Violence in schools

Muna Al Fuzai

Violence in schools has become a serious problem in recent decades in many countries including Kuwait, as well as physical attacks by students on school staff, including teachers and administrators. Violence between students themselves or between students and teachers has overwhelmed the educational system to the extent that we are now accustomed to hearing about violent incidents in schools, including one that happened a few days ago in Kuwait.

The local community was preoccupied with this shameful incident that occurred at a public school against a child who was allegedly beaten by his female teacher. MP Abdulwahab Al-Babtain said the attack should not be ignored. “The lives of our children are not a game,” he said.

MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari demanded the education minister to release a statement on the circumstances of the death of Issa Al-Bloushi. He also called for studying the phenomenon of violence in schools. MP Safa Al-Hashim asked the education minister to impose a travel ban against the expatriate teacher who assaulted the student. The education ministry later issued a statement saying that a full investigation has been opened to probe the circumstances of the death and that all necessary measures will be taken.

I believe that regardless of the nationality of the teacher, it is necessary to take a serious stand to limit the actions of some irresponsible teachers, such as verbal and physical abuse and insulting students. I wonder about the role of the school administration in this matter. Aren’t they supposed to monitor violence or abnormal behavior by teachers as well as students?

I recall that in 2017, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti female teacher filed a legal complaint at Fintas police station, accusing a nineyear- old Kuwaiti schoolboy of hitting her on the hand several times and breaking her finger. The teacher submitted a medical report to prove the injury, which took 21 days to heal. The student was referred to the juvenile prosecution.

Social media erupted in anger and a hashtag trended on Twitter after the death of Bloushi. Netizens accused the school administration for failing to take care of students and called for accountability over the death of the student.

In 2017, a member of the rights of the child office at the health ministry Dr Dana Al- Haqqan revealed to Al-Jarida daily that 30 cases of child abuse, 144 physical assaults, 15 cases of emotional deprivation and 102 cases of neglect were reported during 2016. Haqqan explained that some families refuse to report abuse cases involving their children for fear of scandal. Courts have issued verdicts against child abusers and they will be punished under the Kuwaiti penal code – up to two years of imprisonment and a fine of KD 1,000.

I know that there are many who will say that violence in schools is a global phenomenon like traffic jams, but this does not mean we should sit still and do nothing. I know that a school has all types of students with all kinds of behaviors. Every student comes to school with patterns of behaviors – even violent – certainly shaped at home, and the same applies to teachers too.

Not all teachers are alike, as some practice corporal punishment. They ignore that beating is prohibited by law, and there is no gain if the teacher tries to deter a student and change their behavior by abuse and bad behavior. Violence undermines human dignity, because violence against the student is not consistent with the most basic of rights.

Teachers are role models for students and the society. zOtherwise, guidance will have no effect. For example, it is not permissible in any way to punish a student for smoking, when the cigarette is in the hands of the teacher! I believe children do not go to schools to be insulted or beaten like animals or murdered, but to learn, and any teacher who cannot behave properly should leave teaching so as not to be a disgrace to themselves, the profession and the society.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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