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Resumption of face-to-face classes intensifies violence in schools. What to do to overcome it?

Indiscipline, panic and anxiety attacks, fights and the use of weapons. In many schools, the resumption of face-to-face classes, after the months of suspension necessary to control the pandemic, has been marked by disagreements and violent episodes. THE school violence This is nothing new, but it has gained new contours and proportions since the removal of children, adolescents and young people from sociability among themselves and in schools.

Teachers and directors of public and private schools narrate difficulties in re-establishing a minimum routine in the school environment, with compliance with rules. The records accumulate in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, and other states.

In São Paulo, a professional from a school located in the East Zone of the city tells CartaCapital that she witnessed, in just one day, four fights between students, involving boys and girls. “We were scared, we weren’t seeing it before the closing and not even while we were with the rotation”, said the server, who preferred not to be identified. The school receives around 1,000 students per shift.

“They are impatient, wanting to leave the classroom, sometimes you go to the blackboard, one runs away, is out of control”, he added. “The rules no longer seem to make sense to them.

The perception is shared by educator Ana Lima, who teaches at the Walter Negrelli state school, in Osasco. “They came back changed. What I notice is that there is a lack of maturity in these interactions. Students who are in the first year of high school, aged 15, but with postures of 14, 13 years. This brings misguided games, lack of commitment to school, not delivering activities”.

The difficulties are also felt by the families. At the beginning of the year, Denise Lima Pozenato, a resident of São Bernardo, decided to take her 12-year-old daughter out of the state school where she was studying. The reason: bullying. The girl was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and the family chose to enroll her in a private school.

We are living in an extremely dramatic situation from an economic and social point of view. You can’t think that the main issue now is for children to recognize literary genres, says Helena Singer

At the new school, the mother realized that children and adolescents are demanding more sensitivity. “I heard a teacher say that he has never seen a 7th grader who liked to play so much in Physical Education, that they ask to play tag”, said the mother. “I was really touched, they lost a part of their childhood, right? They will need that time to mature.”

The school, she says, has been charging less results from students and providing more moments of interaction between them. “They are letting them be children. I’ve seen a collective picnic, days when they can dress freely, small things for them to relearn how to socialize, which is a fundamental dimension of learning”, added Denise, who is a public servant and works as an assistant at a day care center in the region.

In São Paulo, the government recognizes that the increase in violence in schools is a reality. Data from the São Paulo Department of Education reveal 48.5% increase in cases of physical aggression in the first two months of school this year, compared to 2019, the year in which face-to-face classes took place normally. In the period, there were 4021 cases of physical aggression in state schools.

They are, on average, 108 cases of violence per school day in 5500 state schoolsaccording to the Conviva Platform, where school events are recorded.

There is also an increase in violent actions carried out by groups or gangs in schools – as of March 24, 221 cases were recorded, against 68 in the same period in 2019 – as well as an increase in cases of bullying (77%) and threats (52%).

A mapping carried out by the network in partnership with the Ayrton Senna Institute pointed out that 70% of network students – two out of three in the 5th and 9th grade of elementary school and in the 3rd grade of high school – report symptoms of depression and anxiety.

One in three said they had difficulty concentrating on what is proposed in the classroom, another 18.8% reported feeling completely drained and under pressure, while 18.1% said they completely lost sleep because of worries; 13.6% still mentioned the loss of self-confidence. The study involved the participation of 642 thousand students within the scope of the School Performance Assessment System of the State of São Paulo (SARESP).

In conversation with the report of Capital Letterthe coordinator of the Training School and the Media Center, Bruna Waitman, acknowledged that the issue raises concern, and listed programs and actions that provide for this confrontation in schools, such as the Program for the Improvement of Coexistence and School Protection (Conviva SP), which, according to the server, offers the figure of the guiding teacher in schools, in addition to the support of psychologists, who serve online.

Another strategy, he pointed out, comes via the redesign of the Escola da Família 2.0 Program, which, on one of its fronts, provides for the opening of schools on weekends, especially in more vulnerable regions, to offer sports, culture, health, work and learning. “In addition, all situations of violence are investigated. There is a very large task force to give quick answers and direction to each of them,” he added.

The importance of welcoming schools

For researchers heard by CartaCapital, the problems faced by schools have to do with the school organization itself, which has remained unchanged – and now contrasts even more strongly with the moment experienced by students and their professionals. The defense is that schools should give priority to welcoming.

“Throughout the pandemic, an expectation was created that the school would return to another, more welcoming model, rethinking its way of being, teaching. But not only have they not changed, but they are completely distressed by the fact that children, adolescents and young people have lost these years of schooling”, evaluates the sociologist, researcher and coordinator of the area of ​​Studies on Youth and Public Policies at the Latin American College. of Social Sciences, Miriam Abramovay. “Lots of [escolas] They faced this with such eagerness that they are putting aside essential issues such as welcoming.”

This understanding is shared by the coordinator of the Education Innovation Movement, Helena Singer. “They were expected to come back to these spaces with mental health issues, psychological issues.”

For the researchers, in general, the school networks did not use the closing time to plan their return and ended up relying on the watertight structure that, less and less, dialogues with the reality of the students. “The more schools try to resume their activities as before, the more they will provoke these contrary reactions, often unconscious, and which manifest themselves in the form of suffering, conflicts and violence”, observes Singer .

This is the case with the application of tests to measure knowledge, she adds. “It’s the old format, the old device, again taking priority. The networks insist on applying assessments with decontextualized questions. Not surprisingly, low performances come. Are these contents that need to be worked on now?”, he asks.

Last year, in an opinion that established guidelines for the return of face-to-face activities, the National Education Council provided for ‘diagnostic evaluation procedure’ so that, based on the results, recovery programs could be organized. The diagnostic evaluation can be done, for example, through interviews with students, exercises or simulations, observation, consultation of school records and questionnaires or questions.

In the state of São Paulo, students were submitted to the Process Learning Assessment, which comprises an essay, as well as essay and multiple choice questions in Portuguese and Mathematics. The assessment is carried out twice throughout the school year, in February and August, for students from the 2nd Year of Elementary School, Final Years of Elementary School and all grades of High School. According to the Education Department, the extracted indices are used to produce guidelines for educators, develop programs and projects that address students’ difficulties.

For the researcher, it is about the prevalence of a technicist posture, now based on the ‘learning loss’ argument, which she refutes. “Only those who are in a situation of dementia are in a situation of learning loss”, she points out, when listing discoveries made by students during the first years of the pandemic, and which could be better used by school institutions.

We learned a lot collectively, individually, as a society, in these two years. From more subjective, emotional issues, of how we deal with isolation, with losses, to more objective questions, of what is a pandemic, a vaccine, the SUS“, enumerates. “Unlike whether older or younger, students learned a lot in this period about pandemic, life in society, poverty, inequality. It is up to schools to rescue these learnings and systematize them“, recommends.

Miriam Abramovay adds that the pedagogical work must take place anchored in coexistence projects, which involve school professionals, families, and consider listening to children, young people and adolescents. “In general, we live in an adult-centric society, we consult principals, teachers, parents. Why not students? It is necessary to let them talk about their expectations with these spaces, what they want, what they don’t want, and then collectively build solutions”, he defends.

“It will be very difficult to teach them in an environment that does not have a welcoming school climate, which allows their participation and makes them feel good”, he says.

The demand for schools to act ‘beyond their walls’ is not new, but it becomes even more urgent as children, teenagers and young people enter these spaces with even greater vulnerabilities. “I heard the report of a school principal in São Paulo telling about the case of a 4-year-old child who was left at school, no one came to pick her up. This professional took care to take her home and there she discovered that the child lived with teenage brothers, one of them already with a baby, and that the parents died of Covid”, narrated Helena Singer.

Resolutions on such issues are not the sole responsibility of schools, reinforces Helena, who understands the need for these institutions to articulate with the areas of health and social assistance. “The demand is for intersectoral work between government departments, and the structuring of adequate public policies”, she defends. “We are living in an extremely dramatic situation from an economic and social point of view. You can’t think that the main issue now is for children to recognize literary genres”.

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