The project “Chapter: Children Help movement against Physical Threatening and Emotional Repression” is implemented by the PULS Foundation, Bulgaria. Project partners are the National Network for Children – Bulgaria, EVRIS – Iceland, UMAR – Portugal and Hope for Children – Cyprus.
The project is funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program.
Following the best practices in Iceland, the project aims to pilot comprehensive program of care in 3 countries – Bulgaria, Portugal, Cyprus in direction of recognition and empowerment of children and their parents and authorities leaving out the position of inert following the pattern of violence and initiate a process of self-awareness of personal own value of the youngest members of our society.
The objectives of the project are:
- To raise the knowledge and skills for effective and positive parenting and upbringing;
- To develop a unified methodology for presenting the problem and rethinking corporal punishment;
- Raise public awareness of the difficult experiences and the consequences that corporal punishment affects children and young people;
- To explore and apply best practices from Iceland at international level in 3 EU Member States with a strong patriarchal model of education – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Portugal;
- To coordinate the efforts of various social structures and communities to work towards legislative changes to eliminate the problem.
Among the main activities of the project are:
- Developing a methodology for presenting the problem and rethinking corporal punishment aimed at parents and teachers in kindergartens and schools;
Organizing training for trainers;
- A series of public events in the three countries, including a round table, together with the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria;
- Perform screening research among children, parents and professionals working with children;
- Organizing a national representative survey on the attitudes of parents, future parents and children to corporal punishment in Bulgaria and Portugal;
- Information campaign on the traces of physical and verbal abuse on children for life and on the change of attitudes of parents who use slaps and insults as a means of education. The campaign will take place in Bulgaria, Portugal and Cyprus and will include online web and social media materials, events, printed materials and video distribution.
NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE RESEARCH IN BULGARIA
A national representative research was carried out in Bulgaria within the project “Chapter: Children Help movement against Physical Threatening and Emotional Repression”. The project is implemented by the PULS Foundation, Pernik in partnership with the National Network for Children, EVRIS – Iceland, UMAR – Portugal and Hope for Children – Cyprus. The project is funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Program.
The survey was conducted by Nomea Agency, commissioned by the National Network for Children. It included parents, future parents/ young people and children. The study also presents a comparison with a survey, conducted five years ago by the ESTATЕ agency.
The data shows that 88% of parents in Bulgaria are aware that slaps are an ineffective discipline method, but many of them continue to apply corporal punishment against their children. Although the use of physical punishment has been decreasing over the past 5 years, about 2/3 of parents have ever used corporal punishment and other traumatic practices such as spatial isolation, non-interference in case of risk of injury, causing discomfort by inconvenient pose or subduing. ¼ of parents systematically apply such practices against their children.
Participants in the survey confess they resort to these methods at a time of affection, frustration and helplessness, when they afraid of losing control over child’s negative behavior. About 30% of parents mention anger and insult as reasons for applying corporal punishment. More and more parents are aware of the harmful consequences and are evaluating the use of corporal punishment in a negative way. However, attitudes remain largely conservative. It is alarming that “hard” adherents of corporal punishment remain a constant share of current and future parents.
It is important to note that respondents perceive as more “traumatic” and more shameful “educational” methods that cause emotional harm to the children – insults, constant yelling, depreciation and neglect. Such practices are more often applied at home than in public places.
The institutional environment also fails in combat against the corporal and similar punishments. The survey confirms that such practices are still common in schools and kindergartens: 41% of parents report that their children suffer from verbal abuse; 22% testify corporal punishment causing pain, and 14% report disregard practices. The study shows a collapse of trust in the institutions that obviously does not guarantee the rights of the children. The share of parents and young people who would call to the emergency line 112 in case of mistreated child decreased by 22 and 30 points respectively. Government institutions are not recognized as supportive by partners in delivering the positive education. At the same time, however, there is an increased public awareness and responsibility – there is a decline in negative attitudes towards the intervention of side observers in cases of child abuse and reporting of such cases. While in 2013 80% of people believed that interference with other people’s family quarrels only led to trouble, in 2018 their share dropped to 56%.
The study also revealed a significant increase in anxiety level among parents and adolescents over the past 5 years. If in 2013 people who rated their place of living as “safe” or “rather safe for children” were about half of the respondents, today they are about 40%. Five years ago, aggression among children was not placed in the list of the most serious risks for children in Bulgaria but nowadays it is placed on the first place. Today the most commonly identified risks for Bulgarian children are the drugs, alcohol and cigarettes use, aggression among children and the risk of accidents and car crashes.
These combined factors lead to the feeling of tension and distress rather than happiness and satisfaction in raising children. At the same time there are constantly increasing demands on parents while they feel lonely in the responsibility for child care. In the past the education was perceived as a responsibility of the whole society, but today it is considered to be a task of the parents only. In the big cities these tendencies are felt more clearly. Increased anxiety and greater responsibilities have as a result more tight control on children in all major aspects of their life.
Communication with children is becoming an increasingly valuable, but its becoming at the same time a deficit. The time spent by parents for active communication with children is only about 14-15% of the whole time spent with the kid and it is noticeably reduced in comparison with the 2013 data.
The stressful daily routine, the shortage of time and the lack of an adequate external support are prerequisites for misunderstanding the reasons for the negative children behavior and hence – for inadequate parenting responses to it. About 67% of parents report systemic problems with their children, and 89% say they have ever had a problem. At the same time, only 30% of parents have looked for information and expert support about a child problem. Only about 5-6% are able to designate a name of organization or institution supporting children.
This microanalysis is being developed under the project ‘Chapter – Children’s Help Against Physical Threatening and Emotional Repression’, implemented under the Grant Agreement with Reg. No. JUST / 2015 / RDAP / AG / CORP / 9176.
The purpose of the analysis is to investigate the use of “corporal punishment” in the context of understanding it as a form of education/ discipline in childcare and care, and what is the legal basis governing such relationships, and is there a program of care in identifying and empowering children and their parents and authorities to step out of the inertia position of the pattern of violence.
The emphasis on the study is the need to identify the necessary changes both in the normative and practical terms that minimize its use and ensure that children’s rights are respected.
The analysis also constitutes a preliminary study of the attitudes of the societies in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Portugal on the “corporal punishment” of children and in the implementation of the project, the study will be further developed.
See the Microanalysis for Bulgaria, Cyprus and Portugal:
Why your child makes tantrums and screams when we put restrictions?
Children have different ways to “test” / check the sustainability of their parents. Often these checks are expressed in screaming and tantrums. This is a way for the child to check the limits of his parents and how sure the child can be in the parents. Every time when makes tantrums and screams, the child tries to beat up/measure with his/her parent to prove who is stronger. Each achieved “victory” brings an ambitious / dual experience to the child:
On the one hand, this brings an experience of strength and power.
On the other hand, basic insecurity and fear are formed in the child due to the lack of resistance of the parents.
What should we do if the child continues to do it even after we have explained to him/her and tried to calm him/her down?
- Keep calm, not to show that we are angry and ashamed.
- Safeguard the space around the child so that he/she does not hurt and leave him/her.
- If there is a danger of getting hurt, hug the child, press him to ourselves and start talking quietly and sleeping.
- Tell the child we will talk again when he/she relaxes.
How many times do we need to repeat and why does the child not understand one word?
Every time he/she makes tantrums and screams, the child checks “whether this time it will work this and to allow me”, how much I can trust my parents. These attempts continue until the child is sure of Mom or Dad’s sustainability.
What to do with spoiled and capricious children?
Often in the fast daily life, which we have and the little time we spend on our children as parents, we strive to give them maximum pleasure and joy. This helps us to put more difficult limits, and our children find it difficult to orient themselves and put their own limitations on themselves. “Spoiled and capricious” children are called children who have no established limits- what is allowed and what not. It is important as parents to tell and show children in what limits they have to “move”, what is allowed, when it is allowed. The best and most understandable way for the child would be the personal parent example – to show their child what is good and what it is not good to do.
When to let the child decide – freedom or extreme freedom?
From the earliest childhood of the child it is good to give right / freedom of choice. Freedom to choose must not be endless; it is good to choose between 2-3 alternatives that we have previously thought appropriate.This helps the child build an experience of freedom to decide and at the same time brings information about the limit- there are no endless possibilities.
How is parental authority built up and does slapping help?
The authority of the parent is built with persistence, sustainability and bringing experience of safety for the child. Slaps are an “enemy” for building a security experience, as they bring to the child information of parent’s helplessness. “He could not cope, so hit me slap.”
Replacement of the slap
- Conversation why cannot happen what the child wants now and whether and when it is possible to happen?
- To be sanctioned according to age, but to preserve the child rights.-Link to UN Convention on Child Rights https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx
- To be asked to go for a certain time in a secluded place to think about what happened (what is the reason to behave in certain way and what are the consequences on him / her and others), then to be invited to a conversation.
- To explain to him how the parent feels about his act.
- Use moments for awarding to stimulate good behavior.
What is the effect of slap and offensive words?
The effect is always negative. Often, children who are beaten show aggression towards animals, children. They grow with low self-esteem and are failing.They form the image of themselves as children / people who are not good for anything. They accept insults literally and truth as they are said by a parent. If a child is intended to be bad, then he/she seeks unconsciously to prove this claim and makes everything possible to achieve it.
What does slapping bring to the child? What does he/she feel?
When the child is slapped, this brings him/her information that his /her parent is helpless and / or does not love him. He/she feels anger, sorrow, frustration. The more a child is slapped, the more he/she gets used to the slapping, and he/she tries unconsciously to reach it again. For the child, this is a limit and strives for it.
What does slapping bring to the parent? What does he / she feel?
When the parent slaps his child, this brings him an experience of frustration, anger, sometimes guilt after this, shame of his failing.
When it comes to stubbornness and when does the child rather self-affirm?
When talking about “stubbornness,” it is above all “imposing” or “opposing” the parent. Again we are talking about testing parenting capacity and opportunities. It is important for the parent to explain his position or behavior, which is probably different from the child’s and does not harm the dignity of the child to impose it. It is important to point out here: It is also important to hear our child and try to make it clear to us as parents, what exactly does it mean and what makes this opposition so important. It is important for us as parents to be self-reflexive and to be able to look for alternatives in bringing-up.
What the mischiefs that children are doing tell us?
Children’s mischiefs are always a signal to parents. Sometimes this signal means that they miss attention, another time something happens and needs to react. This may be a situation of school violence or something that worries the child.
It is important to note these “mischiefs”. They can be spotted and talk to the child about his/her motives and inner motivation. They can be sanctioned, but not “long” marked / instructive re-repeated / because it has the opposite effect. It leads to accentuation of behavior and fixation of the problem.
How does the mistake lead to learning, not to punishment
Any mistake on the part of the child should be used to learn from it. That is precisely why the parent’s reaction must be instructive rather than punitive.
It is important that the child is left (as far as possible for the relevant age) to bear the consequences of his/her behavior.
the European Union
This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of its author and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.
Project title: Children Help movement Against Physical Threatening and Emotional Repression
Project number: JUST/2015/RDAP/AG/CORP/9176