The Romanian school, the place where education is done with the fist

The acts of violence that occur daily in educational institutions in Romania are also directed at teachers. Many teachers fall victim to young people with deviant behaviors, whose place is not in the benches, but behind the bars. Offended, humiliated, threatened and physically assaulted, teachers have little to complain to.

The Romanian school: from students raped in the toilet, to teachers beaten in the corridors

We are talking about a world where students are no longer students, but aggressors, and teachers fall victim to young people with deviant behaviors, whose place is not in the benches, but behind bars. Many of them offended, humiliated, threatened and physically assaulted, the teachers have little to complain to. Who protects them? Who defends them?

The incident that took place at the “Alexandru Papiu Ilarian” National College in Târgu Mures, where a student beat his teacher until she was hospitalized is shocking – although we should not be surprised – and more than revolting . We are talking about a teacher who, because he wanted to do his job, was literally trampled on.

The story in short: an 8th grade student from the “Alexandru Papiu Ilarian” National College in Târgu Mures was detained by the police after punching and kicking the class teacher. The assault took place inside the school, in front of all the students who were in the corridor at that moment and, worst of all, in front of the mother who was encouraging her child to give it one more try.

The conflict between the student and the teacher started in the morning, when the principal asked the boy to put out the cigarette he had lit during class and to get down from the cupboard he had climbed on as a sign of protest. Because the young man refused, bad-mouthed her and offended her, the woman notified the school management and called the police. The student, also recalcitrant with the law enforcement officers, was handcuffed, taken to the station, fined, and then released. The scandal, however, was far from over. Back at school, accompanied by his encouraging mother, the abuser went on a rampage. No one predicted what would happen next: “I saw how he jumped towards her, grabbed her by the neck and started punching her hard until the lady teacher fell down. After he hit her, the guard intervened and put him on the ground while he shouted at the teacher “you will die in agony”. His mother was also on the scene, who was as recalcitrant as he was, and she started yelling at the teacher “now you call the police, stupid!”, a student who witnessed the whole scene told the local media. The teacher arrived at the hospital, the student is detained, and his colleagues and teachers are absolutely shocked by what happened.

And we ask ourselves the question: why did we end up in such a situation? How did I let something like this happen? Why have we turned a blind eye to such behaviors? Because that student was recognized as a problem child. Why wasn't action taken from the beginning? Do we have to get it in our heads, literally, for someone to do something concrete, to take a stand? How could we prevent such incidents? These are questions that psychologist Ovidiu Telegescu, a specialist who also came up with several solutions, tried to answer. Because if you want, you can. Such acts of violence can be prevented, he says.

Teachers have forgotten their role as trainers of people

In front of such scenes, which almost border on madness, you should feel revolt, on the one hand, but above all the desire to do something so that it does not happen again. But the problem, according to the psychologist Telegescu, is an extremely complex one. What to do? In the case of the teacher from the high school in Târgu Mureș, it is too late to prevent anything. The fact is consummated. “But let's think about what we have to do from now on. Because prevention is done from several directions”, the specialist told us. He brings into discussion the family, the authorities but also the school, where children should be educated, not only taught to write, read and count. “The teacher must know how to communicate with the children, how to reach them, how to draw them closer. To speak to them, if you want, in their language. To get down from the chair, to get among them, to maintain a constant dialogue, to try to get to know them. You, teacher, must discover the child and bring him closer to you. The moment you meet him, you practically open a door to communication, to dialogue. Otherwise there is no chance. In the classroom we should not only be teachers and students, but primarily people who communicate. We know each other, help each other and solve problems”, explains the psychologist.

Indeed, the role of a teacher is not limited to just teaching a lesson, the director of a general school in Bihor county, where over 70% of the children are ethnic, with the most diverse family problems, told us.

We try, as much as we can, to take the place of the parents that these children do not have next to them. We don't succeed completely, but we try to be their mother and father, to form a relationship with them, beyond that of teacher – student. Otherwise, we would not be able to communicate with them. We couldn't understand each other”, the teacher thinks.

But, even so, the headmistress admits, there were problems in her school as well. “I also called the police. It was the case of a student who physically assaulted a colleague. He hit his head against the wall. The problem was solved after psychological counseling, I talked with the parents and the child. Then, we also had the case of a teacher who was cursed in class. The reason? That student did not want to write. Then we resorted to harsher sanctions: the student's conduct grade was lowered, in addition to the discussions we had with him and his family. What we need to know, however, is the fact that teachers, beyond being teachers, are people and they also have their limits. And yes, sometimes we feel alone in a blind struggle, without any support from the parents of these children, from the system and society after all“, confesses the teacher.

There is no more respect, shame, the teacher has lost his dignity and authority“, says the school director.

Society hides its garbage under the rug

On the other hand, beyond the close relationship between teacher and students, which could prevent such incidents, the teacher has the duty to report any inappropriate behavior.

The teacher's role is an educational one. And education also means reporting such behaviors and sanctioning them. But, most of the time, we pretend not to see what is happening around us. If someone had noticed these problems from the beginning of their appearance, if measures had been taken immediately, that lady teacher would not have been admitted to the hospital today. There must have been signs over time. If this child had been guided, if he had been talked to, if he had been counseled by a specialist, if a real dialogue with the family had been tried… There was at least a chance of a solution. Which, behold, was missed by non-involvement”continues psychologist Ovidiu Telegescu.

And let's not forget one essential thing, he says: an aggressive child needs help as much as the victim. To save him, however, the family, the school, the authorities, society should be involved. Who takes care of him?

Most of the time, no one “We as a society do nothing but sweep the trash under the rug, pretending it doesn't exist. Basically, through this indifferent attitude, we tacitly approve of his behavior. There are even more blatant situations, when we actually protect the aggressive child with excuses like he's small, he didn't know, he was wrong… But, be careful! Whoever protects a child abuser is doing him a great disservice. If the actions are not sanctioned outright, that child will become an adult who will perpetuate the aggressive behavior. And we will no longer hear about female teachers being beaten, but about much more serious things“, warns the expert.

Prevention, after all, also means taking a stand and sanctioning. “And when the aggressor is encouraged by his own family, as happened at the school in Târgu Mureș, the authorities must intervene promptly. In the present case, those from Child Protection. They are the only ones who can legally intervene. They have specialized services, it is their duty to deal with it. They are the only ones empowered to do something about it. If the family does not cooperate and the school is overwhelmed by the situation, let's let the specialists take over the problem”.

The psychologist specified that, in the case of the incident in Târgu Mureș, the assaulted teacher suffered a trauma that she will be able to overcome only after many hours of psychological counseling. “It's terrible what this teacher went through, but also what he will go through from now on. Consider that she has to return to the classroom, in front of children, some of whom may have actually witnessed the incident. Confidence in her collapsed, self-esteem dropped. That child's behavior has been validated by adults, and this is very difficult to impossible to digest. It is practically the worst thing in this whole story: the student's behavior was validated directly by his parents and indirectly, through silence, by others”explains the psychologist.

The bullied teacher needs support from all points of view, because these things do not go away by themselves and cannot be wiped away with a sponge. “Let's not forget that there are teachers who verbally attack, raise their voice…all the frustrations, dissatisfactions, traumas maybe…somehow come to the surface. It manifests. Let's not forget time is the biggest enemy, if apparently things can be solved, they will not be solved, on the contrary, they will come out and bloom in other manifest forms”, warns Ovidiu Telegescu.

What should be done from now on? Let's stop closing our eyes, stop silently approving bullying and aggression, let's stop letting things pass us by. Let's get involved. Let us care. “And then we will have every chance to prevent, not treat“, says the psychologist Ovidiu Telegescu. What else should be done? Let's all get involved in educating children.

“In the family, at school, society itself must act in this direction. Let's notice, educate, and yes, sanction. I know, that sounds like a harsh word. But sanctioning deviant behavior is for our own good, but especially for the good of those children we have to correct. If not, we may become victims of our own ignorance. And they, lost cases“, concludes the psychologist.

The Education Law provides certain sanctions for undisciplined students or those who do not respect their duties. Sanctions, applied depending on the seriousness of the act committed, are: individual observation, written reprimand, temporary withdrawal or for the duration of the entire school year of the student's scholarships. Moreover, he can be disciplinary moved to a parallel class in the same educational unit, he can be temporarily suspended or even expelled. But, because the eight classes are compulsory, the expulsion is not final. Therefore, we are talking about expulsion with the right to re-enroll in the following school year, in the same educational unit, expulsion with the right to re-enroll in the following school year, in another educational unit, expulsion without the right to re-enroll for post-secondary education students.

Most of the time, however, such sanctions do not solve the problem. And this is how, in the absence of other more effective methods of combating violence, the school turns into a real war field where a fierce battle takes place every day. On the one hand, that between generations, on the other hand, that between mentalities. in the middle is the future of children.