Over the past few years, violence in schools across Macedonia has been on the rise. In the first part of 2013 alone, police reported 56 incidents in schools across the country, a significant increase over the same period of time last year.
The majority of incidents reported are between ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian students. This is a trend that is reflective of the overall situation of ethnic tensions in Macedonia. According to the activists at the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi, “negative ethnic stereotypes and prejudices, social injustice, influence of the media and the internet, hate speech by the political parties contribute to making violence an example of behavior amongst young people.”
Attacks reported range from a simple mugging to a more serious knife and gun injuries. Schools are attempting to prevent such attacks from happening by installing security cameras or even employing private guards to watch over school properties. In 2011, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) implemented a project that spread informational materials to schools.
Many believe that the violence continues due to lack of willingness of society to talk about the issue. While the Ministry of Education stresses the importance of parental involvement in their children’s school and private life, First Children’s Embassy Megjashi believes that inter-ethnic communication is the key factor in tackling the issues of school violence. Their research showed that inter-ethnic youth club membership, for example, significantly improved students’ attitudes towards members of other ethnic groups. They urged other civil society organizations, media and government institutions to embrace the concept of peace education as it is the one approach that’s proven to “yield promising results in spite of all the difficulties and barriers.”
Creative Commons Love: World Bank Photo Collection on Flickr.comWritten by Aldina Dzebo