Building Violence

For a better comprehension of this psychological phenomenon of the imbalance between satisfactions and frustrations, we can imagine a possible story in the human condition and also found in every social group. A young person with a personal, family, and socially difficult background, of physical and psychological pain and suffering, becomes pregnant. Due to her life history, she has a negative relationship with her pregnancy. She looks at her belly and says: “What is this thing doing here, which I do not want, which I do not like, and which I reject?!” We know that this is possible, and that a child can feel significant frustration even before being born; psychological frustration due to the emotional rejection and physiological frustration by the discomfort with movement, food, and drugs, etc. Therefore, before being born, the child is already presenting high levels of frustration. At birth, it is possible that the mother does not welcome the child, does not offer the necessary and fundamental look and loving welcome gestures. She does not comfort the child, but rejects it. As adults, it is difficult to evaluate the profound pain of physical and psychological rejection at birth, the amazement with this new world that requires all possible protection. Birth is an enormous challenge. Breathing and confronting new and different stimuli, asking for help and a welcome that, by not being offered, create an enormous frustration and promote a negative emotional imprinting, with the registration that the world is not good, pleasant and welcoming, but rough and tough

In this regard, many children are left in day care, and collected at five o’clock in the afternoon by negligent parents who return them, the next morning, without even changing their diapers. On the other hand, the violence already existing in some parents, exacerbated by alcoholic drinks and other drugs, amplifies the impatience and intolerance and promotes, in relation to newborns, the painful phenomenon of the “shake-up,” which hurts physically and psychologically, and represents another serious situation of frustration. Imagine the psychological state of a child abusively “shaken” by the anger of a brute, when it has the natural biological and psychological expectation of being cared for and nurtured. Imagine the level of frustration that this signifies to a child, even with its neurocerebral system still in formation and its comprehension of the world still being structured. There are children, even at a tender age, and therefore in need of protection, who witness domestic violence, beatings, slaps, and shoves, internalizing fear, terror, insecurity and more frustrations. There are children who are beaten every day. There are children who have never been embraced by their own family or by anyone. There are children who have never received a parent’s praise. There are children who only know the negativity of criticism, and discrediting references from family and neighbors. There are children who hear their own mother, again and again, make the cruel assertion: “You are a burden in my life.” Therefore, there are children who, when they arrive at four, five or six years old, have a background where the frustrations predominate radically over the satisfactions.

This story of frustrations reveals a profound lack of affection and, in this point, resides the central issue that requires the special attention of educators: studies and research indicate that an emotional deficit creates a learning deficit. A deficit of affection makes the person compromised, and limited in his rationality. Faced with someone with an emotional deficit, it is not hard to see their limitations to think calmly and to promote the appropriate logical construction of the facts. The child is the poorest of possibilities, is more rigid, less flexible, more needy, reduced and fragmented intellectually. This is different from the nurtured, loved, stimulated, and praised child. This child understands easier, and has less internal noises. It makes it easy for us, as adults, to understand the consequences of these noises. Therefore, internalizing them in ourselves, we can observe the limitations that they impose on us. The teacher who fights with his spouse, and with his children or parents, and then goes to school to work, under these conditions, would be unable to do what needs to be done. It is possible to say, “Please, I cannot work today, I am unable to go into the classroom, I need help.” This is all because of a precise moment of emotional difficulty. Imagine a child with a permanent history of repeated frustrations in the face of the challenges of life and school. Embraced children, who are touched with physical affection, who perceive the affection of parents and family, develop biologically differentiated neurocerebral conditions that facilitate their learning process. Contrarily, the children who live with violence have serious neurocerebral compromising and a resultant difficulty in learning. Many children with this emotional deficit are today in our classrooms; they are our students. There is the risk of not appreciating this reality. When we go to a hospital to visit a polytraumatized patient, with legs, spine and arms in casts, the immobility is so obvious that we cannot ask them to stand up and get a glass of water. Metaphorically, we are running the risk of requesting a child, mentally in plaster, invisibly immobilized, to get a glass of water. We are not seeing that there is an internal plaster cast that is the pain, which he is suffering, which are the noises that immobilize and that frequently escape our perception. 

Children with these internal noises are more active, move more, and are less settled than the more emotionally resolved and, therefore, calmer children. A child with emotional deficit runs more, goes to and fro more, demonstrates more, goes up and down more, kicks more, and is more bothersome. He expresses his internal annoyance by searching naively and unconsciously and mistakenly to heal his wound. As adults and educators, we run the risk of a biased interpretation: “Look there, he runs everywhere, he is healthy, he does not take part because he does not want to,” appearing in us the desire to punish in order to correct. In the life story of a child, at the special time of beginning the process of reading and writing, at six years old, he could be exposed, once again, to the possibility of one more serious frustration. With his emotional deficit, he does not keep up with the contents that are normally prepared for other students, but difficult. Therefore, he psychologically and physically escapes from the school environment that cannot understand or help. Accordingly, by applying frustrations on top of frustrations, we are building a perverse imbalance that promotes the birth of violence that injures and bothers all of us.

Violence does not fall from the sky; nobody is born violent and nobody becomes violent from one moment to the next. Violence is a construction in the life story of the individual. Today, we experience violence that was constructed in the past. Today, we are called to prevent the violence that may arise in the future.

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