Teachers launched campaign against bullying

SOME 15 percent of Slovak teachers experience bullying on a regular basis, according to the Slovak Chamber of Teachers (SKU), which launched the Collection of Fear website February 13 to monitor the trend.

Vladimír CrmomanVladimír Crmoman (Source: Sme )

“It is necessary for the atmosphere of fear to disappear from the education sector,” reads the SKU statement, “so teachers turn into self-confident people knowing their rights and acting freely.”

The campaign is targeting mobbing, which is bullying of an individual by a group in any context; bossing, which is bullying of individual by his or her superior; and bullying, which by definition is aggressive behaviour of one individual towards another.

One-third of  teachers note bullying

SKU presented the survey, carried out on 139 teachers at various levels of schools from 2010 saying that around 15 percent of teachers on average experience mobbing or bossing. More than 38 percent of respondents said that mobbing and bossing are often or very often present in schools.

Half of those working as after-school daycare staff experience such behaviour while 19 percent of pedagogues in kindergartens and 18 percent of high school teachers are victims of mobbing or bossing. On the other hand, only around 6 percent of elementary schools teachers are victims of such behaviour, according to the SKU.

SKU plans to carry new survey on the issue. It is expected that the current  number of bullied teachers will be higher than it was five years ago. Teachers are also afraid to speak about the bullying which also decreases the final results, according to Vladimír Crmoman from the chamber.

Bullying varies

The name of the campaign, Collection of Fear, originated during a training session with teachers organised by Fair-play Alliance NGO where SKU head Mária Barancová listened stories from colleagues about experiences with bullying.

“Sometimes it was horrifying,” Crmoman told The Slovak Spectator, “and in some cases we can even say physically violent.”

Barancová was thinking about the power of fear which can control the person to such an extent that they cannot defend themselves.

 “Therefore by their silence and passivity they contribute to the state where rules of humanity and morality are violated and dishonest behaviour spoils the education environment.” reads the campaign’s webpage. 

Crmoman said that bullies are looking for any mistakes in paperwork and pretexts that they can use to humiliate their colleagues. Many superiors also abuse legislation that allows various views on what defines additional work, what should be extra paid and what is not, according to him.

Teachers also experience application of different rules on different employees. It means that there are privileged groups of teachers close to school management who are favoured when it comes to distribution of duty, salary or punishment for mistakes.

Call for ombudsman

SKU wants to improve the working conditions of teachers with adoption of a law against mobbing and bossing, according to its webpage. It is also pushing for establishing the post of school ombudsman in order to tackle the problems of bullying.

The Education Ministry is prepared to discuss the idea however it has not allocated money for such office, ministry spokeswoman Beáta Dupaľová Ksenzsighová told the Sme daily.

It is not only teachers needs ombudsman but also children, students as well as their parents, Eva Gajdošová, a psychologist at Paneuropean University, told Sme. Authorities ignore many of education's complicating factors, she added. 

She added that any ombudsman should be mediator between schools, the public and Education Ministry. He or she should be lawyer with assistants educated in psychology.

On the other hand, the head of School Employees Union, Pavel Ondek, does not consider school ombudsman office to be necessary. He advised the union members to approach lawyers of the union, Sme reported.

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