Aggression raises more and more problems among children in schools, through bullying. Even among adults there are many situations in which aggression occurs, but adults are better equipped to cope with a verbal or physical attack on them. But nevertheless even adults mishandle these situations and as a consequence things get complicated. To avoid this and to increase the chances of a peaceful and non-violent resolution, we need to know some very important things about aggressive behaviour and how to handle it. And eventually, how to defend ourselves when reasonable talk have not worked. This education must be started with children as early as possible so they can protect themselves when parents are not around and to become well prepared adults to live in this world.
To begin with, aggressive behavior extends over a broad spectrum. It may appear in its passive form, which is very common. When we say about someone that he behaves passively aggressive, in fact, we say that he treats us aggressively but in a weighted form, kept under control, usually through sarcastic and acidic cues. This type of aggression is not a danger. It is uncomfortable to be treated like this but it can only distemper us or threaten our relationship with the person.
Further, aggressive behavior can take the form of addressing nasty words and even raising the voice so much it can be called yelling. From this point there are increased chances of physical danger to occur. We need to understand that this is not a set in stone thing. Not every time a threat is followed by physical abuse, but clearly there are more chances to that. The most dangerous form is that of the physical aggression in which the aggressor starts taking actions against the victim and there the physical injury begins.
Taking into account these forms and stages that an aggressive behavior can go through we can use them as a guidance to understand the degree of danger we are exposed to so we can start acting accordingly. It is very important to understand, however, that avoiding aggression is the best solution. There is no need to watch the progression from passive aggressive to physically aggressive behavior. If there is another option involving leaving that situation then this should be done. It matters, of course, how close we are to the person who behaves passively aggressive. If we know this person for a very long time and we can be sure that there will be nothing worse than this we can try an assertive approach.
When these behaviors come from people we don’t know well and it also happens to be alone with them we must remain vigilant and try to leave the situation immediately. This is something that children need to acknowledge at a very young age. If they are in a situation in which someone is treating them badly they should seek help, try to leave, notify an adult about it in order to prevent recurrence.
If we found ourselves in the situation to be aggressively approached by someone then the first thing to do is starting a calm and assertive discussion. Under no circumstances should we be aggressive or should we respond in the same way. We have to try to calm the person down, to listen carefully to what he has to say in order to choose the right words and not to make him lose his patience even more. There are situations when discussions are very helpful, but unfortunately they are not always successful.
When the reasonable talking fails it’s time to look for help. This can mean screaming, making as much noise as possible so that someone hear us and understand that we are in danger and in need for immediate help. In the case of children who are bullied at school this works very well. Unfortunately, the victims of bullying do not ask for much help because they are silenced by their aggressors. One very important thing to know about bullies is that they threaten out of pure fear. They threaten and demand their victims to remain silence about the assault only because they fear getting caught by authorities. They usually threaten with more harm that they are eager to do if the victims expose them. Once the victim understands this and starts asking for help and the aggressor gets punished, he will not continue in the same manner towards the victim who broke the cycle of abuse. He will look for the next victim to endure the pain in silence. Silence of the victim is one of the main factors that maintain bullying. So we must necessarily teach our children to ask for help, to let us know that they were assaulted.
Another crucial thing to do is to fight back. When the talks didn’t work, when the aid could not be found, all that is left to do is to defend ourselves however we can. Children are being taught to never hit anyone, regardless of anything, and instead they are taught to notify the teacher or the parent so the adults can handle the situation. This is good, but not always healthy. A child like this who couldn’t reach for help will do nothing to protect himself because of the rule of not hitting anyone, ever. A child must be taught to hit to defend himself and to escape from a situation that clearly puts him in danger, when there is no other option. So do adults. It is not natural for us not to defend ourselves and to be harmed as a consequence and this only because of some maladjusted principle.
An interesting piece of information is that the aggressors do not randomly choose their victims. They choose those people who show signs of vulnerability. The more factors in our lives that make us vulnerable, the more interesting we are to the aggressors around us. These things can be: loneliness (lack of a family, lack of friends, lack of job and work colleagues), walking at night alone, inability to fight back (because of physical or psychological impediments).
In conclusion, when we face aggressive behavior we must be careful at how we react. What words do we use, when do we use them, how to measure the efficiency of what we are doing, to ask for help as soon as it’s available and ultimately, if nothing else works, to physically defend ourselves.