Education is key to tackling violence, harassment, says Saudi minister

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Time: July 05, 2018

JEDDAH: Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Ahmed Al-Issa stressed the role that education can play in tackling violence and bullying, urging educational institutions to initiate projects and programs that promote that role, and to meet with peers from outside the education sector to establish and promote good practice in society to reduce violence and harassment in schools and in wider society.
Al-Issa was speaking at a workshop held by the ministry on Thursday entitled, “Increasing awareness of kidnapping, harassment and violent crimes.” Deputy Director for the Education of Girls Haya Al-Awwad also participated. Attendees included ministry executives, supervisors, advisers, specialists, and family social workers.
“After passing the anti-harassment law, along with a series of rules, regulations and instructions issued by the ministry, the only thing that is missing is a comprehensive executive role in all institutions for the rest of the educational, pedagogical and guidance fields,” Al-Issa said. “We are working on playing our role directly in schools and on finding support from the media to promote good practices and fight any potential bad ones.”
Al-Issa noted that kindergarten is a very important phase for children’s development and one in which both family and society have crucial roles to play. The ministry has sought to establish safe environments for children and exerted efforts to reduce bullying and abuse of children, he said, adding that it has issued a number of regulations and circulars and presented development, prevention and treatment programs to reduce the spread of such issues, including banning corporal punishment in schools, as well as adopting codes of behavior and conduct to deal with the students’ infractions.
Al-Issa added, “The program to reduce bullying and abuse of children was designed, and has been implemented for all students at all three educational levels. The program includes several prevention, administration and treatment methods to deal with cases of violence and victimization against children. The program of personal protection for female students was also designed to raise awareness about all types of physical harm they might face inside or outside their families.”
For her part, Al-Awwad said: “The education ministry has attached great importance to everything that focuses on preserving students’ security, protection and safety on both physical and psychological levels.” She also said that while the ministry has initiated a number of programs, there is still a need to find “non-traditional innovative media methods” to reach the targeted groups in academic institutions and in wider society. “We note that, in general, these methods are virtually non-existent and those that are implemented are not enough to achieve the desired objectives,” she said.
To complement its efforts on this issue — and in line with the law issued by the Interior Ministry that criminalizes harassment — the Education Ministry has placed sexual harassment in the fourth degree of its Procedural Manual of Behavior.

This article was first published in Arab News

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