By Mercedes Alonso
Santo Domingo, May (SEMlac). - Facing the painting of founding father Juan P. Duarte, in a classroom, two girls wrestle and trade punches on the floor, while their classmates simply look at them or utter provocative phrases. In another school, a girl is attacked by a boy, opposite to the teacher.
The Dominican Republic ranks fifth on the list of Latin American countries with the highest number of cases of bullying.
Education minister Andrés Navarro announced that a high-level commission has been established to review all cases of sexual, physical and psychological abuse at school.
He also announced that a standing committee will be working in close coordination with the Prosecutor-General's Office in this connection.
Teachers are unable to keep control in class
Experts told TV show Enfoque Matinal last May 16 that bullying has reached alarming proportions in many local schools.
Luis Vergés, director of the Behavioral Intervention Center for Men, highlighted the need to build appropriate school settings for all students.
Anthropologist Tahira Vargas urged to immediately address the difficulties that teachers are facing to manage this phenomenon.
Family therapist Rafaela Burgos said that this situation has a very negative impact on students.
Last May 16, a press report indicated that a lecture on adolescents aged 13 to 15 and acts of violence in public schools, which was delivered by researchers Henry Parada, Rafaela Burgos and María E. Asuad from Ryerson University in Canada, provided updated information along these lines.
Over 37 per cent of the male students included in their survey admitted enduring extreme social violence situations, witnessing crimes, and/or having been involved in street gang beatings.
Around 35 per cent of the girls said they have witnessed murders and got involved in bullying.
Asuad indicated that in the southern communities, where poverty conditions prevail, female adolescents are even more exposed to physical and psychological abuse.
Focusing on the problem
These researchers feel that the Dominican State should focus on increased violence, as it affects students, their families and even public-health initiatives.
Last November 25, the Ministry of Education implemented the United-Nations-promoted Orange Day (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls).
The current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include gender equality and women's empowerment as issues of priority.
Experts believe that there is a pressing need to promote respect for all individuals and human dignity in the country.