Peer violence at school, whether physical or mental, often occurs without the knowledge of teachers or caregivers at the school. That is why the newly created figure of the child welfare and protection coordinator is important . This is a person with a specific profile and a delicate and fundamental task, a new figure that each school and institute must have by the 2022-2023 academic year.
The law leaves to each educational center the decision of whether that person will be someone who is already part of the center or new staff. What characteristics and skills should the person who develops this work have? How can it be effective in its functions of prevention, detection and protection in situations of bullying and violence between minors?
Their work requires some knowledge of social work (social education or social integration), psychology and law (criminology). You must develop the skills of effective communication, empathy, intelligent conflict resolution, decision making.
Above all, it must be that person that minors feel close and available, because they will be heard, and for good. Building trust, knowing how to listen and being decisive are the three basic skills or characteristics.
Theoretical knowledge and practical skills
The coordinators must be trained in educational mediation programs and models, in the prevention of bullying, in cybermediation and in the establishment of student assistants and coexistence observers. They will need to be able to tune in, reframe and make decisions.
The three areas of intervention
“Come, I want to tell you about it” is the phrase that summarizes the trilogy to follow in order to comply with the three areas of intervention established in the law: prevention, detection and protection against violent acts among minors in schools.
These three areas resemble the three areas of prevention defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
Here we summarize the main objectives, the most relevant techniques and the essential skills and competencies to properly carry out their work as the child welfare and protection coordinator in schools, especially designed for those cases of violence in which minors do not feel comfortable. enough strength not even to come and tell the teacher.
The objective in this phase is to generate confidence so that the minor dares to take the first step of going to tell him. The essential skills are:
- Know the applicable legislation, the responsibilities at stake and the rights infringed.
- Know how to translate that legislation into understandable language (train the educational community).
- Work in a network, and create and maintain agile and effective networks for communication in situations of violence; also “coexistence observers” in the corridor, classes that quickly inform you of conflicts or possible future conflicts… that is, you have to find out about situations of violence that occur in the school.
- Know what to do in situations that indicate that they may lead to a violent act.
- Recognize situations of bullying or violence, in its most and least visible forms.
- Observe risk and protection factors in both aggressors and victims.
- Be an expert in alternative dispute resolution.
- Being in close, agile and effective contact with all the bodies of the school and with the members of the different sectors of the educational community (teachers, students, family and administration and services staff).
- Being trustworthy and inspiring respect, that is, knowing how to develop socio-cognitive skills so that they dare to come forward.
- Be available, easily accessible, “visible”.
I want: detection
The main objective of this phase is knowing how to listen and the most important technique is to tune in with the student. As skills to be able to exercise complicit listening we would highlight:
- A high sensitivity: it must understand and help people who suffer violence, the victims.
- Sufficient social skills so that they are willing to tell you what has happened.
- Emotional intelligence: knowing how to emotionally welcome and nurture the child.
- Correctly detect the situation that the minor is experiencing, knowing how to translate their thoughts, their fears, their needs, their values, their interests, their rights, etc.
- Understand what the minor says and what does not, be able to intuit and interpret what is hidden in his head.
- Interpret non-verbal language to discover the fears and fears that the minor may be feeling.
- Complement information with all the means of communication within your reach, such as third-party witnesses or friends, teachers, social networks, mobile phones.
Tell you about it: protection
In this third phase, the fundamental thing is to be decisive and make decisions. For it:
- You will have to recognize the three elements of Johan Galtung’s triangle of violence in order, after detecting situations of abuse, to deal with them quickly and effectively.
- It must offer adequate treatment to the victims so that they regain security and can return to normality as soon as possible.
- It must offer security by reacting promptly and initiating the corresponding measures of the protocol in its case, working effectively in a network to protect the victim immediately.
This essential work in schools must be accompanied by a sufficient budget allocation. The dedication of hours must be substantial so that it can be carried out effectively: it cannot be exposed to the overexertion of the most motivated counselors or teachers who do it without dedication or payment and end up “burning out”.
Author Bio:Santiago Miranzo de Mateo is a Doctor of Educational Sciences at the International University of Valencia