Authorities, organisers and students of the anti-bullying brigade project in Malaga schools. Migue Fernández
Bullying complaints in Malaga schools rocket, but only five cases have resulted in disciplinary action

Bullying complaints in Malaga schools rocket, but only five cases have resulted in disciplinary action

The 223 complaints lodged in the province's schools so far this academic year represent a third more than the previous year

Francisco Gutiérrez


Thursday, 4 May 2023, 11:55


Reports of bullying in Malaga province's schools are on the increase with noticeably more incidents reported so far this academic year than last year.

The provincial delegate for Educational Development in Malaga Miguel Briones said 223 complaints had been lodged for alleged bullying this year, although following investigations, just five cases resulted in disciplinary action.

The Education department received 170 complaints last year, of which only 11 had sufficient evidence to be considered bullying.

Briones said there was a "very wide range" of reasons why a bullying complaint was different to a determined case. He said some investigations simply could not be classified as bullying, while in other cases the behaviour had not been repeated or gone on long enough to be determined as bullying. An apology from the bully, or even false reports led to a high number of complaints and lower number of cases that resulted in disciplinary action.

To be determined as bullying, experts say that it is any form of psychological, verbal or physical mistreatment that occurs repeatedly between schoolchildren, both in the classroom and through social networks.

Anti-bullying brigade

Raising awareness of the problem among schoolchildren themselves is often the first step towards avoiding bullying and mistreatment. This is the aim of the 'Brigada Antiacoso' (anti-bullying brigade), a joint project involving the Infania and ADA Lovelace associations, with the support of the Education and Social Rights departments of Malaga City Council.

Students, families and teachers received specific training and this week, the pupils and schools received a diploma in recognition of their participation. They were accompanied by Briones and the Mayor Francisco de la Torre, at a ceremony held at the San José de Calasanz school.

About 30 public, state and private schools in Malaga city, involving 2,103 students, took part in the anti-bullying campaign.

Advice, prevention and mediation training

The anti-bullying brigade project head and president of the ADA Lovelace association Marta González said that the work of the associations was based on advice, prevention and mediation training.

Of the 200 surveys carried out after the end of the project, they found that 35% of the children surveyed said bullying mainly occurred during playtime. Only 41% of children's devices were managed by their parents and more than 80% of children who witnessed or experienced bullying said their parents did not manage their devices.

For González, an expert in school bullying and new technologies, she said bullying "is becoming normalised, and this is very worrying".

"We are all equal"

Student Francisco Mena from the IES Ben Gabirol, participated in the anti-bullying brigade project. At Wednesday's ceremony, the 14-year-old received a badge for his involvement in helping prevent bullying in the school playground. "We have watched over them (students) so that there were no problems at break time and when we witnessed a fight we quickly informed the teacher," he said.

At José María Torrijos Secondary School, Héctor Martín, 12, said: "we are all equal, and no one has the right to pick on a classmate, whether they are short or tall, of one colour or another, because we are all equal".

At the age of 11, Alejandro Vela is in fifth grade at Gutiérrez Mata Primary School and said he had seen classmates "suffer" because of cyberbullying and that "we have to help in these cases".

Specific protocol

Since 2011, Andalucía has had a specific protocol to act in cases of bullying. The regulation was then updated in 2017, to add cyberbullying cases.

It involved 12 steps, and if all the criteria was checked and bullying was determined, would result in the expulsion of the bullying student within one, two weeks or one month, depending on the seriousness of the case.

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