La Paz, April 25 Plan International estimates that nearly seven of ten boys and girls are victims of some type of mistreatment at schools, based on increases in this population and official data gathered through 2009 in Bolivia.
Sergio Von Vacano, Education Advisor of this organization, states that over the past few years instead of decreasing, this has become more frequent, despite the fact that the Government has no official data on the issue. Projections were made using press reports and data from other institutions that work in the education sector.
"We don't have any recent studies with which to make comparisons, but upon seeing this natural increase, reading newspapers, watching television, and listening to the radio, one preceives that apparently the levels of violence are increasing. If in 2009 six percent of the population was affected, we can assume that now about seven of ten children are affected," he said.
The 2009 report determined that 60% of school-aged children - six of every ten - were victims of verbal aggressions from their classmates or teachers. This report indicated that they suffered this type of agression between five and ten times a month in their school, leaving them with severe psychological damage that affected their behaviour.
With regards to the types of violence and victim profiles, Von Vacano indicated that physical and psychological aggression was what primarily took place at schools, while the adolescent population tended to suffer from this type of violence the most, especially young women.
"Obviously physical abuse is the most predominant and youth are the most involved in this type of violence because it is during the teen years that they begin to interact at this level. With regards to gender, we thought violence against girls was more predominant; however, the study shows us that violence is almost, almost equally divided, although indexes do lean more toward girls," he sustained.
Although no evaluations of sexual violence have been carried out yet, it is presumed that a large number of cases involve the education system. In addition, within the initial levels - pre-kingergarten and kindergarten - it is believed much of the aggression can be attributed to the level of training received by the professionals who work in this area.
Studies done in the country indicate that nearly 45% of the boys and girls demonstrate aggressive behaviour while playing games, while about 43% of mothers acknowledge they did not know how to place limits upon their children by being either strict or permissive.
The recommendations, highlighted by the specialist, are directed at articulating focuses, concepts, work modalities and methodologies that use various institutions in the country to intervene in cases of school violence.
Other professionals propose working to prevent school violence through public policy, civil society, and within the family.