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Ombudsman says child abuse at schools is common

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, October 19
A recent report published by the Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili, on October 17, reads that child abuse in general educational institutions is common, adding that teachers are also reported among the abusers.

The report outlines the results of the monitoring conducted in general educational institutions by the Center for Child’s Rights of the Public Defender's Office within the framework of the UNICEF-supported project, Strengthening the Center for a Child’s Rights, of the Public Defender's Office.

It also reads that during the academic year of 2016-2017, the Center examined 109 general educational institutions throughout Georgia, including 98 public schools, five private schools and six boarding schools.

Nanuashvili stated that the results of the monitoring showed that protection of students from violence and ill-treatment is still a challenge in the general education system of Georgia.

“The cases of psychological and physical violence among and against children, especially by the persons who have active communication with them, are frequent; bullying is also a common form of communication,” the report reads.

Moreover, the Ombudsman stressed that students’ awareness of their rights or different forms of violence, as well as the competence of responsible persons in response mechanisms to various forms of violence against children, is low.

As for the forms of violence, yelling was named by most of the students as a form of communication with them. 20.30% of schoolchildren reported yelling by school resource officers, 47.10% said yelling was used as a form of communication by school administration, 61.50% named class teachers and 78.80% named other teachers. 25% of school staff does not consider yelling as violence.

“The monitoring showed that school staff members are not well aware of the response mechanisms to child abuse. The Resolution of the Government of Georgia on the Approval of Referral Procedures for Child Protection was named only by 2.8% of the respondents as a response mechanism,” the report reads.

Nanuashvili urged the state to develop and pursue coordinated policy for the prevention of violence in the educational institutions and to improve response mechanisms.

Lia Gigauri, Deputy Education Minister of Georgia, stated that the ministry always pays attention to incidents of violence or abuse at schools.

She said such incidents have significantly reduced compared to the previous years.

“If the teacher has physically abused the pupil, there is no other sanction in this case except that such teacher should quit. If there are signs of a more serious crime, the relevant bodies will study the case and an appropriate response will be made,” she stated.