Minister of Education and Member of NCFA’s Board of Trustees, Omar Al-Razzaz, said that the Ministry is not behind closed doors when it comes to its responsibility for education in Jordan. It is actually at the core of a genuine participatory work that addresses all issues facing the educational process in Jordan including the phenomenon of school bullying.
Razzaz underlined that the Ministry’s success in handling the twenty first century challenges demands the collaboration of various multi-disciplinary entities to stand against this phenomenon and other pedagogical and educational challenges.
In the seminar organized by NCFA titled “School Bullying” held at the Al-Hussein Cultural Center in Ras Al-Ein, Razzaz stressed the need to identify the nature, size, and causes of this problem and put forward appropriate solutions. He also reiterated the Ministry’s rejection of all forms of violence and its commitment to address the issue in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental entities and civil society organization concerned with this issue.
Razzaz emphasized the need to transform all notes and comments raised during the brainstorming into a program of action which identifies, diagnoses, and finds solutions to the problem, highlighting that the Ministry will start devoting 20% of each school day and summer programs to school activities (voluntary day, sports, arts and media) as of next year. In addition, the Ministry will work to activate the safe environment school boards so that everyone will feel as if s/he is part of the solution, he added.
Concluding, Razzaz called on experts, specialists and representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, Public Security Directorate and civil society organizations to engage with the Ministry in handling this phenomenon and provide substance and initiatives for enhancing school activities which are overseen by the Ministry for the time being.
NCFA’s Acting Secretary General Mohammad Miqdady illustrated that bullying is another type of violence that spreads among school children in many forms including physical and psychological harm.
Violence in all forms has multiple social, educational and health-related impacts and addressing this issue through a participatory approach in terms of prevention, protection and cure is very crucial, concluded Miqdady.
Attending the seminar, educational consultants in the area of the family discussed the forms and causes of bullying; characteristics and ways of handling bullies; ways of incorporating principles of family counseling into school counseling programs; and development of preventive and remedial programs specialized in this area.
In their speeches, representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education, Juvenile Police Department in the Public Security Directorate, Electronic Crimes Unit in the Criminal Investigation Department and media outlets focused on national statistics in this regard. They also discussed the role of laws and legislation in handling this phenomenon, cyberbullying on social media among students and recommendations for addressing it, the availability of services and the effectiveness of relevant institutions, families and media outlets in combating this issue.
During the seminar, NCFA presented an electronic questionnaire on bullying gauging the opinions of 89 male and female students from different Jordanian governorates from the age group of (12-18) years. Findings showed that bullying took several shapes including mockery, swearing, insults, rejection and beating. As for nicknames used for calling the bullies, answers included scoundrel, problem-maker and thugs; although some answers included nicknames that symbolize power and strength like “big boss” and “John Cena”.
At the end of the seminar, panelists agreed on a set of recommendations including the formulation of a national plan of action to address this issue and strengthening the sense of belonging among students to their school. They also recommended considering all parties involved in this phenomenon (bullies, the victims and the bystanders) as victims who need help psychologically, socially and educationally; some indicated that bullying may affect the academic achievement of students and may lead to depression or suicide in some cases.
They also stressed the need to have a unified reference authority to monitor this phenomenon and engage all actors involved in the education process and the family to address this issue. Recommendations also included the training of teachers, school counselors and students on necessary skills to handle this problem.
From students’ perspective on how to reduce bullying, Abdul Razzaq Nsour and Nagham Al-Asily called on the Ministry and relevant parties to engage students in fighting bullying in their schools through student mediation.