A non-profit telephone helpline set up in Italy in 1987 to guarantee the rights of children, Telefono Azzurro, recorded 270 cases of bullying and cyberbullying in the course of nine months (September 2015 to June 2016), practically one call a day leading to 619 consultations. The victims of physical bullying are for the most part male (55 percent); girls, on the other hand, are the object of most cases of cyberbullying (70 percent). The perpetrators are above all male (60 percent of cases) and, in contrast to cyberbullying, they mostly know the victim. Even age is an alarming factor because bullying is seen beginning in earliest childhood (22 percent of victims are 5 years old), while cyberbullying begins around the age of 10.
These numbers demonstrate the undoubted impact and gravity of the phenomenon of bullying among the young and even the youngest people in Italy. They represent, in reality, just the tip of the iceberg, not only as regards the data but above all for serious underlying educational problems: difficulty in academic understanding and performance, low self-esteem, impulse management, domestic violence, suicide attempts, trauma, difficult relationships with parents, separations, abandonment, jail, theft, alcoholism and drugs.
The episodes and situations that can be called by the name of “bullying” are many and not easily classifiable. At times the gravity of the situation depends on the sensitivity of the victim, the personality of the offender, the duration and the circumstances: being made fun of in front of others may be experienced in a way equally as traumatic as a physical one-on-one conflict with a classmate.