By Ivana Anđelković
After two massacres, Serbia is not the same country anymore.
We could never erase from our minds the tragic images of the crimes committed at the Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School in Belgrade and in a village near Mladenovac in early May, but they are a forever reminder that we must do better and change what is not good.
Namely, these tragic events, which unfortunately happened, triggered tectonic changes in our society – psychiatrists, psychologists and educators are ready to help frightened children and parents, but also the entire society. Also, the state authorities have started a mass collection of illegally acquired weapons.
According to the experts, we need to start with weapons, and it is good that the state immediately launched the illegal weapon collection campaign. On the other hand, the education system is crying out for changes, while we, as a nation, must work much harder on our mental health.
Our interlocutors point to four key things that Serbia must work on in order to avoid similar tragedies happening in the future: disarming citizens, that is, confiscating illegal weapons and reviewing already issued permits, the importance of affirming positive and successful figures as role models for young people; changes in the education system that will enable educators to deal more closely with students’ problems and boosting the role and authority of teachers and professors. Last but not least, there is the reinforcement of family values, especially the necessity for parents to devote more time and understanding to their children’s problems.
The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, said that the current government will “disarm Serbia” and that 90 percent of the arms permits will be taken away, which, according to her, will make us all feel safer. As she also announced, the implementation of an electronic system for reporting violence against children called „I am keeping you safe“ („Čuvam te“).
According to the latest data, in the period from 8 to 16 May, 23,503 firearms and explosive devices, as well as more than one million pieces of ammunition, were handed over to the police by the citizens.
According to Marko Nicović, a member of the World Association of Police Chiefs and the former chief of the Belgrade police, it is very important for young people to have good role models.
„It is important that we now include well-known athletes, actors and artists to send out video messages that will be broadcast on television and in schools. I am talking about people who have proven themselves in various fields and activities so that young people see positive role models in them. If young people see that the “guest of honour” in a school is a known criminal, then what can we expect? They worship the wrong idols and that is a problem“, Nicović adds.
Also, the aggressive content that is promoted through video games, movies, and music also affects the youth. While playing war-themed games, they are more likely to normalize aggression.
Education and schooling
Professor Branislav Ranđelović, PhD, Director of the Institute for Evaluation of the Quality of Education and Training, says that the public wants to see quick and urgent measures, everything must be done after careful consideration, especially in the segment that concerns schools, education and young generations.
„It is easiest to blame television, media, the Internet and social networks. But the problem will not be solved if we try to deny everything to the young generations. We, older people, have to adapt to this and we have to get closer to our young generations, to try to think like them, so that they would be open to us, and thus prevent any future problems,“ Professor Ranđelović.
The education system has continuously worked to improve the quality of our schools and education in general, he adds, and in agreement with all relevant sectors, we have worked to eradicate violence and other unwanted phenomena in our schools.
„These activities should continue but at even faster pace. First, relevant laws should be changed, followed by immediate concrete steps. The joint effort of all relevant stakeholders and sectors in our society is necessary, so we can ensure that future generations have a safer, more secure and better quality education,“ adds Professor Ranđelović.
Parents as the first link in the chain
Everything starts with parenting, according to experts, so if a child does not have a quality relationship with parents who will closely monitor their development, this can give rise to serious problems.
„A certain percentage of children are neglected by their parents and we are not talking about dysfunctional families, but about all those families who look ideal on the surface. Parents often don’t set clear boundaries for their children, and the child often misunderstands them. There is no real communication and parents are focused on their obligations and plans, so they don’t know how lonely or confused their children are. First, parents need to establish sincere contact with their children. This also applies to school and the child’s peers… We all have to work on improving communication, tolerance and understanding. Today’s children are too engaged in the virtual world and parents believe that “if the child is silent and calm, everything is fine with them”, but unfortunately, this is not so. A close conversation and truly knowing your child are the most important things,“ says psychologist Maja Stojanović.
This post is also available in: Italiano