Germany: Elementary school teachers put out call for help over ′violent′ students | News | DW | 23.02.2018
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Germany: Elementary school teachers put out call for help over 'violent' students

Teachers at an elementary school in Germany have appealed to parents for help in dealing with "extreme physical violence" from young students. With disciplinary measures failing, teachers are also turning to the police.

A child in an acted-out scene is bullied by another child (picture-alliance/dpa/U. Baumgarten)

This scene has been staged

Frequent fighting on the playground and in classrooms, children running out of class and leaving school, as well as "permanent" disruptions have turned normal class time into a daily nightmare for an elementary school in central Germany, southeast of Hanover.

Teachers at Aue-Fallstein elementary school have called on parents to help in dealing with violence and disruptive behavior from even their youngest students, local media reported on Friday.

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The teachers sent parents a letter shortly before the winter break detailing issues which have been plaguing the school since the beginning of the school year, local newspaper Volksstimme and regional public broadcaster MDR reported.

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Students 'afraid of classmates'

The principal of the school, located near the town of Osterwieck in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, declined to comment on the issues outlined in the letter. Parents, however, said teachers made the right decision by sending out the letter.

"This is about violence in the school and sabotage," parents' council member Mandy Bähsel told MDR. She added that "children might not even dare to go to school, because they're afraid of classmates because they've been beaten."

She added that there were children in the first, second and third grades at the school that don't respect teachers or other students.

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Classroom 'sabotage' and 'physical violence'

According to Volksstimme, teachers detailed a long list of issues in their letter, including "extreme physical violence in class and during recess" as well as "sabotaging class time through permanent disruptions and brawls."

Some students also "left class without permission" and derailed class by not showing up or "by hiding on school grounds," the paper reported, citing the letter.

Sources told the Volksstimme that there were cases where children would simply leave school or run away while walking between the village and the school's gym. Some students also reportedly attacked classmates on the school bus.

Volksstimme noted that out of all the 163 students at the school, only one child has a family with an immigrant background, and that the students who were acting out came from wealthy and poorer families alike.

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Police to get involved

With disciplinary measures like suspensions and mandatory essays failing to make an impact on the students' behavior, the teachers said they would now resort to stricter measures.

When a child violates the rules, parents must now promptly pick up their child from school — a request that had been previously ignored by some parents, according to the Volksstimme report. Students may also face a five-day suspension.

For particularly severe cases involving physical injuries, the police and ambulance services will also be called in the future.

Children raise their hands in a school in Germany (imago/photothek/F. Gaertner)

One parent said young students in first, second and third grade were already showing signs of violence

Osterwieck police commissioner Gerd Lohse told Volksstimme that authorities were already aware of problems at the school and were ready to help. He said local police already planned on visiting the school's classrooms to make it clear to students what can happen when they run off from school.

"The teacher's responsibility for the children ends at the school fence. Outside of the school grounds, parents are responsible for their child," Lohse told the paper.

Saxony-Anhalt's state school board told MDR and Volksstimme that the teachers at Aue-Fallstein elementary school would soon receive special training and that "an analysis of the cause is necessary" in order to address the situation.

As for the children, an unnamed parent told MDR: "It's the same everywhere, I think, that it's getting crazier ... it starts somewhere in elementary school."

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