What if I think my child is being bullied?

What if I think my child is being bullied?

What if I think my child is being bullied

If there’s something that characterizes bullying, it’s that regardless of the numbers, it’s not contained or stopped on the school walls. Bullying is already cross-platform because in addition to what happens in its facilities, what happens later on social networks, outside of school hours and far from the reach of teachers and often families. The threat is not insignificant: the increasing use of digital devices has led to a significant increase in cyberbullying on social networks such as WhatsApp, Instagram or Tik Tok, accounting for 22.6% of this type of aggression. The age of access to these devices does not help either: minors use their own mobile phones on average at the age of 12 and with little parental supervision, as can be seen from the data from the III. Reports on the prevention of bullying in schools produced by the Anar Foundation and the Mutua Madrileña Foundation.

From the perception of the students it can be deduced that bullying still affects 15.2% of the minors. Other percentages are also relevant: one in five students admits to having been involved in a case of bullying or cyberbullying without knowing it, while of the cases uncovered almost half have not been solved, and as many as 17% of students think that the center did nothing to solve it. For their part, the teachers cite the lack of resources (78.8%) and training (51%) of the teaching staff, as well as the difficulty in distinguishing bullying from other problems in coexistence, as the most relevant obstacles when it comes to intervening in the centres .

“The first thing we need to do is distinguish bullying from what it isn’t, because it’s true that children fight and sometimes get hurt when they play rough, engage in unwanted behavior and treat each other with disrespect,” says the child psychologist Silvia Alava. “When we talk about harassment, there must be an intention to harm in a totally premeditated, intentional, and ongoing manner, and that it’s always directed toward the same student.” And that there’s also a power imbalance between the harasser and the harassed, that they feel inferior to the other and see how the harassment situation is seriously affecting their self-esteem. According to the Anar report, the most common types of aggression are insults, nicknames or taunts (86.3%); spreading rumors (46.9%); the jabs or collejas (45.3%); isolation (44.9%), punches and kicks (38%); and provocations 30.9%).

1. Prevention

Tackling bullying inevitably starts with prevention and therefore any preventive action must involve the whole school community, from the classroom climate to that of the whole school to families. And keep in mind that talking about harassment is talking about the victim, but also about the molester and the rest of their classmates, who often act as silent witnesses to the aggression. Because of this, the first factor to work on is respect: “One of the problems with bullying is that it’s not just one kid bullying another; there are also colleagues who see him and say nothing or even encourage him and applaud him from behind,” explains Álava. At the first sign of disrespect in class, he says, the student involved must be able to stop it; that the companions can stop it too; and, if necessary, inform the responsible adult in the classroom. “We have to assume that most harassment is covert because it happens behind the backs of adults,” he adds.

But prevention is a process that must start at home, working on children’s autonomy, assertiveness and emotional intelligence from a very early age “so that they can say what they want, think, desire or think but without it.” impose ; and that they don’t remain silent or inhibited either,” advises Álava. Not only will this help reduce losses; It will also result in fewer stalkers showing up. How can you work on this assertiveness at the family level? “The first thing to do is create a climate of trust in which children dare to share what is happening at school. They need to feel at home and to see that their family cares about what is happening and that they will listen to them. And that means creating spaces to talk,” he adds. The expert suggests using the time for family dinners: since we are all at home together, it is better to have dinner together and tell each other what is happening.

It’s often said that you have to set a good example, and that applies here more than ever. The model that children have at home will directly influence their future behavior since they tend to copy their adult references: their father and mother, their teacher… And if we want them to be assertive, is It’s important that their parents are too. “But if I’m a person who tends to be disrespectful and I’ve been speaking derogatory since I turn on the TV, what happens? That my son or daughter will think it’s normal,” explains Álava. And beware of overprotection: minors raised with an overprotective parenting style are more likely to be victims of bullying.

How do I behave in relation to social networks? It is important not to make the mistake of rejecting them because the digital environment is an essential part of their lives that we cannot ignore. But to avoid abuse, “we can guide them in their correct use from an early age. Set a time limit based on your age; and first we have to sit next to him, see which sites and social networks he comes to and what kind of comments he leaves, so that they learn that respect and tolerance must also be present on the internet.

2. Detection

What factors can indicate bullying? Although there are many individual differences, it is clear that bullying will always be an extremely distressing and anxiety-provoking situation for minors, which will be reflected in their behavior. “We will see many symptoms of anxiety: from being told in the morning that her head or stomach hurts (ie, somatic pain), even vomiting, to changes in habits, such as not eating. E.g. not wanting to go to school or taking the route to school or insisting that you accompany them. Or if, for example, a school trip is coming up and they find excuses not to go,” argues the psychologist.

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Changes of all kinds can also occur, ranging from character to eating or sleeping habits. “For example, they may be more irritable, more withdrawn, more anxious, or sad; that he suddenly throws tantrums or bursts into tears, but when you ask him, he apologizes and says nothing happens,” Álava staggers. You may have difficulty falling asleep at night and excessive sleepiness during the day; who experience changes in appetite, either due to excessive sleepiness or, on the contrary, eating with too much anxiety; or being more distracted, forgetful, or having low security and self-esteem. “And even with younger siblings at home, we can observe aggressive behavior, where this behavior is reproduced,” emphasizes the specialist.

3. Behavior in the event of harassment

First of all, don’t waste time blaming: neither you as a father or mother, nor the child or young person. This is not the time for blame, but for listening and open communication. “I mean, tell me what happened. Try to ask open-ended questions; not closed so they can hear and count you. It’s time to validate their emotions, not offer solutions. And in this “I’m listening to you” I listen to you and ask you how you are feeling today; I understand your frustration; I understand that you are angry; I understand that you are sad and that you are afraid … The last thing you need is us to scold you or tell you what to do because you are certainly not capable of doing anything, “says Alava. Ultimately, it is about creating a climate of trust.

The next step, the psychologist continues, would be to contact the school immediately and ask the teachers for help: “You have to keep in fluent contact with the school or the institute so that they tell us what needs to be or will be done did. does. And in parallel, it would also be good to ask for outside help to help you become more confident. Teach him to defend himself, but not against aggression or violence, but against “I’ll stop you” or “I can tell you I don’t like that” and that at a certain moment he can even ignore it Say to the harasser, “If the aggression makes you angry and itchy, teach him to ask for help and talk to the school.” And finally try to open up one’s circle of friends or at least encourage other contacts outside of this environment through extracurricular activities in the neighborhood… “If it can’t be at school or high school, then at least be there another place where you feel comfortable,” concludes Álava.

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