‘Words do hurt, don’t they?’ – a campaign raising awareness to verbal violence and its consequences upon young people behaviour – was launched yesterday by Romtelecom in cooperation with the Child’s Telephone Association, partner of the company in youth and children projects for over 10 years, according to a press release. The campaign came as a response to the rise in the number of violent situations publicly reported, where children and young people appear either as victims or as assailants, as well as following the increase of the number of relevant reports received on the Child’s Telephone hotline. In addition, Romtelecom has commissioned out two surveys that indicate a rising immunity of the young generation to the various forms of verbal violence, although it is widely recognised as being the zero point of escalation to more grievous forms of violence. The aim of the campaign is to offer tools for the management of violent situations and includes open meetings with adults and young people interested to find out more on constructive approaches to violence. The campaign also offers a virtual information and recommendation centre – as a manifestation of hoiss not spontaneously associated with violence. g www.cuvinteledor.ro, and it will close on December 7 with the release of a free e-book containing case studies and general recommendations.
Statistics that define reality
Sixty per cent of the respondents aged between 10 and 18 had been involved in cases of verbal violence according to a quantitative survey conducted by IMAS to Romtelecom’s order. This type of violence preponderantly occurs in their neighbourhood (almost half of the cases – 46.7 per cent, and at school – 33.5 per cent).
Verbal violence incidents mainly involve unknown people (45 per cent) or other school pupils (almost 40 per cent). The children and young people who took part in the survey say that, at school, verbal violence mostly occurs among pupils, while in the neighbourhood where they reside violence tends to happen more among people who don’t know each other, participants in the traffic (motorists, pedestrians), even more than cases involving crime world figures or the so-called ‘smart guys’.In parallel with the quantitative survey, IMAS, commissioned by Romtelecom, also conducted a qualitative survey based on more profound questions, in Bucharest. The conclusions were that, in the perception of the interviewed subjects, the causes of aggressiveness are mostly individual frustration and the aggressor’s desire to be singled out. Verbal aggressiveness is seen by all respondents in the qualitative study as a form of violence, but is not spontaneously associated with violence. The qualitative research reveals that verbal aggressiveness or ‘the mild thrust’ tend to become behaviour rule in what regards frequency and social acceptance, meaning they are no longer perceived as a manifestation of hostility.
Verbal violence – state of normalcy?
In the context where almost two in every three young people admit to having been involved in a situation of verbal violence, while their answers suggest that they are mainly sensitised by physical violence, the ‘Words do hurt, don’t they?’ campaign seeks to remind that verbal violence regularly is the first form of violence that may escalate to other, much more serious forms of violence. This is why the campaign is focussed in the promotion of communication and dialogue as solutions for preventing and managing situations entailing violence among children and youth.‘Words do hurt, don’t they?’ is a project in a more comprehensive series of Romtelecom commitments to the cause of children and young people in the latest years. In this case, too, we cooperate with the Child’s Telephone Association with which we also manage the European hotline for child abuse – 116111. We honestly believe that one can speak about violence in a different way, we can speak about understanding its mechanisms and smart communication as a modality of management’, Romtelecom Communication Director Cristina Popescu explains.‘Low self-esteem, depression, behaviour disruptions, and low tolerance to accommodating school requirements – are some of the issues confronting children who are subject to verbal aggression at school. The Child’s Telephone Association has received a total of 3,327 reports on situations of crisis at school on the 116 111 hotline between January 1 2011 and October 31, 2012. Situations of child to child abuse at school accounted for 69.7 per cent of the total in 2011 and 58.8 per cent in the first ten months this year. It is therefore time we rang some alarm bells! Aggression of any kind is unacceptable! STOP aggression! Words can also hurt!’ said Child’s Telephone Executive Director Catalina Florea.Three weeks when words must not hurt Solutions for decreasing acts of violence, especially verbal violence, are related to the need of interaction, of sincere, authentic and effective communication. The message of the campaign ‘Words do hurt, don’t they?’ is, in fact an appeal to settling possible conflicts through the wisdom and intelligence of the act of communication, through effective dialogue that prevents and eventually heals violence. The campaign website – www.cuvinteledor.ro – is the place where you can find explanations on violence and its impact on personal development, statistical data, experiences, solutions and recommendations in the form of both text and video content, with the support of three specialists engaged in the campaign. Andra Pacurar, mental therapist, will offer answers and preliminary recommendations to people who need help and turn to the website in a first instanceOn November 26, a workshop will be organised for young people from 14 to 18 years of age, where we will have face to face talks on the violence they are facing and will try to define handiest solutions available. Tudor Chirila will do the introduction to the subject, the Child’s Telephone will present cases of actual violence and the psychologist Silviu Ionita will speak from the perspective of the specialist on all those topics. Entry is free up to the limit of available seating capacity.On December 3, a parent workshop will be held, addressing people who want to help their children better manage situations of violence they may encounter. Apart from the Child’s Telephone Association that will present relevant real life cases, Silviu Ionita, psychologist, and Cati Calin, trainer and consultant on relational communication, will also join us to investigate together into existing solutions. Entry is free up to the limit of existing seating capacity.The campaign will end on December 7 with the release of a free e-book which will offer, in the form of cartoons, general situations and solutions that could be a useful and practical guidebook for interested individuals, be they adults, children, young people, teachers or counsellors.