Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer announces program that will tackle peer bullying in all levels and types of educational institutions through professional development of counselors and teachers
Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer announced on Wednesday the start of a professional development program for counselors and teachers in order to strengthen the scope of initiatives against peer bullying in schools.
As a part of the "Family School Project," the Turkish Ministry of Education (MEB) noted they will continuously support students, teachers and families in order to raise awareness against peer bullying.
Minister Özer, who provided information regarding the "Integrated School Approach in Preventing Peer Bullying Workshop," organized by the MEB in Ankara, pointed out that the visibility of peer bullying has increased in the media recently but this does not mean that there is "widespread peer bullying in schools."
He said that these incidents are isolated events that occur in the huge educational fraternity that encompasses 19.15 million students and 1.2 million teachers.
Elaborating that they are carrying out versatile studies to build a safe school environment, and are trying to build mechanisms that will strengthen and support the school system, Özer also noted that multi-dimensional studies on preventive methods are carried out through counselors. Thus, he noted that new awareness and psycho-education programs including "peer bullying," "cyberbullying" and "psychological resilience" were prepared at all levels in schools for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Özer also stated that various programs have been put together for preschool and primary school students to raise awareness about peer bullying, and help them develop coping skills.
Through the Family School Project, which was initiated not just for school but for out-of-school environments as well, they reached 1,147,555 people, 841,267 of whom were women, the minister said. He stressed that through this project they are working on strengthening the communication environment and that they reach around 170,000 people in village life centers within four to five months.
Underlining that they show zero tolerance toward bullying in schools, Özer said that they will not make the slightest concession to make educational institutions safe for both children and teachers. He also stated that they have accelerated efforts to popularize this culture in schools while they have also organized a workshop in order to explain peer bullying.
"The Holistic School Approach in Preventing Peer Bullying" workshop included participation by academicians, school administrators from different levels and types of education from different provinces, guidance teachers and psychological counselors. Özer said that they discussed many aspects of the issue during the workshop, including strategies to prevent peer bullying and the role of families and school for its prevention.
Role of family
Minister Özer, whose views were also reflected in the workshop report, said academicians made a recommendation of carrying out peer bullying studies with a holistic approach. They suggested to act together with all school stakeholders such as school administrators, teachers, parents and auxiliary personnel in the formation of a healthy school environment, and to increase cooperation with relevant institutions and organizations.
"We will continuously support our students, teachers and families in order to raise awareness against peer bullying. We will increase our activities to strengthen families, which is one of the most important elements of the process, in order to carry out studies with a holistic approach on peer bullying. We will give more weight to our Family School Project activities that we have started," he noted.
He also highlighted that the final report of the workshop included a proposal to "determine the risks of peer bullying in schools and plan prevention and intervention studies," and said: "We are planning to appoint new teachers as guidance counselors in each school. Currently, around 40,000 guidance teachers and psychological counselors work in our schools. In our workshop report, there is a recommendation to start a program in order to increase the professional competence of these teachers in social emotional skills. We have also started work in this regard.''
In addition, he added that the ministry is also distributing its content specific to preschool, primary school, secondary school and high school levels, prepared within the scope of the "Psycho-education in Challenging Life Events Project."
Stating that academicians reported a need for guidance lesson hours at all levels in order to effectively implement developmental, preventive, remedial guidance and psychological counseling services at school levels, Özer said that they put this issue on their agenda and discussed what could be done.
Reiterating that peer bullying in high schools is a disciplinary offense, Özer pointed out that discussions on an arrangement that can be brought about in the legislation to prevent bullying and violence in schools are also ongoing.
"We will implement our new plans according to the workshop's final report, and announce it to the public when all these issues are clear. Our aim is to bring our education system to a much healthier point. We are working hard for this,'' he concluded.
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