Youth Committee decided to dedicate this years’ Children’s Week (October 1-7, 2018) and the International Day of Nonviolence (October 2nd), to children and young people who are facing peer violence. Encouraged by experiences from their surroundings, they felt the need to explain the experience, feelings and needs of children and young people who experienced peer violence to the adults so they could give children the support they need. This is what they pointed out as most important.
It’s important that adults know that many children are hiding their experience from their parents “Every day after school I would call mom, and she would ask me how my day was at school. I would say it was good. When children say that they are great, but they respond in short answers, avoid the subject, turn away… Maybe you should talk to them about it. ”
It’s important that you know there is a good reason for children’s silence.
“It was the worst thing for me when my mom came to me and asked me,” Why didn’t you tell me? ” I was trying to tell her, but I was convincing myself that this didn’t happen, I didn’t want everyone to know, I didn’t want to be a burden because I knew my mother would worry … There are so many reasons why I didn’t talk about it. ”
“Children are often afraid of parents’ reactions, about what other people think about them in the classroom, that they will be isolated or talked about.”
“Sometimes children do not want to be a burden to their parents, they have enough problems at work, with us and with our school. They think it’s their problem and they want to solve it. ”
“Sometimes we are trying to ignore what is happening, we assure ourselves that it is not so terrible or we think we can solve the situation ourselves, although it usually goes wrong.”
“Some children do not want to ruin their image in their parents’ eyes, don’t want them to realize their child is not perfect and popular.”
It is important for them that you know it is difficult for them.
We asked them how children who were victims of peer violence felt.
Here’s what they said: Empty, lonely, sad, disappointed, tired.
They lose their confidence and start believing that the insults of others are true.
They are angry at those who do it and all who see it, but they don’t do anything.
They feel helpless and think that others can not help.
They are afraid that the person who commited violence will get revenge.
They fear everyone will talk about it at school.
They are sensitive to people joking on account of their experience or saying it’s not that terrible.
It’s important for them that you know that words hurt.
“Sometimes an adult takes insults less seriously. I remember a professor who didn’t take it seriously at all. As normal it is that children are fighting, insulting … violence is still violence. ”
“If it’s not a punch, if it’s insulting or isolating, sometimes adults will say that you may be too shy, that you just have to hang out a little bit more. Shyness is one thing, and violence is another.”
“It seems to me that a lot of people think that if it happened on the Internet, it hurts less. I want them to know that this is not true. Sometimes it is even worse that this is happening in front of everyone and you can’t escape. “
They need you to see the signs when they can’t tell you themselves.
“Even though we don’t want to say we are victims of violence, we always show it in some ways. I would always open the subject like, “Mom, you would never believe what some people do to others at school.” When actually I was talking about myself … “
We asked young people which signs could indicate that a child might be going through a difficult experience:
“A person becomes closed, spends most of the time in their room, doesn’t want to talk to anyone” (“This does not always have to be a sign that something is wrong, sometimes we just don’t feel like talking.”)
“A person is anxious or sad.”
“Going to school becomes very stressful, although there may be no exams during that time – for example, he does not want to go, he goes home early because he says he has a headache and so on…”
“A lot of people talk about it happening to someone else.”
“A person avoids this subject when parents try to talk about it.” (“Sometimes everything is ok, we just don’t feel like talking.”)
They need your support
“If my child tells me he is being bullied, first I would hug him and say everything positive about him, all the good things about him, all that is true.”
“I would try to solve the problem myself, mom or dad would be my shoulder to cry on. If that fails, I would try to solve it together with them. ”
“You can try to solve some of the situations, but some you can’t and you really need an adult. Eg. when it lasts for some time, if it becomes more serious, if you feel in danger … ”
“The worst thing anyone can do when you tell him what happened is to blame you. To start talking about what you’ve done wrong, how must have been your fault and what you should have done differently. “
They also want you to help the children who commit violence.
“If someone does this, they also have a problem. This child needs help, just as those who are victims do. “
Presented by: Tea Brezinšćak and Ana Marija Španić, Coordinators of the Youth Committee of the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb
Video on young people’s suffering is filmed by Youth Comitee (in Croatian)