For some time now, the phenomenon of bullying has stopped being a problem that only involved a few people or one that no one speaks about. Increasingly, new data and research confirm what may of us considered mere suppositions or unscientific hypotheses. Currently, the social phenomenon of bullying is growing exponentially in Argentine classrooms, increasingly affecting more students and distressing parents, teachers and the entire school communities. It is a reality that no longer goes unnoticed and today demands a deeper understanding of this alarming situation.
It is from this reality that we ask ourselves an immediate question triggered by our reactive thinking. What is causing this violence to grow? A simple question that leads to an infinite number of possible scenarios and levels of analysis leading us to lose focus on the most important and pragmatic question: what should we do?
We have to move towards a way of thinking and abandon our habit of correcting the problem after it has already occurred. We need to stop improvising when facing this problem and start planning and working systematically. Being proactive in this case means accepting that are all part of the problem and taking direct responsibility for making a change.
People demand answers or data that are difficult to obtain in individual cases. Achieving results is possible when all of us directly or indirectly involved in the educational system collaborate and contribute to more direct, decisive and systematic intervention. There must be a constant willingness to counter such trends in the school environment. Commitment to, and an enthusiasm for, the task are a must. The solution goes beyond teacher training to all educational agents.
This proactive thinking, therefore, implies working on prevention. It involves not waiting for things to just happen but thinking ahead, anticipating problems and acting accordingly. This means having strategies to cover all possible scenarios. The first step is to have a plan. This plan must define, among other things, specific rules and procedures to apply in the institution, in affected classrooms and with the students in conflict. These should ensure individualized treatment of the victim, each aggressor and the students that were not involved. If the school sustains a timely and systematic plan of action, that is carried out by all teachers and administrators, the measures designed will have a higher chance of success given that the authorities react coherently and jointly to counteract the problem.
There is no doubt that it is essential to adopt a common attitude against harassment and bullying at school, not only by school staff, but also by parents. If we all act in a similar manner and remain consistent against aggression, the chances of achieving the desired results increase greatly and students receive a clear and strong message: violence is wrong and we will not allow it.
We at the ABA team look forward to supporting those educational institutions committed to fighting bullying and it is for that reason we designed the “Anti-Bullying Protocol”. This protocol is designed for both school authorities and teachers to know how to act in possible cases of bullying and provides precise procedures for doing so. This initiative helps principals, teachers and parents to act firmly and decisively with the involved students (victims, perpetrators and spectators) as well as with their families, meeting their need to have a plan for immediate action.
Encouraging the development of policy intervention will allow us to implement programs at the resolution and preventive levels, allowing for the self-management of conflicts and the promotion of a positive social environment within schools. Thinking about prevention and working on our plan to achieve results provides an amazing opportunity: educating as a way to promote coexistence and peace. Preventive measures are those strategies with educational characteristics that directly influence the promotion of a positive and constructive school climate.
Let’s not miss the opportunity today and be surprised tomorrow, let’s create the change we want to see.