Physical education and school bullying: state of the art, practical implications and research proposals
Bullying has been considered as a multidimensional form of aggression which includes a double distinction, distinguishing the form of aggression and its functions. In the school context, bullying is considered a primary issue with figures up to 35%. Two forms of aggression have traditionally been considered: physical aggression and relational/social aggression. In Italy regional laws have been enacted on prevention and fight against bullying and cyberbullying and the parliament started the legislative iter to recognize bullying as a form of stalking. Physical education (PE) potentially promote behaviors and attitude against bullying but PE setting has also been linked to bullying episodes: victims of bullying can tend to avoid PE lessons as a potential situation that make them feel vulnerable; on the other hand, PE can exert beneficial effects in encouraging the externalization of emotions and improving social skills. PE teaching styles and teachers’ proactive attitude are crucial to promote a friendly environment and to avoid potential situation of discrimination. PE teachers should try to enhance self-efficacy as well as social competences of their students and avoiding creating embarrassing sit-uation due to physical appearance and/or poor motor skills. Future research should address behaviors of PE teachers to contrast bullying, evaluate the positive/negative role of PE in bullying situations, explore the prevalence of bullying at school respect to the other disciplines.
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