Education with no bullying

Is bullying at school an innocent tradition or a challenge to humanism pedagogy?

"Schoolgirls brutally beat a girl", "shocking video of bullying a teenager", "parents accused a teacher of bullying a child" - such and similar content headlines are often saturates the news of both "yellow editions" and columns of solid media. The topic, which had previously been shyly covered by neutral definitions such as "children quarreled", "requirements of discipline", "misunderstanding" was tightly entered into circulation both in the educational process and in the media space in the generally accepted world definition – "bullying".

Bullying in terms, facts and figures

Bullying is a type of violence; intentional, long-term (repetitive) physical or psychological violence by a person or group against an individual, which occurs mainly in organized groups or in online communities for the purpose of humiliation, intimidation and demonstration of force.

- Wikipedia

Actually, although the term itself is neutral in relation to age criteria, most experts note that bullying in an adult environment often has no obvious signs of aggressive systemic persecution. With the exception of mobbing (from mob – crowd) – harassment of an employee in the work team and "dedovschina" – persecution of newcomers in the army environment.

But in children's communities, especially in formal education institutions, this phenomenon is widespread, sustainable, enshrined in generations of "traditions". Moreover, with the evolution of the digital space, bullying has also acquired a virtual format (cyberbullying), with the spread of unpleasant videos for victims of social networks, saturation of correspondence with it with aggressive messages, use of the possibilities of anonymous persecution.

Consequently, psychologists usually distinguish physical bullying (beatings, damage/ hiding / theft of property) and psychological (humiliating comments, offensive nicknames, the spread of gossip and lies, social isolation). The reasons why a child becomes a victim of bullying are most often based on subconscious xenophobia, when anything can become an irritant of the conflict – high or low educational performance, peculiarities of appearance, property fortune of the family, ideological beliefs, nationality, health status, behavior, etc., and therefore are subjective, unpredictable, and at the heart of everything is intolerance of otherness, differences, unusualities.

It is still difficult to talk about absolute statistics of this phenomenon in Ukraine, since all monitorings were often solitary and unsystematic. Typically, these were either public actions, such as the parental flash mob "Ask a child about bullying", or disparate data provided by school psychologists. But even these half-evidence is frightening in numbers and facts:

At least once about 80% of schoolchildren were named as victims of bullying;

24% of the children surveyed regularly suffer from bullying;

about 40% of victims have never been told about persecution;

witnessed bullying, but did not dare to help the victims because of fear for themselves, about 44% of schoolchildren;

shy, locked in, incommunicative children become victims of bullying twice as often;

Quite often, facing to bullying, teachers and school administration take a suspended position and are extremely reluctant to respond to parents' appeals, although raising children, protecting their rights and preventing discrimination, violence, prejudice is one of the tasks that is set before modern pedagogy.

Unfortunately, let's be honest, this task in the real priorities of the school system is not in the first and not even in the second, third, fifth places. Of course, there is a certain system of "protocol" topics for educational hours, but traditionally the lion's share of this time is spent on conversations about learning, evaluation, discipline. Is it effective? The question is rhetorical. Because shocking statistics of adolescent suicide, the reasons for which are most often conflicts in the family, bullying at school, feelings of lawlessness and hopelessness testify unequivocally – the search for effective educational techniques – both on time and in the top priorithy.

Public activism and pedagogical expertise in combating bullyling. School is a complex phenomenon that is not only part of society, but also models society in miniature, reproduces it.

- Serhii Gorbachov, First Educational Ombudsman of Ukraine

The problem of bullying has not remained unattended with the online marathon of documentary activism "Arts&Rights". What recipes for treating the school environment from cruelty and indifference were offered by invited experts?

Yulia Zagorodnya, consultant of cognitive and psychological therapy (CBT), addressing the psychological aspects of bullying, stressed that one should not underestimate the impact of bullying on both the present and the future of children. In particular, she noted that victims of harassment over time may have problems with academic learning outcomes, skipping classes, being under constant stress, and as a result prone to depressive conditions and diseases.

And even when the peak of bullying (11-14 years old) will be behind, children who were at school are much more difficult to implement themselves in adult life, have higher risks of eating disorders, problems with employment, creating a happy family and raising their own children, because the main harm of bullying is undermining the belief in friendship, believing that we can be accepted by society. what we are and the fact that we may have good relationships with other people.

One of the possible ways to prevent bullying at school is to bring the issue out of the plane of purely ethical legal, and as an investigation - the adoption of the Law of Ukraine "On Combating Bullying". But, as Serhii Gorbachev (educator, director, the first educational ombudsman of Ukraine) testified in accordance with the Register of Court Cases for 1.5 years of this law, only a little more than 600 cases on this issue have been submitted to the courts of the country, so it, of course, is not enough for the state. And in general, in his opinion, the law needs to be finalized, since it poorly developed algorithms for the interaction of adults in solving problems - parents, teachers, school administration and education departments.

Oksana Savitska, State Expert of the Directorate of Preschool, Extracurricular and Inclusive Education of the Ministry of Education and Science, in turn, noted that one of the most difficult issues is the aspect of cyberbullying, in this regard, pilot projects have already been created based on world experience, the purpose of which is to protect children in the digital space, now they are undergoing the test stage and will eventually enter into the appropriate national strategy.

But experts still have the greatest expectations for effective cooperation between parents, children and educators, and one of the auxiliary factors in this dialogue is civic educational activity. For example, teachers visit specialized motivating exercises. And such a positive trend was noted by Nastya Melnychenko (social activist, children's writer, head of the NGO "Stutena" and the author of the project "School without bullying). In particular, during the existence of its project, almost 200,000 teachers took two online courses on the prevention of bullying and the introduction of non-discriminatory inclusive learning. Therefore, there is reason to hope that the situation will change, and over time, specialized artistic initiatives will also come to the aid of educators in their work.

Art as a way of dialogue with teenagers

Quite often, teachers who have been working in schools for more than 10 years note that it is increasingly difficult for them to speak to students in the same language, it is increasingly difficult to be heard by them, since modern children live in an information space oversaturated with accessible content with scenes of violence, sexual challenges, impunity of cyberbully. Moreover, the reality is that in some "spicy" questions, adolescents are more informed than parents or teachers. And thus the abyss of generations only deepens and children are left with adult problems alone, without the support of the elders.

And, accordingly, one of the useful pedagogical tools can be watching documentaries with students. Why them? First of all, films allow you to create an atmosphere of ease (cinema effect or family viewing) – and even the most difficult and painful topic will "enter" the audience more safely and environmentally, the second argument is that modern children have largely visualize the way information is perceived, and therefore cinema can make the most of the entire arsenal of visual arts influence, and, importantly, documentaries carry a message that in their difficult circumstances teenagers are not alone, also provoke the discussion of the film, and accordingly - dialogue as a way to understand and solve problems.

It should be noted that in Ukraine, a good tradition of watching such high-quality documentary cinema was started and developed by the Docudays UA festival. The focus of this year's theme was "Teen Spirit" - growingup and children's rights - and so we bring to your attention the top 3 festival films that can be involved in the educational process

The film "Bouler" by American director Lee Hirsch. The history of bullying of "others" (an autist boy and a girl from the LGBT community) in addition to the end-to-end motive – the practice of bullying in schools – also touches upon such painful problems for Ukrainian society as inclusion and respect for the diversity of the world. Therefore, it will reduce the level of radicalization and intolerance about otherness not only among adolescents, but will not leave indifferent teachers, among whom the principles of post-Soviet moralization and shy silence of uncomfortable topics are still preserved. It is significant that this film in the United States is included in the school curriculum and is mandatory for viewing by teachers and students.

By the way, the topics of teen suicide, bullying, early pregnancy, domestic violence are very convincingly revealed in the books of modern Ukrainian writers Anastasia Nikulina ("Salt for the Sea, or The White Whale"), Sergei Hrydin ("Not Like It", "Not an Angel", "Incomprehensible"), Alevtina Shavlach ("Pampukha") and Chernienko Yulia ("Revenge"). Teaming up with a ukrainian literature teacher or a school librarian, you can really work out this problem with schoolchildren.

The film directed from the Netherlands by Masia Oms "Punks" immerses in the world of teenage rebellion, when conflict with the world, family and the past pours into musical creativity. Actually, the theme of creativity as a therapy is end-to-end in the popular field of psychology - art therapy - and can be useful for educators who seek to direct adolescent attraction to self-destruction in the constructive direction of art.

The film "Chin" (directed by Lisa Mendelup, USA) introduces the realities of the virtual world in which modern teenagers now live – YouTube channels, Instagram, Tik Tok, likes and falovers. This world, perhaps not serious and non-cost to adults, is actually part of the worldview of modern youth, it exists according to its own rules, with its values and principles. So, "Chin" is a kind of close hole in which adults can look after their children a little to better understand their preferences and vocabulary.

Thus, documentaries are teaching without teaching, archive life in its beauty and ugliness and are certain navigators in the circle of difficult life situations, giving voice and helping to find the right tone for all of unmanifested and unspoken.

With the beginning of the school year, the Docudays UA(http://travelling.docudays.ua/)festival travels around the cities of Ukraine, so do not lose it`s arrival and join the viewing and discussion with children, parents and teachers.

Vera Shelest