SANTIAGO – Bullying at schools is increasing in Chile and becoming an alarming issue. Among the most worrying are complaints of psychological harassment. Authorities are working to solve the problem.
According to the Superintendency of Education, allegations of bullying and physical abuse within schools have increased. During 2018, there were a total of 7,263 such complaints, a 28% increase over 2017.
As reported by news site Emol, the highest increases in 2018 were in the reports of psychological abuse among students, which reached 1,632, and physical abuse, which reached 2,223.
This is in addition to a study by NGO Bullying Sin Fronteras (Bullying Without Borders), which identified a 40% increase in bullying complaints between 2017 and 2018. According to its statistics, 1,324 cases occurred in 2017 and 1,854 in 2018.
Last year, the Superintendency also delivered its first report on bullying, detailing the percentages of the types of aggression which, from highest to lowest, show that blows without objects are the greatest physical aggression:
- Hitting without objects 26.98%.
- Punching 20.63%.
- Throwing objects 12.7%.
- Strangling 6.35%.
- Kicking 4.76%.
- Hitting with objects 4.76%.
- Pushing 3.17%
- Cutting 3.17%
- Slapping 3.17%
An alarming reality
“This is an alarming reality,” said Carla Contuliano, psychologist and ambassador of the Todo Mejora (It Gets Better) Foundation. She said that these cases are worrisome because they push “anguished” individuals to suicide, one of the serious outcomes that bullied children and young people pursue.
Contuliano emphasized that bullying in schools crosses all lines: it affects private and public and high and low socioeconomic schools.
“It is necessary to make this problem more visible; bullying has become a violation of the rights of children and we must act quickly,” said the psychologist, arguing that “psycho-social intervention is needed to eradicate bullying at schools. There is as much concern about the victim as about the perpetrator, since bullying is a process that springs from the depths of the family nucleus, so that work must be done in conjunction with the whole society.”
Living with stigmas
Contuliano also stressed that LGBT+ youth are bullied most. “They live with a stigma, which is not only applied by their peers, but by teachers and authorities and the institutions.”
According to a 2016 report by Todo Mejora, 70.3% of young people belonging to the LGBT+ community reported feeling insecure in school due to their sexual orientation and 29.7% felt insecure due to the way they express their gender.
That is why the government has taken action on the matter and the Ministry of Education will launch a fund to combat bullying.
This plan is called “Inova Convivencia” and, as Emol reported, it is a competitive fund of CLP $400 million, which seeks to promote pedagogical innovation through projects aimed at improving coexistence at school. It is aimed at schools that provide basic or secondary education and that receive government subsidies.
Montse es mediadora en su colegio y explica su rol en materia de convivencia escolar. Hoy lanzamos el fondo #innovaConvivencia para que las escuelas presenten sus proyectos para mejorar la convivencia escolar. pic.twitter.com/QXQe01GD4Y— Marcela Cubillos Sigall (@mcubillossigall) March 11, 2019
Raimundo Larraín, head of the General Education Division of the Ministry of Education, told Emol that this is “a unique initiative of its kind, which can be applied through the school co-organizers of each establishment with projects from between $1.5 and 3 million pesos per one year of execution.”
It also led to the creation of “El Día contra el Ciberacoso” (Day against Cyberbullying), which is managed by a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Education and retailer Ripley. The decreed day is March 14. Pilar Barría, Marketing Manager of Ripley, told Mi Radio, its goal is that “we can talk openly about this issue and reflect on what we are doing as a country to address it.”
Nelson Quiroz is Chile Today´s photographer. He also writes about youth culture and fashion, and often contributes with photo series during marches and protests.