From the beginning of last year to March this year, out of 173 state elementary schools in Belgrade, at least 67 reported cases of serious violence among children, according to data collected by the Serbian Journalistic Investigative Centre (CINS).
CINS says that it is possible that there is even more violence, because there are elementary schools which fail to resolve the violence and do not report it to the Ministry of Education. Although peer violence is on the rise, the Ministry generally does not interfere to try to stop it, so parents usually have to seek justice in courts.
According to data collected and analyzed by CINS, from last January to March of this year, at least 67 schools reported more serious forms of violence to the Ministry of Education, out of 173 state elementary schools under the jurisdiction of the Belgrade School Administration.
Most of the incidents occurred at the beginning of the school year. Out of 94 incidents for which schools know when they exactly happened, 41 occurred in September and October, after the summer vacation and children returning to schools. In the other months, reported cases were in single digits.
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Social psychologist Dragan Popadić explains that, in these cases, violence is used to establish a dominant position in a group. The trend can also a result of summer recess and children spending more time with family and friends, i.e. if children are used to fighting or arguing with family and friends, they will repeat the same behavioural pattern at school.
Physical contacts, mainly fights between children, are more common. Girls are more often victims of violence and they report violence less.
Although the word ‘violence’ is usually associated with physical violence, boys are thought to be much more violent, but things have changed, Popadić explains.
“Girls are more prone to excluding other girls from social groups, but all kinds of violence are present in both boys and girls,” concludes Popadić.
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