Bullying is much less common now

Bullying causes depression and anxiety disorders

In companies or departments with executives who are ready to talk and capable of criticism, employees have a say and employees strongly identify with their work, it has been proven that bullying occurs far less often than where this is not the case and where there is possibly still high work and competitive pressure. "In an appreciative, error-friendly company culture, bullying behavior can only spread with difficulty," says Rothermund. A good working atmosphere increases the likelihood of discussing differences and problems with one another instead of fighting.

Studies also show how important it is to act at different levels in the case of bullying in schools. At the »school level« it is first of all important to recognize, yes, there is bullying in everyone, including in our school, says Hess. It is important that the school management is interested in the topic and that, for example, an agenda against bullying that is supported by everyone is developed in the school.

»In an appreciative, error-friendly company culture, bullying behavior can only spread with difficulty«
(Eva Rothermund)

"Teachers should also be enabled to recognize bullying, to intervene effectively, but also to assess when outside help is to be organized," says Hess. It is also very important that the teachers network with one another and share the observations they make in the classes. "At the class level, you also have to work on the topic with the students."

For a long time, when dealing with the subject of bullying, one concentrated solely on the perpetrators and victims. "The group, the group structure in which the bullying takes place, plays a decisive role," says Hess. In a group that thinks bullying is uncool, rejects it and clearly represents this position, a bullying perpetrator will not be able to assert himself and will not be recognized.

Mechthild Schäfer and her Munich team also focus their programs on the entire group and, above all, on the students who just stand by. "The best success comes from the class itself," says Schäfer. According to her, a class is divided into three groups in a bullying situation: around a third of the students support the bullying perpetrator, a third are defenders who take the side of the victim, and the remaining 30 percent are against bullying off, but just stand by and do nothing.

In the group that rejects bullying (two-thirds, the majority in the class), there are two groups of people: those who sympathize and those who sympathize. “Those who sympathize, the defenders, are in principle ready to do something. Those who suffer, on the other hand, freeze, «explains Schäfer. They reacted extremely stressed, with a strong increase in the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol measurable. Often these people turn away from what is happening because they (from other incidents) would often have learned early in their life: "If I or someone else is threatened, it brings relief to me personally if I turn away."

To train this "frozen" moral courage is difficult. The boys and girls affected need more experience, says Schäfer: If I do something, it benefits me and the others. With its programs, Schäfer tries to mobilize the group of defenders in the class to get the "frozen turnouts" on board. "You, XY, please fetch Ms. Z!", "You, I'll clarify this, please comfort XY!" Mechthild Schäfer is convinced that these small steps, experiences of self-efficacy, no matter how tiny, help. You can change a system and end bullying.