By Benjamin, 14, Young Leader from Chile
My name is Benjamin, I am 14 years old and from Chile. I would like talking about bullying, which is a form of violence that we experience a lot in my school.
First, I want to ask you to close your eyes and remember the time when you were in school. Remember if you were a bully or, you saw bulling or you were a victim of bullying. Think how you felt at that time or imagine how the other children felt about it? Open your eyes.
Bullying is not a minor issue and that is why together with my classmates we want to stop it. For example, in my school we used to have a lot of physical aggression and violence of different types. With the "Child-led Research" program, we have worked all year to understand the issues of violence that affect us and to put an end to these violent behaviours. First, we started creating our own rules of coexistence. Mine was "to respect others", such as when someone raises their hand to speak, he or she must be given the floor and be listened to until they have finished speaking..
We decided to investigate bullying in our school to know how to stop it. Bullying can happen because of the type of clothing or physical appearance, sexual orientation of a person among other things. We formed a group of child researchers and we interviewed students and teachers. We also investigated what was the percentage of bullying in Chile, which is as high as 86 per cent. This is a major figure since it represents the number of people who have been bullies, have, observed or been victims of bullying.
To understand more in depth how bullying affects us, we interviewed a teacher who gave us her own testimony about being subjected of bullying when she was a student at the school. She lost the sight in her left eye as she was physically bullied. She became a disabled person who cannot get a drivers license and cannot do many things as a result of bullying.
We discovered that a classmate suffered a lot of bullying. We used to bully him before and I included myself amongst the bullies. He was bullied because his face was different. When I understood what we were doing I felt terrible. Now things have changed and nobody bothers him. With the program of child-led research our school has changed and we are making major efforts to stop bullying and other forms of violence: no one is physically, verbally and psychologically assaulted anymore.
This experience shows that we as children can do many things to stop violence, for example:
• Set a good example to others by respecting them instead of insulting, or mistreating them.
• Talk to people, so they are aware of bullying and its affects.
• Do not force anyone to do what they do not want to do.
• Give more opportunities to children to attend training and workshops to create more awareness about this problem.
I would like to see changes in all the schools to end bullying and if I had the opportunity to talk to the President of my country, I would ask him to conduct a campaign, like the organ donation campaign, to humanise the consequences of bullying and to call many people to join the campaign and take concrete actions to end bullying.