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Croatia: Violence free schools join to celebrate their achievements

© UNICEF/Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia, 8 June 2006 – The issue of peer violence (bullying) can be successfully prevented and reduced through long term commitment and approach that includes all stakeholders: pupils, teachers, parents and local communities– this was the key message from headmasters and children of 60 Croatian schools that today received UNICEF’s recognition “Violence free school”

“Violence free school” is a recognition of successful implementation of a seven-step programme to a safer school environment, organised within UNICEF’s campaign “Stop Violence among Children”. The campaign was launched in 2003 in cooperation with the Croatian Government as a response to growing concern about bullying in schools. The campaign was very successful with high recognition from the general public – 92 per cent of Croatian citizens have heard of this campaign and 53 per cent give it a high rating. UNICEF managed to mobilise celebrities, media, companies and the general public in combating violence. This is also reflected in funds raised for this programme, as 79 per cent of $618,000 dollars came from private sector in Croatia – individual donors and business sector. The remaining 21 per cent of funds was contributed by the Government of Croatia and local city councils.

“Today, we congratulate students, parents and teachers who put their hearts and souls into this work and made a difference in their schools and communities. We see them as major allies in our continued work on prevention of violence. Together we can build a Network of Violence Free Schools and make sure that every school in Croatia becomes violence free,” said Mrs. Tanja Radocaj, Head of Office.

After two years of full programme implementation there are 110 certified violence free schools that are UNICEF’s and the Government’s best evidence of how improvement can be done.  Independent external evaluation of the programme demonstrated that violence has been significantly decreased in schools implementing the programme. So far, 216 Croatian schools decided to get involved in violence prevention programme.



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