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The Education of character, core topic to curb bullying of adolescents in Latin American schools

Andrea Bustamante, researcher at the University of Missouri - St. Louis (USA), participates in a University workshop held at the Universidad Panamericana.

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Andrea Bustamante, researcher at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (USA). PHOTO: Courtesy
02/12/16 18:01 Natalia Rouzaut

The Education of character is fundamental to curb bullying situations in secondary schools in Latin America. This was stated by Andrea Bustamante, a researcher at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (USA). The expert participated in an activity of the University of Navarra (Spain) held at the Universidad Panamericana (Campus Mexico).

Bustamante was one of 25 experts from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina who have attended a workshop of project 'Investigar y promote la Education del carácter en escuelas de secundaria de Latinoamérica', a joint initiative of the Institute for Culture and Society and the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra, funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation.

According to him, the Education of character allows us to "identify and manage our emotions in situations that generate anger or rage", which is "core topic to prevent conflicts from escalating into situations of violence".

In addition, for the expert, the development of the virtues of empathy and assertiveness are crucial to avoid the passivity of the 'third party' or 'the observer'. "Compassion and fairness could increase the likelihood that third parties feel a responsibility not to support and act in the face of these situations," she stressed.

A new Education to overcome challenges

On the other hand, Bustamante proposes the creation of methodologies where adolescents can "reflect on their experience and practice the necessary skills to live together in peace", as spaces for conflict resolution.

Another challenge to be overcome, from agreement with the specialist, is the training of teachers. According to the professor, many teachers do not know how to distinguish isolated conflict situations from bullying situations. Added to this is a context "where drugs and violence, among other problems, are recurrent".

"Providing support to teachers with training on management issues classroom, strategies for promoting citizenship skills and peaceful school climates is essential if long-term changes are to be achieved deadline", he concluded.