► NGO says response to school bullying inadequate, calls for ‘zero tolerance’
► Gov’t says “900” hotline has received 1,600 reports of bullying since October
Amnistía Internacional España, the Spanish section of global human rights campaigner Amnesty International, has charged that Spain’s government is not doing enough to combat what it says is a persistent problem of bullying among schoolchildren nationwide.
In a report published this week, Amnesty says that fewer than four percent of reports of school bullying noted by school authorities each year receive actual followup by inspectors and that Spain’s Ministry of Education has not conducted a serious study of the issue for more than four years.
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In response, a spokesman for the Education ministry has said that Amnesty’s allegations are both “alarmist” and “reckless”. Acting Education secretary Alejandro Tiana said that in 2017 the government implemented a special “900” telephone number for reporting school bullying and since October has fielded a total of 1,603 calls to the hotline.
Of those, Tiana said, 941 were referred to social services, 370 of the cases were dealt with by the ministry because they required legal counsel, while 18 of the bullying cases were so severe that law enforcement authorities were called in to investigate.
According to Amnesty Spain director Esteban Beltrán, the government needs to clearly set down a “zero tolerance” plan for school bullying in Spain and needs to provide “a quick and effective response that mitigates and prevents this grave problem”.
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