Bullying among children

Bullying among children means one or more children continually and deliberately harassing, attacking or harming another child unable to defend itself

Pursuant to the Protocol on the Procedure in Case of Bullying among Children and Youth, bullying among children and youth represents any deliberate physically or emotionally abusive behaviour aimed towards children and youth by their peers in order to cause harm, irrelevant of where it happens. It can vary in type, severity, intensity and time period, involves repetition of the same patter and reflects an imbalance in power (stronger person bullying a weaker one or a group bullying an individual).

Types of bullying among children

The following is considered bullying among children and youth:
  • Deliberate physical attack of any kind (for example, hitting someone, pushing them, throwing things at them, slapping them, pulling their hair, locking them somewhere, attacking them with various objects, spitting on them, etc., irrespective of whether the attacked child was injured)
  • Psychological and emotional abuse caused by repeated or continual negative actions of one child or several children. These negative actions include: gossiping about someone, calling them names, ridiculing them, intimidating them, mocking them, deliberately neglecting them and excluding them from the group, spreading rumours about them, taking their possessions or money, destroying or damaging their possessions, treating them in a degrading manner, ordering them or requiring obedience or otherwise putting the child in a submissive position, as well as any other behaviour towards a child or young person (which include sexual harassment and abuse) which is deliberately causing the child physical or emotional pain or humiliating them, whether in direct communication or on social media and via electronic communication.

School’s role in preventing bullying

The school is responsible for the bullying occurring in the school and in its vicinity. The principal, teachers and expert associates are obliged to prevent and stop any form of violence in school and, if necessary, cooperate with a social welfare centre and the police.

It is important that the school ensures there is a “safe” place where those who feel as victims can take shelter, that it leads by example (i.e. with the behaviour of school employees) and provides a model of non-violent and positive behaviour and respect for students, and that it adequately supervises those places for which students claim could be used to attack or intimidate someone.

Where and how to report bullying among children and seek help

Pursuant to Art. 132 of the Family Act (OG No 103/15, 98/19), everyone is obliged to report infringement of a child’s personal and property rights to a social welfare centre. In particular, infringement of personal rights means: physical or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or negligence, abuse or exploitation of a child.
If you learn about bullying among children and youth, you can report this at a police station, social welfare centre or education institution, which are all required to act on the received report of bullying and cooperate with each other.

In case of bullying among children, professional help or counselling is provided both to the victim and the bully, and can be provided by expert associates in the school or expert employees of a social welfare centre. Social welfare centres are required to investigate the family circumstances of the bully and impose or propose imposition of family legal measures prescribed by the Family Act. Moreover, children and parents may be granted the right to the service of counselling and assistance provided by a social welfare centre or other social service providers.