Last year, the State Inspectorate for the Protection of Children’s Rights (VBTAI) received 61 complaints about physical violence between peers, emotional violence or physical and emotional violence, but this year – until May – the number of such complaints has already reached 57. The most widespread violence between children has developed specifically in schools, although there is no shortage of cases when it has also been experienced in kindergartens.
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The data collected by the Children’s Rights Protection Department of VBTAI is truly frightening, and we often see it in media articles as well. “Delfi” reported this week about a serious conflict at the school in Pieriga, in which a 7th grade boy was seriously injured. A criminal proceeding has been initiated for the incident, which will clarify all the circumstances during the investigation. The events in Imanta, when the police had to increase their patrols in this Riga micro-district for several days… How can such violence be explained, the increase of which has increased so rapidly among children this year?
VBTAI’s Director of the Support Department for Families with Children, Anda SaulŁuna, comments on it as follows: “The time of the pandemic has indeed had consequences for the mental health of many young people, as well as created a negative impact on the development of social skills and appropriate communication, however, the increase in mutual violence between children must be looked at in a complex way. Both the remote education, detachment from peers, social isolation, and soon after the war started by Russia in Ukraine, fake news or highly violent news, the attitude of society can create a range of strong emotions, such as anxiety, confusion, also anger and aggression, with which children and adolescents therefore, a very important role is played by parents’ ability to recognize difficulties, changes in the child’s behavior, as well as follow the content that the child sees on the Internet, in order to be able to explain, teach and provide support in moments when the child’s emotions become so heightened , that it is really difficult for a child to express them in an appropriate, non-violent way.”
How it looks in numbers
According to the information provided by VBTAI: in 2022, 627 complaints/submissions/reports were received regarding possible violations of children’s rights. 268 complaints out of all 627 complaints received, which is 42.7 percent of the total number of complaints, are related to violations of children’s rights in institutions (schools, preschool educational institutions, out-of-family care institutions, crisis centers, etc.) 61 complaints have been received about physical violence between peers, emotional abuse or physical and emotional abuse. Compared to 2021, 13 more complaints were received for such cases. Often, physical abuse is carried out together with emotional abuse, so it is not separated in detail.
On the other hand, in 2023 – from January to May – the inspectorate received 342 complaints/submissions/reports about possible violations of children’s rights, of which 57 submissions are about violence between peers.
Of the 80 submissions received in January, 10 are about physical and emotional violence between peers – three in primary schools, four in primary schools, two in secondary schools, gymnasiums, and one in a pre-school educational institution.
Of the 84 submissions received in February, 13 are about physical and emotional violence between peers – two in primary schools; in secondary schools, gymnasiums, lyceums – 11.
Of the 103 submissions received in March, 20 are about physical and emotional violence between peers – seven in elementary schools, 10 in secondary schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, colleges, one in a crisis center, one in a preschool educational institution, one in an out-of-family care institution.
On the other hand, out of the 75 submissions received in April, 14 are about physical and emotional violence between peers – six in elementary schools, four in secondary schools, gymnasiums, technical schools, one in a crisis center, three in a pre-school educational institution.
Bruises already in the 1st grade
After the publication about the serious conflict at the school in Pierīga, “Delfi” received a letter from a mother, who emphasizes that this type of violence also occurs in other schools. A woman tells how her daughter already in the 1st grade has to experience bitter moments in the school she so wanted to go to: “My daughter is a 1st grade student, and this year I have gotten more gray hairs than in the previous seven. My daughter is being treated at school a couple of classmates, but the teacher only writes to all the students’ parents that the job of the pedagogue is to teach, not to bring up, and that the parents should raise their children themselves. They completely refuse to participate in conflict resolution. It is pointless for the parents to talk to the specific boy who is the perpetrator: some say, that boys will be boys and I have to be understanding. Others say that my daughter is too sensitive and doesn’t understand games. It’s nothing that my daughter regularly comes home from school with bruises in places of her body that she can’t get, for example, from running somewhere on her own or falling.
When I turned to the teacher on another such occasion, she told me to write an application. I wrote. The social pedagogue wrote a week later that he would talk to the children and in two weeks – to the parents of the boys. What kid at that age is going to remember what they did or didn’t do two weeks ago?! More than a month passed and I received a scolding letter from the father of one of the boys about the application. My child says that specific boys hit him, those boys tell their parents that no, it wasn’t them, that they didn’t hit. Then the parents argue with each other and accuse each other of slandering the other’s child…. But the only witnesses present, the teachers, refuse to get involved at all. Meanwhile, my child continues to come home from school bruised. And that’s first class.”
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