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Bullying: a problem to overcome at an early age. Legal considerations

Modernity has brought to light a situation that has possibly been going on for a long time, but which had not taken on such force or perhaps had not been denounced with such intensity. Bullying is a problem that affects children and adolescents all over the world, regardless of social class, school performance, race or gender. Feeling rejection or even worse, being a victim of verbal and even physical aggression has a serious impact on physical, moral and mental integrity at an early age, when coexistence should be forged in love, empathy and values.

What is bullying?

The definition of bullying refers to deliberate and continuous physical or psychological abuse. The purpose of this type of bullying is to subdue and frighten a child or young person in order to obtain a favorable result for the bullies or to satisfy their need to attack another. This harassment implies a continuous repetition over time of teasing and aggression, to the point of causing the social exclusion of the affected individual.

Data from the Fundación Ayuda a Niños y Adolescentes en Riesgo en España (Anar) for 2017 revealed. that the profile of victims of this situation is usually located in individuals of 10 years of age and is suffered equally by boys and girls. The figures also showed that the consequences can be very serious when bullying is prolonged over time, as nine out of 10 of those affected suffer from psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression or permanent fear, while in 8.2% of the cases registered by the Spanish foundation, suicide attempts have been made.

Studies conducted by the organization Bullying Without Borders (Bullying Without Borders) warn that in Latin America, seven out of every 10 children are victims of this siege in the academic sphere.

Actions to stop harassment

Undoubtedly, bullying is a disturbing factor in the lives of school-age children and youth. Some countries and regions of the world have taken action to address this situation and especially to prevent it in classrooms, which together with the home are the spaces par excellence for this age group.

In Spain, students in educational centers have established basic rights whose intention is to act legally against this situation of abuse. The measures are contemplated in the Organic Law regulating the Right to Education (Lode) and broadly offer protection to identity, integrity and personal dignity. Similarly, the regulation defines the right to have dedication, effort and academic performance recognized objectively, as well as the possibility of receiving educational and professional guidance in any required area.

Freedom of conscience, religious and moral convictions are also clearly respected in the legal statute. which also guarantees the right to participate in the operation and life of the school. The legal instrument also considers the protection of physical, moral and mental integrity not only when referring to possible damages caused by the employees of the educational center, but also of the students themselves. Spanish jurisprudence also requires vigilance by the Administration of educational centers to avoid physical and moral aggressions among children, since the occurrence of such events may lead to the application of sanctions to the responsible academic institutions.

In Latin America, there have been calls for more forceful efforts to curb these situations. that undermine the integral development of individuals from an early age. However, there has not been the political and legal will to provide an effective response to these situations. In this regard, the Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in her report on the rights of the child, stated Human RightsEsmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, invited the countries of the region to put into practice the guiding principles on the rights of children and adolescents and insisted on the need to redouble efforts to eliminate all types of aggression and violence against this group, including bullying.

The Rapporteurship in this area has identified bullying as responsible for negative effects on the right to education, as it increases school dropout and absenteeism rates.

How to identify the occurrence of bullying?

These actions may indicate the presence of a bullying situation in the classroom:

  • Sudden, unexplained changes in the child's behavior that may include mood changes.
  • Episodes of sadness, crying or constant irritability.
  • Alteration in the rhythm of sleep and occurrence of nightmares more frequently. Loss of appetite may also occur.
  • Headaches, stomach aches or any somatic physical discomfort.
  • Frequent loss of school supplies and materials.
  • Appearance of bumps, bruises or scratches on any part of the body.
  • Refusal to go to school or to share with peers. Social isolation.

In the case of Venezuela, the Councils for the Protection of Children and Adolescents establish effective procedures for the preservation of the rights of children and adolescents.