Young people call for an end to bullying

On the occasion of World Children's Day, the representatives of the local Children's Parliament in Podgorica organized a youth panel discussion on the topic of bullying in schools

Tina Dimic Raicevic
Youth talk
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
27 November 2018

PODGORICA, 27 NOVEMBER 2018 – Everyone must make their contribution to resolving the problem of school bullying. The most important thing is to work on its prevention, but also on providing adequate support to the victims of bullying, as well as to those who are the perpetrators and witnesses of violence.

These were the key messages from a panel discussion of young people who discussed the topic "Bullying in Schools", organized by the Montenegrin Centre for the Rights of the Child with the support of UNICEF, on the occasion of World Children’s Day.

Participants in the panel discussion, representatives of the local Children's Parliament of the Capital City of Podgorica, agreed that the issue of bullying had become a matter of frequent discussion recently. However, they also believe that much more work should be done in order to prevent it from happening.

Milena Mrđenović, the Children's Parliamen
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
Milena Mrdjenovic, a representative of the Children's Parliament, says violence involves far more than the abuser and the victim, in Ppdgorica in November 2018

Bullying is often discussed, but there are people who are trying to hide it or sweep it under the carpet, hoping that it will be forever forgotten and suppressed. Bullying involves much more than just the perpetrator and the victim – it involves us, as peers, parents, professionals from the school’s pedagogical and psychological services, teachers and principals, as well as many other services that can play an important role in resolving this growing problem affecting us and the community in which we live and grow up.

Milena Mrđenović, a member of the local Children’s Parliament

Her fellow member of the local Children’s Parliament of the Capital City of Podgorica, Mašan Vuković, said that not much was being done in the domain of preventing bullying.

"Instead of dealing with the consequences of bullying, we should focus more on the causes of bullying, in order to prevent this damage. I would also highlight the issue of cyberbullying, which, unfortunately, is becoming a commonplace phenomenon. Internet bullies feel bolder since they do not see the person they are bullying," said Mašan.

The youngest panellist, Ilija Ivanov, said that many children who are victims of bullying remain silent about the bullying happening to them, believing that in this way the perpetrators will eventually get tired and the bullying will stop. He had a message for his peers:

"Turn to a person you trust. This could be someone from your family, a school teacher, a professional from the school’s psychological and pedagogical service, and explain everything that is happening to you, tell them how you feel when such things are happening to you. In my opinion, only when adults get involved can the problem be resolved," said Ilija.

Secondary school student Marica Šćepanović shared her experience of prolonged bullying she suffered during her years in primary education.

My classmates teased me because of my physical appearance and behaviour. Simply said, they did not like me at all. I remember hearing a lot of insults, and even when I complained to someone or sought help from someone, I would not get the help I needed, which is why I stopped seeking help from others.

Marica Šćepanović, a secondary school student

The Director of the Primary Health Care Centre in Podgorica, Dr. Nebojša Kavarić, invited young people to turn to their paediatricians whenever they feel threatened and whenever they need protection from bullying. He reminded the audience that paediatricians are authorized to represent the rights of children, and that primary health care centres remain open to all young people who need their help.

"It is easy to recognize the consequences of physical bullying, such as bruises, broken bones, etc. It is even more important to be able recognize the effects of silent bullying such as ignoring, stigmatizing... Just to let you know, if we do not put an end to such bullying, it can have profound negative effects on one’s health. Those who are victims of this ‘silent’ bullying are five times as likely to suffer from severe illnesses in their adulthood life," said Dr. Kavarić.

Osama Kogali, UNICEEF representative to Montenegro
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2018
Osama Kogali, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, saying violence is always a reflection of weakness, in Podgorica, in November 2018.

The UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, Osama Khogali, said that bullying has always been a reflection of weaknesses and that bullying is on the increase in those countries where it is least being talked about. That is why he is particularly pleased to see that this topic is being widely and frequently discussed in Montenegro.

You are the agents of change, you are the leaders of a special wave that must be supported so that you can influence those around you, so that you can speak up and never allow bullying to be accepted as such.

Osama Khogali, UNICEF Representative to Montenegro

The panel discussion, during which many young people’s experiences of bullying were heard, was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as by representatives of the Police Directorate, the Ombudsperson, the Association of Psychologists, the Centre for Social Work and the Primary Health Care Centre in Podgorica, and the principals of primary and secondary schools in the capital.

Today's youth talk is part of UNICEF's global campaign “End Violence”.