Recognizing unsustainable situations full of suffering is part of preventing bullying.
Bullying is a phenomenon that, although it has probably been around since ancient times, has not received much media attention until relatively recently. We are facing an act of continuous abuse and harassment over time that can have devastating effects on those who suffer from it, both physically and psychologically.
Often the suffering of children and young people who suffer from bullying remains hidden either because of fear or shame on their part, because of the law of silence that is usually frequent in classrooms regarding the subject or even the lack of capacity, tools or knowledge by responsible adults to capture or deal with acts of aggression (unfortunately, sometimes without even being ignored and undervalued). This article raises a series of possible questions about bullying that could help to detect the existence of cases in the school environment.
Bullying: the basic concept
We understand bullying or school harassment to be any type of relationship between peers in which an unequal relationship is established in which one or more subjects commit any type of voluntary act that intends to harm, harass or harm in any way to another or other individuals.
The attacked person (s) are subjected in some way by the aggressors, who act persistently over time. These abusive relationships occur either within the school context or between subjects related by their coexistence in an educational institution.
The abusive acts that are carried out can be of a very diverse nature and be carried out both directly (attacking the attacked subject in an obvious way) and indirectly (promoting his exclusion, discrediting him or harassing him through the networks). Bullying can include physical attacks, insults or harassment, theft, active marginalization of the minor, publication and sending of materials on the networks in which they are criticized or directly attacked (including videos), coercion, identity theft or even induction to suicide.
In this area, it is important to bear in mind that not only are there the attacked and the aggressor, but there are also witnesses to the acts that may promote or prevent harassment or that they simply do not get involved. Teachers and the educational institution, as well as families, also have an important role. It is possible to work from very different perspectives (with priority being the prevention and treatment of existing cases) and with the different agents involved.
But to be able to work with bullying situations and stop them first, it is necessary to be able to detect the existence of cases. Multiple organisms use different tests and questions that can be used to achieve this detection.
Questions about bullying
Next, a series of questions about bullying are established, which can be used to identify cases of abuse at school, prevent them or find out about attitudes and beliefs regarding bullying (some of which have been extracted from tests proposed by organizations such as the Ministry of Education).
These questions can be asked to the whole class group, to individual students (be they witnesses, attacked or aggressors) or even to teachers and relatives. They can be done through a questionnaire (ideally anonymous) or through an individual interview.
1. Could you tell me what it’s like to be in your class?
This question can be used to visualize the general atmosphere in the classroom and whether the child in question feels comfortable in it or not.
2. How do you feel about your classmates?
Although similar to the previous one, this time the emphasis is placed on the student’s relationship with the rest of the classmates. Depending on the answer if you can deduce whether or not there are specific problems in this regard.
3. Have you noticed any conflict between some students in your class?
Although it may be normal for there to be small conflicts between classmates, this question allows the subject to assess whether they are frequent or have frequent protagonists.
4. Do you know of someone who has ever been attacked or insulted by a classmate or student?
This question allows the subject to indicate if they have ever seen a case or if they have been able to witness it today.
5. Do you know what bullying is? Could you explain what it is or give me an example?
Knowing what bullying is is essential to be able to detect a case, so knowledge of the concept is very important. Both in students and teachers.
6. What types of bullying do you know and what do you think of them?
Although nowadays bullying is a topic that is often talked about, in many cases everything that implies or is not considered aggression an act that in reality is (for example, promoting the marginalization of a person in concrete or create a WhatsApp group to laugh at a person), considering only physical harassment as such.
7. Do you think that new technologies and social networks are frequently used to harm other people?
Nowadays, children and young people tend to be connected to the networks more and more in advance, and can report the existence of cases of harassment derived from their use.
8. Do you know of any case in which a student has been or is frequently attacked or insulted, or attacked through the networks?
Entering the matter, the subject who is questioned can answer and indicate their knowledge or ignorance regarding current or past cases.
9. Do you think that aggression between students is a problem at this school?
Students are the ones who see and experience these situations first-hand, so they can easily indicate if any type of bullying is taking place. This question can also be asked of teachers or family members.
10. Has it ever happened to you?
A direct question, but one that will allow the child to express if he has lived any similar experience or if he is currently living it.
11. Have you ever felt intimidated in class or have you been threatened?
Bullying is very common in bullying cases. It also allows detecting the presence of dominance attitudes in some students.
12. Have things ever been stolen or hidden from you? Do you know someone who has happened to?
What may seem like a game to some students may hide the intention of harassing or generate deep suffering for a specific person. In the case of theft, in addition, goods or properties are stolen and sometimes with violence.
13. Does anyone in the class have a nickname?
Demeaning nicknames are one of the most common and frequent types of bullying.
14. Could you tell me what has happened / happened?
Assuming that the answer to any of the above is positive, it is important to know what happened.
15. Is it something continuous in time?
It is necessary to identify if the problem or aggression occurred at a specific time or is something frequent, or if it is still valid.
16. Could you tell me when and where the problem started?
Assuming that the answer to any of the above is positive, contextualizing the situation can help to work and understand how established the problem is or the type of harassment suffered.
17. How do you think someone would feel in that situation?
This question seeks that the person being asked tries to put himself in the place of someone who suffers bullying. It can be preventive when reflecting on the situation of those attacked.
18. What consequences do you think that bullying may have for those who suffer it?
In this case, knowledge of the consequences of bullying for the principal affected is evaluated, which are often only partially known or ignored.
19. Have you ever seen someone record or take photos of another without their permission? What do you think about it?
This question allows you to obtain information regarding the use of audiovisual material against the will of the subject recorded or photographed.
20. Have you ever seen a publication or group on the Internet where a classmate is laughed at?
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that is increasingly prevalent today, and questions like this can help detect cases.
21. How would / would you feel when / if this happened to you? What if you saw how it happens to someone else?
The expression of emotions and thoughts in this regard allows to report the possible experience of bullying or to empathize with those who suffer it. In addition to the fact that it can be encouraged to relate own or visualized experiences and detect cases, it can serve as a preventive measure.
22. What do you think someone who harasses others thinks?
Putting yourself in the shoes of both the harassed and the harasser can allow a better detection of phenomena and situations related to harassment. Likewise, knowing the motives of the harasser can help bullying to be stopped by the classmates themselves.
23. What do / would you do when / if this happens?
Whether the individual has suffered or seen another suffer bullying, answering this question allows a debate to be established regarding ways to act in this situation. Also, in the case that we are facing a confirmed case, it allows us to see what the minor has tried to do and if it has caused any effect or not.
24. What do you think would have to happen for the problem to be solved?
This question can allow the individual being asked to indicate possible ways to solve it and to put themselves in the shoes of other people.
25. Why do you think some students mistreat others? / Why do you think it happened?
This question can make you reflect on the aspects that cause the abuse, which can be useful in order to prevent a case or for an attacked or aggressor to express what they consider is the reason for the bullying
26. In order to solve these types of cases, it is important to ask for help. Have you / would you tell someone? What if it was something anonymous?
It is important to understand the importance of the acts of harassment being reported or informed about them in order to act. Likewise, in some cases it is not done for fear of reprisals, so it could be useful to establish some type of anonymous complaint mechanism.
27. Would you be willing to do something to help the person who is bullied?
This question makes it possible to reveal whether the person being asked has done or would do something in order not to allow a situation of harassment or if they would report in case of witnessing an act of these characteristics.
28. Do you have any questions about what we have worked on or is there something you want to add?
Even if it is not answered initially at the time the initial question is asked, it is possible that before the end of the conversation a witness or a subject who suffers harassment decides to tell what he has seen or experienced, thereby creating a space for it to be express can be of great help.
Castillero, O. (2017). Cyberbullying: Harassment in the network. Analysis and intervention proposal. University of Barcelona.
Salmivalli, C., Kaukiainen, A. & Lagerspetz, K. (2000). Aggression and sociometric status among peers: Do gender and type of aggression matter. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 41, 17-24.
Síndic the Defender of the Persones. (2006). Coexistence I conflicts als Centers educatius. Extraordinary Report. Barcelona: Síndic de Greuges de Catalunya.