How to Speak Out Against Bullying

If a school doesn’t guarantee their students’ safety, it's important to speak out. Schools have to be safe spaces for all their students and society should hold them accountable.
How to Speak Out Against Bullying
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Knowing how to speak out against bullying or file an official complaint against an educational institution is crucial to put an end to the problem. If you stay silent, not only does the behavior go unpunished, but it’ll keep affecting other students.

Bullying is a serious problem that affects students in schools all over the world. Luckily, society as a whole has stepped up efforts to stop bullying, especially in the past few years. Today, there are steps you can take to protect children and teens. In fact, most schools have protocols for how to deal with bullying.

It’s important to address the issue quickly and effectively. Otherwise, victims can suffer serious physical and psychological harm. In the most serious cases, bullying can lead to suicide. It’s also important to remember that this kind of behavior has far-reaching consequences. The direct victims are never the only ones affected.

When no one speaks out against bullying, the bullies get used to acting violently. Several studies have shown that if no one stops or redirects bullies’ bad behavior, they become violent adults (Olweus, 2011; Temcheff, Serbin, 2008).

A kid sitting alone on a park bench.

Speak out against bullying

Today, laws hold schools responsible for failing to protect their students from harm. This includes bullying. Consequently, the first step in speaking out against bullying is demanding that schools take measures to protect children and discipline bullies.

This step is very important. If the school doesn’t take the appropriate measures to protect their students, you can file a legal complaint. Guaranteeing the protection of minors is a school’s responsibility. After all, schools are supposed to be safe spaces for all children.

There have already been some rulings that required schools that didn’t protect children from bullying to provide monetary compensation. One of the most important cases was that of May of 2012, in which a judge required a school in Alcorcón, Spain to pay 32,000 euros to a family of a child who suffered bullying.

If the school doesn’t take the proper measures to protect students, or if what they do isn’t enough, it’s important to report them to the corresponding educational department.

What happens next?

If the situation ends up in the hands of the Board of Education, they’ll look carefully at the evidence. If they see proof of bullying, they’ll intervene to find a solution. In the more serious cases where an actual crime has been committed, a criminal court will step in.

Bullying often includes criminal behavior such as threats or physical aggression. If a child is a victim of this kind of crime and the aforementioned protocols don’t solve the problem, you can go directly to the criminal justice system. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, the bully might be put in a juvenile detention center or some kind of residential rehabilitation program. Community service and parole are also potential consequences, as well as having to compensate the victim and their family.

Usually, the bully is responsible for paying the fine. If the bully is a minor, their parents or guardians have to pay. However, if it turns out that the school is found negligent as well, they might also provide some monetary compensation.

That being said, it’s important to remember that the real goal is for the bullying to stop. The child in question has to feel safe at school and be free from any threats or aggression.

A girl at school being bullied.

What to do at home

A child who has been bullied needs to feel fully supported by their family. They also need to be able to trust their family and other involved adults. Those two factors are crucial for being able to resolve the problem. Children usually speak clearly and honestly when they feel safe, so it’s very important that the family listen. Be careful not to openly question what your child is telling you. Be calm and proceed carefully.

Bullying can have serious consequences. One common one is that it negatively affects students’ self-esteem. It can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and, in serious cases, self-harm.

As a result, victims of bullying may need the help of a specialist to heal. They often do poorly in school, are scared to go to school, or suffer from depression. If your child or a child you know is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s important to get professional help.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.