THE Education ministry’s ‘direct intervention unit’ (OAP), that deals with violence and delinquency, responded to more than 1,000 requests from primary, secondary and technical schools in the past six years, it was announced on Friday.
OAP and its ‘Observatory on Violence in School’ programme was established in 2010 as one of the measures to support schools in their campaigns against violence and delinquency.
The aim of the unit, staffed by specialist teachers, officials of the Counselling and Career Service and educational psychologists, is to prevent and control delinquent behaviour in schools.
Last year, the announcement said, more than half of the island’s secondary schools asked OAP for assistance, and around a third of primary schools.
Since 2010, the Observatory has held a nationwide survey on victimisation in schools, published articles on the prevention and combating of school violence, and rewarded schools for their good practices against violence.
It also organised seminars and provided training on mediation, bullying and child sexual abuse. In addition, the Observatory created a network of governmental and non-governmental organisations against school violence, in collaboration with other social partners.
Another programme was that of mediation between schools and their students, aiming to reduce conflict among schools. Since 2012, a third of secondary schools have implemented this tool, the announcement said.
A group of students that participated in mediation, stressed the positive changes they experienced, and how they developed positive links with their school. They also said it gave them incentives to learn and set goals for their future. Both the programme, and the positive attitude of their teachers at that time were the catalysts that helped them change their negative attitude towards school.