Bullying in Czech schools
Bullying has been part of school life ever since they first came into being. But research suggests that in recent years the brutality of Czech pupils has been on the increase. Why is this so and what can be done to improve the current situation? Lucie Krupickova has the story:
Stabbing with nails or a knife, burning with a hot spoon, strangling with a scarf, kicking - these are just a few examples of bullying in Czech schools. According to the latest surveys, about 20 per cent of schoolchildren have experienced brutality from their classmates. That makes about 300 thousand pupils altogether in the Czech Republic who have been bullied.
But who is doing the bullying? I put this question to Jarmila Knight from the foundation Nae dítì (Our child):
Jarmila Knight: Actually it´s very difficult to say because there´s a whole range of it. It can start even in the nursery school - bullying of this type - and then of course as it progresses it gathers momentum and it´s getting worse and worse. And of course if it´s not stopped in the very beginning then the perpetrators become more aggressive, they think they can get away with it and they are using more and more drastic forms.
Radio Prague: How can teachers contribute to improve the current situation? And what can parents do in this respect?
JK: I think that the main think that anybody can do is talk about it and actually take notice of it. Which means if a teacher sees a child in the classroom that is becoming depressed that is sort of avoiding others, goes to school different way - any kind of sign that that child is not his or her own self the teacher should take notice and should find out why.
RP: Do you think that sooner or later the amount of brutality in Czech schools will increase to such an extent as it is in the United States for example?
JK: Well, you see, it's definitely on the increase. Because we run a telephone help-line for children which is free of charge and children actually phone and complain about things that they are not happy about. So far we've got about 3 million calls from children. And out of them between 2 or 6 per cent of calls were to do with bullying. So you can see that that is an enormous amount. Coming back to your original question which is whether it should reach the proportions of bullying in the United States: unfortunately, unless something is done about it, yes, it can.