Why physical education is key to preventing bullying


Adolescents who are well integrated into their environment, frequently participate in sports activities, maintain good interpersonal relationships and reject violence tend to be less involved in bullying phenomena.

This is the main conclusion of a study that we have carried out at the University of Córdoba among a total of 1035 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, belonging to four Andalusian institutes.

We asked all of them about their knowledge of bullying, as well as about their participation in physical education activities. According to our analysis, the improvement of their self-esteem, their competence for self-regulation of problems, seems to be relevant to find strategies to face conflicts and avoid entering the dynamics of violence.

This evidence alerts us to the importance of working on aspects such as self-control and self-regulation, which can be developed effectively in sports activities.

The importance of the group

In addition to the results of this study, our group has verified how participation in extracurricular physical activities, especially of an organized type (in a club, group or team) helps adolescents to have more defense mechanisms against bullying and violence .

This could be due to the improvement of social skills, fulfillment of roles, rules and norms within the activity, beyond even those who simply practice physical activity freely, but without belonging to a group, or those who do not practice it.

The physical self-concept thus becomes a positive mediator to face victimization, both from direct harassment and the so-called cyberbullying .

The healthy competition implicit in all sports activities stimulates the strength to face unjustified aggressiveness and modulate the defense mechanisms against this problem.

Furthermore, in other studies proposed by the group we have tried to identify how bullying occurs within physical education classes compared to the rest of the school environment, given the more expansive and social nature of the settings in which it takes place. sports practice.

This last project was financed by the Ministry of Education of the Junta de Andalucía. In addition, different members of the group participate in the Research Network “Bullying in Sports: Analysis and Good Practices”, funded by the Higher Sports Council, to promote a greater understanding of bullying in the school environment.

What we seek through these analyzes is to improve the proposals that can be carried out for the prevention of bullying and the improvement of social relations and the climate of coexistence in schools, where Physical Education makes its way as a tool key in improving school coexistence.

Educational project

For this reason , the effectiveness of a didactic unit in the physical education subject has been implemented and verified that focuses on the quality of relationships of solidarity and companionship , also in games and sports activities, on the other hand, very motivating activities within of educational centers.

In this educational project, aspects such as cooperative play, awareness of the phenomenon of bullying, acceptance of individual differences, improvement of aspects such as self-esteem, empathy and self-control, among others, have been included. With this, it was possible to significantly reduce victimization and aggression in bullying, not only in the classroom but also in the entire school environment.

A recommendation: Teachers, according to our analysis, should enhance their training in this subject, to have more resources against this scourge. Understanding the phenomenon, knowing the students and listening to their interests can be valid strategies. This is how we expose it in the book ” Physical Education and coexistence: opportunities and challenges in the prevention of bullying “, which includes accessible material for teachers.

Author Bios: Juan de Dios Benitez is Associate Professor of Physical Education in Secondary and Baccalaureate at the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Rosario Ortega Ruiz is a University Professor (Psychology) both at the University of Córdoba