It is not about common and harmless jokes between classmates, or that pre-adolescents – between 12 and 13 years or between 5th and 6th grade of primary education is the age range in which there is more bullying – enjoy verbal behavior and aggressive physics as part of group adaptation mechanisms. This is not the case: bullying, that is, permanent, constant and lasting aggression, tends to greatly affect the personality of the victims, producing everything from damage to self-esteem to depression, extreme anxiety and poor school performance.
If you have a child in those ages, daddy / mommy, they should be attentive to warning signs that may reveal this type of situation, since it is more common than you might think: in 2019, a report published by UNESCO, revealed that one in three schoolchildren had been bullied by their classmates, for one or more days, in the last month. And more than one in three had been involved in a physical fight with another student at least once.
And through the Internet we get cyberbullying …
And as in times of cyberspace, physical presence is not necessary for aggression and rather this behavior becomes more serious since it exceeds the walls of the school and therefore implies many more hours of harassment. In times of pandemic, the figures have not been better, since a study by the NGO Bullying Sin Fronteras carried out during 2020 revealed that 33% of children and adolescents in Latin America and Spain had been victims of cyberbullying during the quarantine.
The results are more than worrying, since according to data from the World Health Organization and the United Nations, bullying takes around 200 thousand suicides a year, among young people between 14 and 28 years old. But such aggression always leaves visible signs on victims, so keep an eye out for some of them.
Your child does not want to go to school: overnight, who was a schoolboy without problems, begins to make excuses for not going to class or simply retires and goes somewhere else, which is usually evidenced in a decline in performance. If your child expresses a desire to change institutions and is visibly worried when attending classes, follow up what is happening, ask his teachers or best friends if something is happening that is bothering him.
2. The money assigned to eat at school is not enough and he begins to “lose” his belongings or they appear damaged. Part of the behavior of bullies is to demand money from their victims, through constant blackmail, as payment for allowing them to be present in the school environment. Likewise, they can also steal or damage the belongings of those they harass, as a way of expressing their superiority and control.
3. You begin to suffer from typical psychosomatic disorders such as digestive problems, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, sleep disorders, general nervousness and irritability, and you even experience moments of anger with no apparent triggering cause. When the emotional part has already been impacted, it is a sign that bullying has been operating for some time and has undermined the psychological well-being of your child, so it is urgent to find out what is happening and go to a mental health professional if it is precise. Also, keep in mind that the consequences on self-esteem and the expression of vulnerability are really important for the full life of your child.
4. Generally, the most introverted children are the most exposed to the action of bullying, but in turn, when they suffer from this bullying, their loneliness increases and they flee from social encounters with their peers, so if you observe this behavior, You should talk to your child to find out if he is being bullied.
5. You experience sleep problems, sleep agitated, or have nightmares. The worst day may be Sunday, as a preamble to the return of classes.
6. You notice that you have wounds, scratches, bruises and respond with ambiguity about the cause of such physical injuries, generally indicating that they are involuntary falls or accidents at school. Due to the psychological pressure that bullying implies, adolescents find it difficult to comment that they are being attacked and they experience feelings of fear and even guilt, which makes them feel responsible for the attack.
7. Sudden changes in mood and behavior. As a consequence of the stress of the situation you encounter, your child may find himself more irritable, irritated, with a low tolerance for stress.
8. On many occasions, bullying occurs when the adolescent stands out in the class for his performance, to try to “please” the bully and go unnoticed, therefore he can change his student behavior and go from being an outstanding student to a mediocre one , another sign that must be taken into account. Although this is not necessarily the case, in many cases there is more bullying on those students who differ from the majority for various reasons.
What to do when faced with harassment or bullying?
It is important to reinforce communication with your child, since in most cases, it is difficult for the child to recognize from the outset that he is being bullied. It is important that you do not disdain this situation or consider that they are temporary, unimportant things that happen between adolescents and thus disqualify the pressure to which your child is being subjected.
Some parents choose to change schools to their represented, but if there is no psychological support and accompaniment that reinforces the personality of the adolescent, the situation can be repeated in the new educational center, motivated by what experts call a “circle of repeated victimization” , since its vulnerability is detected by the harassers.
It is important that you maintain good communication with the school, that you are close to your son or daughter’s friends and that you have access to your cell phone and social networks, especially if you have already detected a case of harassment. Talk to your child about this matter and let him know that verbal or physical violence from his schoolmates should not be admitted and that he is not responsible for receiving it; Encourage him to report bullying, even if it is not against himself, but against other classmates in his class.
You also need to be on the lookout for aggressive behavior, as it may be the case that the matter is reversed and it turns out that it is your child who may be bullying others. Talk about any such behavior that he detects, teaching him from a young age to treat people with kindness and respect, including his classmates.
Bullying, harassment, violence… is prevented from home, in a safe environment, with positive values and affection. Show your affection and practice empathy for your surroundings as the first teaching about non-violence will come from your own example.