Coalition against Violence in Schools Established15. February 2012 - 10:49 — Dejan Georgievski
On an initiative of Press daily newspaper, yesterday, February 14, 2012, representatives of seven organisations, institutions and associations gathered and created the Coalition against Violence in Schools, in an attempt to unify the efforts to make educational institutions safe and secure for all children.
Branko Miljuš, the general manager of the newspaper, noted that the problem of peer-violence in the schools was of great importance for the whole society, adding that the idea originated after the investigative reporting project on violence in Serbian schools six months ago, which showed the true magnitude of the problem.
“Fortunately, the Ministry of Education and Science saw our reports as a challenge, not as an attempt to criticise them. As a result, the SOS Phone for victims of peer violence was created and the cooperation continues with the creation of this coalition”, Miljuš said.
Veljko Lalić, Press daily’s Editor-in-Chief, said that topics related to peer violence will get even greater space and attention on the pages of the daily and that Press will now focus also on positive examples of schools that have implemented successful campaigns and actions against violence.
Judita Reichenberg, UNICEF Area Representative in Serbia, said that there was no universal recipe or express solution for the problem of violence, adding that the very existence of the awareness that everybody has to get involved with the problem of violence in schools already is an important step forward.
“I believe that we can significantly reduce violence in schools, as demonstrated by our “School without Violence” Project which, in the five years of implementation of Serbia, yielded excellent results. We all have to offer positive examples of correct behaviour to the children. Surveys show that almost 70 percent of all children were exposed to some form of violent discipline, which is not good”, Reichenberg said.
It was noted at the gathering that there is a negative habit of schools, but also of parents, to try and cover-up the problem of violence, that there are parents who don’t want to cooperate with the schools and principals who attempt to cover-up the violence. The participants also noted the importance of the SOS Phone which has already received over 600 calls from the citizens reporting violence in the schools, and emphasized the need to use experiences from other countries that fought with the problem of peer violence in the schools.
The Coalition was founded by the Ministry of Education and Science, Education Trade Union of Serbia (the biggest in the education sector), UNICEF, the “Divac” Foundation, the Association of School Principals, Belgrade Centre for Prevention of Suicide, and Press daily. The Coalition expects other organisations and institutions to join soon, with special mention of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Interior, and parents’ associations. (Source: Pressonline.rs)