Bullying and mimetic theory

There has always been bullying, even before it was named as such, however research on it has increased in recent decades due to the need arising from the transitions it has undergone in the social and educational spheres. It is clear that it is no longer enough to reflect on the observations and results of such research; it is now necessary to delve into the psychological theories that support these and that frame a better understanding of reality, which is so complex today, guiding towards pertinent actions that give rise to a reformulation of social paradigms.

Definition of bullying

To better analyse this phenomenon, it needs to be well defined.

The human being is aggressive by nature and frequently, is violent by social learning , although his behavioral expression varies according to cultures and times, until constituting a violent, manifest and/or masked relational climate, which has become a very understood social phenomenon (Gómez: 2006).

Now, What do we understand by bullying? The Anglo-Saxon term bullying is commonly used to refer to the phenomenon of “bullying”. Thus, bullying is the condition of abuse between peers characterised by the bully’s harassment and/or intimidation of the victim , within the school environment. Therefore, a student is victimized when he/she is exposed repeatedly and for an indefinite period of time to negative acts carried out by one or more students.

A negative action occurs when a subject intentionally causes some damage or injury, transgresses morally, psychologically or physically to another individual. Negative actions can be committed verbally, for example with threats and taunts, with deception or even physically, through contact actions such as pushing, hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting. There is also violence that is neither physical nor verbal , for example laughing, grimacing, obscene gestures, libidinous harassment as well as exclusion or refusal to comply with the other person’s correct and legitimate wishes.

The effects of bullying extend far beyond the specific times when the attacks occur, as victims are often anxious at the prospect of returning to school and terrified of meeting the bully again.

Both students who are unjustifiably aggressive towards others, and those who are directly victims of such aggression, are considered to be immersed in these problems and to a greater or lesser extent are victims of them. Likewise, students who are not immediately involved are victims of violence, but are indirectly involved because they are observers and passive subjects of the same, being forced to live in social situations where the problem is latent.

Why does bullying happen?

The essential factor in bullying is the immanent human desire to dominate, to subdue one’s fellow man, rejoicing in his misfortune even if it is self-inflicted.

As UNESCO points out, the likelihood that the school will be signified by the student as an emotionally positive experience will depend on the environment that the students and teachers manage to create. The emotional climate of the school is given by the presence or absence of violence and other disturbances in the various environments. Currently, among the different phenomena of violence that can occur in the school environment, it has been decided to focus attention in a fundamental way on those that have as actors and victims the students themselves, who are recidivists and who break the symmetry that should exist in relationships between peers, promoting or favouring processes of victimization in those who are the subject of interpersonal violence.

A central aspect of the phenomenon of bullying is the existence of an imbalance of forces . This is a constant present in all those contexts of interpersonal relationships in which people of equal social status are together, more or less obligatorily, but relatively permanently, and are forced by circumstances to share scenarios, jobs or simple activities; students attending educational institutions are in these conditions, and therefore can, and in fact do, become involved in problems of victimization.

Mimicry: entering the vicious circle of bullying

“Violence must be recognized as a mimetic character, of such intensity that violence cannot die by itself once it has been installed in the community. To escape from this circle, it would be necessary to eliminate the terrible backwardness of violence that mortgages the future; it would be necessary to deprive men of all the models of violence that continue to multiply and generate new imitations”

-Irard (1983, 90).

In light of the above, school violence, from a social perspective, is established as a public health issue and a significant element that carries a psychosocial risk due to multiple referrals in the psychological, biological and social aspect.

The phenomenon of school violence is nothing more than the reverberation of aggressive subversion from within the family and in society in general. The capacity of school violence is collapsed by a deterioration of horizontal relationships between peers as well as vertically, between teachers, parents and students, the most notorious and worrying being, from my perspective, the mistreatment of students towards teachers and institutions , which is largely due to the consideration that teachers and schools give to students, to social influence and mainly to training at home.