lunedì 4 marzo 2019


Cătălina Tănăsescu, teacher
Mircea Ghițulescu Middle School,
Cuca, Argeș County, Romania

 At a European level, Romania ranks 3rd in 42 countries where the bullying phenomenon was investigated. One in four children was repeatedly humiliated at school in front of their classmates; one in six children was repeatedly beaten; one in five children repeatedly humiliated by another child at school. The sociological study "Child Bullying" by the Save the Children Organization, in 2016, highlighted the need to adopt measures to stop this alarming phenomenon.
The most recent report published at the end of October by the Bucharest School Inspectorate shows that the number of violent acts in pre-university education in the capital city was 2.3 times higher than last year as compared to the school year 2016-2017. Specifically, if 2 years ago the total number of bullying acts at school level was 139, in 2017-2018 their number reached more than double, i.e. 326. Of these, 218 were classified as attacks in person, 35 attacks on school security, 10 attacks on goods, and 63 were considered as other acts of violence in the school surroundings. For violence against students, four teachers were sanctioned in the school year 2017-2018. In fact, it is sure that the number of violent acts in school was higher. The "skipping out" of some cases, the gap between what students are saying and what they are reporting is the result of a difficult to define concept of violence. Defining violence in school is not an easy task. Not only does violence imply excessive and extraordinary events, but also the identification of daily violence, including the definition of microviolence.
The phenomenon has always existed in the pupils' group dynamics, but, since the beginning, administrative preoccupation has generally been ignored until its media discovery. School violence sells well. The way the phenomenon is presented in the media leads to the impression of an epidemic of brutal rage and a growing danger in school. On the other hand, misconceptions and beliefs about violence, bullying and victimization are common and widespread. These often affect the sensitive and neutral judgment of adults in bullying situations, preventing them from detecting the signs of bullying in time and from responding appropriately. Violence in school must be viewed critically and pragmatically, with a view to combining scientific knowledge and reflection on strategies to combat or prevent.
The problem of violence in school is, first and foremost, a daily, repetitive, proteomic oppression. School is a space for learning and social relationships together. It can only successfully work as a complete work: "School should be a safe and positive educational environment" (Olweus, 2010). The "ordinary" violence is present in every school, it is an everyday violence, common and not necessarily criminal. Teasing, exclusion, humiliation, harassment, brutality, improper handling, scandal, or indiscipline represent just as many ways in which one may be the victim of violence in school. The solution would be to conceive the fight against the phenomenon, not simplistic, in the short term, but in the long run, through daily prevention and dissuasion.
The concept of bullying is associated with a particular experience of violence. The already old concept was defined by Dan Olweus, who carried out the first research on this subject in Norwegian schools, on a sample of 140,000 young people. It defines the phenomenon as an aggressive and systematic abuse of power over the long term. According to the researchers who studied the phenomenon, bullying involves long-term, physical or psychological violence committed by one or more aggressors against a victim who is unable to defend themselves, the aggressor acting with the intention of harming the victim.
 Eric Debarbieux says that "violence is just a part of bullying and vice versa" (Debarbieux, 2010). Limiting school violence to school bullying means ignoring adult violence against pupils or other violence. Bullying is a concept that tends to individualize the issue and place responsibility exclusively on the aggressor or the victim, sometimes the family, minimizing the influence of the socio-economic context and the institution. In November 2017, the Organization Save the Children launched the Campaign "Stop Bullying or Abolish Break Time!" To trigger an alarm on the aggressions of the victims of bullying. In 10 minutes, a child can lose confidence in her or himself and others and the long-term consequences on emotional development and social integration are extremely serious. There are 10-minute breaks, in which one in four children in Romanian schools is repeatedly victim of bullying. The campaign highlighted the violence of the school environment.
Being a victim or an aggressor implies a cumulation of features and a context. The origin of violence must not be placed solely on the individual, but the much deeper levels of violence that are part of institutional frameworks must be sought and identified. Can there be a violent school? The school climate influences the definition of violence itself, violence "can often be reduced to the degradation of the school climate" (Debarbieux, 2010). The link between the school climate and violence has been established since 1986 by the Gottfredson spouses and has since been investigated by numerous research. Research has long hesitated to include organizational variables or school-related variables on the list of risk factors themselves. Without neglecting the immense share of socio-demographic and contextual variables, especially economic, researchers such as Debarbieux 1996, Soule 2003, Benbenisthy and Astor 2005, attempt to measure the role of the school climate in explaining the variations in victimization suffered by both students and teachers, and in the evolution of security sentiment, self-esteem or school failure.
The team's research led by Denise C. Gottfredson is particularly convincing: in a sample of 234 schools, the results of an intensive survey on victimization and the school climate show that factors that most often explain the rise in victimization include teacher instability, lack of clarity and injustice in the application of the rules. A certain use of the risk factor approach may prove insufficient and dangerous if this approach lists categories of risk prediction without incorporating them in a systematic and contextual approach. One of the pitfalls of research and action in the field of school violence is to only consider an element of the system: either in a metaphor of the besieged school, the external factors, or in an illusory belief in the self-sufficiency of the school, exclusively internal factors, or, in naive psychology, only the individual variables. The approach to risk factors is a common one in psychology. The school factors considered are school failure, truancy, school dropout, frequent disciplinary problems, frequent school changes, poor attachment to school, and poor involvement in school activities. One of the problems of the risk factor approach is that it has been insufficiently contextualized; the literature uses too often models that are not related to the school variables. Contextualizing school violence at the level of school variables is one of the most promising research directions. School-related factors are: the effects of school size, the effects of organizing teamwork and school management, and the effects of pedagogical practices.
 Perceiving violence in school exclusively as violence enforced in school is "common blindness"
(Debarbieux, 2010); a simplistic naivety that contributes to recommending dangerous solutions that emphasize the phenomenon they claim to fight. If we laid stress on the idea that school violence is being built amidst school premises, we must not allow ourselves to be tempted to say that this is "teacher's fault", and all violence is to be explained by their incompetence or sadism. The reductionist notion: violence in school, school violence implies a radical simplism to be combated. However, sometimes school adults may themselves be aggressors. It is painful that for a certain segment of the population some "violence" is normal, and it is part of a traditional right of correction. Obligation to stand, additional issues, offenses, ridiculing in public are violent crimes based on a very long history. This type of violence was an "educational tradition" that suppresses the overwhelming majority of students' rights. The fear that a change of mentality might render teachers "powerless" should be overcome. The normal education that a child should receive excludes any type of violence.
In a broad contextual approach, violence in school is the result of a complex causal system and regards education as a whole. Violence sets many traps; it is an adversary without a law that leads to fighting. Exceeding the major pitfalls of exaggeration, denial, simplicity and ignorance, the fight against bullying involves the challenge of recognizing, knowing and acting, because preventing bullying is an act of high moral significance.


Depino Catherine
Violența în școală, București, Editura Trei, 2013

Debarbieux Eric
Violența în școală: o provocare mondială?, Iași, Editura Institutul European, 2010

Netzelmann Tzvetina Arsova, Elfriede Steffan,
Angelova Marina

Strategii pentru o clasă fără bullying, eBook
Whitson Signe
Fenomenul bullying 8 strategii pentru a-i pune capăt, București, Editura Herald, 2017

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