The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe notes with concern that schools in Europe are faced with violent attacks by pupils with weapons, bullying and harassment among pupils as well as violence by pupils against teachers. Although such incidents are rare, they have enormous effects and are a sign that the phenomenon of violence is not properly dealt with at school and in society in general.
The Assembly recalls the Council of Europe’s longstanding efforts against violence against children, for instance Assembly Recommendation 561 (1969) on the protection of minors against ill-treatment, the Committee of Minsters’ Recommendation (79) 17 concerning the protection of children against ill-treatment, the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation (85) 4 on violence in the family, Assembly Recommendation 1666 (2004) on a Europe-wide ban on corporal punishment of children and the Council of Europe Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights.
Violence is a part of human relations. It can be found as direct physical violence or in different psychological forms. It occurs between individuals and groups as well as within families, social groups and society. On the other hand, European humanism, non-violent behaviour, tolerance and mutual respect are common fundamental values upheld by the Council of Europe since its foundation 60 years ago.
School education has undergone diametrical changes. While an authoritarian style was common a century ago, schools have gradually been adopting a non-authoritarian style and have often even promoted a critical approach towards authoritarianism. Similar developments exist within the parent-child relation in families and within society as a whole. However, violence has not diminished.
The mass media have been reflecting violence in different forms for decades and the debates about their potential impact are as old as mass media. With the development of new forms of interactive online media, their potentially greater psychological impact has been identified. Since children spend more time with media than a few decades ago, informal education through the media has a greater effect and requires more attention.
The Assembly therefore recognises that states must step up efforts to combat violence at school, in the media and within society and strengthen education on how to deal with all forms of violence. The Assembly asks the Committee of Ministers to develop common educational policies and to raise awareness in this respect.