Greece and Sweden share good practices against bullying and school violence

Speakers and participants stressed the important role of art in combating bullying and school violence throughout a conference hosted by “The Smile of the Child” and the Embassy of Sweden.

Greece and Sweden share good practices against bullying and school violence

With more than 200 participants, “React through Art” conference co-hosted by “The Smile of the Child” and the Embassy of Sweden on 25 and 26 November at the Acropolis Museum offered an excellent opportunity to explore the role of art in tackling bullying and school violence.

In the course of two days of presentations, discussions and dynamic workshops academia, education professionals, teachers, school counselors and psychologists from Greece and Sweden had the opportunity to share good practices and techniques in tackling bullying and school violence through art in education. The main aim of the conference was to empower teachers, educators and students in their effort to address bullying, raise awareness on good anti-bullying practices from Greece and Sweden and promote the use of art in education as a useful tool of prevention. 

The right not to be bullied is a human right and our cooperation with “The Smile of the Child” in this conference contributes to sharing good anti-bullying practices from Sweden and Greece. Surely, this situation is not hopeless, but we need to take appropriate measures and remedies tailor-made to each individual school and case” the Ambassador of Sweden to Greece, Mrs Charlotte Wrangberg highlighted in her opening remarks. 

Costas Yannopoulos, Chairperson of “The Smile of the Child” and the European Anti-bullying Network presented the extensive work of the Greek NGO in dealing with bullying and school violence on national and European level. “It is important that this conference brings together academia and organisations working on the frontline and provides school teachers with additional tools in addressing these phenomena. This conference is only the first step of a broader cooperation that we intend to put forward with Sweden in this area”, Costas Yannopoulos underlined.

Alexandros Dermentzopoulos, Deputy Minister of Education addressed the conference presenting the anti-bullying policies of the Greek Ministry, the fruitful results of the existing cooperation with “The Smile of the Child” and the need to further enhance cooperation with countries that work for decades on bullying like Sweden.

According to recent data presented by FRIENDS, the most active Swedish anti-bullying NGO that recently joined the European Anti-bullying Network, 22% of children in Sweden have been subjected to harassment or other acts of intimidation, while 1 out of 5 girls at secondary school have been subjected to sexual harassment. The most common forms of harassment and bullying in Sweden are mean comments and psychological abuse according to FRIENDS Report 2014.

The need to address each case individually and include students, teachers and parents to the solution was stressed out during the conference, while FRIENDS shared their anti-bullying work at schools, preschools and sports clubs in Sweden. “Bullying is just the symptom of something else” Jacob Flärdh Aspegren, Director of Research and Development at FRIENDS organisation said, underlining the need to tackle each case under a wider social perspective.

Current research projects and evaluations of national programs to combat bullying in Swedish schools were presented by representatives of academia as a way to “analyze what works for who in what manner and under circumstances” while special emphasis was given to the chain of measures needed in regards to a whole school approach and a positive school climate.  Moreover, Anna Tsekas from the Municipality of Stockholm explained how Swedish schools and social services work on a daily basis against bullying and school violence based on Swedish legislation and practice according to which all schools are responsible to develop an anti-bullying action plan.

According to data presented during the conference the rate of victimization does not surpass 15% of children and youth in Greece in line with the extent of the problem in countries like France and Spain. During the conference members of academia, field workers and NGO representatives from Greece presented the European policies against bullying, drama and art techniques that can be useful tools for teachers in Greece, while experience from good practice models and programs at schools was shared.

The conference offered dynamic experiential workshops mainly to school teachers and counselors focusing on the serious issue of sexual harassment at schools and the potential of theater and drama in education as a useful anti-bullying tool in the hands of a teacher. These sessions were based on psychotherapy techniques and other techniques such as role playing, expression of feelings and drama therapy. The main aim of these sessions was to empower teachers and professionals dealing with bullying on a daily basis.

As part of the conference the Documentary “Bullying Diaries” that was produced in the framework of the European Anti-bullying Network project was screened. Athos Danelis presented the Shadow Theater play, “Karagkiozis as a student”, while the “Kochili” Art organisation performed the theatrical play “Blästrad” written by Mats Kjelbye, produced by Stratis Panourios and presented so far to more than 10.000 students, teachers and parents in Greece.

In 2013 “The Smile of the Child” organized interactive sessions for 10.720 children. Moreover, its social workers and psychologists visited 378 schools across Greece raising awareness among students, teachers and parents on issues like bullying and school violence. The National Helpline for Children SOS 1056, the puppet shows, the Shadow Theater, the mobile unit of Information, Education and Technology “Odysseas”, YouLearn interactive platform and counseling are among the main tools used by the Greek NGO in an effort to address the phenomenon.

The Smile of the Child would like to thank the International Association of Conference Interpreters Greece –Cyprus and Creatives Pro Film and Photography (CP) for their sponsorship and support to the event.

More photos from the conference are available here.

For more information on the press release you can contact our press team on press@hamogelo.gr or (30) 210 33 06 140.

For more information about the Greek presentations you can contact “The Smile of the Child” at school@hamogelo.gr (30) 210 33 06 140.

For more information about the Swedish presentations and requests regarding Swedish examples you can contact Mrs Sofia Keramida at the Swedish Embassy:
on sofia.keramida@gov.se or (30) 210 72 66 110.