Bullying in Mallorca. | Fundación Mutua Madrileña

Cyberbullying has become much more common during the Covid pandemic and 24% of students say they know someone who’s been victimised via WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok or video games. There’s also been an increase in bullying by groups, according to the II Report on the Prevention of School Bullying in Educational Centres in Times of Pandemic 2020-2021.

The report contains the opinions of students and highlights the fact that cyberbullying has increased when students were working from home and doing virtual classes, instead of going to school.

15.2% of students said a classmate was suffering from bullying, compared to 34.1% in 2019; 21.8% admitted to participating in harassment without being aware of it and 96.4% stressed that they would not join in if they realised what was going on.

The study was prepared by the ANAR and Mutua Madrileña Foundations and 10,901 students and 491 teachers took part in workshops in Madrid, the Valencian Community, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

“The fact that only 15.2% of students know someone in their class who suffers from bullying is good news,” says Benjamín Ballesteros, ANAR Foundation Director of Programmes. “The decrease in attacks is due to confinement at home, bubble groups, the decrease in teacher/student ratios and other restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic and raised awareness.”

According to the study, 49.9% of bullying affects one person in the classroom, but group bullying accounted for 72.4% of cases in 2020 and 2021, compared to 43.7% in 2018 and 2019.

Students have also identified the different forms of bullying suffered by their classmates, such as spreading rumours, threats and isolation.

52.5% of bullying cases were linked to physical appearance; 46.4% for being different; 39.1% about things said or done; 30.4% were linked to taste; 26.2% for being from another country, culture, race or religion; 20.1% for being new; 15.2% over sexual orientation and 14.2% for having either a lot or very little money.

Students are more aware of the damage bullying causes to victims, their families, teachers, other class members, and even the bullies themselves.

Cyberbullying increased during the pandemic with 53.9% of cases via WhatsApp; 44.4% via Instagram; 38.5% via TikTok and 37.7% via video games.

52.4% of the children and adolescents interviewed viewed the prohibition of mobile phones in schools as positive, saying it prevents ridicule and image sharing in classrooms.

23% of students were against the ban and claimed it was necessary to have a phone in order to make emergency calls or use as a tool for classes.

8 out of 10 teachers said it wasn’t necessary to have a mobile phone and banning them helped students to concentrate on their studies.

52.2% of the bullying cases detected were resolved; 31.5% of them after teachers were notified; 10.9% after the victim’s family was notified; 10% after people defended the victim; 2.2% via educational talks and in 0.5% when the aggressor was ignored.

Students claim that in 17% of cases the school did nothing to resolve bullying; in 10.5% of cases the bully was expelled and in 10% of cases the action taken helped the victim.

41.1% of classmates helped or defended bullying victims, but 22.4% admitted they did nothing.

After taking part in the survey, 42.7% of students said they were committed to helping or defending victims of bullying and 53.7% said it was beneficial to have the help of adults to help resolve the situation.

According to teachers, 74.4% of bullying cases occur because of pressure from friends; 65.1% because of the lack of respect for differences and 60.8% because of the normalisation of violence.

75.9% of people bully others as the result of family problems; 75.3% as a result of aggressiveness, lack of control or being impulsive and 72.1% enjoy the feeling of superiority, according to the report, which states that in order to prevent bullying, 63.8% of teachers prefer to encourage listening, dialogue and communication to resolve conflict; 56.8% prefer group cohesion and 54.9% prefer to teach the students to respect the differences of others.