The theme of bullying and violence among schoolchildren in the Ukrainian media space sometimes resembles the sea: the indignation and discussion come in waves with a reason, and then everything dissolves in other events. The last case when a group of students beats up a schoolgirl in early August brought attention to the problem again. Opinion found out, what causes violence among schoolchildren, who is guilty of brutal persecution, whether the bullying is progressing in Ukraine and how to prevent it.

What causes bullying?

Reflecting on this issue, Oleksandr Ravchev, the employee of the Ukrainian Independent Center for Policy Studies, and the expert of education and PR on public and charitable initiatives told Opinion, what is the key to endorsing violence in society as a way of resolving conflict situations.

“One of the key reasons – is the general atmosphere of the connivance of violence in society. Ukrainians generally endorse violence as a method of resolving conflicts, considering it to be acceptable. People, who try to solve problems without violence are perceived as weak. Children simply reproduce this behaviour by transferring it to their children’s situations”, the expert believes.

Instead, psychologist Oksana Palun is convinced, that the main reasons should include the rapid development of information technology: getting “likes” on video footage with the beating of classmates turns into a game for students, and the excitement pushes for the continuation.

“Bullying always existed, so some people (not only children) are self-asserting at the expense of others. But in the era of information technology we have more information about it, it starts spreading massively, because earlier “glory” was more difficult to spread –  a classmate was beaten, and apart from the participants of the event, you had nobody to tell about it. And now it’s much easier to “boast about”, you can upload your “achievements” into the network and get “likes”, here the effect of the game is included, “who will get more”, passion, adrenaline, etc.,” said psychologist to Opinion.

Journalist Tetiana Fedorchuk, in turn, believes that real reasons cannot be called now, but there are a number of motives, that can provoke the appearance of brutal behaviour. In this case, as a rule, education and social status do not play a key role.
“The real reasons for bullying now nobody can call. But, the following motifs are usually announced: lack of understanding by the individual of the laws, that is confessed by the society, in which he lives, the understanding of these laws, but the conscious desire to violate them.

The upbringing and social status, most often, is not directly related to whether a person will be bullying someone. Such things are handled equally, as the kids of millionaires in higher educational institutions, such as the University of Oxford or Eton College, as well as ordinary rural schoolchildren. At the same time, in the most prestigious universities of the world, sometimes bullying ends even with incredibly terrible deaths”, the speaker is thinking.

At the same time, Tetiana Fedorchuk dispells the myth about computer games as a source of violence and aggressive behaviour of students in real life. According to her, all adrenaline is spent there, in games, there is a process of sublimation.

“Some people, who have lived in the Soviet Union, have the opinion: there was no bullying in the times of USSR. And all the blame for today’s school bullying of some children over the other they rely on the absence of a common ideology, the emergence of computers, games and movies that have a lot of violence. However, there is no correlation between this idea and reality. On the contrary, scientists point out, that computer games contribute to the fact, that adolescent adrenaline is left in virtual life, and not in real life. This is the process of so-called sublimation”, is said in the comment for Opinion.

Tetiana Hordiychuk, the head of the development centre “Mudrahelyk’s Club”, for the main reasons put the indifference of all participants of the educational process and the reluctance to solve a problem that only intensifies the conflict. The parties begin to throw themselves at the extreme, but this does not lead to a solution of situations.

“The main reason is the simple indifference of the participants in the educational process (students, teachers, psychologists, managers, parents or other people, who replace them). Also, one of the factors is the lack of a desire to solve a problem, where there is no simple and quick answer, a universal key to solving a difficult situation. As a result, the conflict is even more intense and, in the end, everyone becomes guilty.

Quite often you can see how all parties go to the extreme. It’s fast, easy, obvious, but does not solve the situation. On the one hand, it often happens, that the child does not know where to expect for help. Teachers say the victim is guilty of such an attitude. Parents humiliate the child that he is the “weak” – this is what fixes the behaviour of the “child-victim”. Otherwise, the solution to this problem is seen in the “just punishment of the aggressive child”, which rises more aggression and dissatisfaction”, shared the thoughts with our readers Tetiana Hordiychuk.

Parents, teachers, and kids – who is to blame and is it worth looking for the guilty?

Identifying those responsible for the violence among the students has become one of the most debatable issues in the network. Some users accused parents, someone was focusing on teachers, and some even emphasized the fault of their children. According to Olena Kryvoruchko, professor and head of the department of the Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics, the fault can really be divided into percentages. In this case, the children themselves have the least fault, and teachers become the “leaders”.

“If you share the blame for violence in schools – 50% is for teachers, 45% for parents and only 5% for children. Children are the reproduction of relationships in the family, whatever the family is, they absorb everything like a sponge.

In most cases, schools (teachers) pay attention to students only during their lessons. Outside the classroom (not to mention the boundaries of the school), the student and the teacher exist separately. Accordingly, students can do whatever they want. And especially teenagers. Unfortunately, the teacher has long lost the both of students, and their parents”, Olena Kryvoruchko assured Opinion.

Psychologist Oksana Palun believes, that responsibility for the bullying must be carried out by all the parties equally, but the children themselves, this time, are not on the list of guilty.

“Everyone is equally guilty. Parents are not interested in their child’s life, in the desires, fears, what should they teach their children and how to do it. It’s easier to have the Internet, buy a computer and pretend that everything is fine. Teachers do not know and do not want to know, how to deal with it, it is quite possible that most of them themselves are experiencing or experienced violence in their lives and have not learned how to deal with such situations. Heads of educational institutions in case of such problems do not want to understand who is right and who is to blame while trying to “fudge” the situation so that the reputation of the school did not suffer. The public has a mentality, that lag behind rapid technological progress”, the psychologist stated.

But Valentyna Lebedeva, the professor of the National Metallurgical Academy of Ukraine and PhD in Economics believes, that the main fault still remains on teachers, but begins at the time of kindergartens, when nursery school teacher instead of taking care of children make some coffee for themselves.

“The guilt of the humiliating treatment of juniors” in school, above all, lies on the teachers and all the system of school education. It is believed, that the humiliating treatment of juniors begins in kindergarten. This means that nursery school teachers drink coffee while the children force the hierarchy. I know the case when a “school dictator”,  who was transferred to the other school, for another six months went to a former school and collected a tribute from classmates. Teachers are “out of the subject”, there are no parents in the school. I draw attention to the fact, that no one, sending a child to school, does not tell him to engage in violence. This occurs within the framework of self-organization of children’s groups, left without proper guidance and control by teachers. The fault lies in the whole school system”, said in a conversation with Opinion Valentina Lebedeva.

At the same time, journalist Tetiana Fedorchuk emphasizes, that the issue of determining guilty is not correct, because it does not take into account the natural factor and is a rather primitive view of reality. Thus, according to the speaker, the problem will not be solved.

The question: “who is to blame for school bullying: parents, society or teachers?” cannot be correct. Because it is quite likely not to take into account a completely different, natural factor. Of course, we all have a serious impact on family, school, and society. However, they cannot be the only guilty of childish aggression that is shown at school, it is wrong. This is a very primitive view of reality. By making only parents or teachers guilty of school bullying, we are as if hiding our heads in the sand. It will not go away with such a view of the problem”, the journalist is convinced.

This opinion was supported by Liliia Gabriel-Tkachuk, chief specialist in the media and public relations of State service of Ukraine for transport safety. According to her, it is impossible to divide the blame; it is just to abandon fear and to recognize, that children need to single out, and therefore they need to work on it.

“In fact, bullying is not a new problem and it has no geographical binding. After all, the formation of the personality is, in particular, the acquisition of skills to hold themselves out in society. Children, and later, teens, always test each other for the “weakness” and the trouble has the one who has “failed” this test, because then he will be persecuted by everyone and even those who are in fact good, but do not feel strong enough to say: “No, I will not do it”. For some this fright is dictated by the fear that, if not this child will be persecuted, then they will be, for others – it’s a fear to be rejected by the community (as a human is a social being). Here no one can divide the blame: school, parents, children. Just do not be afraid to admit, that children have the need to stand out, accept it as a gift and all work with it, ” shared with Opinion Lilia Gabriel-Tkachuk.

Is it true, that today there is a “boom” of bullying and child abuse?

Journalist Tetiana Fedorchuk believes that modern generations are more liberal in their views, calm and less aggressive in their character, such people are much less prone to violence, but with the same lower desire they achieve their goal. Against this background, there are no grounds for the points about the aggressive and evil generation, and statistics even show the decline in the number of school-based bullying.

“Usually, people who have aggressive behaviour with the use of bullying, do it systematically, regardless of gender, age and nationality. Bullying is a phenomenon that existed always, at all times, and in any country. Experts-criminologists, sociologists and psychologists do not see an increase in the number of bullying cases in recent times.

On the contrary, the generation of the Millennials, or as they are called Generation Y (these are people born from 1982 to 2000), as well as Generation Z (children born in the 2000s), distinguishes liberal views, a more calm, non-aggressive character, emotional passivity, much less predisposition to alcoholism, drug addiction and sexual perversion. These two generations seriously differ from generations of their parents and grandparents by general paternalism, nihilism, less addiction to violence, and less equal desire to achieve their goals.

They have great demands for life, but lack of purpose, cynicism and healthy selfishness. Because of this, they often rely on the state and society and don’t believe that they are able to change something themselves. Therefore, the talk that the “modern generation” is uneducated, evil and aggressive does not have any documented grounds. Statistics show quite different things – a drop in the number of cases of violence, including school bullying”, the journalist says.

How to prevent harassment and violence in schools?

Adrian Revyuk, a co-founder of “Kleverdia”, specializing in developing psychodiagnostic and vocational guidance programs, spoke on the idea, that solving problems and preventing their repetition can be achieved through proper career guidance and lifestyle searches. And let this method not be able to eliminate the problem on its own, but it can become one of those, that we still will be able to solve it together.

“I agree, that the problem of bullying is both large and system-wide. If the fact of such behaviour has already taken place, attention should be paid not only to actors: aggressors, children, victims, their parents, teachers, school administration, etc. In my opinion, and the opinion of my colleagues, the solution of this problem can be, and, obviously, it is necessary to direct in the channel of correct, substantiated scientific and practical vocational guidance and search for life purpose. With the correct, systematic approach, the energy of the student-aggressor goes to the sphere of constructive professional activity, where there will be no place for evil games, which are discussed above.

From the experience of the innovative educational company “Kleverdia”, we can say, that for this there are all the necessary capabilities, tools and will of professionals. Probably, high-quality vocational guidance will not solve the problem of school violence in general, but for salvation, it is necessary to use all available methods. And in the first place those, which are thoroughly worked out and effective”, is mentioned in the commentary to our media.

Liliia Gabriel-Tkachuk has a slightly different vision in solving the problem. According to her, the secret of success in overcoming the problem lies in the understanding, that there are no somebody else’s children. Parents should also understand, that a time that is not spent with a child will then be spent on solving the problems that the child has fallen into.

“Parents should sincerely love children (sincerely means going deep into their problems, in fact, not stomping their nose, but going deep), because the less the child has genuine, rather than flashy attention at home (when the lack of time spent with the child parents try to compensate, throwing him gifts), the more she has the need to stand out in his community and the more violent the ways he chooses for this. Teachers, spending time with their children, also have the opportunity (if desired, of course) to notice some psychological problems in the child and, using their experience and knowledge, try to change the situation on the +, first of all, for the child himself. But, as for me, it is extremely important to create a lot of places for children and teens where they could show themselves and become better.

First of all, it is necessary to educate in society the understanding, that there are no somebody else’s children. Secondly, everyone who has children needs to understand, that the time when they didn’t talk to their child they will be forced to spend solving the problems, that their child has suffered. That is, the problem is very complex, but it is also extremely important (more important than it may seem at first glance). Here parents, teachers and the state should be in Trinity”, Liliia Gabriel-Tkachuk emphasized.

Liliia Virovkina, a lawyer and head of the public organization “Ukraine needs you”, also shared with us her vision of eliminating bullying among school children. In her opinion, it is worth creating extra-curricular youth spaces, encouraging exchanges of children with other regions and conducting special events and supporting children’s initiatives.

“In my opinion, aggression and child’s energy, which has no possibility of expressing in something positive, creates such a negative phenomenon as bullying. Therefore, my personal advice for parents and school educators is: 1) the need to create an out-of-school youth space and various types of free clubs for children, where they can spend their free time, learn, play sports, etc., 2) encourage the exchange of children with other regions, other countries for raising awareness of children, 3) holding joint events and supporting children’s initiatives. And the main thing – is the need for parents to learn how to co-operate with their own children. Here a child psychologist and a different kind of training will help.

Of course, there are other methods that are more authoritarian: familiarizing children with representatives of the national police, excursions to institutions where people are serving sentences, and to courts. Perhaps this should also be done already for children in 7-11 grades”, the lawyer summed up.

Text by Dmytro Zhuravel

Cover image by Russ Hendricks

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