Begoña Solaz: "Most bullied children find it hard to tell".
Psychologist Begoña Solaz talks to us about the phenomenon of school bullying.
Schools are much more than spaces for formal education; they are also places where young people learn to interact and socialize outside the domestic sphere.
However, these interactions are not always smooth or problem-free, and unfortunately, bullying is a relatively common phenomenon, bullying is a relatively frequent phenomenon in certain age groups.. However, from psychology it is possible both to prevent this kind of attacks and to help the victims in those cases in which they have already taken place. We will talk about this with the person we interviewed today, the psychologist Begoña Solaz.
Interview with Begoña Solaz: understanding school bullying
Begoña Solaz is a psychologist with a practice in the city of Valencia, and has more than two decades of professional experience providing psychotherapeutic support to people of all ages. providing psychotherapeutic support to people of all ages. She is also an expert in psychological expertise and intervention in the problem of bullying. In this interview she talks to us precisely about the latter phenomenon, and the way in which these attacks arise and influence minors.
Technically speaking, what is bullying?
Bullying is psychological and/or physical mistreatment of a child by one or more classmates. It is not an occasional conflict between two, it is an "all against one".
Mistreatment consists of harassment behaviors ranging from insults and name-calling to physical aggression, intimidation, threats, exclusion and social blocking.
Technically, there are three requirements to be considered bullying: one or more bullying behaviors, the repetition of these behaviors and the duration of the bullying.
What are the variables that make it more likely that bullying situations will occur in a classroom?
On the one hand, the lack of a good prevention and detection strategy in the educational center. Also to be taken into account is the lack of visibility on the part of the educational center and the lack of a firm will to deal with cases of bullying together with the lack of training of the teaching staff on what bullying is and what it consists of. A classroom without clear and precise rules, agreed upon by the students and tolerance of psychological and/or physical violence will only promote this type of behavior.
Is it necessary for victims of bullying to have professional psychological assistance?
Bullying can generate: somatization, decreased self-esteem, anxiety, dysthymia, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress, as well as ideation and self-harming behaviors. Psychological assistance by professionals is therefore indispensable.
In recent decades, has the way in which psychology and the educational world approach the problem of bullying changed much?
From the field of psychology there is a greater understanding of the processes of bullying, what they consist of and the psychological damage they can cause. Also, in terms of the assessment of bullying, there are standardized instruments that allow us to rigorously evaluate cases of bullying.
From the educational environment it seems that little has changed in the approach to cases of bullying, "looking the other way" seems to be the most frequent response to requests from families to identify and act.
What are the issues that complicate intervention in these situations? For example, it is likely that many children who are victims of bullying do not tell, so as not to become "whistleblowers".
The vast majority of bullied children find it difficult to tell what is happening to them, sometimes out of embarrassment or not to worry their parents, sometimes for fear of reprisals either from teachers or the bullies themselves.
Being labeled as a "snitch" is something that blocks them from telling teachers what is happening to them. Also the low motivation to do so, since sometimes when they try to tell, they are not listened to, believed or taken into account.
To prevent this type of problem, is it useful to intervene not only in those who are predisposed to bullying, but also in the social context that surrounds them? For example, in their classmates, families, etc.
Bullying prevention requires a global approach, working with all those who are part of the bullying: school, teachers, families, bullies, observers and the bullied child.
Working only with the last link, which are the bullied, is working only with the consequences of bullying, we skip links: prevention, detection and action by all the elements that are part of bullying.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)