November 13, 2018, Sofia – The campaign of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Science “Together Against Violence at Schools” was launched at the National High School in Finance and Business with a student debate. The main objective of the initiative is to raise awareness and sensitivity on the issue of violence, reduce tolerance for different forms of violence at school, and support schools in the effective prevention of violence and bullying. The campaign is supported by NOVA Broadcasting Group.
Participants in the discussion, which is part of UNICEF's Global Youth Talks Initiative, were 12th grade students at NFSG, together with Dr. Jane Muita, UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria, Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria, Nadezhda Uzunova, a journalist from Nova TV and Maya Gesheva, the director of the High School.
We believe that school violence can be prevented. To achieve this, we not only have to be united, but we also need to hear your voice. Do not stay in this space of silence, fear and indifference, which can ruin your life or the life of a friend! Talk. Tell us what we can do together,
said Dr. Muita, UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria.
"Involvement of young people is one of the most important steps in the fight against violence.", added D. Sacheva.
"I can promise that we do not just cover these cases - they must be spoken of. Unfortunately, they appear in the news much more often than we want." said N. Uzunova in his address to students. "In these cases, there is no victim and aggressor. Both sides are victims and need help and support." she added.
Over half of teenagers around the world have been at least once subjected to peer violence in and around school. Physical violence and bullying interfere with the education of over 150 million children aged 13-15, according to a UNICEF study. Students in Bulgaria are among the top ten out of 43 surveyed countries affected by the problem of school violence. Discomfort and alienation from school, poor grades and violence reassert risk behaviors among adolescents, according to data from another study on health and behavior of school-age children conducted by the Institute for Population and Human Studies in collaboration with UNICEF.
In the debate held today, the students had the task of expressing their own position, but also putting themselves in the place of parents, teachers, politicians, journalists and proposing measures to tackle the problem. According to children, parents need to communicate more with their children and to support them in difficult situations.
On the part of teachers, children expect more conversation about student unity and more discussion of the problem of violence and bullying at school. According to the students, it is necessary to amend the school rules and regulations, where for the moment specific actions are envisaged only in cases of physical violence. Students' recommendations to policy makers include introducing special classes with a psychologist and providing state support to prevent violence in schools by securing more resources to implement specific measures. Journalists were proposed to provide more publicity and detailed investigation of cases of school violence and to use positive language.
The Youth Talks format aims to hear the voice of the students by giving them the opportunity to express their opinions on violence and bullying, to share ideas and suggestions about their prevention, thus to become active agents of change.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfil their potential. And we never give up. UNICEF, for every child.
For more information about UNICEF in Bulgaria, visit www.unicef.org/bulgaria.