New approach to bullying at school: Wiersma
Education Minister Dennis Wiersma wants to make bullying at school more difficult with a new approach, he said in an interview with De Telegraaf. From now on, schools have to report serious incidents such as violence or weapon possession to the Dutch Inspectorate of Education, which can then conduct more in-depth investigations into social safety in schools. There will also be an independent hotline where parents and students can report abuses.
According to Wiersma, the extra measures are necessary because the national bullying figures are not improving, despite many schools paying more attention to bullying. “Teachers report that 'the street’ –– partly due to coronavirus –– is increasingly entering the school. Quarrels that originated outside school continue in the classrooms."
Wiersma also pointed out to De Telegraaf that sexually transgressive behavior towards girls has increased and that, in exceptional cases, teachers participate in bullying. "It makes me feel that I cannot guarantee that our schools provide a safe place for students,” he said.
He said he does not know whether the measures are a silver bullet against bullying at school. "The solution, I don't have a red button for that,” he said. “But I do think I have to do something. In the core, it is the school, the bullies and the parents of bullies who are responsible."
The minister believes the government should intervene if schools do not have a bullying protocol or do not register abuses. "Bullying goes through the marrow and often has consequences for the rest of your life,” he said.
Schools that do not comply with the new rules will face consequences. "They may soon be known as a ‘weak school,’” Wiersma said. “If schools consistently show that there is no improvement, their funding can be stopped as a last resort."
Reporting by ANP.