In recent years the number of criminal cases brought against teachers accused of assaulting pupils has increased several times over. There are no official statistics in Russia on the number of cases of teachers beating children, but it is known that their number is growing steadily.
On 1st March this year in secondary school No.9 in the town of Shchekino in the Tula region a music teacher brutally attacked a pupil from one of the youngest classes. “Come into school straight away, your Artem has been killed,” is what Igor Petrovich was told down the phone by the agitated voice of his 11-year old son’s class teacher. He immediately thought it was a terrorist attack. Igor Petrovich does not remember how he raced into school, but it is a miracle he did not have an accident. At the entrance to the staff room he was met by the whole teaching staff. “Nina Ivanova, the music teacher, has beaten your son, now he’s in hospital,” whispered his form teacher, looking away. “Is he alive?!!!” is all his father asked. “He’s alive. I got confused because I was so worried…” she replied to him.
In the music lesson some irrepressible under-achievers were disturbing Nina Ivanovna. But it was Artem, who was sitting quietly next to them, who she hit in a rage, reports Moskovsky Komsomolets. The teacher hit him several times over the head with a class journal. Then she took him out outside and applied to snow to the injured area: “When you get home, tell your parents that a 10th grader beat you up!” But the boy became unwell, and they had to call an ambulance for him. Artem was taken to hospital with concussion.
The parents did not go to the police and bring charges against the brutal teacher, as they were satisfied with her dismissal. They wanted their son to continue studying at this school. The boy has been on tablets and injections for a month, and still has a long period of treatment ahead of him.
“Since the middle of the 90s there has been a sharp decline in the number of people studying to become teachers,” the child psychologist Yulia Barkova comments on the problem. “Young people are striving to obtain better paid jobs. Because of staff shortages schools are forced to take on anyone that wants to teach, who often have not had teaching education and sometimes even without higher education.”
At the same time, there has recently been a sharp rise in the number of hyperactive children. These children find it hard to concentrate and sit still – they can play for hours and never get tired. They are already fed up of listening to the teacher by the second lesson, they start to distract their classmates. A teacher should give hyperactive children special attention, for example, by setting them small tasks, in order to sustain their interest in the lesson.
“It is a very serious trend. Each conflict between a teacher and pupil should be sorted out individually, you can’t just indiscriminately accuse one side or the other. The most terrible thing in these situations is when the school leadership starts to protect its own and absolve the teacher of any blame. These incidents don’t just happen out of the blue. As a rule, they are preceded by tiny conflicts which shouldn’t be ignored. And it is essential to listen to what the parents have to say,” says commissioner for children’s rights in Moscow Aleksey Golovan.
Unfortunately, recently most schools have refused to lay on correctional classes for under-developed and hyperactive children. People are scared of them, thinking that they are “classes for morons”. However, in correctional classes there are only 10-15 pupils which means that the teacher can work individually with each child.
Any teacher worth their salt can solve any problem that arises in a lesson on their own, without needing to run to the head teacher or call the child’s parents, thinks Lidia Khokhlova, teacher of Russian and literature with 36 years experience. They should solve problems calmly, without shouting, and certainly without laying a finger on the child. If a teacher just one raises their hands against a child, they should be sacked immediately – people like that must not be allowed to work with children. “For several years I taught a class of difficult teenagers. One day I was called into the police about their out of school activities. But in school, in my lessons, they behaved absolutely fine,” she recalls.
If a teacher works properly, not even the worst hooligan should dare to insult them to their face. Moreover, a teacher in no circumstances should humiliate a pupil and shame them in front of the class for bad marks or behaviour. If a pupil has been running riot in a lesson, you should ask him calmly to leave the room and return to class when he has calmed down. But the main rule and that any teacher must remember is that pupils only respect those teachers who treat them with respect, ensures Khokhlova.
Here is an example from abroad: from 31st March teachers in a secondary school in one of the most criminalized areas of Berlin have been taking lessons under police protection. For the entire lesson teachers must make sure that they do not let go of their mobile phone, if they are to phone for reinforcements in time, when the teenagers start to cause havoc. Teachers describe the situation in the school as “catastrophic”.
Translated by James Platt
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