Today, at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, a panel discussion “SCHOOL AS A SAFE PLACE ” was organised by the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia – MODS in cooperation with the Play Center, supported by the Department of Pedagogy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad.
The panel was organised as part of the campaign “Without Violence – SCHOOL AS A SAFE PLACE” that was launched by the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia and was dedicated to the prevention of school violence, the role and responsibilities of employees in schools and parents. Participants of the meeting were introduced to the approach to preventing violence based on resilience, i.e. strengthening the child’s strengths for protection against violence.
“When a child is exposed to unfavourable living conditions, or to family or peer violence, parents, teachers, educators, social workers, neighbours, sports coaches, peers, etc. may be the ones who will enable them to boost their strengths and to deal with unfavourable circumstances they face,” explained Katarina Majkić, Director of the Play Center in Novi Sad.
“Every child who has managed to deal with difficult living conditions, with the violence to which he or she was exposed, had at least one supportive adult who gave them a hand and helped overcome the crisis. It is important that this is known to family members, but also to those who are in the environment of the child, primarily teachers at school. Teachers have great responsibility and need to know that, at any moment, a child can recognize a person in one of them who can help them to deal with violence that they suffer, in the family, at school, or that they will not be neglected and judged because of their current behavior in school,” said the director of the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia, Saša Stefanović.
Prof. Dr. Slađana Zuković, a full professor at the Department of Pedagogy at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Novi Sad, stated: “The most important step in the process of creating “school as a safe place” is to network professionals at different institutional levels (educational system, social protection system, health system, media, higher education institutions, etc.) for the purpose of preventive action. Also, it is very important to actively involve the family as a fundamental microsystemic environment for the child’s development, that is, empowering the family system to become a safe base and a stimulating environment for the child. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate multi-level action, which implies a partnership approach that, apart from the common interest, implies shared responsibility.”
The panel presented the results of a survey involving 100 children who answered the question of how they imagine a safe school. The children answered that the safe school was well organised, it had a nice yard, lockers for pupils, there is no disdain, insults, that teachers had a better relationship with pupils, teachers care for children more and help them solve problems.
The Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia – MODS conducts the project “Strengthening the Child’s Power for the Protection of Violence” in Serbia in coordination with the Social Activities and Practice Institute – SAPI from Bulgaria and the support of the OAK Foundation. In addition to Serbia, the project includes organisations from Moldova, Latvia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Albania and Romania.