In Romania, one out of two school children is the victim of threats, humiliation or physical violence, and four out of five children witness bullying instances, according to Save the Children Romania organisation.
According to official data cited by the organisation, in the Romanian education system there was an increase of almost a third of reported bullying situations in the 2021-2022 school year, compared to the previous school year (10,971 bullying situations as against 7,715).
“In reality, however, the phenomenon is much more serious: a recent Save the Children analysis (end of 2022) shows that bullying in school or in the classroom and its perpetuation in the online environment affect emotionally hundreds of thousands of students who become victims of physical violence and threats or humiliating messages sent online (49%), assist as witnesses (82%) or admit having committed such acts themselves (27%),” reads the release.
According to the same source, acts of bullying take place “against the lack of interest” on the part of the education system to develop a strategy and an action plan to prevent and combat bullying and cyberbullying, starting from the legal regulations in force. Thus, “an anti-bullying action group should be established in every school/high school” that will include the principal, the school counselor, three teaching staff trained in violence, including psychological violence-bullying, two or more student representatives and parents’ representatives. The role of the group is to prevent, identify and solve bullying situations between students in the form of physical, verbal, relational and/or cyber actions.
“In schools where there is an anti-bullying action group and it is functional, there is an improvement in the educational climate, which translates into a better collaboration between teachers and parents, and students receive the same message at school and at home. They feel supported to become more tolerant and approach adults with greater confidence when they encounter difficult situations,” according to Save the Children.
The organisation is calling on the Ministry of Education to evaluate the implementation of the rules regarding the establishment of anti-bullying action groups and the development of a national strategy for compliance with the legal provisions.
Save the Children sounded the alarm on January 30, the School Day of Non-violence and Peace.
In 2022, under a “schools without bullying” programme, Save the Children organised information and training sessions for 800 teachers from 138 schools for the implementation of educational methods based on positive discipline. In these activities, 947 parents and 5,626 children were involved (of which almost 800 became anti-bullying ambassadors in their schools). Thus, the organisation facilitated the establishment and operation of anti-bullying action groups in 80 partner schools, while in 58 more such groups are being established.
“In order to determine schools and high schools to create these mechanisms, the Ministry of Education and the school inspectorates have a great responsibility, and Save the Children will, without a doubt, offer methodological support, as we have done in the case of over 80 schools,” says the Save the Children Romania executive chair Gabriela Alexandrescu.
The press statement also quotes the conclusions on Romania of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) indicating that 35% of 15-year-old students were affected by bullying at least a few times a month (39% in the case of children from disadvantaged backgrounds), with their learning performance being 40% lower.