Bullying at school is not a new phenomenon, but each and every case is one too many – and can have serious consequences. What is the strategy in Luxembourg's educational institutions? How seriously do they take the problem? Lëtzebuerger Journal asked.
For outsiders – or those who have already gone through it – puberty can be perceived as exciting, but for teenagers themselves it is a nerve-wracking time. Every day is a new challenge. In addition to friends, classmates and family, the SePAS (assigned to each secondary school and is responsible for helping students of all levels with their day-to-day or school-related problems) can be a point of contact to give the young people the best possible support and accompany them through these many new stages of their lives.
For some, this phase of life can be harder than for others – they lack support from home or stand out because they seem to be different from everyone else. What is later labelled as "unique" is one of the worst things someone can do in their teens: stand out. Stand out negatively. If someone stands out, nasty remarks and insults are not long in coming.
Criticism of institutions
On average, six students per day and per lyceum contact the SePAS service (these figures go back to 2018, new figures are to be provided by the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study published later this year) for various reasons: violence, domestic conflicts, stress, anxiety disorders, stalking and bullying. Among others, the CNEL denounced that the issue is not taken seriously enough. In an interview with RTL at the beginning of January, CNEL Vice-President Laly Chivard criticised: "There are more and more pupils and children who call for help and say 'I'm being bullied', but they don't get any help." How seriously do the various institutions and structures in the Luxembourg school system take the fears, concerns and problems of young people?
Someone who can be another contact in cases of bullying and violence is Laurent Goedert, in charge of the Prevention and Traffic Instruction Department of the police in the east of the country. He regularly goes to the schools, gives lessons and not only tries to educate the children about bullying, he wants to be there for those affected. "I often have children who come up to me directly during our visits and tell me that they are being bullied, " Goedert counters during the interview at the police premises in Grevenmacher. "I've been involved for a good 18 years and I know what I'm doing." That the work he and his colleague are doing do bears fruit, he says, is evident from the positive feedback and busy schedules. "We are non-stop on the road because we set ourselves an interval of one year to accompany the children regularly. In addition, we have become very well known in the East over the years. People know us and our work. We are almost always fully booked, which is great, of course, but it also means that we have to reorganise when an acute case of bullying is reported to us. Because then one thing applies: settle the situation as quickly as possible."
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