities as a whole.

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  • González, Rodolfo Sergio Castro. “La violencia familiar y su influencia en la violencia escolar (bullying) activa, pasiva y testigo en alumnos de secundaria.” (2015).
  • Enríquez Villota, Maria Fernanda. “El acoso escolar.” (2015).
  • Sampson, Rana. “Bullying in schools.” (2016).
  • Graham, Sandra. “Victims of bullying in schools.” Theory into practice 55.2 (2016): 136-144.