The issue of preventing situations of violence in the education system is very relevant nowadays. According to the United Nations, violence in school is exposed to every tenth student in the world, and the number is growing every year (Pinheiro). However, it should be noted that this problem did not appear suddenly – the first works devoted to the problem of violence in school appear at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, psychologists, educators, writers, and scientists all over the world pay special attention to the issue. The concept of “violence” is used everywhere, but in the scientific community, the term is quite ambiguous. Psychologists define it as a directed influence – physical or mental – performed in order to achieve a certain goal.
At the end of the twentieth century, a special term that reflected more accurately a situation of violence in the educational environment was introduced – namely, bullying. Bullying is an issue of long-term violence, physical or psychological, performed by one person or a group and directed against a person who is unable to defend themselves. Bullying can take many forms: insult, extortion, damaged property, physical assault, rumor spreading, threats, and others.
All these actions lead to the humiliation of the victim and give pleasure to the offender. Thus, the cycle of violence does not stop; it only intensifies, which once again proves the need for outside intervention. Additionally, bullying can also be seen as a phenomenon that leads to serious psychological problems in the future. Children affected by it become anxious, they experience self-esteem and self-worth issues. Therefore, violence prevention activities in a school environment are extremely necessary and relevant.
Existing Types of Solution
Teachers and lawyers who try to identify tendencies leading to violent actions began to pay attention to some characteristic personality traits of potentially violent adolescents. Today, many teachers use the list compiled by the National Center for School Safety, which explains the behavior of violent students. It includes the following indicators: pronounced antisocial behavior, involvement in bullying not only as a victim but also as a persecutor, and adolescents’ hobby for reading texts and videos promoting violence. Students with such behavioral features should be under the supervision and control of public and government organizations, including schools.
Additionally, it is necessary to carry out individual psychocorrectional work with them with the involvement of expert psychologists and social educators. Nowadays, there are three main approaches to the prevention of school violence: organizational, parental, and legal.
This strategy is aimed at organizing the work of educational institution staff that contributes to the effective fight against violence among students. Within the framework of the organizational approach, two main directions are distinguished: the involvement of adolescents in pro-social communities and the reduction in the number of students in classes and schools. Espelage and Hong add that “effective school violence prevention and intervention programs need to take a comprehensive approach by considering school climate” (45). The practice has shown that restoring ties with the family and inclusion in pro-social communities reduce the number of acts of violence. This is mainly due to the fact that the children begin to understand that there are people who are interested in them and are ready to help cope with the problems they face.
The parental strategy involves working with families of problematic children. Parents are encouraged to engage in conversations and training, which motivate them to participate more in their children’s lives. In order for parents to become more involved, they also need to become more sensitive to their children’s feelings and needs. Parents who are knowledgeable about how their child feels at school can help them solve problems before they take a pronounced negative direction and turn to violent actions.
The main goal of the legal approach is to finance educational programs for violence prevention, as well as to work on the improvement of legislation on firearms. Very often, the budgets of schools do not allow the development of activities aimed at preventing and fighting violence. Volungis and Goodman state that “the consistent application of counseling relationship and communication skills in everyday interactions with students can create a climate of trusting relationships that prevents school violence on multiple levels” (2). The legal approach suggests that the state should specifically support these activities and ensure their financing.
A Proposed Solution – Organization of Anonymous Help
The organization of centers of anonymous psychological assistance for children and adolescents can be considered a legitimate way to fight school violence. Such an approach provides both the independence from educational structures and the complexity of the assistance that can be given to the victims of bullying. A child, teenager, their parents, or legal representatives can anonymously call the centers’ hotlines to seek help or directly visit the institution.
Two basic principles of this approach are confidentiality and payment-free services, which allow the children – who do not have any means of income – to freely seek professional help. The purpose of such assistance is to contribute to the prevention of family problems, stressful and suicidal moods in children and adolescents and to protect children’s rights. There would be several forms of work: an individual approach such as diagnostic examination, consultation, individual psychocorrectional lesson with the child, and group work consisting of psychocorrectional training.
Like any other type of psychological counseling, the anonymous one has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the main advantages of anonymous counseling is the fact that confidentiality satisfies the need for psychological safety of the person who asked for help since the process is carried out anonymously. A person can “hide” behind a fictitious name, which contributes to an increase in the feeling of psychological safety, and ensures the maximum frankness of the client.
This is especially important for children and adolescents who might feel exposed and threatened by their peers. They often experience social anxiety based on the public opinion of themselves. According to Cohen, “feeling and being safe provides an essential foundation for children to learn and develop in healthy ways” (1). The possible flaw in this solution might present itself as a lack of awareness among school staff and students about the existence of anonymous psychological services. However, this weakness can be overcome with good advertising and regular visits from the service representatives.
It can be safely concluded that an integrated approach is needed to combat the issue of school violence. Necessary means involve the participation of various organizations, as well as parents, in creating a powerful community that can identify the causes of the problem and develops social and educational programs for its resolution. It should also be noted that school violence is not a problem isolated from society – rather, it is closely related to changes in the whole community and in family life.
All this structural stress, which is provoked by the stressors of everyday life, surrounds not only the adults but also the children. An educated adult can successfully reduce the negative impact of situational stress on a child. Therefore, no incident of school violence identified by an adult should be overlooked and intervened. Anonymous psychological assistance can become a powerful asset in the fight against school violence due to the fact that it provides the victim with both safety and relief from the stress.
Cohen, Jonathan. “School Safety and Violence: Research and Clinical Understandings, Trends, and Improvement Strategies.” International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 2021. Web.
Espelage, Dorothy L., and Jun Sung Hong. “School Climate, Bullying, and School Violence.” School Safety and Violence Prevention: Science, Practice, Policy., 2019, pp. 45–69. Web.
Pinheiro Paulo Sérgio. World Report on Violence against Children. United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, 2006.
Volungis, Adam M., and Katie Goodman. “School Violence Prevention.” SAGE Open, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, p. 215824401770046. Web.