Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 220

The smile of the child

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 23 marzo 2015

the smile of the childA missing 20-year-old Greek student was found dead 37 days after his disappearance some metres away from the Dairy School’s premises in Ioannina northwestern Greece. The young person had reportedly been bullied in the school and had been victim of physical abuse. The case of Vagelis Giakoumakis who according to the authorities took his own life demonstrates the terrible consequences of bullying of children and young people and the need for a continuous and effective cooperation among State authorities, school communities as well as organizations which have the certified know-how and work daily against bullying in school classes. Regrettably bullying is not a new problem in the Greek society. And surely it is not confined to our country. It is a global phenomenon that affects a great number of children and adults. According to a nationwide research coordinated by “The Smile of the Child” in the framework of the e-abc EU funded project 1 in 3 children in Greece have experienced bullying: The recent tragic case enhances the view and response of those who claim that bullying is a natural behavior among children and young people that was always happening. In the contrary, according to scientific research, bullying is a public health problem as it is related with adaptation problems, mental health disorders and long-term violent behavior and it is considered as a suicide factor, a phenomenon known as “bullycide”. The discourse on bullying raises loads of questions. The first question is WHY?The research conducted as part of the e-abc project demonstrates that the inability of a child to defend itself is the major factor of victimization (57,03% of the questioned students), while factors such as the sensitivity and the national identity are also playing an important role to victimization (44,6% and 44,34% respectively).This discourse can be enhanced with questions such as how, where and under what circumstances bullying phenomena are taking place. These questions remain unanswered for many years and highlight the inability of our country to handle a phenomenon that exists and leads to cases of suicide of young people, while we at the same underestimate the problem as “much ado about nothing”..We are considering this position as an outdated view and the crucial issue now is not to dwell on sadness and inaction, but to stand against a problem that plagues our children. The modern scientific discourse emphasizes that children should be informed in the appropriate manner to their age on their rights, to be trained to share with their parents and teachers any degrading behavior against them and to learn that silence is never a solution and secrets that make us ashamed or afraid should not exist. “The Smile of the Child” is coordinating the “European Anti-bullying Network” and has developed a number of actions and tools of tackling bullying. We are raising awareness on a daily basis and implementing preventive interventions in the school communities Teachers as well as anti-bullying actions through the National Helpline for Children SOS 1056 and the Mobile Units of Mental Health that the Greek NGO has set at the disposal of schools. The 1st specialized Center on victims of Child Abuse and Bullying was recently inaugurated by “The Smile of the Child”. In addition, Yousmile (, the action of students volunteering for the Greek NGO is organising Web TV and Radio interviews with teenagers raising their voice against bullying. The main goal is that no child and family will ever experience this tragic event. This requires a state that is organised and involves the educational community as well as the competent and certified organisations which are able to provide support within the school communities. In the case of the missing Alex Meshiesvili in 2006 whose case was the first known case of a child’s murder by teenagers in the crime history of Greece, the citizens and the civil society organizations mobilized and developed effective mechanisms for tackling missing and child abduction cases. More specifically, “The Smile of the Child” was trained and developed the “Amber Alert Hellas” that was considered a good practice mechanism for the establishment of the European Amber Alert system. At that time the disappearance of a child was the reason to change the existing mechanisms and tools. Today the time for organized mobilization and awareness-raising on bullying has long arrived. We all need to understand this…. (photo: )


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