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Old 24.04.2014, 14:03
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Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools

Hiya,

I'm just curious what others have seen since moving here. Is there a more relaxed culture towards children hitting each other, etc. in schools? It seems like the "boys will be boys" concept is very common here and the children not only play rough but also randomly hit others just because they feel like it.
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Old 24.04.2014, 14:36
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

"More relaxed" than...? To where are you wanting to compare? (I am assuming from your avatar that probably US, but maybe not?)
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Old 24.04.2014, 14:44
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

For me, I guess its the US.. but I've also spoken with friends in the UK who were surprised by what all I've seen here.
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Old 24.04.2014, 14:48
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

Parents believe that it is for teachers to sort out discipline and teachers believe it's part of the natural development for kids to 'solve' their own problems, and seem reluctant to intervene in all but serious cases
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Old 24.04.2014, 14:52
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Parents believe that it is for teachers to sort out discipline and teachers believe it's part of the natural development for kids to 'solve' their own problems, and seem reluctant to intervene in all but serious cases
Yes, I have noticed this as well.


I've also been told by another expat that boys tend to be left to solve it themselves, while girls are babied more. Although, this could be the case for a lot of other places, as well.
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Old 24.04.2014, 14:53
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

Watching my nephews and comparing it to what I remember growing up (in US), it seems about the same - but that would have been 30+ years ago for me.

Hearing from friends and family who are teachers and / or have kids in elementary school (5 - 12yo), it seems that the very strong effort to avoid law suits between parents or parents vs school has lead to some severe behavioral policing among kids in that age group. No chasing or else it's "sexual harassment", no rough play because it's "bullying" or simply "fighting" which can lead to trouble.

So, probably here, it would seem a lot more permissive, and yes, a bit more of "boys will be boys". But here there is a lot more effort made to allow kids to explore, be adventurous and do "dangerous" things (hikes in the forest, teaching to cut their own veggies for z'vieri, etc) than in the US anyhow, so normal childhood roughness seems like it would fall in as something that is given some go-ahead (but probably fairly closely watched over).
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Old 24.04.2014, 15:02
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

There was a boy in my son's class who was a bit of a scrapper and quick with his fists but I think the general feel among the parents of the other kids in the class was to tell their own kids to "fight back" if he hits you.

Several months down the line and more than a few retaliations and skirmishes in the playground the little barsteward has turned into a fairly nice kid.

To give the teacher some credit she did step in but only in a limited capacity and kind of let the other kids in the class put him in his place.

If it were my son who was the one kicking off all the time, I think I would prefer this approach. It teaches them at a grass roots level that being a little sh*t is not going to win friends and influence people.

It would be infinitely more effective than well-meaning grown ups talking in psycho-babble about "Do you think your friends feel sad when you are a naughty boy?" and other self-help book platitudes which mean nothing to your average 8 year old.
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Old 25.04.2014, 15:40
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

Hi there

Comparing my children's (fairly rough) inner city London school, where it was not uncommon for kids' parents to be in jail, to very middle class, bucolic Swiss primary school, I would say a lot more hitting, aggression and general boisterousness was allowed in the latter.

How you view this situation really depends on your general point of view, and also experience of being the parent of a hitter, the hit-ee or the simple by-stander. The pro "boys will be boys" attitude works pretty well if your children are not being pulled through a hedge on a regular basis.

On the whole, it has been my experience that children will do what they are allowed to do. In the case of our rough, inner city school, which had to provide a very safe environment for some pretty traumatised kids, there was a total ban on physical contact, with real repercussions for transgressions. And children more or less respected that. In our Swiss school, the situation was a lot more liberal, and -- surprise, surprise -- hitting was more of an issue. I find that grey zones tend to invite more testing of the boundaries, and "might makes right" ultimately prevails when kids are left to sort things out on their own.
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Old 25.04.2014, 16:08
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Hi there

Comparing my children's (fairly rough) inner city London school, where it was not uncommon for kids' parents to be in jail, to very middle class, bucolic Swiss primary school, I would say a lot more hitting, aggression and general boisterousness was allowed in the latter.

How you view this situation really depends on your general point of view, and also experience of being the parent of a hitter, the hit-ee or the simple by-stander. The pro "boys will be boys" attitude works pretty well if your children are not being pulled through a hedge on a regular basis.

On the whole, it has been my experience that children will do what they are allowed to do. In the case of our rough, inner city school, which had to provide a very safe environment for some pretty traumatised kids, there was a total ban on physical contact, with real repercussions for transgressions. And children more or less respected that. In our Swiss school, the situation was a lot more liberal, and -- surprise, surprise -- hitting was more of an issue. I find that grey zones tend to invite more testing of the boundaries, and "might makes right" ultimately prevails when kids are left to sort things out on their own.

The "Swiss culture" is a no body contact one, assaulting anyone will allow them to call in the polizei, which results in being charged with "causing bodily harm", which is a serious offence, and to be avoided, as it remains on their records.

Can only be avoided if children are trained from a young age to not launch against others. If school teachers are not "doing their job" they need to be corrected.

Teachers take over the responsibilities/duties of the parents at the schools. Do parents allow their children to assault others?

Hitting and "rough play" could lead to a young adult acting irresponsibly in the future ... from habits formed when young.

One young man I know - to shut someone up he slammed a glass ashtray into the back of his head. Only after having to deal with the Polizei did he actually realise that his aggression had gotten the best of him ... from his old school habits.
Luckily the person he`d assaulted declined to press charges, as they`d all had a bit too much to drink, so they remained friends - sort-of.
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Old 25.04.2014, 17:10
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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The "Swiss culture" is a no body contact one, assaulting anyone will allow them to call in the polizei, which results in being charged with "causing bodily harm", which is a serious offence, and to be avoided, as it remains on their records.

Can only be avoided if children are trained from a young age to not launch against others. If school teachers are not "doing their job" they need to be corrected.

Teachers take over the responsibilities/duties of the parents at the schools. Do parents allow their children to assault others?

Hitting and "rough play" could lead to a young adult acting irresponsibly in the future ... from habits formed when young.

One young man I know - to shut someone up he slammed a glass ashtray into the back of his head. Only after having to deal with the Polizei did he actually realise that his aggression had gotten the best of him ... from his old school habits.
Luckily the person he`d assaulted declined to press charges, as they`d all had a bit too much to drink, so they remained friends - sort-of.
I think it's a fine (ish) line. Either you allow kids to defend themselves and keep an eye out so it doesn't spiral out of control or you step in at every hint of a kid about to lose its cool and crush any attempt by kids learning to resolve conflict themselves.

Of course, as a parent, you try to keep your child on the straight and narrow and educate them not to kick seven shades of shit out of a classmate for stealing a pencil but you also have to let them find out how to resolve it for themselves.

A wise teacher told me once that if you never let a child experience something negative, they will never learn how to deal with it or avoid it in future.

I would say the proof is in the pudding anyway. The kids here seem a lot more grounded and less aggressive when they are teenagers. Having been many years in Zurich and moved around the city when there are bands of kids coming out of school, they are surely boisterous and loud and sometimes not so well mannered but the general feel is there is no aggression.

Perhaps they just get it all out of their system when they are in primary school?
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Old 25.04.2014, 17:28
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

Interesting article (in German only, sorry) in/on today's 20min.ch, which might give further insight in this problem.
By the way, I like this passage here

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"Es gibt kein Betty-Bossi-Rezept für ein friedfertiges Kind: Die besten Eltern können ein Schläger-Kind haben und die schlechtesten Eltern ein friedliches Kind. Denn ob ein Kind gewalttätig ist oder nicht, kann auch viele andere Ursachen haben."
Which by all means, doesn't automatically mean that the parents or the family must be blamed for an aggressive kid. There's many factors which might cause this.
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Old 25.04.2014, 17:58
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Hiya,

I'm just curious what others have seen since moving here. Is there a more relaxed culture towards children hitting each other, etc. in schools? It seems like the "boys will be boys" concept is very common here and the children not only play rough but also randomly hit others just because they feel like it.
We noticed a lot more pushing and malicious behaviour dealt by the older kids to the younger ones in playgrounds when we first arrived. Whether this is representative I can't say, but it was very noticeable to us when we first got here from the UK.
There was a lot of touchy-feely sitting around talking about bullying in our UK primary school, seemed to do the trick. Younger kids are more impressionable though.
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Old 25.04.2014, 18:32
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

Hmmm! My children have been to two different primary schools (in UK) and both have been very big on anti-bullying (I know the thread title says not bullying but the things described in this thread would very much be classed as bullying over here) it's drummed into them to never ever hit back etc, it's all part of the walk-them-to-the-door culture I think.

My eldest is already not-too-thrilled with the prospect of moving (although she likes the walking-to-school-independently ethos), and I don't think telling her "also, you're more likely to get pushed around here and it's no good telling the teacher either, you should push them back instead ok!?" would go down too well Unless it's absolutely necessary???? If it's likely to happen I feel like I should prep her...
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Old 25.04.2014, 18:44
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Hmmm! My children have been to two different primary schools (in UK) and both have been very big on anti-bullying (I know the thread title says not bullying but the things described in this thread would very much be classed as bullying over here) it's drummed into them to never ever hit back etc, it's all part of the walk-them-to-the-door culture I think.

My eldest is already not-too-thrilled with the prospect of moving (although she likes the walking-to-school-independently ethos), and I don't think telling her "also, you're more likely to get pushed around here and it's no good telling the teacher either, you should push them back instead ok!?" would go down too well Unless it's absolutely necessary???? If it's likely to happen I feel like I should prep her...
Its not likely to happen. Don't set her up for a fall.

And not all of us believe in the "hit them back" mentality. This has never been tolerated at either of the schools my child has been at. They were also hot on bullying and had yearly "seminar" type things where there was a lot of discussion/role play about the subject. Any bullying (verbal or physical) was dealt with swiftly and left the children in no doubt that they did not want to be on the receiving end of such punishment.

I usually find there is generally a consensus on most parenting issues on here (together with the minority attendant discord you would also expect) but the one issue where I feel myself to be clearly in the minority is on the "don't hit back" message.
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Old 25.04.2014, 18:44
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

I'm from the US with 3 boys and 1 girl in the local schools for the past 5 years. I've noticed very little aggression amongst the girls, but was quite surprised how aggressive the boys were.

The oldest boy, now 15, was confident and athletic and had no trouble standing up for himself at 10 when we first moved here. He's in Gymnasium now and the aggression just doesn't exist the way it did in OS.

The now 11 year boy old was in a class with big, aggressive boys in first grade. He's not so athletic or big or confident and didn't know any German. He was picked on. A lot. We ended up at the school psychologist where he was told he must stand up for himself and fight back if necessary to defend himself or he'd be picked on forever. That was all it took, he'll hold his own now and isn't bothered.

The 8 year old boy has been in this environment since he was 3 so it's normal to him. He's had a few problems with aggressive kids, but as the others said, when the kids have to sort it out themselves, it's usually good for all of them.

Great topic; I've often wondered if others dealt with this issue.
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Old 25.04.2014, 18:52
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

I should clarify, when I say my children can stand up for themselves, I mean not caving in to bullying. We're pretty anti-violence and don't necessarily believe in fighting aggression with aggression. Hitting is an absolute last resort and my son was told just that by the psychologist...only do it if you absolutely have to in order to defend yourself.
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Old 25.04.2014, 18:58
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Its not likely to happen. Don't set her up for a fall.

And not all of us believe in the "hit them back" mentality. This has never been tolerated at either of the schools my child has been at. They were also hot on bullying and had yearly "seminar" type things where there was a lot of discussion/role play about the subject. Any bullying (verbal or physical) was dealt with swiftly and left the children in no doubt that they did not want to be on the receiving end of such punishment.

I usually find there is generally a consensus on most parenting issues on here (together with the minority attendant discord you would also expect) but the one issue where I feel myself to be clearly in the minority is on the "don't hit back" message.
This has been our experience too. We must have moved here just before the annual 'respect' your class mates/ bullying is not acceptable workshop and have never had any problems here. It could also have been that our son has always been a good head and shoulders taller than all the other boys in his class and whilst he's not at all athletic I guess the other kids wouldn't have liked to take their chances with him. Given that we fall into the hitting back is not the answer category though he wouldn't actually have put up a fight.

Having spent a fair bit of time recently hanging around the local secondary school I was pleasantly surprised by how well behaved the teenagers all were especially compared to the ones I've seen in the UK.
Smoking behind the bike sheds still seems to be a popular pass time though.

Last edited by Belgianmum; 25.04.2014 at 19:16.
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Old 25.04.2014, 18:59
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Hmmm! My children have been to two different primary schools (in UK) and both have been very big on anti-bullying (I know the thread title says not bullying but the things described in this thread would very much be classed as bullying over here) it's drummed into them to never ever hit back etc, it's all part of the walk-them-to-the-door culture I think.

My eldest is already not-too-thrilled with the prospect of moving (although she likes the walking-to-school-independently ethos), and I don't think telling her "also, you're more likely to get pushed around here and it's no good telling the teacher either, you should push them back instead ok!?" would go down too well Unless it's absolutely necessary???? If it's likely to happen I feel like I should prep her...
Yes, bullying is dealt with here through teachers and parents, if necessary. It's certainly not tolerated.

What I was referring to is minor one-off scuffles in the playground which the teachers tend to keep on the radar but don't intervene unless it becomes sinister or sustained.

The culture here is less "British" for want of a better word where everyone queues and waits their turn. If you are too slow in a bakery, for example, someone is in front of you and ordering before you've had time to blink. Obviously there are exceptions where the other person will remind you that you are next but, on the whole, they will just seize the opportunity and exercise the "you snooze, you lose" thing.

Same thing goes for getting off trains/trams with a bit of elbowing/jiggling/pushing at rush-hour.

This is the kind of behaviour in schools which I think shocks people coming from the "queue nicely and wait your turn" cultures. Kids here just grow up with it and it carries on into adulthood.
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Old 25.04.2014, 20:09
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

I'm normally a total pacifist, but I absolutely told my children to hit back once I figured out what was going on. Anything else would have been cruel, as children don't like parents to get involved. I even sent them to self-defence classes, which is the standard guidance from schools when children get picked on. Martial arts courses do a roaring trade in my town.

I find it interesting that its the bullied child who needs to visit the psychologist -- not the aggressors.

I don't see how a lax attitude to playground roughness helps children learn anything other than force works a charm. Certainly no adult would ever put up with it, or think it helps them grow.

I don't find this to be a positive about Swiss life. Its just tolerated by some/not all schools, but seems to be a very standard complaint among both expats and Swiss.

It should change, starting with a standard policy in any school that takes a firm line on bullying/racism etc...
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Old 25.04.2014, 23:56
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Re: Aggression in Swiss Primary Schools - not bullying

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Hmmm! My children have been to two different primary schools (in UK) and both have been very big on anti-bullying (I know the thread title says not bullying but the things described in this thread would very much be classed as bullying over here) it's drummed into them to never ever hit back etc, it's all part of the walk-them-to-the-door culture I think.

My eldest is already not-too-thrilled with the prospect of moving (although she likes the walking-to-school-independently ethos), and I don't think telling her "also, you're more likely to get pushed around here and it's no good telling the teacher either, you should push them back instead ok!?" would go down too well Unless it's absolutely necessary???? If it's likely to happen I feel like I should prep her...
This is kind of why I'm asking. My child was very badly bullied at his last school, which, I feel, could have been handled better by the teachers/admin. He's at a new school now with a wonderful new teacher, but there's still more aggression than I'm used to... and he's suffering from trauma from the previous experience, so he is having issues judging it himself. I'm trying to help my son learn how to deal with "normal" levels of aggression, but to me, its still more than I'm used to seeing. So, I'm trying to figure out what is normal here, so that I can help him deal with what is likely.. know what I mean? I was even told "boys will be boys" in the bullying situation, which was NOT standard aggression, so I'm really having a hard time gauging what is considered acceptable in a school here.
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