Parents of children who bully other children in school could be ordered to do community service, such as cleaning parks and streets. If Prime Minister Ana Brnabic decides to accept the proposal of the Belgrade High School Forum on reduction and prevention of violence in schools, this could become a reality for parents of bullies.
Ministers whose jurisdiction is relevant to the subject, such as Mladen Sarcevic, Vanja Udovicic and Nebojsa Stefanovic, attended the meeting convened by the Prime Minister last Friday, while Aleksandar Markov, president of the Belgrade High School Forum (FBG), which serves as the trade union of high school employees, spoke about the prevention of violence in schools.
Five ideas have been put forward, the most notable of which is the introduction of compulsory community service for parents of bullies.
“The relevant law stipulates penalties that range between 5,000 and 100,000 dinars for parents whose children commit a crime and the highest penalty that has been imposed on someone has been 5,000 dinars, two or three times in total. Everyone is aware that education starts at home and that the parent must engage with their child,” said Aleksandar Markov.
One of the examples of community service that Markov mentions is cleaning parks and streets off leaves, and such penalties would also suit parents of lesser financial status.
The aim is to draw attention to the fact that everything begins at home, says the President of the FBG.
He adds that community service also applied as a penalty to students, although the Ministry of Education, when it introduced this penalty at the beginning of last school year, stated that it was purely an educational measure, not a punishment. The parents, however, opposed it.
Therefore, the question arises of how they will react if they are asked to do free community services when their child is bullying other classmates. Several other proposals were made at the meeting.
Minister Stefanovic liked more the idea of peer education, i.e. the lessons given by the students of criminal justice and psychology to elementary and high schools students, in order to raise their awareness of the consequences of violent behaviour.
This proposal implies an increase in cooperation between the Interior Ministry and the schools, in terms of the introduction of compulsory lessons whereby the Ministry would organize several lectures in the schools during the school year, both for parents and children.
Another interesting idea launched by the Forum at the meeting would be the introduction of a ban on participation in football and basketball matches for children under the age of 16, if they are not accompanied by their parents. The idea for this ban came about because the violence in the stadiums and the behaviour of football hooligans spill over to schools.
Finally, another proposal is free tickets for museums and other cultural institutions for all students up to the age of 26.
This post is also available in: Italiano