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Bullying is any form of physical or psychological abuse happening repeatedly among school-age children and teens.

Bullying in first person

Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
Bullying can be prevented through a culture of respect and emotional control, that is, we should include emotional education programmes based on respect, values, non-violence, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, etc. into the school curriculum... These are values that are as important as mathematics or learning to read.

Where does bullying happen?

Bullying usually happens at school but it can also be in other places, such as on the bus, or during after-school activities.

These days, bullying often takes place via mobile phones or the internet in the form of text messages, calls, emails, or messages on social networks. This type of bullying is known as cyberbullying.

What is considered bullying?

To be considered “bullying”, a behaviour must include the following components:  

One teenager hitting another


  • Physical. The bullying child hurts the other child or damages their belongings. For example, tripping them up, pushing them, or tearing their books.
  • Verbal. The bullying child says or writes unpleasant things about the other child in the form of mockery, threats or insults. 
  • Social. The bullying child harms the reputation or relationships of the bullied child. For example, they forbid other children to be their friends, or spread private or false information on social networks.
A person who insults or verbally assaults another person

Imbalance of power. The bullying child uses their power to control or hurt the bullied child. This power may be physical strength, but it can also be popularity or access to private information.

One person hitting another and a calendar indicating repetition

Repetition. The aggressive behaviour has to happen more than once.

Who participates in bullying?

In a bullying situation, the people doing the bullying and the people being bullied are not the only participants. Some researchers talk about a "bullying circle" which includes people who support or reject bullying, as well as those directly involved in aggressive behaviour.

People directly involved in bullying:

  • Children who bully others. They behave aggressively to their classmates.
  • Children who are bullied. They are the targets of the aggressive behaviour.

People indirectly involved in bullying:

  • Children who assist. They may not start the bullying behaviour, but they serve as "assistants" to children who are bullying.
  • Children who reinforce. They are part of the audience and laugh at the bullying behaviour, encouraging the bullying to continue.
  • Outsiders. These children remain separate from the bullying situation; they do not reinforce the bullying behaviour, but they do not defend the child being bullied. They are part of the audience and this may also encourage the bullying to continue.
  • Children who defend. They actively comfort the child being bullied and may come to their defence when bullying occurs.

Over time, children may play more than one role. In some cases, they may take part directly in bullying, and in others they may witness the situation and play an assisting or defending role.

How common is Bullying?

In Spain, around 14% of students say they have been bullied at school in some way. This figure is lower than in countries like Latvia (30.6%), New Zealand (26.1%) and the Czech Republic (25.4%) and higher than others such as the Netherlands (9.3%), Portugal (11.8%), South Korea (11.8%) and Iceland (11.8%).

Información general de Mental Health in Children and Adolescents

Consulta toda la información relacionada con Mental Health in Children and Adolescents

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Substantiated information by:

Astrid Morer Liñan

Published: 3 October 2019
Updated: 3 October 2019


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