Pilot project aims to curb bullying at schools
September 1st is the beginning of the new school year. For many kids though the generally carefree mood on the first day is tinged with a hidden fear - the dread of bullying.
The memories there of a young Czech girl who is still dealing with the trauma that years of bullying inflicted. A survey conducted among Czech schoolchildren suggests that 40 percent of Czech school kids experience bullying - either psychological or physical - at one time or another in the course of primary and secondary school. Experts say this alarming figure is largely due to the fact that the problem has not received proper attention and that teachers themselves do not know how to deal with it. Petr Sokol graduated as a teacher a few years ago:
Today Petr heads a pilot project involving nine Czech schools and over one hundred head teachers. He says bullying is a problem that can be successfully treated -if you acknowledge it and know what to do. Teachers are taught how to detect the first signs of bullying, how to approach the victims, bullies and witnesses and how to deal with the problem by involving the whole class. The main rule he says is to forget about the simple solution used in the past: transferring the victim or bully to another class.
This method has already proved successful in one Czech school - the main thing now, Petr says, is to get it into the 4,000 or so schools around the country.
Nine schools out of four thousand is not a great deal, but the experts involved are hoping that the positive results will convince other schools to join up next year. Many still feel that admitting they have a problem could damage their image. Psychologists say there's a lot more at stake - since the psychological damage done does not only affect the victim, but to a great measure also the bully and to some extent the witnesses who for some reason failed to put a stop to the wrongdoing.