"School differently", violence has gotten out of control

Octavian Dan
English Section / 5 aprilie

"School differently", violence has gotten out of control

Versiunea în limba română

Violence among minors is becoming a problem that authorities are finding increasingly difficult to control. School is no longer a safe place, and conflicts (some imported from outside, others exported to the streets) seriously affect the quality of education. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Internal Affairs propose programs, collaborate, but the effects of these measures are still slow to appear. The development of adolescents in such an environment is not beneficial, and against this backdrop, the future does not look good at all. The negative influence of social media only serves to exacerbate aggressive tendencies. The Ministry wants a "big brother" type system, teachers request more security guards and psychologists, and the police offer advice to avoid the escalation of conflicts. If we only look at the events of this week, we can understand the magnitude of the phenomenon. A 16-year-old student from a school in Sector 6 of the Capital was stabbed on Wednesday by another young person following a spontaneous conflict between them. He was taken to the hospital for medical care. Four young people allegedly involved in the incident were apprehended by the police and gendarmerie and taken in for questioning. According to the Capital Police, officers from the 21st Police Section were informed that a student from an educational institution in Sector 6 had been physically assaulted. Upon arrival, the police found that the report was confirmed, involving a 16-year-old student. "From initial investigations, it was established that the victim had a spontaneous conflict with four minors from outside the educational institution. Subsequently, he was physically assaulted by one of the minors with a cutting-piercing object. At the scene, a medical team also arrived, providing initial medical care, and the student was transported to the hospital for specialized care," the source said. Three of the involved young people were apprehended shortly afterward, and later, with the support of the General Directorate of the Bucharest Gendarmerie, another minor involved was identified, and they were taken to the section's headquarters for questioning. The investigations are being continued by the police from the 21st Police Section to establish the facts and circumstances in which the event occurred. The Mureş County Police opened a criminal case for assault or other violence following an aggression that took place at a school in the city of Reghin. The case came to the attention of the police after a 16-year-old student arrived at the hospital with signs of beating, and doctors there reported the assault. "On April 3, 2024, the Reghin municipal police were notified by representatives of a hospital unit that a 16-year-old youth from Reghin had been the victim of an assault. From the initial investigations carried out, the police established that the victim had been attacked by four young people while on break between classes," representatives of the Mureş County Police Inspectorate said. The assault took place in the courtyard of the "Ioan Bojor" High School in Reghin, and initial data indicates that the 16-year-old student was attacked by older classmates. The family of the assaulted boy, who is a ninth-grade student, claims that he was beaten by four twelfth-grade boys, local media reports. "They kicked him until he was unconscious," a relative of the assaulted student told zi-de-zi.ro. Following the incident, the police opened a criminal case for assault or other violence, and investigations are ongoing to determine the exact circumstances of the incident. Two 13-year-old girls were beaten on a street in Galaţi by a group of ten teenage girls, with the conflict apparently originating from social media, according to initial information. The police were notified by the father of one of the assaulted girls by phone and initially opened a criminal case for assault or other violence, and after the emergence of footage filmed by a witness, the pursuit was extended to disturb the public peace. Investigators are trying to identify all the girls involved. The police determined that, following a conflict arising from some contradictory discussions on a social media network, the two girls were physically assaulted by several teenagers aged between 13 and 16. According to sources close to the investigation, ten teenage girls attacked the two minors on the street, with the conflict allegedly stemming from a supposed relationship one of them had with a boy. The police are now seeking to identify all the teenage girls involved in the brawl to establish their degree of involvement and sanction them. "Initially, a criminal case was filed for the offense of assault or other violence, and after viewing the video footage released to the public, the pursuit was extended to the offense of disturbing public order and peace, and investigations are ongoing by the police, under the coordination of a prosecutor from the Prosecutor's Office attached to the Galaţi Court, in order to identify all the persons involved in this assault, establish the degree of involvement of each, and take the necessary legal measures," the Galaţi Police Department stated. However, violence also comes from those who should combat it. Police in Olt opened an investigation after the director of a school in Valea Mare commune allegedly assaulted a 12-year-old student. Representatives of the Olt County Police Inspectorate announced that the report was made by the student's father. "On April 2, around 10:50, the Olt County Police Inspectorate was notified, through a 112 call, by a man from Valea Mare commune, Olt County, regarding the fact that his 12-year-old son was physically and verbally assaulted by the director of a educational institution in Valea Mare commune, where he is a student. Police officers from the Perieţi Rural Police Section were dispatched to the scene, who drew up a criminal case for abusive behavior," the police said. They continue their investigations to determine the circumstances of the incident.

The picture is bleak; such events occur weekly.

Police advice

The police have various programs related to combating violence in schools and around them. Policemen offer recommendations aimed at discouraging aggressive actions and have listed a set of solutions that can shape pro-social behaviors for human bonding. Recommendations for students to prevent violence in schools: - Be careful when choosing your friends! Avoid friendship with violent or conflict-prone individuals! - Do not let yourself be influenced by others! Analyze the risks you expose yourself to based on the education received and your own experience! - If any classmate or friend asks you to do something you disagree with, refuse categorically, regardless of the promises or threats received. - Tell your friends not to respond to violence with violence to the challenges of other groups and draw their attention to the consequences of committing antisocial acts! - When you are insulted or victims of violent behavior by classmates or people in your circle, notify teachers, parents, and the police for assistance. - Be cautious in relationships with newly acquainted individuals to avoid being manipulated into committing crimes or becoming their victims! Recommendations for teachers: - Identify students with violent potential! Involve them in school or leisure activities and try to discover their interests and abilities! - Avoid focusing solely on punishment and exclusion but more on prevention and support for both the victim and the perpetrator! - Introduce relevant topics on this issue during debates with students! - Carry out extracurricular programs and activities in educational institutions: thematic contests, interactive presentations on school violence-related topics!

Ministry wants surveillance cameras, unions want psychologists and guards

The Free Federation of Education Unions and the Federation of Education Unions "SPIRU HARET" do not support the Ministry of Education's initiative to introduce an audio-video surveillance system in classrooms without the consent of teachers and parents and consider that these do not solve the problem of violence in the school environment. According to the unions: "We consider that the implementation of such a measure, without the consent of the supervised persons, represents an attack on the fundamental rights of Romanian citizens. In this regard, representatives of the National Authority for the Supervision of Personal Data Processing have also expressed their opinion. (...) When we talk about audio-video surveillance, without the consent of those recorded, we only throw the accusation that everyone is disruptive, and if they are not now, they will certainly become so, which is completely false." The unions admit that the number of cases of violence of any kind in schools is increasing, but they believe that we cannot say that all education employees and all students represent a risk. In the opinion of education unions, the fight against acts of violence must be carried out further, but through a complete reform of education on this issue, and the most important step would be one where the parent-teacher-student relationship would be a real, open one, aware of everything that happens in the child's life: "Increasing the number of school psychologists to timely identify problematic behaviors among teachers and students is absolutely mandatory." Unions believe that acts of violence would be discouraged by increasing the number of school guards, and a much stricter regulation regarding the sanctioning of those who make mistakes would have a much greater impact on aggressors. Education Minister Ligia Deca announced that a decision has been made to amend the legislative framework so that schools can install surveillance systems without the consent of parents, adult students, or teachers. However, recordings can only be used to investigate possible cases of violence and find out the truth.

Program for Student Well-being

The Ministry of Education, together with UNICEF, will launch a joint project in the coming months to support schools in promoting student well-being, socio-emotional development, and responsible use of technology, Education Minister Ligia Deca announced on Wednesday. According to the minister, UNICEF has been supporting the Ministry's efforts for over a year towards school desegregation: "UNICEF is an old and important partner for the Ministry of Education. We have discussed with Ms. Anna Riatti, UNICEF's representative in Romania, about the results of the projects carried out together so far and future plans. The UNICEF team has been supporting the Ministry's efforts for over a year towards school desegregation, and together we have worked on creating a unique mechanism in Europe for monitoring and intervening in situations of school segregation. Also, in the coming months, we will start a new joint project, in which schools will be supported in their efforts to promote student well-being, socio-emotional development, and responsible use of technology." The Education Minister specifies that UNICEF remains a "valuable" partner for the inclusion of children from Ukraine in the Romanian education system.

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