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Rise in school bullying incidents

18 October 2015 / 15:10:46  GRReporter
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Two out of every three Greek pupils (or 65%) have witnessed violence at school. The percentage reflects a growing trend, as a school survey has shown, and this requires mobilization and vigilance on behalf of all stakeholders. It also shows, however, that more children speak openly about their problems, and raise their voices against abuse and discrimination, which crystallize in schools but originate from the family and society.

At yesterday's conference on violence, education minister Nikos Filis referred to the case of Vangelis Yakoumakis. "Unfortunately, with the aggravation of the economic crisis, the 'black list' of violence and bullying grows larger, new forms are cropping up, such as electronic bullying. The last few days have seen two new cases added to this nightmarish list, but Vangelis Yakoumakis undoubtedly stands at the very top of it. The stabbing of the 15-year-old student in the Vocational School yard in Korydallos and the beating with a walking stick of a headmaster at Amari, Crete, show us how violence does not discriminate. This time the victims were a student and a teacher," the minister said.

3,682 pupils from primary schools and 31,602 from secondary schools have answered the questionnaire – anonymously and electronically. The findings are as follows:

• 70% of students say they feel safe at school. Only 5.5% maintain they feel unsafe.

• The majority (65%) say they have seen classmates being bullied. 28% have never witnessed bullying.

• 66% say they have never practiced bullying themselves. It is not insignificant, however, that 29% own up to having bullied from rarely to very often.

"The increased frequency of school bullying calls on all stakeholders to immediately spring into action, most of all the political leadership of the ministry of education," said Nikos Filis at the conference after the survey's presentation. 9,000 teachers have already been trained under a programme entitled, "Development and operation of the network for preventing and fighting school bullying."

"Bullying is a complex phenomenon. A number of factors are involved, ranging from personal qualities and family environment all the way to social inequality, racism, and xenophobia. Copycat behaviour inspired by acts of violence syndicated by the media and the web is just as important," said the minister. He urged everyone to participate actively in this dialogue designed to achieve a school atmosphere that prevents violence. "Most of the time schools either brush the problem under the carpet, as if hiding or denial can deal with this modern Minotaur, or respond authoritatively. It won't be our goal to turn our schools into courthouses, or our teachers and students into prosecutors or judges who make charges and impose penalties. Bullying is not prevented through authoritarianism and punishment. We aim to create such a framework so as to ward off harassment at school. And where it fails, it should be capable of supporting the victim of bullying, without getting rid of the perpetrator", said Filis.

Tags: bullying harassment survey Nikos Filis minister of education
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