The news of the suspension of classes this week at a high school in Quinta Normal after the publication of a video on YouTube threatening a “massacre” on the campus, surprises and scares. It is difficult for most to understand how someone, and apparently students, could threaten other children in such a way, especially in a space like school.
But it is not an occasional event. It was also learned of a group of students from the José Victorino Lastarria School in Providencia, who organized a sexual assault on students from other establishments in the Metropolitan Region through a group chat on Instagram.
Prior to these events, on March 23, a religion teacher at the Liceo Industrial Las Salinas de Talcahuano was stabbed in the back. Previous days, two students of 14 and 16 years -in different circumstances and days- also they resulted in stab wounds, but this time in Talca.
“We want to make a permanent condemnation of all acts of violence. We know that many of these events involve children and adolescents under the age of 18. who are subjects of rights, therefore, our concern is also related to the victims and perpetrators”, indicated this week in the face of these episodes of school violence, the Minister of Education, Marco Antonio Ávila.
The abrupt return to the full school day after two years of normality interrupted by the pandemic, have been some of the reasons that have been given to understand the phenomenon. But can everything be attributed to the pandemic? What happens to adolescents today?
“It is an extremely complex problem for which there is no psychological response other than an unhappy reduction,” says the president of the Chilean Society of Psychoanalysis ICHPALucio Gutierrez.
It is known that adolescence is a period of mutation, of transformations, says Gutierrez “where the great task of young people has historically been to find a place in the world and at the same time open spaces and produce transformations in the world.” But today, he adds “we can say that These are difficult times for the youth.”
These are times of profound social transformations. of wars New way of understanding sexual differences. But in addition to political changes that “shake the reading of the world from the Caucasian heteronormative macho prism”, he maintains.
Today’s adolescents face a hostile scenario. As Gutiérrez says, at a stage of virtualization of links, of funas, of “shit storm” and post-truth. “Times also where the regrowth of fanaticism, extremes and refuge in the sectarian. In times of such important transformations, uncertainty and anomie arise. What a difficult time to be young and experience one’s own transformations!”
Vania Martínez, child and adolescent psychiatrist, academic at the University of Chile, director of the Millennium Nucleus to Improve the Mental Health of Adolescents and Young People, Imhaypoints to understand the precipitating or triggering factors of violence in this age group, “it is not only from health and mental health that we can give an answer”, to indicate that it is a complex issue that also requires different areas of intervention.
“What is wanted avoid is this linear relationship between violence and mental health, because it can be very simple, it does not cover the whole phenomenon”, says Martínez about a relationship that is stigmatizing and leads to errors. “Not all people who engage in violence will have a mental health disorder or problem, nor will all people who have mental health issues engage in violence. In fact it is the other way around, most people who have mental health problems are victims of violence.
In that sense, the group, says Martínez, has mental health problems, mainly depression and anxiety as the most frequent. Also added the harmful use of alcohol and other substances“an area that is also present but to a lesser extent”.
And it’s not just the pandemic that hurt his mental health. All these manifestations came from long before. “Since the social outbreak we have seen how this is with a high prevalence and without an adequate offer to respond to treatments, but even more serious no prevention plans for mental health problems to help us mitigate this phenomenon,” says Martínez.
This lack of help translates into the fact that, for example, although deaths by suicide have not increased, Martínez indicates that they do see with great concern how cases of suicide attempts and high suicide risk rise. “So in terms of mental health, if we are facing a problem in this population and we do not have an adequate response”.
A problem that occurs in a time of great uncertainty, to which Gutiérrez reflects: “If before the rebellion was against the established, the instituted, metaphorically against the paternal order, and those referents have fallen, What or who am I distancing myself from? Violence arises where there is no space for listening and mutual understanding. It is a way of forcing one position over another.”
It is not possible to attribute these expressions of violence to the pandemic alone. But without a doubt that could have been a factor that is influencing in various ways.
The psychiatrist from the U. de Chile points out that young people had fewer opportunities for socialization, therefore weakened their abilities to interact and resolve conflicts appropriately.
“They experienced these situations in a way that is very connected to social networks, in which we know that there is a risk of how conflicts are resolved there, which are often one-sided. anonymously without personalization. And they have also had more difficulty regulating their emotions, something that the school can help and what it could favor now would be a better emotional education, prioritizing it over some academic learning”, he highlights.
At the same time, it must be recognized that they do not always receive the best example. It is true, says Martínez, that problems of tolerance to frustration have increased, difficulties in regulating emotions, which makes it difficult to resolve peaceful conflicts. But, “we see how the examples that young people receive through social networks and their own families, they do not help them to be educated in a way that they have an adequate resolution of conflicts through dialogue”.
Conflicts between drivers who attack others without explanation. Violent patients with health specialists. The aggressions in networks before unpopular comments or the power of “citizen complaints” through a cell phone. Even extreme situations such as “lynchings” are just some examples of a violent environment. And children and adolescents are daily witnesses of that.
Just like young people, fathers and mothers are also immersed in the culture and thrown under the pressure to be “different”, whatever that means, adds Gutiérrez. “If before the speech of the mother or father to the young person was ‘when you grow up you will understand me’, today those same parents do not believe it. But they have no choice either when they are told: ‘Be a different, respectful, non-authoritarian, non-dogmatic parent’. But how is occupying authority resolved without authoritarianism? If the father’s authority comes not from a legal mandate, but from an emotional bond.
There are solutions to this problem, but they essentially involve personal work. “And if clinical experience teaches us anything, it is that parents are generally reluctant to do personal work and they prefer to think that the trouble is with the children. I wish it were otherwise,” says Gutiérrez.
“For example, in a cartoon we have the new ‘deconstructed’ parents, those who don’t want to set any limits and don’t accept the hatred of young people. But that hate is necessary for them. That hatred integrates the personality and gives a reference. There are the self-exploited ‘digital parents’, disconnected from parenting. Or those who want to make parenting an efficient engineering through coaching, manual and Instagram blogger tips. And so many ”, she poses.
What are we doing something wrong? For Gutiérrez, among others, we forgot the centrality of giving time and dedication to parenting. What he replaced himself he says by the illusion of technological efficiency and instantaneity. “Good parenting is little by little, together, learning from experience, and making mistakes along the way. Any shortcut impoverishes”.
As a society faced with such a situation, Martínez adds that it should indeed be started by not linking it exclusively to mental health. Without a doubt, we must attend to the mental health of that group. But also of adults. “Many times we see that these problems are also reflected because adults don’t have the right tools either”, he says about a phenomenon that requires solutions not only from mental health, but also in coordination with education, “with what other actors in society can do, including those in charge of public policies”.
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sexual assaults; announcements of massacres, stabbings: Why are the students so violent? – Third