EAN promotes a European Antibullying Certification Process for Schools

Città di Castello, 26 September 2017

An urgent call on European societies for concrete measures against bullying and cyberbullying was launched at the 4th International Conference of the European Antibullying Network (EAN). On the margins of the conference the members of the Board of Directors and General Assembly decided on the strategic priorities of the network.

The conference was held in Città di Castello and was honored by the participation of Gianpiero Bocci, Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of the Interior, Walter Verini, Member of the Italian Parliament, Elena Ferrara, Italian Senator, Donatella Ferranti, President of the Justice Commission of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and other Italian dignitaries. Members of the network from different EU Member States, public officials, institutional actors, the academia and professionals took part in the conference, hosted at the birthplace of the “Montessori Method’, at the premises of EAN member, Hallgarten-Franchetti Centro Studi Villa Montesca Foundation. 

In their opening addresses, the President of the Italian Foundation, Angelo Capecci, and EAN Vice-President, Maria Rita Bracchini, welcomed the European Antibullying Network and participants of the conference at the premises of Villa Montesca, and outlined the need for cooperation and concrete measures across Europe.

The conference emphasized the urgent need to address the worrying increase of new forms of bullying, from cyberbullying to hate speech, and identified a number of good practices and tools for the promotion of specific actions to deal with bullying within the Member States and European institutions. A European Antibullying Certification Process will be the platform for pursuing the development of a common antibullying tool for schools in Europe from within the European Antibullying Network. The conference affirmed the strategic need to promote this process in an effort to provide common guidelines and procedures to school communities.

In today’s digitally connected world bullying has become even more complex with new forms. Neither Italy nor any society can tolerate that children and young people are taking their own lives. We must listen to our kids, educate children and adults and offer appropriate methods of prevention and response’ said the President of EAN and President of ‘The Smile of the Child’ Mr. Costas Yannopoulos. The EAN President placed as a top priority of the Network the creation of an Antibullying Certification tool that puts the school communities at the center of the solution to this serious problem.

In a highly emotional moment, Paolo Picchio, father of Carolina, shared with the audience the tragic story of his daughter who was the first ever recognized victim of cyberbullying in Italy. Following the loss of Carolina in 2013, Paolo Picchio dedicated his life to the struggle against bullying by founding a specialized Center in Milan for the rehabilitation of those in need. “Carolina left a strong message that turned into a piece of legislation. It is important that young people do not suffer. Schools have to be the source of prevention and education” he underlined. 

In her speech, Italian Senator Elena Ferrara, who put forward the first draft of the milestone cyberbullying law following the suicide of 14-year-old Carolina, said: “Bullying is linked to human rights. What we need is an education alliance in Europe through the involvement of all actors. We need to educate our kids, but also parents in order to understand what is really happening on the Internet”.

The conference offered participants the opportunity to exchange useful experiences and practices from different countries and educational systems, on legal measures and instruments, protocols and methods of prevention and response, as well as programs to address bullying and cyberbullying. The keynote speaker of the conference, Peter Smith, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of London and Honorary Member of EAN, analyzed the cultural perceptions of bullying given the differences of societies in values, education and regulatory frameworks, technological infrastructure and socio-economic conditions.

The day preceding the conference, the meetings of the General Assembly and the Board of Directors of the Network were also held in Città di Castello. The members discussed the strategic priorities and future actions of the Network. The members also decided to host the 5th EAN international conference in Athens on the 14th and 15th of June 2018. The conference will, thus, return to the place where it was founded back in 2014.

Full photo material of the event available here