Despite the fact that insults, blows, humiliation, contempt and blackmail do not seem to be present in educational centers, the true fact is that, in 2017, Costa Rica ranked second among Latin American countries with the most cases of bullying in schools and colleges, according to an OECD report in 2017.
The World Vision expert in defense of the rights of children and adolescents, Melania Castillo, commented that a mistake that commonly occurs is to minimize the consequences that bullying can cause and make them be accepted as “normal” jokes among minors. “It is important to be clear that these practices are repeated and systematic violent acts between peers and not just an isolated event. This type of violence is not only physical and verbal, but there are also psychological abuses from the digital sphere of social media”, explained Castillo.
The psychologist Ingrid Naranjo, from the College of Professionals in Psychology, emphasizes that bullying has broad repercussions that erode the psyche and self-esteem. “It develops anxiety crises, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and sometimes it can lead to the child’s suicide”, she said.
How should adults act?
Stimulating trust in children and teenagers is one of the tips that Castillo gave, as well as active listening and dialogue, as they are ways of confronting the latent and manifest risk of bullying.
Other useful tips are:
• Reaffirm in children and young people the notion that denouncing violence is an act of courage.
• Listen carefully to violent incidents that minors report at home and ask for more details that confirm a possible case of abuse.
• Be empathic with the child who is a victim or witness; reassure them that, as adults, we are there to protect and help them.
• Do not minimize, justify or ignore reports of violence that are communicated.
• If it is known that the aggressor is the one under her responsibility, the behaviors or attitudes that exist within the home that could motivate that behavior must be evaluated.
• Do not scold the child if she does not agree with how he handled a bullying situation.
• Manage his/her emotions; protective insults from a parent arouse strong emotions and one must remain calm, even if it is difficult.
• Maintain contact with the school, teachers, and group leaders to promote the issue of bullying.