How do schools deal with bullying

Bullying at School: When Learning Becomes Hell

Last Updated on: 20th October 2020, 10:48 am

Stolen exercise books, malicious break letters and now and then a black eye: almost every second student in Austria has had experience of bullying. We researched how children can defend themselves against the harassment in the school yard and where parents can find help. We also revealwhat responsibility the Teachers wear, and under what circumstances bullying in Austria punishable is.

Table of Contents

Bullying in school

Embarrassed, teased and excluded by others: for many children and young people this is the sad everyday school life. And this is not about the occasional quarrels or arguments that occur in every schoolyard. One speaks of bullying when this harassing behavior daily and about one Period of several months takes place.

By the way: Bullying does not only exist within the student body. There are also teachers who harass students and classes who bully their teachers. When teachers are being played with badly by other teachers, this is called workplace bullying.

When is it bullying? definition

According to Dan Olweus, a Swedish-Norwegian psychologist whose life's work is research into violence in schools, one speaks of bullying when “one or more individuals are repeatedly exposed to negative actions by one or more individuals over a long period of time ”. (Wikipedia) These negative actions can more verbal (insult, insult, ridicule) and non-verbal in nature be (turn your back, make faces, roll your eyes). Bullying among children is also common physical violence out (push, kick, pinch, hold on, beat up).

Bullying is NOT fun

One often hears statements from the attackers such as: It was just fun. But for the marginalized child it really makes no difference whether the chicane arises from a malicious intention or, for example, "just" arises out of boredom. All cases of bullying have in common that a clear one Imbalance of forces between victim and perpetrator (or group of perpetrators) prevails. And for this reason, the chicane is ALWAYS massive for the victim Impairment of quality of life represent.

Why is bullied in schools?

Bullying is often the breeding ground for bullying normal problemshow they can appear in every class and every age group. Sudden changes in the class structure (e.g. newcomers) can also be a Imbalance in daily interaction create. If this imbalance becomes inadequate caught and mastered, bullying can arise. Examples of situations that can easily become the starting point of harassment are:

  • competitor: Jealousy or otherwise competitive behavior in the classroom can lead to certain students becoming marginalized.
  • Otherness: Students who in some way (external, cultural, religious, etc.) stand out from others, become targets faster than others.
  • Group dynamics: Newcomers or “departures” can trigger insecurities because some children are in their social role (e.g. class clown or top of the class) feel threatened.
  • behavior: Even students who attract attention through their behavior (e.g. who are particularly loud or particularly reserved) can become victims of bullying.

Why is my child being bullied?

There areCharacteristics and behaviorsthat make children stand out from their classmates. Some children also deliberately distance themselves from their classmates, making themselves a potential target for suspicion and teasing. Typical for possible victims of bullying is, that you

... accept the role of victim and yourself do not fight backwhen attacked.

... do not feel particularly comfortable with people of the same age and prefer with adults are together.

are shy and don't like to attract attention.

... easily burst into tears and withdraw.

... in a class not enforce and can argue against their classmates.

… Worry a lot, which often leads to tangible fears develop.

Types of bullying

Failure to detect bullying in schools is not necessarily due to teacher failure. Most of the time, the attacks do not take place in the classroom itself, but in the Break, on the toilet, on the school bus or after school (e.g. on the way home) instead of. Also the many different forms bullying can make it difficult to recognize and correctly assess situations.

Active or direct bullying

Active or direct harassment is characterized by teasing, insulting words, exposing or laughing at classmates. Physical violence (pushing or even beating in the schoolyard) is a form of direct bullying that requires immediate action. If students are actively secularized by others, then this is of course easier for the teacher to recognize than passive or indirect bullying.

Passive or indirect bullying

One speaks of passive bullying when Rumors or lies be spread about a student, him during the break or during group work is marginalized or the classmates destroy / hide the victim's property. Also Coercion and Blackmail is a form of bullying that is very difficult to detect because the affected people usually do not communicate with the teachers out of shame or fear.


Cyber ​​or Internet bullying is a special form of harassmentusing electronic means of communication(especially cell phones and smartphones) takes place. In our article Cyberbullying: When children are victims on the Internet, you will find out why this form of bullying is particularly dangerous and what (also legal!) Options those affected have to take action against it.

How do you recognize bullying in school?

Very few children talk at home when they are bullied at school. For this reason, it is particularly important for teachers and parents to take note of the following Characteristics and / or behaviors to pay attention to.

How bullying victims behave in school

Children who are bullied by others show up at school certain behaviorswho should alert teachers. They are frequented by their classmates

  • Treated derogatory and dismissive, sometimes even physically attacked.
  • marginalized and ignored, which is why victims of bullying usually stand around alone during the break or seek the proximity of the teachers.
  • elected last (or not at all) in sports.
  • annoyed and humiliated by stealing / hiding / damaging their personal belongings.
  • embroiled in quarrels in which they automatically lose.
  • Annoyed and teased, for example, when they speak in front of the class or have to do something on the blackboard. Bullying victims become extremely nervous in such situations, often start to stutter or fall completely silent.

How bullying victims behave at home

Many children who are marginalized and / or bullied in school also show up at home certain behaviorswho should alert parents. You can tell that a child may be bullied at school by the fact that they are

  • reluctant to leave the house in the morning and avoid classmates.
  • never or only rarely invites friends, often only has a very small group of friends.
  • is rarely invited by others and does not want to celebrate himself.
  • Every now and then has injuries (e.g. bruises or scratches) that it cannot really explain.
  • looks depressed and unhappy, may also have trouble sleeping.
  • Asks for more pocket money or even steals (in the case of extortion or coercion).
  • is often “sick” so that she does not have to go to school (many days off).
  • is actually sick more often (stomach pain is particularly common in victims of bullying).
  • continuously performs worse.

When teachers bully students

It's not always the students who bully. Sometimes children develop a real fear of school because of them from one of their teachers repeatedly exposed or in front of the whole class to be humiliated. Some students report of teachers kicking failed classwork or homework in front of the class, or students unprepared put on the board and react with derogatory comments if the children cannot solve the tasks. Some teachers hurt with ironic remarks, others openly insult.

Is bullying a criminal offense? Austria

In cases of bullying at school, the criminal law is the one Ultima ratio and only to be used when all Attempts at solutions by the school failed. The reason for this is obvious: in most cases of bullying in school, the attackers themselves are children (under 14 years of age) and therefore not punishable. Attackers only over 14 years can be held criminally responsible.

Download! The Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research has a guide for the this year Dealing with bullying in schools published. You can find the guide here.

Exclusion from class for bullying

Children who bully their classmates cannot be prosecuted, but they are at risk exclusion from lessons. According to Section 49 of the School Education Act, a student can be excluded from teachingwhen his behavior "represents a permanent threat to classmates or other people working at the school with regard to their morality, physical safety or property". (Quote: The suspension from lessons is, however, for a maximum duration of four weeks limited.

Is teacher bullying a criminal offense?

Since teachers are capable of criminal offenses and therefore punishable, bullying that can be proven as such, in most cases fulfills the criteria of insultand the foul gossip. According to Austrian law, however, this isPersonal charges, which means that the prosecution rests with the injured party or the parents of the injured party. However, if the attacker is not convicted, the private prosecutor must also bear all costs. However, if a conviction occurs, the attacker has to pay compensation for pain and suffering.

What can be done against bullying?

Many victims hope the harassment will eventually stop by itself. But the sad truth is that the problem of bullying doesn't go away on its own. Sometimes it helps when children change class or even school, but usually there is only one thing that really helps against bullying: To address the problem. And as early as possible, as often and as publicly as possible.

Bullying - what should the school do?

Scientific studies show that bullying in every school, happens in almost every class and every age group. And most often and most violently it occurs there where the problem is hushed up. Because of this, it is the school's responsibility to speak openly and honestly about bullying.

Open communication between the school management and the teaching staff is just as important: Teachers need to know that they will be supported when needed. And the school management has to make sure that appropriate resources (e.g. support from mediators, school psychologists, supervisors, etc.) are available.

Bullying prevention

Teacher can not only do something about bullying, but they are about it Committed. According to Section 51 (3) of the SchUG, teachers have within their Obligation to supervise namely to pay attention to both the physical safety and the health of their students. Bullying prevention with information days, common Workshops and school agreements or contracts of conduct are therefore the duty of every school.

For example, are conceivablecorresponding seminar days in the school, which are led by a professional (mediator). The teachers should then continue to deepen what they have learned with their classes. For this to work, teachers should be in the Further training on how to deal with bullying. Corresponding courses and workshops are offered, for example, by ÖSB Consulting GmbH and are usually eligible for funding.

What can parents do about bullying?

Parents should take the first warning signs (increased withdrawal, stomach ache, bad mood) very seriously and do so as early as possible Conversation with the class teacher search. It is important that the school is involved in problem-solving as bullying is rarely the result of a single attacker.

Usually the problem is anchored in the class structure and can therefore only be solved together with everyone (victim, perpetrator, class, teacher). To tackle bullying in school, you can do the following:

  • Seek a conversation with the teacher and, if necessary, with the school psychologist.
  • Call in the school management if the discussions with the teacher are unsuccessful.
  • Call in the school inspector if the discussions with the school management are unsuccessful.
  • Keep a bullying diary in which you record everything your child tells you about the attacks (especially important if it is a matter of bullying by the teacher).
  • Make sure your child receives professional help.

How can I help my child?

For children who are bullied in school is a stable and loving parental home extreme important. Your child needs to know that you are 100 percent behind them. Parents who suggest their child “change” in order to offer the other children less surface to attack, make their child even more insecure. You should be doing the exact opposite: try that Boost your child's self-esteem!

For example, plan an activity together for every weekend that your child can look forward to. You should also encourage them to make friends outside of school. This can be achieved, for example, through new hobbies such as children's dancing or art workshops. Day trips or hikes with your child are also a good way to strengthen your relationship of trust. By you praise your child and appreciate his achievements, you strengthen his self-esteem and help him to gradually free himself from the role of victim.

Who helps with bullying at school?

Bullying at school can be both mental and physical. Because of this, it is important to get there early professional help to search. Your pediatrician knows exactly where to get the right help and can give you appropriate addresses.

If your child has already developed massive fears due to the situation, suffers from sleep disorders or even panic attacks, you should consult a child psychologist to be on the safe side. Professionals with this training can best assess your child's condition and guide you regarding it further treatment to advise. In addition, there are the following for victims of school bullying Advice centers.

Help with bullying - contact

Download! The child and youth advocacy of the state of Upper Austria not only regularly offers projects and workshops against violence and bullying in schools, but has also published an extensive information brochure for parents.

Mediators in your state:

HEROLD Blog Team