NEWS

Stilettos, knuckle dusters and flick knives in the schoolyard

«The story of young Alex saddens us all, but comes as no surprise. It shows that society does not want to see the writing on the wall, that is, that violence has arrived.» With those words Alexandra Roussou, a child psychiatrist, encapsulates the essence of the tragedy in Veria. Roussou, head of the Society for Children’s Mental Health, says violence is a reality among today’s youngsters. During her years as head of the Athens Medical Training Center, she has seen hundreds of children who have experienced traumatic and violent behavior. Is the next step flick knives? Many flick knives have already appeared in schoolyards. Children are attacked on street corners. There are children who are threatened with a stiletto knife and give up their mobile phones, their jackets. We often hear about the use of stiletto knives, flick knives or knuckle dusters. Apart from physical violence there is also verbal aggression, teasing, humiliation and insults against both the child and his family. The image of our children as «sensitive» has long been tarnished and this has been happening rapidly. In the USA, the greatest fear is of teenage gangs, as they are ruthless, irresponsible, panic easily and kill off their victim without even thinking about it. Attacking in a group, like a pack of wolves, makes them feel heroic and manly. They are true children of a society that worships violence as portrayed in the media. It is a known fact that violence among children and teenagers increases in proportion to the number of hours they spend watching violent television shows. What can we do? First of all, both parents and teachers have to admit that there is a problem. It is easy to use another child as a scapegoat, believing that our own child could never be a victim or a perpetrator just because he is smart, kind and from a good family. That is a myth. Children can become either victims or perpetrators because their peers are more important to them than their families or school, and because neither the school nor the family know how to react. We should look after children and forgive them, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore a problem that puts their own and other lives at risk. Both victims and perpetrators are victims. Do you think that children’s names should be mentioned in the media? No, I don’t. Events should be reported without exaggeration and without efforts to stir people’s emotions. Society has to protect itself and children by treating them responsibly. Where have schools and parents gone wrong? Children are taught their lessons in school but they aren’t really educated. Parents are always too busy when they are asked to come to the school. You need cooperation on all sides.