Madrid to suspend pupils who don’t report bullying at school

School kids in Spain’s capital who fail to report another pupil being bullied will be expelled for up to six days or face other punishments.

Madrid to suspend pupils who don't report bullying at school
Photo: Deposit Photos

Educational authorities in Madrid want to stamp out bullying from the region’s classrooms, their newest measure aimed at preventing the climate of silence which allows bullies to continue getting away with their behaviour. 

From the next school year onwards, any pupil or teacher who fails to report an incident of bullying will be held accountable as silent witnesses.

For pupils, the punishment for not informing a teacher or any other member of staff about physical or verbal abuse against a classmate or teacher will range from a playground ban to a six-day suspension.

Each educational centre will be responsible for determining the severity of actions, or lack thereof, for those who failed to speak up.

The newly approved school coexistence decree will apply to all schools and high schools in the Madrid region, regardless of whether they’re public or private institutions.

This poster by Madrid authorities reads: “Snitch!”, “Snitch? If you mean I don't keep quiet about abuse, then I'm a snitch. The slogan reads “When it comes to abuse at school, speak up”.

Although the decree is aimed at de-stigmatising the concept of being a school snitch, several associations have expressed doubts about the end result of the measure.

“This isn’t the solution,” Lucía Martínez Martín, head of the Madrid office of Save The Children, told La Vanguardia.

“Once they put the measure into practice, they’ll realise it’s not an efficient measure.

“Children first have to know what abuse is because many of them can’t recognise it when it’s there.

“Some think insulting someone isn’t abuse but hitting someone is.

“We have to work with them to fight these abuses, promote respect and teach them their rights.”

The measure also sets the bar for how bullies themselves should be punished, considering online bullying, any form of discrimination relating to sexual orientation, race or religion, insults and threats made to teachers and numerous other forms of abuse to be serious incidents.

Bullies, depending on the severity of their actions, will have to either take part in reintegration workshops, be banned from certain schooling activities and subjects, be moved to another class or face temporary or permanent suspension.

An October 2018 report by Madrid's public prosecutor's office found that there has been sharp increase in the number of reported bullying cases involving “very young children”. 


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Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.