school violence

Image: Ignacio Palés


The public school continues to be the most important public facility in the lives of boys and girls.

Brazil has experienced an explosion of violent attacks on schools in recent years, a phenomenon that has worsened in recent weeks. Only 2022 and 2023 already exceed the number of attacks against schools that occurred in the last 20 years, as shown by data from researcher Michele Prado, from USP's Political Debate Monitor in the Digital Media.

Profile studies of the attackers have shown that they are young, mostly male and white, with low sociability in face-to-face environments, with little collective experience. Exercising socialization mostly through virtual means, social discomfort is mobilized as hatred of what is different, being easily co-opted by extremist and misogynistic, racist and authoritarian discourses.

Although there is a lack of studies to understand the relationship between the attacks and Bolsonarism, it is undeniable that the juice produced in recent years, with the easing of the carrying of weapons, encouragement of police action without any control and the naturalization of racial, gender and homophobic violence , constituted a permissive environment for young people to act. Added to this, a digital environment with social networks that allow the dissemination of the culture of hate, encouraging young people to carry out violent actions.

School violence cannot be understood as an isolated phenomenon. Although it has particular contours, it should be seen as part of a broader social culture, present in the world, but with Brazilian characteristics. Violence is typically part of the culture of masculinity, supported by patriarchy, responsible for wars and so many atrocities throughout history and this is far from being a national problem. Brazil is a country built on very violent foundations, whether through the genocide of indigenous peoples or through the process of enslavement.

The school, which has been heavily attacked in recent years, with an inept MEC and projects such as non-party school, has failed since redemocratization to be a welcoming institution capable of presenting a future perspective for everyone. Its organization is still structured on a meritocratic model, where it values ​​those who adapt to its format and gain a place in the sun (with any luck they manage to access public higher education) and a large discarded mass, who either abandon school benches or have a trajectory marked by poverty, precariousness in the world of work and discouragement.

The diversity of young people is not considered by the school, the popular trajectories, of complete absence of rights and dignity, are not accepted and supported, in general, they are considered by educators as the responsibility of the families for the lack of education. The identities of race, gender, sexual orientation are not understood and supported by administrators and teachers. Although with dimensions that require other approaches, the same can be said of young people with disabilities.

Therefore, young people who enter the school are forced to live with rigid norms and rules, which they were not called to build, without having their wishes met, without their identities being respected and with very authoritarian relationships on the part of the educators.

With this characterization, it is not intended to disregard the efforts of educators and education professionals to transform this scenario and build inclusive and meaningful processes in the lives of thousands of young people. The public school continues to be the most important public facility in the lives of boys and girls, positively boosting many trajectories.

Facing this issue of violence requires deep reflection, involving public managers, the school community, professionals and academics from different areas, as it is a complex problem that demands a systemic, preventive response and not just emergency projects, produced in the heat of the moment. .

Therefore, the answers are intersectoral and involve understanding young people as subjects of rights, in all dimensions of life and building a school that is really for everyone, with active pedagogical practices, which awakens the enchantment for knowledge and scientific curiosity, which promotes the respect for human rights and active citizenship.

It is important that emergency actions and guidance protocols are carried out for education professionals and students on how to react in cases of serious incidents, with alert buttons for service teams (health, security...), increasing safety at the school and ensuring the preservation of everyone's life. Government responses seem to move more in that direction.

However, it is essential that we move from emergency and reactive actions to the construction of structuring and integral policies, which demand broad dialogue and long-term preventive responses, specifically in relation to the school, supported by principles of restorative and non-punitive justice. The creation of conflict mediation groups, teachers and students capable of promoting democratic coexistence and rules that are built collectively, which generate accountability and commitment from all.

For this reason, an essential step is the idea of ​​building a path of welcome, listening and meaningful participation in school, which has still been little tried in public schools. It is necessary that the black boy, the trans woman, a boy with low capacity for social interaction and all forms of being of youth have a place in school. Participation is a promoter of meaning, contributing to the promotion of safer environments and promoters of mental health. It is time to place the defense of life at the center of the reconstruction of Brazil.

*Gabriel Medina, psychologist, is a Master's student in Human and Social Sciences at UFABC. He was National Youth Secretary and president of the National Youth Council.

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