By Belle Tey, Agence France-Presse
Published: 19 Mar 2019 - 05:05 PM
The UNESCO assembly discussed measures that had to be taken for countries to reach their goal of social cohesion, by tackling the issue of bullying and school violence.
The UNESCO assembly came to a unanimous agreement that mitigating the severe repercussions of school violence and putting a stop to school violence as a whole was crucial and that this issue should be solved as quickly as possible. The assembly looked at both short term and long term solutions.
Pertaining to gun violence in school, many of the countries pointed out that a potential solution would be the banning of guns. However, there were a significant number of countries who disagreed, not accepting the idea of a complete gun ban. Instead, these countries suggested that the ownership of guns should be limited, and that there was no need for a complete gun ban. One suggestion was to work with the governments of other countries to increase the minimum age of owning a gun. Russia had similar ideas, expressing that the licensing system for guns should be stepped up. They went on to elaborate, mentioning that the government should monitor the ownership of guns. Furthermore, to ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of an irresponsible user, citizens must take a test which assesses their psychological and physical health. The test would also reveal whether the citizen has a history of drug abuse or is affected by any mental illness.
Afghanistan highlighted that it was impossible for war-stricken countries like them to ban guns and raised an alternative solution which was to increase security in school. Guards would be stationed at schools to ensure that none of the students carried potential weapons such as guns or knives to school. Belarus and Sweden did not approve of the idea of a complete gun ban, reasoning that a ban on guns would not be feasible. Sweden also pointed out a major flaw to this solution, which is that people would still be able to obtain guns through illegal means.
At the end of the discussion on gun violence, the assembly came to a compromise. The final verdict was that guns should be banned, with the exception of single-shot guns as students would still be able to use these guns for self-defense, but the number of times the student could fire the gun would be extremely limited before he or she would need to reload the gun. This aids in preventing the students from inflicting as much harm on others, as compared to a shotgun which fires multiple bullets at one go.
Following this, the assembly discussed the issue of bullying, where the scope of the discussion was methods to reduce bullying incidents and curb the repercussions of bullying. The discussion was targeted at both physical bullying and cyberbullying.
Starting off with physical bullying, the Dominican Republic suggested a collaboration between the government and schools to install surveillance systems in schools. CCTVs can be installed in schools to monitor students and capture incidents of bullying. Russia shared similar sentiments, adding that schools can request for funding to maintain the surveillance system. Belarus also pointed out the possibility of compulsory self defense classes in school to educate the students on means to protect themselves. The Assembly was indecisive on how to deal with physical bullying and moved on to discussing cyber bullying.
India sparked off the discussion, suggesting that social media companies should increase checks on the user’s profile.
There were some suggested solutions that were applicable to both physical and cyber bullying. A large majority of the countries present talked about using education to combat bullying. India urged that students should be educated on how to deal with bullying. Egypt, Russia, China and the Central African Republic shared similar sentiments. The suggested methods were increasing awareness of bullying through anti-bullying campaigns and organising more talks on ways to deal with bullying and preventive measures to stop bullying in school. Following this, the Assembly moved on to finding methods to mitigate the effects of bullying on students. The most common suggestion given was to train the teachers. The countries felt that by training the teachers to counsel students affected by bullying, it would help the victim recover from the trauma. Teachers would also interact more with the students, fostering a closer student-teacher relationship. With the closer bond, students are more likely to be comfortable sharing their personal troubles, such as bullying, with their teachers. Teachers would then be able to help the student.
The UNESCO assembly has yet to come to a conclusion on which solution should be implemented to stop bullying and mitigate the effects of bullying on the victim.
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