In Spain, one in 10 children has high abilities (AACC), and they are children who are up to three times more likely than other children to suffer bullying at school, according to research led by the Cyberpsychology group of the University University of La Rioja (UNIR) in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU).
In addition, according to the researchers, gifted students are not only more likely to be victims, they are also more psychologically impacted when they are .
But, are students with AACC correctly diagnosed? In Spain, 126,000 gifted students have not been diagnosed, while less than 41,000 are. Taking into account that there are more than eight million children in school, the lack of diagnosis speaks for itself.
Their diagnosis is of great importance, because the fact of not being recognized prevents them from receiving the necessary support from their educational environment. How can we help them?
Gifted children who experience bullying
It is a reality: gifted children suffer more bullying than other children. And it is that, although a priori it may seem “an advantage” to have high capacities, it is not so at all.
Yes, it is true that they are children who have a facility for certain subjects, thanks to their high abilities, and at an academic level it can help them (although, if a good adaptation of what they need is not carried out , if they are not motivated as they should, etc. ., the opposite effect can occur, and that is that they develop school failure). But in the social sphere, they can suffer a lot, as we will see.
Because let’s not forget that it is essential to properly accompany these children in their needs and interests, and motivate them properly, so that their abilities really shine.
But in the social realm, having high abilities harms them when they are harassed precisely because of those abilities . Some of them feel strange and discriminated against, poorly understood. Mario Belda, who was one of those children, affirms in an interview in La Sexta that some of these children “hide so as not to be detected.”
Feeling of not fitting in and not knowing how to relate
Mario also remembers that “he thought differently and did not fit in” with his peers. Because let’s not forget that high capacities are manifested in the intellect but also in other traits or areas of development of children, such as their way of being, their interests or their personality.
They may feel that they are not interested in the topics that the other children talk about and that they do not know how to relate, that they are bored, etc.
The misunderstanding of the environment
Many gifted children suffer from a misunderstanding of the environment, and for this reason it is vital that experts work with their families, with the school, with the teachers, and with the rest of the children.
It is important to keep in mind that these children often only ask for help when they reach the limit, when they no longer know how to manage the situation they have at school. Hence, the prevention of this harassment is of vital importance, as well as the realization of an adequate diagnosis.
What can we do?
Here the objective will be double; on the one hand, to be able to detect gifted students early, and on the other, to prevent bullying and combat it if it occurs.
It is a team effort involving teachers, tutors, the family and the child’s peers. That is why it is of great importance to put measures, first, to prevent bullying, through:
- An adequate diagnosis of high capacities , if any, that allows the center to know the situation, characteristics and needs of the student.
- Raise awareness against bullying and promote emotional and values education in the classroom from when children are young (it is estimated that one in four students in Spain perceives bullying in the classroom; that is why it is important to educate on “what to do “if you see these situations).
Other essential measures to work against bullying are:
1. Teacher training
Teachers must receive adequate specific training around high capacities, for their correct detection and correct accompaniment, and also training in bullying in order to prevent it and work on it if it appears.
Teachers are an essential figure in schools, who accompany our children in their learning not only academically, but also emotionally, socially and psychologically. They are a key figure that we must take care of and that deserves to be trained to be able to accompany our children in the best possible way.
2. Teamwork: school, family and colleagues
As we said, teamwork is essential to be able to detect high capacities and also to prevent and combat bullying or bullying.
That is why communication between the school and the family is important, as well as the individual follow-up of the student by the school’s team of educational psychologists (EAP) and that the rest of the students are aware of what high abilities and bullying are.
3. As parents: communication with our children is key
It is just as important to know your child’s situation in the classroom, with the collaboration of teachers and classmates, as it is to be able to observe his behavior at home and talk openly with him about whether there is something that worries him. Ask him, investigate, observe, without judging, just open to knowing his situation. You can use open questions like:
- How do you feel at school?
- How do you get along with your colleagues?
- What do you play in the yard?
4. Pay attention to the warning signs of bullying
See if your child shows any of these signs, proposed by the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona for the detection of bullying:
- Unexplained injuries.
- Loss of school supplies or games.
- Frequent headaches or stomachaches or complaints of general malaise.
- Change in eating habits, either not eating or binge eating.
- Increase in aggressive behavior.
- Difficulty falling asleep or having nightmares.
- Urine leaks.
- Decline in academic performance, loss of interest in schoolwork, or refusal to go to school.
- Sudden loss of friends or desire to avoid activities with peers.
- Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem.
- Self-injurious behaviors such as self-harm or talk of suicide.
5. Show your unconditional support
Whether your child has just been diagnosed as gifted and is feeling a little strange or lost, or is being bullied, show them your unconditional support. Let him know you are there with words and gestures .
Ask him how you can help him, encourage him to express what he feels, reinforce a lot that he was able to explain it or ask for help (it’s not easy at all) and coordinate with the school to start working on all this.
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