August 3, 2020

Students who silence school bullying: should we punish them? | Society



In the Madrid's community It will be considered a serious fault that a student is aware of a situation of bullying and do not communicate it to the center, as long as this does not entail risk for itself or for third parties. This is one of the main novelties included in the decree project that regulates coexistence in public and private colleges and institutes, which is expected to be approved in the first quarter of this year and mandatory in the next academic year. . Madrid will then become the only autonomous community in which the penalty of the student is contemplated. report on cases of bullying.

The sanction may range from staying without recess to an expulsion of a maximum of five school days. The experts consulted consider positive that the collaboration of the students is encouraged to detect potential victims and help them, but they warn of the possible consequences of imposing punishments. All the schools and institutes of Madrid must have a plan of coexistence in which measures are contemplated for the prevention and the action before the harassment.

In 2017, the security forces detected 170 cases in the Community of Madrid and more than a thousand in the whole country, with figures from all the autonomous communities, with the exception of Catalonia Y Basque Country. Since 2012, 5,500 cases have been registered. The experts consider that the classmates, the rest of the class, are "key" to combat bullying. "We must demystify the figure of the sneak. He is someone who denounces a situation that is wrong, he is the defender of justice ", explains Ana Cobos, president of the Confederation of Organizations of Psicopedagogía and Orientation of Spain. "But educational measures have to be above disciplinary measures. One has to know that it is not fair to maintain a situation of violence through educational processes, not sanctions, "he adds.

Measures to punish serious faults

The draft decree regulating the coexistence in schools and institutes in the Community of Madrid provides for 14 serious offenses. These are the sanctions that are contemplated:

1. Expulsion from class with immediate appearance before the head of studies or management, as well as deprivation of recess time.

2. Temporary prohibition to participate in extra-curricular activities for a maximum period of one month, extendable to three in case of overnight stay.

3. Temporary prohibition to participate in the complementary services of the center for a maximum period of one month (the dining room service is excluded).

4. Expulsion of certain classes for a maximum period of five consecutive school days.

5. Expulsion from the center for a maximum period of five school days.

In the decree project of the Community of Madrid the different faults are classified in which the student can incur, from mild to very serious. There are 14 that are considered serious. Among them, repeated absences of unjustified punctuality or assistance; acts of indiscipline; theft or robbery of members of the educational community, or the omission of the "duty to communicate to the staff of the center situations of harassment or that may put at serious risk the physical or moral integrity of other members of the educational community, when the communication It could be done without your own risk or that of third parties ".

Leticia Cardenal, president of the Spanish Confederation of Associations of Parents and Mothers, believes that the measure approved by the Government of Madrid "is not relevant". "To throw to the students the idea that if they do not chivan they will be punished is not the best option from the pedagogical point of view". The president of the Madrid Association against School Harassment, María José Fernández, agrees. "Situations of violence must be communicated by common sense. But to include it in a decree is an error. They intend to shield the counseling and wash their hands, which are responsible for the teacher, the director or the student, "he adds. And it points to the importance "of training and prevention". The decree provides that in the case of acts that may constitute crimes, teachers and the management team have the obligation to inform the police or the fiscal Ministery. And it points to the importance "of training and prevention".

Sonsoles Bartolomé, head of the legal department of the telephone of the ANAR Foundation, which serves victims of bullying, is in favor of sanctions. The regulation establishes an important reservation: the student has the duty to communicate the case of harassment as long as he or third parties are not at risk. "We put a lot of weight on the witness, but he has to take responsibility, we can debate if the fault should be considered mild or serious, but any behavior that does not involve a penalty remains in the air," he explains.

The doctor in Psicopedagogía Ana Cobos is reluctant. "Many times it is not reported because of fear. The rule exempts those who are at risk, but that is a very difficult factor to assess, "he adds. She urges to encourage reporting. "In coexistence, we are all guardians and defenders of justice, harassment often persists in a group because there is a social buffer that is afraid that, if the victim stops suffering bullying, they will begin to suffer it. students, "he adds, and he does not recommend the sanctions." Someone is expelled, what does he learn from that? What can happen is that fear is generated to what parents may think, for example, but it does not generate a feeling of justice and solidarity ", qualifies.

In other communities, such as Castilla y León or the Basque Country, programs that avoid "demonizing students" have been promoted, sources from both governments explain. Its protocols advocate giving tools to the educational community to help both the victim and the harasser. "We call the teachers and the students to join, to form a team against the bulliyng", Sources of the Basque Executive point.

María Jesús Díaz-Aguado, Professor of Educational Psychology of the Complutense University and author of the study Punishments as an indicator of psychosocial risk at school, believes that the role of students is fundamental to stop harassment in schools, but warns that exclusively punitive measures do not solve the problem. "For a punishment to be effective must be perceived as fair and legitimate, expulsions can aggravate behavioral problems or cause adverse effects," he says. Different investigations on the use of school discipline indicate that repressive measures, especially those that contemplate expulsion, worsen coexistence and the relationship between teacher and student, in addition to encouraging violent behavior.

In 2008, the American Association of Psychology analyzed the impact of policies for the prevention of violence in the classroom in the wake of cases like the killing of 15 students at a Columbine school shot by two of their classmates. They were skeptical about the effectiveness of sanctions in the classroom, and argued that students punished – with measures such as expulsion – tend to evade the context and develop negative attitudes of fear and hostility towards teachers. "You have to involve the students, but with the awareness of what the problem is", adds Díaz-Aguado.

Mediation teams and other prevention techniques

The decree project to regulate the coexistence in the centers in Madrid also contemplates new measures to prevent harassment in the classrooms such as the creation of mediation teams. They are teachers, students and family members who voluntarily receive training and, in case of conflict between students, intervene. "Different research has shown that peer assistance is more effective when it comes to solving conflicts and that is why it is important that other students mediate," explains Isabel Serrano, head of the Community and Family Unit of the Community of Madrid.

In addition, the new decree, which will replace the 2007 one, contemplates other novelties such as the obligatory use of new methodologies that imply collaborative work among the students, the reorganization of the classrooms in case of conflict, or the supervision by the professors in the hours of entry and exit from school. "The provision of chairs and tables is essential, the teacher will look for the most sociable students, identify where the victim sits and away from the harasser, which also separate from their support network," says Serrano.

Monitor bathrooms, corridors, areas with poor visibility and corridors will be another of the actions that teachers must cover in the changes of time and entry and exit to the center. "These are the spaces in which harassment usually occurs and it was necessary to include it in the protocol," says Isabel Serrano. In 2016, the Community approved its first Plan to combat bullying, a guide for schools with specific tools for teachers, students and families. Since then, in the classrooms of 25 people. "Sanctions are necessary, but each case will have to be studied, because there are many reasons for not reporting the information if it is known." Many of the sanctions, says Serrano, will remain in punishment without recess, a space in which students will have to go to the orientation service.

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