Bullying and violence at school (school bullying) cause physical and mental pain to students, inside and outside of school.

The term “school bullying” as well as the term “victimization” are used to describe a situation in which deliberate, unprovoked, systematic and repeated violence and aggressive behavior is used to enforce, the oppression and infliction of physical and mental pain on students by their classmates, inside and outside school.

Forms of bullying

Physical: physical injury or threat of injury to someone. It is manifested by pushing, shoving, elbowing, punching and kicking, tripping, hitting with objects, biting and biting, restraining the other through physical practices.
Verbal: systematic use of abusive expressions, verbal attacks, insults and threats, rude comments and irony, use of nicknames.
Intimidation by extortion: the voluntary extortion of money or personal belongings, which is accompanied by threats or coercion into antisocial acts.
Indirect or social: attempt to socially isolate or ignore a person, to influence the peer group to dislike a particular classmate, spread malicious rumors and falsehoods.
Electronic: sending threatening or abusive material via e-mail, MMS and SMS services provided by mobile phones and social networking sites, using or falsifying someone’s personal data, blocking them from an online group, calling their mobile phone from an unknown number.
Racist: spreading negative comments because of origin, social class, economic status, diversity.
Sexual: abusive comments, sketches and graffiti with sexual content, immoral gestures, unwanted touching, even serious sexual assaults.

Methods of prevention and treatment

In the context of prevention, some programs have been implemented against bullying and school violence (e.g., Norwegian model Dan Olweus). The effectiveness of these programs is mainly due to the adoption of the Social-Ecological approach, a holistic approach, which aims to change the climate of the school, so that it does not reproduce violence. In the context of the holistic approach, the interventions concern everyone: the school, the class, the teacher, the students, their parents and the entire local community.


Some effective practices, at the school and classroom level, for implementing an anti-violence strategy are:

At school level

  • formation of a School Committee against bullying and school violence
  • Drafting of a school Declaration against violence: rights-obligations-duties for all members of the school community
  • increased supervision of the school premises
  • raising awareness and working with parents to stop the cycle of reproduction and encouragement of school violence

At classroom level

  • class discussion on the definition and forms of school violence and bullying
  • discussion of the effects of bullying
  • information about why school violence and bullying are not acceptable at school
  • ways and suggestions for prevention and response by students: drawing up classroom rules against violence
  • providing help from students to others to resolve conflicts that could lead to bullying
  • promoting cooperative interactions
  • providing opportunities for positive expression of aggression (e.g., through sports)

Taking Action

Every member of the school community has a role and responsibility in dealing with school bullying. The degree of involvement of each member is related both to their status and to the severity, frequency and intensity of the bullying incident. The role and responsibility of the school Principal is different, that of the teacher, another of the classmates, another of the parents.

However, everyone should cooperate in a framework of parallel actions, because, since the causes of bullying are multiple, so its treatment should be multilevel.


  • Record the incident, giving information about where and when the incident occurred, who was involved, who was observing, what form of intimidation was used and describing exactly what happened.
  • Keep an incident log, so that all interested parties can easily access it
  • Determine if this is repeated behavior that violates the rules against violence
  • If it is repeated bullying, contact the child’s parents by phone and arrange a meeting to discuss
  • Determine the consequences for the child who bullies, after discussion with the parents, the child who bullies, the child-advocates of the child who bullies, and the School Committee
  • Plan how to monitor the problem so that you can monitor the progress of the situation


  • Talk to the child who is being bullied and listen carefully and seriously to what they have to say. Reassure the child that you will respond immediately to protect them and that you are available to provide any assistance possible. Tell the child to keep you informed of any developments
  • Talk to the child’s parents, express your concerns and show that you are determined to take action
  • Find out which child is the bully or the bully
  • Find out if there is a group of children who encourage and/or support the child who is bullying
  • Take the bullying child to the Principal’s office and have a serious discussion with them about the incident
  • Support the bullied child in collaboration with the Principal


  • Determine which classmates were present at the bullying incident
  • Make it clear if they participated as neutral observers or if they encouraged the child who is bullying
  • Talk to them about what would be appropriate behavior in such a situation (e.g., talking to an adult to help) and what their responsibilities are when they see bullying happening
  • Discuss what they could have done to prevent bullying and ensure a safe environment for themselves and their classmates

Parents of a bullied child

  • Work closely with the school to find out about the extent and severity of the incident and how to deal with it
  • Provide your child with support and security, without judging them
  • Listen carefully to what your child has to say about his feelings and needs
  • You monitor the development of the situation and the health of your child
  • If your child complains of physical pain for a long time, if you notice that he has difficulty sleeping, or if he persistently refuses to go to school, see a child mental health specialist.

Parents of a child who bullies

  • Talk to the school Principal about the bullying incident caused by your child
  • Work with the school to address your child’s violence problem
  • Work with the Principal and your child’s teacher to enforce rules, consequences and prevent such behaviors
  • Monitor the development of the situation and work closely with the school. Notice if your child is often involved in fights or shows bullying behavior with the children in the neighborhood or with you at home. Talk to the Principal and class teacher about them and work with them to get help.

All of the above are some direct actions at the level of prevention and response that the school can take, but by themselves they cannot provide a solution to the problem of bullying and violence at school.

An integrated intervention program is needed, in which the entire school community and wider social actors participate, in order to effectively prevent and deal with the phenomenon.

Anita Lindquist is the Head of Curriculum in a Secondary School in Stockholm. She is an advocate for excellence in public education and passionate about learning and teaching methodologies.


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