Bullying in Turkey

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Turkey is a beautiful country that strategically lies as the gateway between the Middle East and Europe.  But despite it’s long history and ancient beauty, Turkey is a country where bullying takes places everyday and within many different environments.  Educational professionals are aware of the problem and provide all telling statistics that sheds light on the issue of bullying in Turkey and what to do about it.

According to a 2002 study of 692 high school students in Turkey, every single one reported being bullied.  Every. Single. One.  The study, conducted by the Faculty of Education and Sciences at Ankara University, goes deeper to compartmentalize the bullying with the following statistics:

  • 35.5% of students reported being the victim of physical bullying.
  • 33.5% of students reported being the victim of verbal bullying.
  • 28.3% of students reported being the victim of emotional bullying.
  • 15.6% of students reported being the victim of sexual bullying.

Gender differences in Turkey, according to the study, determine the type of bullying a high school student experiences with boys experiencing more physical and verbal bullying than girls.  However, both genders reported experiencing the most common types of bullying, such as pushing and name calling.

At the present time, there is no policy in place in Turkey to combat bullying in schools, meaning that bullying in Turkey continues to be a serious problem.  In fact, the Partnership Network for Prevention of Violence against Children in Turkey (known as Network) has observed that bullying starts early in Turkey, particularly in early childcare and education settings, although it seems to be everywhere in Turkey – on the streets, in schools, in prisons, and online.  The Network organization, which is made up of seventy-two partners throughout the country, claims that oftentimes the teachers, caregivers, or other authority figures ignore instances of bullying. [2]

Network also brings up an important reality of bullying in Turkey – the government.  According to Network, “It is reported by several member organizations of the Network that cases of bullying of children who are imprisoned for political activities, demonstrations and/or terror charges…(is) widespread and even systematic because it is encouraged or initiated by authorities.”  The result can be myriad of mistreatment and even torture.

The recent failed coup in Turkey has resulted in bullying on a national scale with sixty-two school children arrested for treason as well as teachers, public servants, professors, journalists and many others arrested as the current government purges the country of any opposition to its rule.  A mother of a boy who was one of the sixty-two school children detained, said, ‘Our child has never held a gun before.”  The boys were said to have been forced to wear camouflage and hold unloaded guns. The mother said, “They were used.  They were forced to do this.”  The boys range in age from fourteen to seventeen.  [3]

Cyberbullying is also big problem in Turkey.  According to Network, children make up fake accounts and troll the Internet anonymously by using nicknames in order to bully, slander and make fun of other children.  There have been instances where children have had to change schools because of bullying, including cyberbullying.  And as it stands there are no laws to protect individuals from cyberbullying or punish those who cyberbully.

Bullying of refugee children on the streets can also be seen in Turkey.  Both refugee children and adults fall victim to being bullied for a variety of reasons that include social and economic status.  Furthermore, Network explores the cultural norms of Turkey’s gender roles to include gender based violence as a form of bullying that includes regulating women’s bodies as well as bullying because of sexual orientation as with the gay and lesbian community as well as transsexuals.  Recently a gay, Syrian refugee was murdered in Turkey and many gay and transsexual individual are afraid they could be next. [4]

In order to prevent bullying in Turkey, Network recommends the following:

  • Professional trainings for teachers and families to promote awareness of bullying in Turkey.
  • Creating a framework for reporting bullying in schools and to other authorities.
  • Training for children that bring awareness to bullying and teach children important social skills for communicating effectively.
  • Training for children and parents on how to safely use the Internet, particularly social media.

Bullying in Turkey will continue to be a problem unless measures are taken to prevent it by raising awareness and providing individuals with the education and skills they need to avoid becoming a victim or a bully.  Unfortunately, the government of Turkey has its mind on other things; namely the war in Syria, gaining visa free travel in Europe and ridding the country of all opposition.  Therefore, it will be left up to the citizens and professionals of Turkey to implement these measures as best they can.

Additional Sources.

2. http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/sites/default/files/bullying_responses_2015/civil_society/turkey_partnershipnetwork_VAC/turkey.docx

3.  https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1493143/turkey-arrests-62-school-kids-for-treason-following-last-weeks-failed-coup/

4.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/05/middleeast/turkey-gay-refugee-killed/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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