A study conducted by the national department of education showed bullying in Chile is a widespread problem in the schools. According to a story in the Santiago Times, nearly all students at the high school level have experienced bullying of some kind.
“Bullying is an illness and it’s here to stay,” said Chile’s Education Minister Joaquín Lavín, as he announced the study results, which was the first of its kind in Chile. This study was done with the standardized testing program, and gave surveys to 225,000 students in 2,658 schools.
As a result of the study the Chilean government took action by putting nobullying plans in place. Schools were given two months to individually come up with a set of rules for their own school, and each school is to have a teacher hear and respond to cases of bullying. This includes cyberbullying laws like facebook bullying and internet bullying.
Parents were also given printed material and encouraged to talk to their children about respecting others, and problem with bullying.
The government also provided psychologists to visit schools that have the greatest problems.
According to the survey the Tarapaca region in the far north had the highest rates of bullying, at 34 percent for 10th graders. Arica-Parinacota and Coquimbo also had 30 percent rates of bullying. The far southern regions of Chile had the lowest incidence of bullying, with Araucania and Maule reporting less than 20 percent.
What shocked Chileans was, according to bullying statistics, 86 percent said they had experienced bulling at some point, and 69 percent said they saw it regularly happening. Also 50 percent admitted to having bullied others.
Around the world bulling is normally identified with middle school bullying, or children between the ages of 11 and 14. It seems in Chile there may be more of an issue with high school bullying.
Whether bullying is on the rise in Chile is an interesting question. Is it on the rise, or is there just more awareness and willingness to talk about it?
Bullying against gay, lesbian and transgendered students also is a problem, according to a UNESCO study that showed 68 percent of these students were bullied because of their orientation. This study showed 40 percent of transgendered students drop out of school before finishing high school due to being bullied.
The torture and murder of gay teenager Daniel Zamudio in 2012 brought national attention to the issue of bullying against gay students. An anti-discrimination law was passed, and that spurred a move to raise awareness of the issue. This included seminars on bullying in Temuco and Santiago
The report also said teenage suicide among Chilean youth was among the highest in South America, and some attributed bullying to at least contributing to the problem.
Activist scholar Maru Gonzales, in a Huffington Post story, said it is ironic that Chile is one of the few South American nations trying to change societal attitudes about gay and lesbian students, as well as bullying in general, yet still has the highest suicide rate in the region. She said it is also important to not assume methods that have been proven effective in the United States will necessarily work in Chile, which of course is a different country with a different culture.
Most students – gay or not – are experiencing bullying in Chile, so it is not limited to that group by any means. The Chilean Ministry of Education has been trying to find solutions since its big 2011 study that showed the scope of the problem. It is believed that raising awareness is a good place to start, and the government has been delivering educational material on the subject to schools. Chilean officials said the first phase is raising awareness, the second is finding out how widespread it is, and finally comes the work in the classroom to combat bullying. The Ministry of Education came up with a six-point plan as a starting point.
- Break the silence – speak up either as a victim or a witness
- Clear and consistent rules – there must be rules and they must be enforced in the same way with every student.
- Presence of adults – It is important that parents are involved in their child’s life, and having parents not involved can lead children to become either victims or bullies.
- Additional supervision at school during recess
- Developing conflict resolution skills for students, as well as teachers and adults
- Oppose prejudice and intolerance in all its forms.
Studies have shown there are serious implications to bullying. There was a case in 2003 where a girl committed suicide after having been bullied, and there have been cases where there was severe depression, anxiety and traumatic stress that resulted from having been bullied. A 2004 study that interviewed 8131 students, showed that 30 percent of middle school students had felt depressed, sad and hopeless for two or more days over the past month. The study showed seventh and eighth grade students were bullied more than ninth grade students. It showed boys more likely to be bullied than girls, but girls had more depression. Still, the study strongly linked bullying with depression. Long term effects include continuing to be a victim into adulthood.
Understanding why people bully is part of how to handle bullying in Chile, but raising bulling awareness is part of sound bullying information.
Bullying is also believed to hamper students’ ability to learn. Another UNESCO study measured school bullying and academic achievement by studying 16 Latin American nations in 2011. The study sent surveys to 91,000 students in 3,000 schools in the 16 nation area. It found a strong link between academic performance and bullying, and found that often even witnessing bullying, or classroom disruptions also had a negative impact on learning.
Interestingly enough, it found this to be different in some countries. In some nations math was affected more than reading, and vice versa, and in some rare cases it was found to not make much difference.
For the study, 263 sixth grade classrooms in 165 schools were studied in Chile, and that included 7.025 students. There were more students from Chile represented than any other country.
This study only surveyed sixth graders/ It showed 60 percent had been bullied in some way, and the Latin American average was 51 percent. The study showed
33 percent had been verbally bullied and 21 percent had been physically bulled, and both were higher than the Latin American average. Chilean six graders were slightly below the Latin American average though, when it came to witnessing bullies. In Chile 57 percent said they had witnessed bulling in some way, 29 percent verbally and 25 percent physically, which were all below the regional average.
The study showed math scores were 9.57 percent lower in math, and 8.07 lower in reading, for students who had been bullied. This was close to the Latin American average. Some showed virtually no difference and some were up around 17 percent.
In Chile students who witnessed bullying, or classroom disruption often, showed an 18 percent reduction in math test scores – which was highest in South America. Reading scores fell 9.4 percent which was slightly higher than the regional average.