Why this story matters:
Punishment in school is a phenomenon most Europeans nowadays only see in historical dramas. The times when parents and teachers both thought a slap on the face could do no harm are long gone... aren’t they? Well, not everywhere.
Recently there were two high-profile cases involving Hungarian teachers physically abusing kids. Many people were shocked after learning that such brutal practices still existed. The fact that some of their fellow teachers tried to cover up the situation rather than denouncing it raises important questions about the state of the education system and the quality of teacher training.
The founders of the "Violence Free Schools” movement praised the press: if journalists had not discovered the story, the perpetrators would have successfully swept the issue under the carpet. Could there be a #metoo in education?
Details from the story:
- A primary school in Hetes, a Hungarian village, made headlines after two abuse cases came to light.
- A teacher got a suspended prison sentence (18 months) and was banned from teaching for 1,5 years because he regularly beat students.
- In January, the school principal was fired because of a violent incident involving a pupil. It was later discovered that it was not the first time he beat a child.
- The teachers who launched the "Violence Free Schools" movement told Nepszava that they have been speaking up for years against a colleague who had been beating students but no one listened to them until the press made the story public..
- Comments on social media indicated that many people were sympathetic with the teachers and claimed that many children were "unmanageable".
- According to the teachers, the Hetes situation is not an isolated case: violence against students is a country-wide phenomenon but school principals are reluctant to come forward because they want to avoid scandals.