Bullying (cyberbullying, at school): what it is and consequences

Whenever we see a film that portrays the school period, the figure of the bully is present, who intimidates other students and often attacks them physically and psychologically.

Unfortunately, these situations are not exclusive to fiction and, in real life, can cause tremendous damage to victims.

Understand more about bullying in the following text!

What is bullying?

Bullying can be defined as attitudes that aim to cause pain and distress to another person in a systematic way , either through demonstrations of physical strength or through verbal aggressions that aim to act on the psychological of the victim.

This term comes from the English language. This is the gerund of the verb ” to bully “, which can be translated into Portuguese as “intimidating”, “threatening”, “mistreating” and “oppressing”.

It has been used since the 1990s to describe intentional and repeated physical or psychological assaults by a person or group against a victim who is less able to defend himself .

In this sense, several practices can be used intentionally to mistreat a victim.

Some aggressions are more evident, such as insults or the use of physical violence, however, there are less obvious actions that can cause pain and intense suffering.

For this reason, one must be aware of the behaviors and situations that characterize bullying, such as:

  • Swearing;
  • Offensive surnames;
  • Threats and intimidation;
  • Discrimination of any kind;
  • Physical aggressions;
  • Unwanted physical contact;
  • Online attacks;
  • Rumor invention;
  • Public humiliation;
  • Theft of personal objects;
  • Destruction of personal objects.

However, citing just those factors may not be enough.

It should be noted that any form of systematic harassment or intimidation that causes suffering can be considered bullying.

Who are the people involved?

In cases of bullying, there are generally three types of people involved:

Aggressor

The person who practices bullying can be called a bullie . It is common for the aggressor to have an antisocial behavior profile, in which he usually isolates himself and maintains few social relationships.

It is also not difficult to identify a manipulative and indifferent profile in the aggressor, in which his actions are calculated and there is no concern with the possible consequences of his actions.

Victim

We are all subject to bullying. However, the biggest victims are usually more shy and reserved people. In the eyes of the aggressor, they are usually considered more fragile and therefore the chances of fighting back are less.

People considered “non-standard” also tend to be the target of bullying, this includes being overweight or underweight, having a cognitive impairment, having few friends, having a disorder, among others.

Witness

The witnesses are the spectators, who end up witnessing the assaults.

Witnesses are instrumental in the process of fighting bullying, as they are usually able to identify patterns of behavior and their consequences on the parties involved. Thus, they have greater tools to report situations of abuse.

On the other hand, many times these people end up not reporting the problem due to intimidation. Children who watch the aggressions in the school environment, for example, end up feeling insecure and may suffer consequences similar to those of the victim.

Types of bullying

Bullying can manifest itself in several ways and it can be difficult to categorize all of them. However, it is possible to list the main practices. Understand more about them:

Physical bullying

Physical bullying is categorized by physical aggression. This includes pinches, punches, kicks, shoves, etc.

Bullying verbal

Verbal bullying is characterized by verbal aggressions that seek to diminish the victim. Cursing, provocations and nicknames are ways to practice verbal bullying.

Bullying written

Written bullying occurs when derogatory tickets, graffiti, posters, banners, drawings and letters are used to intimidate and attack the victim.

Bullying material

Material bullying manifests itself when the victim has his belongings damaged, stolen, thrown at him and other similar practices.

Bullying moral

In moral bullying, the aggressor seeks to intimidate, defame and / or slander the victim by imitating the target’s own mannerisms in order to make fun of.

Bullying social

Social bullying happens when a group creates rumors, ignores, excludes and encourages the exclusion of the victim in order to humiliate the other.

Psychological bullying

Psychological bullying occurs when the aggressor imposes psychological pressure on the victim through various means, such as intimidation, laughter, and physical and verbal attacks.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying, or virtual bullying, happens when aggression occurs through digital media, such as social networks, e-mails, photos, videos and posts. It is common that in these cases the aggressions become public, reaching many people in a short time.

Bullying at school

The school is the most susceptible place for the practice of bullying. This can happen, among other factors, because children and young people, due to being in the training phase, feel a need for self-assertion.

This, in addition to the difficulty in living with differences, can give rise to bullying practices.

This issue becomes even more serious as many students who suffer or witness bullying fall silent, for fear of suffering worse consequences or becoming the next victim.

Thus, many of the aggressions that should be reprimanded by the school institution do not even come to the attention of the team.

In order to try to circumvent this issue, the anti-bullying law was accepted in 2016, which provides that educational institutions must promote awareness campaigns and develop action plans to combat intimidation within the school.

This means that the school or educational institution cannot fail to respond to cases of bullying and that teachers, coordinators, psychologists and principals must remain alert to identify any problems and act to curb aggression and intimidation.

Bullying virtual (cyberbullying)

Virtual bullying happens when acts of persecution, discrimination and violence happen in the virtual environment, especially on social networks.

It is also called cyberbullying and, although it seems to be a less serious problem, since it does not necessarily involve physical aggression, it can become an even bigger problem.

In virtual spaces, insults and provocations constantly torment the victim. If, before, embarrassment was restricted to moments of conviviality within the school, in cyberbullying, persecution happens all the time.

As young people increasingly use messaging apps, it is easier for conversations that should be confidential to go public, exposing the privacy of victims and others.

This problem becomes even greater, as the technology allows attackers to hide behind anonymity, making identification more difficult.

All of this can give the victim a feeling of great helplessness, as there is no way to hide from the aggressions and, sometimes, not even to report the culprits.

But what can really make cyberbullying potentially more harmful than conventional bullying is the fact that the aggression characteristic of being online can end up potentiating the situations of humiliation, because on the Internet a much larger number of people can see and participate of aggression.

If you are in an online environment and witness situations like this, of humiliation and persecution, you can report it to the platform, be it YouTube, Facebook, or any other social network, and you can also send positive messages to the victim.

In such cases, your word of solidarity can bring comfort to those who are suffering the aggression.

Signs that the child is being bullied

There are some signs that may indicate that the child is being bullied at school. Check out some:

Difficulty sleeping

Many children, when they are bullied, become anxious and are afraid of what the abuser will do the next day, which can lead to difficulty sleeping and nightmares.

Drop in school performance

Due to the concern with the aggressions he is suffering, the child may lose interest in school and have difficulty concentrating, which results in a drop in productivity.

Social isolation

Many children, when they are bullied, may start to distance themselves from the few friends who are afraid. Another reason may be discrimination against other children with her.

Low self-esteem

The aggressions suffered by the child can have a tremendous impact on the psychological and self – esteem of the child, who feels diminished and without trim.

In more severe cases, she may seek to escape from home or begin to hurt herself.

Damaged belongings and clothing

If your child usually comes home after school with a torn piece of clothing or with the notebook, backpacks and other damaged materials, this can be a sign that he is being bullied.

Talk to your child and pay close attention to his explanation. The simpler, disconnected or meaningless, the greater the chances of being bullied.

Frequent illnesses

Children are naturally more susceptible to getting sick than adults, as their immune system is not yet fully developed.

However, when they start to complain very often about headaches and stomach pain, for example, it is necessary to check that there is no problem at school.

The child may be too tense due to concern about bullying, the pain may be the result of some aggression or the child may be lying to avoid having to go to school.

Changes in eating habits

If the child starts to eat more, compulsively, or has stopped eating, perhaps it is because he is too worried about what will happen at school the next day.

Another explanation is that she is coming home very hungry, because she has not been eating. Many attackers steal their victims’ snacks.

Widespread fear

Many children are afraid of everything that involves people. It is as if you have panic syndrome. They are afraid to go to school, take the bus, go to clubs, etc.

Sad appearance

Pay attention to your child’s mood, whether he is more often upset, tearful or even depressed. This is his way of expressing his pain without expressing words.

Start attacking other children

One of the consequences of bullying is that the victim can begin to discount the aggressions he or she suffers on weaker siblings and friends. They become more aggressive and can be disobedient to their parents.

Loss of interest

If your child was fascinated by something and suddenly shows disinterest in it, this may be a sign that he is suffering some kind of aggression at school.

Talk to him about this loss of interest and pay attention to disconnected and meaningless explanations.

Consequences of bullying

Bullying has bad consequences both for the victims of this practice and for the aggressors.

Decreased self-esteem, difficulties in learning and socializing, fear and even anxiety and depression can be consequences of bullying.

In younger children, the practice can cause developmental delay, drop in performance and even drop out of school.

Better understand the consequences for the victim and the aggressor:

Victim

Children and adolescents who are bullied often experience changes in behavior.

Sudden changes in mood, seclusion and lack of socialization are some of these changes. Among the consequences are depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders.

These children and adolescents also tend to get sick more often, as immunity gets lower. In more serious cases, they may even have destructive or suicidal thoughts .

It is important to emphasize that, when noticing these signs, the family should talk to the child and identify the source of the problem.

If the school notices these behaviors, the institution’s professionals should notify the parents and should also talk to the child.

The sooner the practice of bullying is detected, the less the physical and psychological consequences will be. Depending on the duration of the practice, the severity of the psychological and emotional consequences may require psychological treatment.

Aggressor

As important as looking at the victim of bullying, it is also looking at the aggressor. Children and adolescents who practice bullying usually have a higher percentage of failure.

In most cases, the aggressors’ family relationships are destabilized and can serve as a trigger for the practice of this violence.

Therefore, instead of simply punishing the student, it is necessary to assess his psychological conditions, history and context so that the approach is more effective.

How to fight bullying?

Combating bullying is a difficult but necessary task. In doing so, we are not only improving the life of the victim, but of all children, as this practice has bad effects on society.

Here’s what to do:

Keep an open dialogue

Talk to your child about what constitutes a healthy friendship and vice versa. Talking to your child about your social life is a great way to identify cases early.

Ask broad questions, find out who they had lunch with at school, what they did at recess, what happened on the bus or when it was time to go home.

Look out for signs

Many children do not tell anyone that they are being bullied. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the signs.

Inventing a headache or stomach ache for not having to go to school and other signs such as difficulty in socializing and decreased academic performance can be signs that something is not right.

Check out more in the topic “Signs that the child is being bullied”.

Teach your child about bullying

It is very important to explain to the child about the bullying itself and to teach them how wrong and harmful this practice is. That is, the child should not consider bullying an acceptable practice .

This includes much more than just teaching your child not to beat, intimidate and swear at classmates.

You should encourage her to think critically, so that she can understand that making bad jokes with her colleague or spreading rumors about a colleague is also a practice of bullying.

You must also teach your child to be responsible in online environments, just to avoid cyberbullying.

Empower your child

Provide your child with tools to deal with bullying. Teaching them to avoid confrontation and talking to the school’s superiors is a way to empower them.

You should also teach your children to report bullying when they witness it.

Research shows that most children feel intimidated and powerless when they see another person being assaulted.

Help your child understand that there is a way to deal with this situation and get out of it.

Also teach him to empathize with colleagues, so that when he witnesses a situation of bullying, he has enough strength to fight it.

Get involved with the school

It is important to know how the school where your child attends deals with cases of bullying. Not only with whom to talk if something happens, but also to take necessary measures in those cases.

report it

If you know of bullying cases, either with your child or the child of others, report it.

Often, the parents of the child who is suffering these attacks do not know what is happening and it is their duty to inform them and the school about it.

This is not just for moral reasons, but because bullying harms the entire school environment.

Your child may not be suffering from these assaults, but he may be affected by these attitudes as well.

Bullying Law

Since 2016, Law No. 13,185 , or “ Program to Combat Systematic Intimidation (Bullying) ” , has come into force , which requires schools and clubs to adopt measures to combat and prevent aggression.

According to the document, “ systematic intimidation (bullying) is considered to be any act of physical or psychological violence, intentional and repetitive that occurs without evident motivation, practiced by an individual or group, against one or more people, with the objective of intimidating them. it or attack it, causing pain and anguish to the victim, in a relationship of power imbalance between the parties involved. ”

The text also considers the aggressions resulting from the virtual environment, the so-called cyberbullying.

In addition to preventing and combating practices, educational institutions are responsible for carrying out awareness campaigns, training educators and professionals, offering assistance to victims and aggressors, among others.

Is bullying a crime?

This issue is complicated. Conduct is considered a crime whose conduct is expected to be an infringement of Brazilian law. For this reason, bullying could only be considered a crime if its action was provided for in the law.

In this sense, there is no criminal law that specifies bullying as something that is punishable.

However, the practice of bullying can involve several types of psychological and physical aggression, in addition to coercion. These practices, in turn, are considered specific infractions.

Simply put, there is no “crime of bullying”, however, the actions taken in bullying can be considered violations in the penal code and, therefore, it is possible to legally seek punishment.

Depending on the type of aggression practiced, the penalties can be light or even lead to imprisonment with a possible duration of 3 years.

How to report?

As bullying is not typified as a crime in Brazil, many people may believe that there is not much to do to report the practice.

However, each case of bullying can be considered as a police case, especially those involving coercion and physical and verbal aggression.

There are penalties for these practices and it is possible to report them. Here’s how to do it:

Disc 100

The Human Rights Dial is a free service with 24-hour service, in which you can report the practice of bullying.

Collect evidence

The victim of bullying must collect evidence and witnesses that the assaults occurred before taking the case to the authorities, whether they are police or from the institution where the assaults occurred.

Help services

There are several specialized services in the fight against bullying and cyberbullying. Among them, we can highlight the work of Instituto Abrace and that of SaferNet . There you can report abuse and be guided on how to act to stay safe.


Today you learned more about bullying and how it can impact the lives of children and adolescents in a very problematic way.

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