Bullying is an issue that worries millions of parents around the world. Any child can be bullied, and that's why we must stay alert at any indication. The psychologist Maria Jose Ruiz Pastor answers all our questions about bullying.
1. What indications make us suspect that bullying exists? In many children what you see is a change in behavior. Children often do not verbalize what happens to them, but we notice sleep problems, problems with food, irritability, depression ...
In older children we see that they become socially isolated, that they stop having friends, that they prefer to be alone at recess. All this type of behavior tells us that something is wrong and that is when we have to intervene to see what is happening. The ideal is to talk to him, listen to him a lot and we should also go to school, talk to the teacher and put the measures to alleviate this suffering in the child.
2. What is the profile of the bullied child? In principle, any child can be bullied, but bullies tend to choose their victims very well: they tend to be more submissive and withdrawn children, with fewer friends and social support. They know who they can mess with and who they can't… if they have to choose a child to come out stronger with, they will be the weakest.
3. How to distinguish bullying from a fight at school? To be considered harassment, it is something that occurs repeatedly. A fight can be impulsive, but it can separate them, they calm down and it doesn't have to happen again. If there is a child who repeatedly mistreats another child, with aggression, humiliation, isolating him, blaming him ... that is already abuse, because it is something that lasts over time.
4. How to get the child to tell what is happening to him? Many times the parents of the bullied child find out from other parents or classmates of their child who tell them. In that case you have to go talk to the teacher. The school in this case activates a protocol: the child is observed and what is happening is observed. If they see that a child can never play because they do not let him ... you have to intervene and work so that everyone is integrated.
5. Should we teach children to act when they see another child being bullied? There are children who intervene and even report a case of bullying. But it is not a comfortable situation, because the stalker also turns against him. These brave children have to be reinforced a lot, since it is the behavior that everyone should have.
6. Is the child being bullied afraid? They are often afraid of retaliation from the group. Many times the harassment occurs in places that are not guarded, and they are afraid of being branded a 'snitch'. Many times these children feel guilty about what happens to them. From the beginning you have to tell them that he is not the culprit.
7. How should parents of abusive children react? Sometimes it is the school that calls the parents of an abusive child and they do not know. Often times he is not an underperforming child. They are very popular children, who have many friends, very good grades and at home they behave very well, but at school, for whatever reason, he is messing with another child.
If they tell us from school that our son does this, even if it surprises us, we must accept it, and talk to our son, to see why he has this behavior, without directly blaming him. You have to find out why it does it. And they always have to repair the damage they have done. You have to feel the guilt and repent.
8. Is bullying the same in boys as in girls? Bullying usually manifests itself differently. Children are more impulsive and more prone to physical and verbal aggression. Girls are more likely to evade the other, to isolate her socially, and to make her group exclude her, but as they get older, aggressive behaviors occur in both cases.
9. From what age can harassment occur? From 6 or 7 years old, children already begin to be aware of the damage they can do.
10. Is there more bullying now? It has always existed, but before it was said "it's a children's thing" and now we are more aware of the damage it does: we know that children come out with very low self-esteem and that it has psychological damage in children.
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