There is a “code of silence” that pervades Peruvian society, which makes it hard to get a definitive answer as to the level of bullying in Peru, a study at the University De San Martin De Porres in Lima, Peru concluded. This university study said even students are hesitant to admit they have been bullied because of the code of silence. Teachers see it as normal behavior and may blame the victim as well as the bully. The university study found there is bullying in all schools, that verbal bullying is more likely than physical, and most bullying occurs between the ages of 11 and 16. Middle school bullying and high school bullying are the most prevalent ages. The code of silence also discounts or hides the problem, and there is no central governmental move to address the problem.
Even though this university study in 2010 said there has not been adequate research and questioned many bullying statistics, there have been several studies that have tried to address the issue. One study conducted between 2013 and 2016 found that 53 percent of boys and 47 percent of girls had been victims of bullying at some time. In the studies conducted mostly in Lima, 6,300 students said they had been bullied.
Yanet Palomino, director of Action and Development said most cases are not reported, and estimated this is only about 20 percent of the real cases. He said many times bullies abuse fellow students without fear of retribution in the schools. He also said many educators minimize the seriousness of bullying. Internet bullying, or Facebook bullying, which is cyberbullying is also becoming more common especially in Lima, the director said.
Some are taking it seriously however, Alexander Lezma, school district mayor of the municipality of San Juan de Lurigancho said there are bullies, victims and witnesses, and all three are part of the total picture. He said it is important to work with all three groups to get them to denounce the practice, which is raising bulling awareness. He said when students denounce the practice, when witnesses denounce it, there is a decrease in the amount of bullying. He feels this is how to deal with the problem and how to prevent bullying.
There is a law against bullying in schools, but since teachers are not taking it seriously, it is not well enforced. There has also been an amendment proposed that would add teacher bulling of students to the definition, but it has not yet received approval. According to bulling information provided by the government, the most bullying happens in Lima, Ayacucho, Puno and Huancavelica.
The news website El Comercio, says at least 30 children are bullied every day in Peru, in cities like LIma, Ayacucho, Puno and Huancavelica. It said there are instances of children making other children pay to use the public bathroom in the schools, which is extortion. This study also said there is a lot of bullying of homosexual students as well. There were also cases reported in Lima where students demanded money from other students in exchange for not beating them.
What to do about bullying remains an issue though. The psychologist in charge of the specialized report on bullying said many parents and teachers only seek to punish the perpetrator and are not addressing the real issue.
“A child who reaches a level of violence is really crying out for support. He is the victim of other types of violence, such as domestic.They deserve attention and is not correct in the education sector, promote revenge,” Cesar Bazan said. He added that bullying should be reported to the Ministry of Education, and when it is , the number of cases declines bullying facts say.
More recently more cases have been reported, and some of them are extreme. Some have committed suicide as a result of bullying. Here are some of the more extreme bullying cases.
- In Chiclayo an 11-year old student was beaten by 10 classmates and was hospitalized with many bruises and cuts.
- In Independence a student stabbed another student in retaliation for bullying. Police said the aggressor in this case was reacting to bullying in Peru.
- In Arequipa, a 14 year-old teen died after having been bullied physically for three months. This teenager was in the hospital for 18 days before dying as a result of wounds received.
- In San Juan de Luriganch a 13 year-old teen hanged himself to death, and left a note saying it was because of bullying.
- In San Jeronimo de Chonta a seven year old student died after being beaten by two classmates.
There has been some action taken in more recent times. A program in Lambayeque aims to educate 30,000 high school students to the dangers of bullying and cyberbullying. Schools in Chiclayo, Jose Leonardo Ortiz, Pomalca, La Victoria are also part of this program. Creating awareness is one way to prevent bullying in Peru, officials said. It was reported in April of 2016, that this awareness program claimed to have reduced bullying by 60 percent.
While some progress has been made, there have been other studies that show there is a definite impact on learning when there is bullying in the schools.
A study done by a United Nations group did a Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study of 16 Latin American nations, comparing all the countries and measuring its impact on education. The study showed there was a direct relationship between bullying and learning, though it was different in different countries around South America.
In this study 91,000 sixth graders were surveyed, from 2,969 schools of 16 nations. In Peru 165 schools participated, with 243 classrooms and 4,800 students being surveyed. This study showed Peru to be slightly below the South American average.
According to the study, 44 percent of students said they had been bullied in some way, and the Latin America average was 48 percent. According to the study 19 percent said they had been physically bullied and 34 percent said they had been verbally bullied. The physical bullying was close to the regional average, and the verbal bullying was five percentage points above the average. The code of silence may be a factor, but those reporting having witnessed bullying was at 56 percent, which was nearly 10 percent lower than the regional average.
The study measured the impact on test scores for reading and math. In Peru, math scores went down 6.7 percent and reading scores fell by 10 percent when people had been bullied. The results were different for every country, with some having more impact on reading and some more impact on math. Peru showed very little reaction to having witnessed bullying, or having classes disrupted by bullies. In those cases math and reading scores both fell by only about one percent each. Some countries had reading and math scores fall by double digits when classes were disrupted. The study concluded that in cultures where bullying is considered normal, there is less impact on witnessing bullying.
Just as it is in other countries, those who are bullies and victims, tend to continue to be the same when they become adults. There is office bullying and workplace bullying, which is just as common as it is for school children when it comes to bullying in Peru.