Ideally, schools are the places were we transmit knowledge to the younger generations. These are safe places for socialization and learning, where all activities focus on the students.
This environment, however, can be disrupted.
According to data of the National Institute for Educational Assessment, 6 out of 10 students of elementary and middle schools have been witnesses of violence at the school – bullying – such as physical or verbal attacks against their classmates. In high schools, the record of physical and verbal attacks goes down – with just 4 out of 10 – but there are other situations, such as theft, defamation, or discrimination.
Ultimately, schools, whether private or public, are a reflection of our society. A hostile school environment is the result of what happens outside the classroom. We mustn't forget that several regions in Mexico are currently being hounded by crime or that inhabitants of large urban cities have a reputation of being tolerant; minor road accidents can escalate into violent situations.
Data also expose the situation at Mexican homes. With their attitudes, children and teenagers do nothing more but reenact in their classrooms their family environment.
As the ones responsible of shaping citizenry – understood as the appropriate behavior a citizen must observe – education institutions have to promote solutions to hostility through dialogue and encourage the culture of reporting any abnormal event which takes place within the classrooms.
The role of teachers in these cases is to prevent conflicts. They need to receive adequate training so they can diffuse hostile situations and teach the children how to resolve their disagreements in a civilized manner before we reach serious consequences, such as a student dropping out of school. Recent data shows that in Mexico, 1.1 million children and teenagers drop out of school .
In this issue, we have to highlight that the main victim of violence at schools is education and, as a consequence, the future of our country. The solution requires the close involvement of authorities, students, and parents. The sooner the better.