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It is possible to prevent bullying: from bully to positive leader


Di Mauro G.


Legalità, responsabilità e cittadinanza






Verbal and physical offences – isolation – bullies’ behaviour – parent-teacher cooperation - prevention




Parents, Teachers, School Directors.


1 - 20 pages


Bullying can be defined as an action that deliberately aims to cause harm. As Sharp and Smith said, it is often persistent and it is difficult to defend yourself if you are the victim. Some offensive actions can be carried out verbally, such as through threats and insults, others may be committed with a physical contact, such as blows, kicks and punches. In some cases offensive actions can be performed without the use of words or physical contact: e.g. mocking someone, deliberately excluding someone from the group or refusing to fulfil his / her requests. Bullying can be perpetrated by a single person or a group. We can find a form of direct bullying, which occurs in relatively open attacks against the victim, and indirect bullying, which is a form of social isolation and intentional exclusion from a group. Undoubtedly the school is the place where the bullying phenomenon is mostly present, especially during the break, in the canteen, or on the way home and to school. The only feature that underlines the difference between the two groups is the physical strength: the victims are usually weaker than most of the other guys. The aesthetic features do not play a key role, even if they may be crucial in some specific cases. Concerning the most striking characteristic of bullying we can say that this phenomenon is clearly an aggression not only towards the classmates, but very often also to parents and teachers. Bullies feel the need to dominate others and are often impulsive. They often boast their superiority, they get angry easily and have a low level of tolerance to frustration. They have difficulties in respecting rules and tolerating delays or opposite opinions. Sometimes they deceive people to achieve the own purposes. They are keen on sports and games and they know how to get off difficult situations. They do not show any anxiety or insecurity. They are therefore characterised by a reactive-aggressive model which is associated - in males - to the physical strength that can make bullies become popular. Bullies tend to have a positive attitude towards the use of violence to achieve their goals. The school performance tends to decrease if the age increases. The aggressive attitude of these young people seems to be linked to other worrying problems, such as crime or abuse of alcohol or drugs. Within the group there may be the so-called passive bullies or troublemakers or the followers who do not participate actively in bullying acts. Most of the times these guys come from uneducated families, which could be hostile towards the social environment. That is why they are satisfied if they see a friend in trouble. In addition to students, teachers and parents are also involved and must take care of these problems by promoting actions aimed at informing about respect in the relationship among pupils or among pupils and teachers. It is evident that it is better to intervene immediately, without waiting for the first signs because they can lead to a physiological evolutionary crisis. Preventive strategies must be therefore addressed to all pupils and not directly to the bullies and their victims, because, it is more effective to act on the whole society. It is important to focus on society because it does not make sense to focus just on bullies. In fact, the "bully" is not motivated to change because his / her actions are not perceived as a problem; the problem is only shared by the victim, teachers and the social context. The direct intervention on the victim, even if effective for the individual, does not reduce the phenomenon. That victim will not be a victim any longer but the bully will soon find a new one to tease. For these reasons, it is necessary to implement a multi-year preventive intervention plan focused on a group, a class or school. This project represents an opportunity for the people belonging to the same class to behave responsibly, to enhance dialogue, to share thoughts, feelings and actions, which are profitable for everyone’s life.


It is worth emphasizing that in order to make prevention effective and sustainable, it is necessary that teachers, educators and families work together, as promoters of appropriate interaction models, so that their attitude can become an example of lifestyle for students. This becomes important especially if we consider that these social skills become fixed traits of our personality. The teachers have the task to intervene as soon as possible, so that misfit can be changed. In order to enhance collaboration with families it is important to explain parents that their children can behave differently according to place and moment. This is useful because families should be surprised if their children behave differently at home or at school. From the observation and training in social skills, teachers themselves can learn to discover their own way of communicating with people. This can improve the quality of the relationships with people around them, that is headmasters, colleagues, partners and children, increasing their personal and professional satisfaction.


Don Milani

I Am Not Scared Project
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