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Parents' group calls on schools to intervene in school bullying, violence

The association said its statement was prompted by recent news of school violence. 

Kytöpuiston koulu Vantaan Havukoskella 21. syyskuuta 2020.
Vantaa's Kytöpuisto school. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Parents' association (Suomen Vanhempainliitto) says it is concerned about what it characterised as the failure of school administrators in dealing with student violence and bullying following a violent incident at a school in the Helsinki region.

"Every case [of violence and bullying] is one too many and behind each case is the failure to prevent and eliminate bullying and violence," the group said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

The association said its statement was prompted by recent news of school violence.

One particular case, a violent incident at Vantaa's Kytöpuisto school last week, has received a good deal of discussion and media coverage.

It involved a group of sixth-graders attacking a classmate in the school yard and posting a film of the assault on social media. The victim had been bullied for an extended period of time.

An ambulance was called to treat the victim, but the attackers were all under the age of 15 and not criminally liable. According to the association, the consequences of bullying are often left to school administrators and parents.

School security guard now full-time

Due to lingering concerns about the incident at Kytöpuisto school, on Wednesday the city of Vantaa announced plans to increase security at the institution.

The city's director of primary education, Ilkka Kalo, said that a security guard would be present at the school for the whole day, while under normal circumstances a guard would only be onsite for part of the day.

He said additional guards could be called in if there is a need, but noted the increased security was only a preventative measure and that no other incidents had occurred since the assault.

Kalo noted that security was also increased to ensure that the school could function without outside distractions. In recent days, he explained, local residents as well as journalists have visited the school.

"Some local residents have wanted to come and share their opinions about how we should operate. The guard has advised them to make an appointment with the principal by email. After all, the school is an open place and one can come there if it is arranged in advance," Kalo said.

Parents' concerns need to be heard

In its statement, the Parents' Association said it is the responsibility of every school to ensure that incidences of bullying and violence are ended as soon as possible.

"Violence must always be addressed and reported to the police. In long-term bullying cases or other suspected inappropriate activities, adults and other school authorities cannot turn away from their responsibilities," the association's statement said.

"No adult in the school is allowed to look the other way. Children and young people need to be encouraged to talk to adults about inappropriate behaviour or bullying that they witness or are facing," the group stated.

"The school must also ensure that the abuse ends and that everyone involved in the situation receives the support they need," the group said.

The association also noted that the concerns of bullied children's parents must also be taken seriously into account.

The association was founded in 1907 and includes around 1,300 parents' groups from daycare centres, schools and educational institutions around the country.

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