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05-11-2020 08:27

November 5, 2020 - International Day Against School Violence and Bullying

International Day Against School Violence and Bullying this year is celebrated on November 5. This Day was established only last year, when the 193 UNESCO Member States unanimously decided that every year, on the first Thursday in November, the International Day against School Violence and Bullying, including cyber bullying, would be celebrated.

The theme of International Day 2020 is "Together against school bullying". Bullying affects students of all ages, in all countries of the world. According to revelations, almost one in three students has been bullied in the past month, making it the most prevalent form of school violence. A similar percentage of students experienced physical violence. Violence is mainly perpetrated by classmates, but in some cases by teachers and other school staff, as corporal punishment is allowed in 67 countries, even today.

At the same time, one in ten students has been bullied online, which unfortunately shows the growing trend of this form of bullying as well. Due to the pandemic, more and more students "live, learn and socialize” online. This unprecedented increase in internet use has made children more vulnerable to cyber bullying, with serious consequences.

Bullying is generally defined as aggressive behavior, which involves the deliberate, unprovoked, systematic, and repetitive use of violence between children of the same age, inside and outside school, in order to demonstrate physical strength or power from perpetrators to their victims. Bullying can take many forms, including physical, verbal, indirect / social (exclusion, isolation, gossip), cyber bullying, racism, and sexual harassment.

Children who are bullied are three times more likely to feel like strangers in the school environment and twice as likely to be absent from school compared to those who are not bullied. They perform worse than their classmates and are more likely not to pursue their studies after graduating from high school. Bullying can also have serious psychological consequences. Bullying students are twice as likely to feel lonely, unable to sleep at night and think about suicide as those who do not experience bullying.

The causes of bullying must be tackled at their root and a culture of respect for students' rights and zero tolerance for violence must be promoted. UNESCO calls on its Member States, United Nations partners, international and local organizations, as well as Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, stakeholders, and each individual, to assist in halting the problem.

At the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteering and Non-Governmental Organizations, we actively participate in the Advisory Committee on the "National Strategy for a Better Internet for Children in Cyprus" and the "CYberSafety" project, which was established in 2019. Thus, we also contribute to the exceptional effort that is paid by the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute for informing and educating students, teachers and parents regarding the possibilities, but also the dangers of the Internet, including cyberbullying, internet deception, but also the long hours of dealing with digital technologies.

Bullying and school violence are a phenomenon of juvenile delinquency. International Day Against School Violence and Bullying offers us another opportunity to encourage young people to join the volunteer movement, as volunteering is the best tool against crime and addiction. We also call on parents to encourage their children to become active citizens, so that they have a healthy occupation, strengthen their social conscience, acquire skills, but also self-confidence.

(EH/SCH)