Minister of Education Branko Ruzic said on Dec. 1 that Serbia has not seen “a dramatic rise” in school bullying and that the teachers’ walkout many schools announced for the day – in response to recent instances of school violence – is not an appropriate means of resolving this issue.
Citing official records, Ruzic told Happy TV that 810 incidents of school bullying were reported in 2019, about 400 in 2020 – when classes were held online, roughly 700 in 2021, while 286 have been reported this year so far. “I don’t want to get bogged down in statistics but if we look at the numbers, some bureaucrat would say that they aren’t that high,” the minister stated, recalling that Serbia has about 1,800 primary and secondary schools with a total of approximately 750,000 students.
Explaining that violence is “a very complex social problem” and that schools “are not isolated social islands,” Ruzic maintained that “there has always been and always will be” violence in schools. The crux of solving this issue, he said, is in prevention, not punishment.
Commenting on the protests and walkouts announced for the day – and organized by the Association of Educators’ Unions of Serbia – Ruzic stated that a full strike by teachers is a violation of the law and not the way to resolve the problem of violence. “The issue is legitimate, the demand that violence be stopped is the same position maintained by the Ministry of Education, but the minimal work requirement [for teachers on strike] is clearly defined. [A walkout] is not the way to resolve violence but represents an unnecessary confrontation with a social partner, because we are partners with the unions in this dialogue,” the minister concluded.