The Epidemic Called Bullying
The topic of bullying evokes great worry because of its epidemic dimension among young people and at ever younger age, as well as because of the serious consequences it has for both the aggressor and the victim. This type of aggression is the most similar one to maltreatment due to its different forms, some of which are visible and some remain hidden.
The children adopt this behaviour while observing, imitating and later reproducing what they have learnt. When the child has been ignored, humiliated and mishandled by its parents, it develops a challenging behaviour towards every form of authority and norms and it tends to express or to supress the pain and aggression in a wrong way. In this case it becomes a future victim or a potential aggressor because through its experience it learns ineffective ways of coping with frustration and challenges. When in families one of the parents is a victim of the other, in some cases the anger and the confusion which the child holds within are directed towards the parent, who allows this aggression. As a consequence, outside of the family the child will attack those who it perceives as weak, while it punishes them in some way for the lack of reaction.
THERE IS NO SPECIFIC PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE WHICH DESCRIBES ACCURATELY BOTH THE AGGRESSOR AND THE VICTIM
There are many beliefs tending to generalise which makes them untrustworthy. Some are insisting that the aggressors are coming from destructive families, others believe that the victims have weak personalities. In reality we all could become in a certain moment aggressors as well as victims. What could differentiate us from one another is our emotional intelligence level. For this reason we should treat every case according to its specific circumstances.
The cases of aggression demonstrate failures in the upbringing, emotional deficiencies, and possible syndromes of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders, anxiety, depressions, and low self-esteem. Unfortunately when we observe aggressive behaviour we often feel blocked and we step back which worsens the situation because the child learns a destructive mechanism to achieve what it wants or to feel superior.
WHAT IS BULLYING AND WHICH ARE ITS FORMS?
The bullying which can take a direct physical form includes pushing, hitting, blocking, stealing and sexual harassment or it could take a verbal form through offence, threat and ridicule. It is also possible that it takes an indirect form when the child is ignored, isolated and excluded, when rumours, racists or sexist comments are spread, or when other people are included in the threatening.
The social networks are a very powerful and dangerous tool. In the last years the cyber bullying has become a key topic to cope with and it is hard to treat it because of the age and the anonymity of the aggressors. It includes spreading of images, montages, and threatening with the goal to put to shame and to humiliate.
Although the law determines the principles and the goals of education we are observing a disturbing reality because there are more and more incidences of aggression between young people. 70% of the students have been suffering from, witnessing, or executing cyber bullying and 12% aged between 9 and 16 years have been victims. The numbers are on the rise compared to previous years and they show that we don’t react adequately to cope with this phenomena. In most cases the victims are being advised to change the school, neighbourhood or town. They are also advised to attend courses for personal defence with the motivation to learn how to cope with the challenges in life, an absurd and anti-educational measure from my point of view. In some cases the aggressor is being expelled from school for a certain period of time, but he is also not offered the measures and opportunities he needs in order to reconsider and change his deeds, as the law recommends.
Although lately we choose more liberal methods of education, the lack of boundaries and monitoring leads to freedom which excludes responsibility for personal actions and to denial of the consequences. On the other hand, the education should not be based only on punishments since they are almost always understood as unjustified and the emotional reaction is anger and resentment. Moreover, the child learns that to achieve justice you have to restrict, deprive and exclude.
It is not enough to talk to the children and young people about violence and to show them videos. We will also not achieve much by disciplinary measures. There are specific cases which we should treat immediately and individually. Instead of just judging the bad we need to support and create the good.
THE PROGRAM FOR EMOTIONAL RECYCLING WHICH WE ARE DEVELOPING IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND APPLY THE ATTITUDE AND THE ABILITIES WHICH FACILITATE THE PERSONAL WELLBEING AND THE SOCIAL INTEGRATION.
We have a few objectives. It is fundamental to find the reason for the violent behaviour and to define and give direction to the emotions which are accompanying it. Our work is focused on helping the young people to know themselves better. This would help them boost their self-esteem, self-control and self-care. Breaking free from the negative feelings makes the connection with others easier. We provide motivation and support at the start of a new path which is alternative to violence.
During childhood the neurological map is developed which determines the personality and behaviour of the future adult. One of the main causes for the bullying is the lack of emotional education which is the basis of the inner and outer intelligence. The social capabilities are also being developed through imitation and empathy.
To solve the conflicts in a satisfactory way it is important to include all responsible parties by offering them psychological support and adequate advice. From my perspective, there are two types of victims in the cases of bullying. One of them is the suffering one who doesn’t find a way out of the situation. The other one is having difficulties to define his own state or to express himself. Obviously the latter confuses aggression with power and prestige, he is not able to feel empathy and to understand the consequences from his own actions.
Violence is not a personal problem between the aggressor and the victim. The weakness of society and its inability to cope with it is reflected in violence dimensions. We concentrate our attention in judging or trying to eliminate the negative, instead of working to integrate it and most importantly – to prevent it.
“Education is the vaccine for violence.” - Edward James Olmos