According to NEON, in the first half of 2022, the number of incidents of bullying reported by Smile of a Child (Χαμόγελο του Παιδιού) increased by 149% compared to the corresponding period in 2021.
During the same time period, from January to June 2022, the organization visited 164 school departments at the invitation of responsible persons for informational presentations by students on the issue of bullying among children and adolescents. Interest was huge, with 364% more students attending lectures in specific programs compared to the first semester of 2021.
As Smiling Child psychologist Stefanos Alevizos explains, the data may “underestimate” the extent of the phenomenon, as many cases of bullying go unreported. “It is a fact that in recent years the number of reported incidents has increased. Perhaps this is facilitated by the awareness of teachers and the children themselves, how and what to do in such cases. Aid agencies have become more “visible”, including the number of specialists in them that teachers, parents and even children can turn to for help (chat or by phone). For example, in the first half of 2022, 1 child applied for support to our telephone line 116111 every day,” he notes.
In addition to the telephone line, “in the first half of 2022, we dealt with 254 specific incidents, and in 2021 we were contacted for help in 102 cases,” adds an expert with many years of experience in dealing with the phenomenon. “From our own data, this phenomenon appears in elementary school, peaks in middle school, and in high school can reach offenses (which are followed by criminal penalties). Again, based on the testimony of the Child Smile staff, it is common for boys to be bullied physically and girls verbally and psychologically. But at the same time, the fact remains,” adds Stefanos Alevizos.
The grim reality regarding violence against minors is also revealed by Greek police data. In 2021 almost one minor was beaten every day, and most often the bullying took place on school grounds or started there and spread to the neighborhood.
In complaints received in ΕΛ.ΑΣ. last year, a total of 327 victims were recorded, 190 of whom were between the ages of 15 and 18, with the majority of injuries occurring to minors in vocational high schools (colleges).
A common refrain in the stories of juvenile victims or others who witnessed cases of violence against their classmates was often the phrase: “The teachers knew, the principal was told, but they did nothing.”