Special Report on Child Abuse in General Education Institutions
On October 17, 2017, the Public Defender of Georgia presented a special report on the situation of child abuse in general educational institutions.
The report outlines the results of the monitoring conducted in general educational institutions by the Center for Child’s Rights of the Public Defender's Office within the framework of the UNICEF-supported project Strengthening the Center for Child’s Rights of the Public Defender's Office. During the academic year of 2016-2017, the Center examined 109 general educational institutions throughout Georgia, including 98 public schools, 5 private schools and 6 boarding schools.
The results of the monitoring showed that protection of students from violence and ill-treatment is still a challenge in the general education system of Georgia. The cases of psychological and physical violence among and against children, especially by the persons who have active communication with them, are frequent; bullying is also a common form of communication.
Students’ awareness of their rights or different forms of violence, as well as the competence of responsible persons in response mechanisms to various forms of violence against children, is low. Schools do not have a common policy against violence. 13.2% of schoolchildren and 4% of school staff do not regard beating as child abuse, 37% of schoolchildren and 12.7% of school staff do not regard hitting as child abuse, 42.5% of schoolchildren and 13.9% of school staff do not think that ear twitching is not violence. The monitoring showed similar attitudes to other forms of violence, including psychological violence.
Yelling was named by most of the students as a form of communication with them. 20.30% of schoolchildren reported of yelling by school resource officers, 47.10% said yelling was used as a form of communication by school administration, 61.50% named class teachers and 78.80% named other teachers. 25% of school staff do not consider yelling as violence.
The monitoring showed that school staff members are not well aware of the response mechanisms to child abuse. The Resolution of the Government of Georgia on the Approval of Referral Procedures for Child Protection was named only by 2.8% of the respondents as a response mechanism.
Given the above and all other challenges discovered by the monitoring, the Public Defender urges the state to develop and pursue coordinated policy for the prevention of violence in the educational institutions and to improve response mechanisms.