Wednesday, August 17

Bullying targets gifted students

Peer violence is one of the problems that raises the most social concern in schools due to its prevalence, its severity and its relationship with health and psychosocial adjustment variables.

School bullying, the uncomfortable reality

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Several studies have revealed physical health problems, emotional and behavioral difficulties, problematic social development and low academic performance associated with the exposure of young people to this violence.

School bullying is defined as a form of violence in which one or more people attack another peer (or peers) repeatedly over time with malicious intent, having an imbalance of power between the parties involved.

A school “pandemic”

School bullying (and particularly peer violence) is a phenomenon of a “pandemic” nature, that is, it is a problem that extends to many countries and continents, crosses borders, exceeds the number of expected cases and persists over time.

To verify this sad statement, we refer the reader to the report of the 2018 UNESCO on the matter. It collects data from international surveys in more than 40 countries in students between 11 and 17 years old. The results reveal that approximately one in three students has been harassed by her classmates for one or more days in the month prior to the survey.

In Spain, according to the report carried out by UNICEF in 2021, we found that the data on bullying victimization vary between 22.5% and 33.6%, depending on the cut-off points. In such a way that between 2 and 3 students out of 10 are victims.

Highly Capable Students

The relationship between bullying and gifted students has been under study for almost two decades with very different results: some report more harassment of this group, others do not perceive differences and a few maintain that students with high abilities suffer less harassment than students without high abilities.

Preliminary data in Spain already suggested that there was a relevant problem with this heterogeneous group of students and seemed to indicate that these would receive the blows of violence with more frenquency.

more victimized

our studio It is the broadest in the Spanish field on bullying and high capacities to date. A total of 449 adolescents diagnosed with giftedness from the entire national territory and 950 students without a diagnosis of giftedness participated, from 14 centers in seven autonomous communities (Principality of Asturias, Community of Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Comunidad Valenciana, Community of Aragon and Basque Country).

The results indicate that students with high abilities have a significantly higher prevalence of victimization: 50.6% are involved in victimization problems, compared to 27.6% of students without high abilities.

On the contrary, the number of pure aggressors (that is, they are only aggressors) in both samples does not present statistically significant differences (1.1% in students with high abilities and 2.4% in students without high abilities).

effects and causes

Violence affects everyone who receives it, but also those who exercise it and those who observe it. In such a way that every person who is related to a circuit of violence is going to be affected by it and the data of the study corroborate it.

Being a victim or victim-aggressive is related to high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and a lower health-related quality of life for all types of students. However, high-ability victims reported significantly more stress than non-high-ability victims.

In the social context in which we live, any difference can make people who do not blend in with their environment to be seen as a potential target for ridicule, mockery, verbal or physical aggression, etc.

On the one hand, this greater victimization of students with high abilities may be due to their constitution as a minority group, this minority trait being versus majority (general population of school age) which can explain part of the propensity to be harassed.

Different from the others

This difference can occur in any sense (regardless of whether it is something positive or not) and can become a risk factor for victimization. The differences can be of all kinds: physical, such as being very tall, short, obese or thin; have problems with speech (dysphemia); wear braces, glasses or cochlear implants; belonging to a minority ethnic group, a religion other than that of the majority or having a non-normative sexual orientation.

In addition to what has been said, the social identity theorypoints out that intergroup processes lead individuals to behave in such a way as to favor their own group (ingroup) and discriminate against others (outgroup).

Group contrast effects are crucial for the development of its identity norms and signals and are typically based on the most salient characteristic that distinguishes its members (minimum paradigm within the group), which justify bullying simply because a partner is not a member of the ingroup, even encouraging aggression.

This effect of distancing from the outgroup It has been found even in children of 4 and 5 years. In this way, it can be better understood how different minority groups suffer more victimization compared to the majority group.

respect for difference

At least two of the key pending challenges are:

  1. That the centers are safe environments for all students.
  2. Include and respect what is different in the school context.

In general, from society, the family and other areas of socialization, what is “different” is still seen as negative. This is the first great in-depth reflection: the acceptance of differences and diversity is a great pending subject.

keys to the future

Students with high abilities are diverse, also among themselves, so this unaccepted differential fact makes them more vulnerable. If, in addition, the conception that one has of them is incorrect or is blurred and tinged with stereotypes, the problem is aggravated. To avoid it, it is necessary, at least:

This article comes from The Conversation. Read the original here.

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