Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. Bullying may include physical violence, sexual violence, threats, teasing, social exclusion or other psychological violence. The presence of bullying is often a sign of aggressive or violent behaviour elsewhere in children’s lives and young children may be acting out at schools or elsewhere what they have observed and learned at home. Recent studies suggest that bullying in adolescence and childhood can have worse long-term effects on young adult‘s mental health than being subject to maltreatment during childhood¹.
Violence in schools and bullying is one of the strategic priorities of the current The Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child 2012-2015. Prevention of bullying starts with educating children about the harmful effects of bullying and that their actions have an impact on others. Therefore, the Council of Europe promotes whole school human rights and citizenship education programmes to tackle bullying and violence in schools. These Citizenship and human rights education programmes are based on the principles of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights which all 47 member states of the Council of Europe have adopted.
The Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation that carries out the Council of Europe efforts on fighting bullying has created a wealth of tools which can be used in the fight against bullying. These include child-friendly material and educational material for education professionals to use in schools such as the Compasito manual on human rights education for children.