UNESCO, G7 raise alarm over scourge of school bullying

PARIS, UNESCO and the powerful G7 nations on Thursday raised the alarm over the rise in bullying in schools, a scourge that has negatively affected many hundreds-of-thousands of lives, leading in some cases to suicide among school children.

Education Ministers of the G7 group, of which France is currently the President, met with senior UNESCO officials here, including Director-General Audrey Azoulay, to discuss the situation and latest worrying trends.

Both UNESCO and the G7 made a strong statement to urge better monitoring of bullying and put in place measures to limit the practice in schools and on-line.

Azoulay urged all concerned “to unite against bullying in all of its forms” and she called for proclaiming “respect as a fundamental principle for all.” The UNESCO chief said we must ensure that “our schools are safe and welcoming for all students.” The call coincided with the suicide here Wednesday of another young adolescent girl, victim of harassment and bullying by her peers.

“Bullying is unacceptable and is getting even worse online. UNESCO is committed to combat this educational scourge, which costs lives, ruins childhoods, and jeopardizes the future” Azoulay stated.

“We have strong data and practical guidelines in place, we now must intensify efforts with all Member States, including G7 countries, to end this plague,” she added.

UNESCO has built a global indicator system to be able to compare different situations among countries and is committed to helping strengthen legislation, and train and support teachers in the fight against school violence and bullying, the Organisation underlined.

UNESCO said it welcomed the G7 Education Ministers’ declaration and is calling on all nations to intensify efforts against bullying and violence in schools.

“Bullying takes place in all countries and affects many children and young people,” it indicated.

According to its latest data, almost one in three students worldwide (32 percent) has been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the last month.

“With the growing presence of online social networking platforms, cyber-bullying has extended the scope of bullying. Bullying, whether psychological, physical or sexual, including online, is a serious issue and a global threat to quality education and self-confidence,” UNESCO warned.

Source: Kuwait News Agency