Participants shared good practices at a seminar on how to prevent and mitigate third-party violence in schools. The seminar, organised by EI's European Region, ETUCE, was attended by representatives from both teacher unions and education employers on 26 April in Warsaw, Poland.
This is the first regional seminar under the ETUCE Project: Social Partners in Education Concerned about Violence in Schools: How to Prevent and Mitigate Third-Party Violence and Harassment in Schools.
Started in 2011, the project aimed to further raise awareness on third-party violence in education, as well as support the implementation of the multi-sectorial guidelines within the sector.
A health and safety threat for teachers
Third-party violence is defined by the European Agency for Occupational Health and Safety as either the physical or verbal aggression, or the threat of physical violence, where “the aggressor is not a work colleague”; e.g. the person receiving the goods or services.
ETUCE has been working in collaboration with the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) to find out to what extent this violence is addressed in Europe’s education sector. This will facilitate the identification and support of teacher unions’ actions in this area.
Towards this objective, both organisations conducted a survey earlier this year to collect detailed and concrete facts on third-party violence in schools at grassroots level. The replies came from 19 different EU/European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countriescovering the sectors ofpre-primary to higher educationin Europe.
Building on the findings of the survey, participants to the seminar in Warsaw had the opportunity to share good practices and discuss their transferability to other national contexts. Additionally, they provided suggestions for the practical implementation of the Multi-Sectoral Guidelines to Tackle Third-Party Violence and Harassment related to Work
“There is a very long list of serious consequences for victims of third-party violence,” said European Director Martin Rømer at the seminar. “ETUCE has worked on violence projects since 2008, which has led to a very detailed action plan, providing information to members and gathering good practices.”
EFEE consultant Charles Nolda said: “I hope this project will also lead to something specific and the case studies will give some practical guidelines to tackle and prevent third-party violence.”
Three case studies
Case studies in Poland, Spain and Sweden were presented by trade union representatives Monica Konczyk, Anders Eklund and Patricio Perez respectively.
The Polish case study was conducted in Gdynia City last February. Here, schools are currently receiving only one-third of the budget originally allocated to educate 30,000 pupils and employ 3,800 teachers. The budget limitations have impacted on the programmes aimed at tackling violence and harassment in school.
As key positive aspects, the schools highlighted the inclusion of well-trained school psychologists and special pedagogic school workers.
A second case study was conducted in Chipiona, in southern Spain, in March. As in all national primary and secondary schools in Spain, there is a “Coexistence Project” (Convivencia), aiming at preventing and solving bad behaviour issues.
The study has further shown that good coordination with external institutions is crucial to guarantee students’ security. Schools must work with parents, civil guards, the police, and legal institutions.
In Sweden, an ETUCE project delegation visited the Sunnerby School, in Nynäshamn. The school has been running a successful Safe School project to help deal with threats. Teachers involved in the project said their participation had changed their perception of harassment in daily work and security.
An ongoing process
The seminar ended up by participants agreeing on furthering efforts to prevent third-party violence and harassment in schools. The results from the regional seminars and the final conference, together with the practical implementation of the guidelines, as well as the best practices and case study examples, will be disseminated on a CD-ROM and websites of the project partners.
More information on how to prevent and mitigate third-party violence and harassment in schools can be found here.