Brave against bullies: how to foster an environment of respect and solidarity in schools and institutes


Recent international reports on bullying show that we are facing a problem throughout the world, with negative effects on the school performance and health of minors.

In Spain, one of the latest studies published reveals that these types of situations have been reduced, although it is a survey of opinions among students, so we do not have data on the specific situations experienced or on the victims who must change their behavior. center.

When the “brave” reject abusive attitudes

Tackling or preventing bullying situations between peers and achieving bullying-free educational centers is the objective of much research on this topic. The research has already identified some actions that are reducing school violence.

Some of these actions are included in the report commissioned by the European Commission Achieving student well-being for all: educational contexts free of violence , which presents the characteristics of 13 interventions and the scientific evidence of the improvements they have achieved.

Among them, two stand out that have been implemented in different educational centers worldwide with excellent results. On the one hand, the zero violence brave club , which consists of having the students themselves manage coexistence, forcefully rejecting any abusive attitude and reinforcing respectful and ethical attitudes. Those who act respectfully and ethically are “brave,” valued by the rest of the community. In principle, all students are brave if they respect the agreed norms and have these attitudes.

Teachers, families, and students can reinforce this assessment by using the language of desire to give value and attractiveness to those people who respect the agreed norms. This language involves using communicative acts, whether words, gestures or interactions, that generate interest and desire in students who have respectful and egalitarian behaviors.

Decide rules by consensus

The second option is what is known as the dialogic model of conflict prevention and resolution . In this model, spaces for continuous deliberation are opened on the rules that should regulate the life of a school. Through this deliberation, in which all people who wish to participate participate, the rules are decided by consensus, providing arguments of validity.

Both community participation and equal dialogue around standards are key elements. This form of organization of school coexistence has proven to contribute to generating an educational environment of respect where each individual in a school or institute is responsible for ensuring that the agreed standards are met.

The role of spectators

These actions are framed in what scientific evidence in school coexistence has called the intervention of the spectator or being an upstander person (this is a neologism in English combining the word “bystander”, literally, person who is there, with “stand up”). “, get up).

This approach seeks to highlight the fundamental role that people who observe the situation of violence have and their ability to intervene to stop it. Upstander people also act by protecting victims in different ways, for example by reporting the attack to those in charge of the center, listening to them without questioning their version of what happened, not leaving them alone and offering their friendship. This positioning prevents violence and improves the school climate by generating an environment where victims want to continue in their center by having the peace of mind that their safety will be guaranteed.

Better to prevent than to punish

Given the difficulties of facing a situation of bullying when it has already happened, of repairing the damage to the victim who is often in the most serious cases pushed by circumstances to leave their educational center , it is essential to consider prevention as a active politics.

Research shows us that preventive measures based on the decisive participation of the school community and bystander intervention contribute to a climate of respect and solidarity in which cases of bullying significantly decrease or do not occur.

Author Bio: Oriol Rios Gonzalez is a Full Professor at Rovira i Virgili University