Discrimination and violence at school, Geneva takes stock

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GenevaDiscrimination and violence at school, the State takes stock

Insults relate more to physique, gender and sexual orientation than to origin or skin color. Cases of violence remain stable, but are more serious.

Two studies gave the floor to several hundred students between 2020 and 2022.

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Insults, fights, discrimination. Many students face these situations on school grounds. Two studies, presented Tuesday by the Department of Public Instruction (DIP), draw up an inventory. One, carried out between 2020 and 2021, concerns violence in orientation cycles (CO). The other, conducted between 2021 and 2022, focuses on the discrimination experienced by children throughout their compulsory schooling, i.e. from 4 to 18 years old.

The girls, more feisty

In terms of violence at the CO, which welcomes pupils aged 12 to 15, “the actors in the field have not noticed an increase in cases in recent years. Since their census in 2008, between 100 and 120 acts of violence are recorded each year. On the other hand, the facts are more and more serious and involve more girls, who no longer hesitate to play fists, ”summarizes Youssef Hrizi, who participated in the research. Collective violence, too, is on the rise. However, the report emphasizes that students report more verbal violence (insults, mockery, humiliation) than physical violence. The problem of harassment and social networks also appears to be a major concern among young people.

The physical pointed out

Regarding discrimination, it’s a surprise! “We would have expected to see racism and xenophobia appear in the lead, but it is discrimination linked to physique, gender and sexual orientation that stands out the most”, notes the boss of the DIP, Anne Emery- Torracinta. Indeed, in primary school, 16% of the children questioned believe that they have often been discriminated against because of their appearance. In secondary 1 and 2, they are just over 14%.

Discrimination linked to gender is more marked among the very young and the oldest, with more than 12% of them saying they have been discriminated against once or twice. By way of comparison, less than 6% of pupils, all grades taken together, report regular acts of discrimination linked to their origin.

Some wear dunce caps

The results at school are also mentioned as discriminating factors. Nearly 17% of primary school students say they have been the target of this type of discrimination once or twice. The figure climbs to almost 29% for secondary 2 students.

In total, nearly 35% of participants say they have often suffered discrimination of all kinds during primary school. In secondary 1, they are 29% and a little over 30% in secondary 2. Finally, girls report more unequal treatment than boys.

No new measures in sight

“To combat discrimination and violence at school, we must first understand these phenomena,” says Anne Emery-Torracinta. It is now done. What new control measures have or will these studies initiate? For the moment, none, admits the deputy general secretary of the DIP, Éléonore Zottos. “We are still at the thinking stage.”

Several hundred children were interviewed. “We sent a questionnaire to the 19 orientation cycles of the canton for the study on violence, details Youssef Hrizi. Then we conducted group interviews in three of them.” In terms of discrimination, the work focused on all levels of compulsory education, ie from 4 to 18 years old. In addition to an online questionnaire, the researchers met between 600 and 700 children in primary school, around 1,000 in COs and just under a hundred in secondary 2 (15-18 years old).

Discrimination and violence at school, Geneva takes stock