Indicators for the Detection of Bullying

May 5, 2020
Teachers and parents need to be on alert and know how to identify when bullying is taking place in order to take action as soon as possible. In this article, we'll tell you about indicators to watch out for in the detection of bullying.

Detecting cases of bullying is the first step in intervening and solving a problem that’s all too common in schools around the world. With this in mind, we’ve put together the following article to share the indicators that can assist you in the detection of bullying.

In order to eradicate these violent situations at school, our education systems need to work very hard. And this means that every school teacher and authority needs to be on alert and observe the behavior and conduct among their students.

The importance of the detection of bullying

Psychologist affirms that bullying is victimization or abusive mistreatment among peers, by means of physical or psychological persecution that takes place against others in an intentional and continuous way. Bullying produces negative effects on victims which can affect individuals for the rest of their lives.

Therefore, the function of teachers goes beyond just teaching academic knowledge about different subjects. They must also be prepared in the detection of bullying. In other words, they must be able to identify possible victims.

In this sense, it’s crucial that educators be aware of the places where this type of aggressive behavior tends to take place. The typical locations for bullying differ according to the educational level:

  • Elementary school. In most cases, bullying takes place in the classroom or on the playground.
  • Highs school. In high school settings, bullying occurs most often in the classroom. However, it can also take place on school grounds, in the hallways, and between classes.
Indicators for the Detection of Bullying

At the same time, it’s essential to keep in mind that bullying can take place in other areas of the school. For example, bathrooms, hallways, locker rooms, the school cafeteria, on the bus, etc. Therefore, it’s crucial to be on alert at all times.

Bullying is not child’s play.

Indicators for the detection of bullying

Teachers must also be aware of the indicators of bullying in order to successfully identify possible cases. To facilitate this task, psychologist Dan Olweus suggests two types of indicators for the detection of bullying.

  • Primary indicators. Direct and easy-to-recognize behaviors. If you observe any of these actions, you can assume that bullying is taking place.
  • Secondary. Indirect behaviors that may go unnoticed. In these cases, observing the situation more closely is necessary in order to be sure that you’re looking at an issue of bullying.

If the situation meets one or more of the criteria below, then teachers should suspect that a given student is the victim of bullying:

Primary indicators

  • A student is constantly the object of unpleasant jokes.
  • Other students boss the victim around and exert control over him or her.
  • Students laugh at and make fun of the victim.
  • Students insult, belittle, ridicule, challenge, degrade, and threaten the victim and refer to him or her using nicknames.
  • Others bother, intimidate, push, poke, hit and kick the victim. 
  • Victims find themselves stuck in arguments and fights where they’re defenseless and try to get away, often crying.
  • Other students steal their books, money, and other belongings, or they break them or throw them away.
  • Victims may also have bruises, scrapes, cuts, or scratches on their bodies, or ripped clothing, with no natural explanation.

Indicators for the Detection of Bullying

Secondary indicators

  • Victims of bullying are often alone and isolated from their classmates during recess and meal times. In fact, it may seem that they have no friends at school.
  • In team activities or group formations, they’re the last to be chosen
  • During recess, victims try to stay close to the teacher and other students.
  • In class, these students may have a hard time speaking in front of others and seem to be insecure and anxious.
  • These students give off the impression that they’re sad and depressed. 
  • Teachers observe a gradual deterioration in their school work and academic performance. 

Teachers need to be on constant alert for these behaviors that serve as indicators in the detection of bullying.

In conclusion, teachers need to offer an environment that’s safe for all of their students. This means they need to make sure that no student is the subject of unjust violent situations. Children should be able to go to school in order to learn and have fun, and not have to suffer the aggression of their peers.

  • Cerezo, F. (2009). Bullying: análisis de la situación en las aulas españolas. Revista Internacional de Psicología y Terapia Psicológica9(3), 383-394.
  • Olweus, D. (1993). Acoso escolar, “bullying”, en las escuelas: hechos e intervenciones. Centro de investigación para la Promoción de la Salud, Universidad de Bergen, Noruega, 2.
  • Olweus, D. (1998). Conductas de acoso y amenaza entre escolares. Madrid: Ediciones Morata.