To shield the child from risks: teachers from all over Russia gather in Kazan

Research suggests that a fourth of bullying victims ended with prison. It is discussed in the capital of Tatarstan how to fight child violation and suicide

To shield the child from risks: teachers from all over Russia gather in Kazan Photo: mel.fm (scene from Class film)

According to psychologists, half of the children are subject to bullying, a third of them have thoughts about suicide. If earlier tragic cases of mass murders and child suicides were a strange occurrence for the Russians, we’ve had to hear about violation among schoolchildren more often in recent time. Scientists and teachers concerned about this problem hosted Teenager’s Psychology international seminar for teachers on the autumn holidays in Kazan. About 700 teachers gathered from all over Russia to listen to how to prevent violation and suicide among children. Specialists from Moscow and the USA were going to share the experience with them for three days. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Teachers’ weekend in Kazan

The organisers of the seminar — Homeland foundation, Russian Word publishing house, the Russian Academy of Education and Enlightenment cultural and educational fund in Kazan — chose the capital of Tatarstan as the site of the event due to its convenient infrastructure. It is easier for people from different regions to arrive here. This is why teachers from Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, Orlov Oblasts, Buryatia, Udmurtia as well as Moscow scientists and psychologists from Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) came to Kazan on the weekend.

During the opening of the seminar, representatives of the Tatarstan education system and executive committee of Kazan reminded that precisely human capital was the biggest asset of the republic’s Strategy 2030. Tatarstan forms a state system of psychological aid for the population and established intergovernmental cooperation for this purpose. Such aid is needed for the younger generation too because children copy adults’ behaviour.

Director of the Centre for Socialisation of the Institute of Childhood, Family and Education of the Russian Academy of Sciences Khmayra Zagladina said that it was the first seminar of a big educational project for teachers. A series of meetings approved by the Russian Ministry of Education will be held in Kazan.

“Cases of teen suicide has frequented by 23% in Russia since 2018. There has been information about tragedies with schoolchildren from all sides in recent time. A girl from a well-off family in Almetyevsk committed suicide. A child jumped out of the window in Kazan. As it turned out later, the schoolgirl was so afraid of exams that stopped going to school. Her parents found out it, the accident took place after a scandal with them. Crisis in the family, half of which breaks up, is one of the children’s problems,” Director of Enlightenment cultural and educational fund Irina Protaschuk explained the hot-button issue.

According to Khmayra Zagladina, parents of the child who doesn’t wander the streets and stairwells but sits at home don’t suspect of his problems at times. Photo: vk.com/minmol_rt

The child has risks everywhere

According to scientists’ statistics, 12-17-year-old teenagers spend from 7 to 10 hours a day on social media. Children and parents lose skills in communication with each other. Many social problems are linked with it, which includes mass incitement of schoolchildren to smoking, alcohol, drug consumption; 80% of group crimes are youngsters from 14 to 30 years. Russia ranks first in HIV in Europe and fourth around the world (after the SAR, Nigeria and Mozambique).

According to Khmayra Zagladina, parents of the child who doesn’t wander the streets and hang out in the stairwell but sits at home don’t suspect that he has problems at times. “There are a lot of such things on the Internet that make our hair stand on end. Modern children have a lot of risks everywhere”.

Trying to direct teenagers’ energy to a constructive track, teachers, psychologists, scientists look for different ways of working with them.

“I go to regions, teachers say: ‘There aren’t new programmes. How should we work with the modern youth, how to tell them something without being didactic, how to speak the same language with them?’ We raise problems of education and upbringing, extracurricular activity, computer addiction, social passivity, infantilism,” the director of the institute noted.

Organisers of the event consider that school children are able to fix the situation — to prevent bullying among students, which leads to suicide, mass execution. But it is little to say: “Be responsible, kind, careful”. It is necessary to engage children in activities of public interest — volunteering, charity. Only 2% of teenagers in Russia are engaged in the volunteer movement,” Zagladina stressed.

Trying to direct teenagers’ energy to a constructive track, teachers, psychologists, scientists look for different ways of working with them. Photo: vk.com/minmol_rt

She is convinced that the experience of famous people can also come in handy here and reminded the well-known fact that football star Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have tattoos because he is a blood donor.

The Institute of Childhood, Family and Education created instructional programmes and books dedicated to the problem of children bullying teachers from different Russian regions are familiarised with.

Pencils need to be sharpened on time

“Bullying and teen suicide became a national problem in the USA earlier than in Russia. This is why our overseas colleagues were the first to raise the alarm. A research centre for teenage psychology was created in Ohio. Scientists have worked to minimise the awful statistics for 30 years. Their developments were supported and saw the continuation in Sweden, France,” Irina Protaschuk explained why the American researchers were invited to Kazan.

Dr Butch Losey and James Carter have worked in the research institute with 300 members of staff. The institute has studied the experience of 20,000 American families since it was created. The scientists almost lived in schools. They worked with orphans, wayward teenagers as well as with those children who killed people and had several convictions in prison — who had almost a life sentence.

Both researchers shared impressions of their childhood. Butch Losey’s classmates abused him, while James Carter who had changed five schools by the fourth grade, on the contrary, could stand up for himself and returned blows to his abusers several times. Once teachers told James’ parents that despite his poor academic progress he would go to the next grade because there were fewer bullies after he came and the discipline improved. James Carter doesn’t consider his reaction as a child healthy. Aggression as self-defence at school also causes disciplinary problems.

The scientists said that according to their observation half of children were subject to bullying, 30% of them have thoughts about suicide, 25% of bullied children end up in prison. 50% of children reply to violation with aggression, in half of the cases it helps to stop the abusers. The number of victims reduces with age, but the number of abusers doesn’t. The case is that those who are abused learn how to resist bullying. Discussing the methods of prevention of teenage violence, psychologists skilfully filled technical pauses with interactive communication with the teachers. The guests presented the winners of one of the games not sharpened pencils: one should take care of them so that they will draw, while the teachers were given sharpeners to sharpen the pencils — key to education.

Dr Butch Losey and James Carter worked with orphans, wayward teenagers as well as with those children who killed people and had several convictions in prison — who had almost a life sentence. Photo: vk.com/minmol_rt

Politicians themselves create tension in education

When a baby acts up, his parents give him a mobile phone with cartoons. And not his relatives bring him up now — the Internet takes care of him. One of the speakers of the seminar, popular researcher, Moscow State Institute of International Relations Professor Olga Chetverikova pays attention to hidden threats of digitalisation of society, including school, she constantly studies new initiatives of Russian lawmakers.

Her videos on YouTube dedicated to philosophic topics have millions of views. The Internet gives the schoolchild full and accurate information, but the child can learn how to sympathise only via live communication. Not a computer but a teacher will tell him about the actions of a book’s characters. In Chetverikova’s opinion, the child who is limited to live communication grows up as a person who can be easily manipulated, his actions are easy to calculate.

The teachers who came to the seminar look for ways to return schoolchildren from social networks, learn them how to talk with peers, parents, teachers, learn how to use the Internet correctly.

“The roots of teenagers’ problems should be looked for adults’ behaviour. Take any sphere of school life. For instance, the Federal State Educational Standard is designed for an ideal pupil. People who make it up aren’t aware of the reality at school. Every new generation of school in general is weaker than the previous one. While the Federal State Educational Standards aim at diligent pre-schoolers who go to the first grade trained,” teacher from Kazan School No. 170 Tatiana Yerofeyeva thinks.

While the Federal State Educational Standards aim at diligent pre-schoolers who go to the first grade trained,” teacher from Kazan School No. 170 Tatiana Yerofeyeva thinks. Photo: portamur.ru

She said that senior pupils recently had had a conflict with their teacher because of too high requirements for pupils, they didn’t have the time to prepare for Unified State Exams.

“Teachers are dependent people. Many things aren’t natural here, this is why children suffer because adults create excessive tension. Why should everything be done faster? The meaning of life is lost. This tension, psychological danger comes from state politics. We talk about novelties. Actually, everything was invented a long time ago. Inner calmness is the key method. If the child has it, he can manage his behaviour, get rid of emotional panic,” Tatiana Yerofeyeva agrees with Olga Chetverikova.

By Yekaterina Ablayeva
Tatarstan