He Emilia-Romagna Regional Guidelines – recently approved by the Bonacini Council – on social withdrawal, aimed at recognize the symptoms and outline the actions to be taken to prevent adolescents and young people from being caught in the so-called social withdrawalthat is, they lock themselves in at home leaving school and social activities.
The guidelines, explained by the Executive, are the result of a work started in March 2021 which involved the county school office, educational services, psychology services, youth centers counseling centers, child neuropsychiatry, mental health centers, family centers, miscellaneous schools, school listening spaces, free pediatricians election, social services, addiction services, as well as representatives of cooperatives and associations.
The document is based on the awareness that the problem can only be started coordinating all services revolving around adolescents involved: the different nodes of the network are called to communicate and collaborate support children and families in an early and timely manner. Also because it is shown that social isolation not only increases, but has an increasingly early onset in boys and girls.
“These guidelines are the result of the work of many different professionals who have shared knowledge, proposals and different angles of reading the complexity of the problems they face in their daily work in contact with young people – says responsibly the vice president of the Region. for social and youth policies, Elly Schlein –. The phenomenon, in fact, is very complex and only a multidisciplinary approach can reveal its psychological, social, educational and health aspects. Today we have a tool that allows us to quickly identify the interventions to be implemented, from the moment the teacher reports a series of suspicious absences or the family collects the signals, until the adolescent, if it is necessary, it takes charge. from health services, through a series of steps involving school, educational services, social services, families. Social withdrawal can be counteracted more effectively when intervention is anticipated and the more action is taken online, giving concrete support to troubled teens and their families. ”
Traces of the text the most common characteristics of the “retired” adolescent.“: A boy / girl who strongly fears the gaze of others, who tends to isolate himself from the social context to protect himself from negative judgments and assumes behaviors that do not participate in social and school life. In preadolescents, these behaviors arise from the gap between what one is and what one would like to be. While from the epidemiological point of view, there is no shared coding of the phenomenon.
While it is true that most retired subjects use Internet, video games, computer or smartphone, this does not mean that it is appropriate to eliminate them: on the contrary, they are used mainly as a calming means of suffering, useful for maintaining some social relationships, albeit virtual, through chats, forums, social networks and online games. . If they are removed, they lead to worsening of the insulation.
In this context, actions must be taken of prevention, early detection and timely activation of interventions. Prevention translates into the promotion of well-being in school with special reference to the creation of a welcoming and positive atmosphere and to support the development of social skills. An important element in this area of prevention is listening space of which the possible functions are described. There discomfort prevention it is possible as long as you anticipate one specific training aimed at teachers, parents, educational staff, socio-health and the proposal of voluntary experiential workshops.
The document describes some of them indicators pay attention in the school context (the first signs of closure and relational absence, the first absences), in the family context (avoidance behaviors and signs of anxiety about school attendance), in the context health (different symptoms that motivate absences, without organic cause).
Then they are indicated the first level courses that will be activated first in the school, where the class council periodically reviews situations potentially attributable to absences (consecutive or fragmented and intermittent, unjustified periods of school absence), along with social avoidance behaviors. After an initial assessment, the class coordinator contacts the family and collects items to initiate, in agreement with the family and the supervisor, further actions that may include involvement. of educational services territorial for individual projects or for small groups, oriented to social and school reintegration.
From the detection of absences and the signals that are connected to them to the activation of the conversation with the parents, it is advisable to intervene. soon in a few weeks and that the activation of the school’s internal network and the start of the first interventions take place within three or four weeks: punctuality is one of the key elements of an effective intervention that avoids chronification.
He second level actionsfinally, they involve various actors outside the school to support the family unit, to treat any psychopathology that may exist: in fact, child neuropsychiatry services are involved in this phase. The guidelines identify the peculiarities and attentions of the approach to “withdrawn” children and the indications of support work for parents, with the school and the wider social context. Not to mention that health services must be able to have educational interventions at home and educational laboratory spaces with extracurricular activities.
The Emilia-Romagna region will implement this path with resources dedicated to monitoring and training. The last data date available until 2018 and already describe a worrying phenomenon, which experts say has worsened during the pandemic: hence the need for re-collect accurate data through follow-up actions. The Regional Social Fund established in 2020 a Fund aimed at preventing and combating the discomfort and social abstinence of adolescents with 1.5 million eurosto which they have added 1.7 million the following year thanks also to the election, shared with the Legislative Assembly, to fund interventions to prevent youth discomfort, socio-educational support projects, school and training activities, also with the help of educators for home interventions, and specific contributions for the purchase of digital devices or connections. Precisely on the social withdrawal, the Region from 2020, through this finalized Fund, requested a each of the 38 districts of Emilia-Romagna to build a project specifically dedicated to this phenomenon.
The phenomenon was recorded in the 1980s, first in Japan, and then spread to the Far East as well as the West. The term with which retired people are generally identified is of Japanese origin: Hikikomori means retreat, retreat. The study on adolescents “Eremiti Sociali”, a 2018 survey of students who no longer go to school by the Regional School Office of Emilia-Romagna, defines them as boys who have a bad opinion of themselves themselves and therefore “get stuck” for fear of making a bad impression, of not being socially appropriate, self-assured, of being, consequently, looked at by others with mockery or compassion, mocked.
Children trapped by anxiety, difficult to help at school: urging children who are too shy and timid to show up can have negative consequences. We also learn from the survey how the condition of isolation and social isolation is insinuated into everyday life in a gradual and almost imperceptible way.
Hikikomori avoids situations or individuals to eliminate judgment-related anxiety: one of the most common fears among today’s teens is that they are not popular enough, that they do not have that charm and success that are essential to not feeling transparent. and worthless.
Internet addiction is often cited as one of the main causes of the explosion of the phenomenon but it is not: it represents a consequence of isolation, not a cause: in fact, when the hikikomori phenomenon erupted in Japan, the computer and the Internet were not yet part of everyday life. It is true, however, that social networks in particular represent a new social space made up of virtual and real links, more malleable for children than traditional social networks.