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25 years

One in every three schoolchildren experience peer violence. Physical aggression, psychological violence and cyber bullying are common among young people. The situation is difficult as victims are reluctant to talk about their experiences and usually refrain from reporting the problem. So how can we help them? How do we spread awareness among teachers and build a positive school atmosphere? A solution to this problem was developed by dr Małgorzata Wójcik and dr Radosław Kaczan, psychologists from SWPS University.

Problem

Peer violence among children and adolescents

About 35% of pupils in Poland have experienced or are experiencing violence from their peers - the scale of the problem is therefore huge. Physical aggression and psychological violence are common in Polish schools. Another very dangerous phenomenon is cyber bullying which is extremely difficult for adults to notice. Only about 20 percent of adolescents ages 14-18 talk about violent situations they experience as a victim or witness. Furthermore, many schools lack a good culture of reporting such problems. Witnesses don’t know how to reach out to their teachers and are afraid of retaliation from the perpetrator.

Is it possible to change that? Do Polish schools have to be so violent? How do we protect children and adolescents from the effects of violence? How do we gain students' trust and encourage them not to be afraid to report problems?

Solution

RESQL - an app developed by scientists from SWPS University

RESQL is a mobile application that enables pupils to anonymously report incidents of violence. All they have to do is report the incident in the app by selecting the category of act of violence that occurred. Providing personal data is voluntary - the student may remain anonymous or disclose their name or their group. The notification is then forwarded to the intervening teacher who, together with other educators, analyzes the problem and takes appropriate action. Each intervening teacher has access to as special dashboard which contains all the necessary information and incoming reports. The programme enables head teachers to monitor the problem of violence at school, prepare reports in the form of summaries and analyse the diagnosed problems together with the teaching staff.

RESQL not only makes it easier to deal with the issues raised, but also helps prevent peer violence by educating both children and adults. In addition to the mobile application, the creators of RESQL offer intervention kits to help school staff respond appropriately in crisis situations and special lesson plans addressing the issue of aggression and psychological mechanisms surrounding violence. The materials for teachers prepared by psychologists and educators from SWPS University have already been tested in primary and secondary schools.

Why?

We feel responsible for children and adolescents

What was the driving motive for creating such a tool? It was responsibility for children and adolescents which dr Radosław Kaczan and dr Małgorzata Wójcik, researchers from SWPS University and creators of the RESQL system, wouldn’t back away from. In their research, they’ve been engaging with pupils’ problems for years now. Developing the RESQL app, they worked with middle school pupils, secondary school students, and teachers. They then diagnosed their needs and concerns - as psychologists, they felt responsible for the atmosphere in which young people learn and grow. After meeting and discussing with them, they determined that the way to report violence is necessarily anonymous. The power of being a witness has also been revealed - witnesses only respond if they know how to do so. The researchers also determined why students don't report violence and what would have to happen for that to change.

In their work on the project, our researchers involved numerous adolescent teams which ultimately led to the creation of RESQL. It was made to help. It’s a responsible project through which teachers can not only respond to specific reports, but also take action to create a more supportive school climate.

Radosław Kaczan - Uniwersytet SWPS

Radosław Kaczan, Ph.D.

Head of the RESQL project, psychologist from SWPS University in Warsaw. His scientific interests include the psychology of human development, construction of diagnostic tools to study the development of children and adolescents, competence diagnosis, and support for lifelong learning. He also conducts research into peer violence in schools and implements programs aiming to counteract this phenomenon. Previously, he headed the research project entitled "Monitoring the school environment and preventing risky behaviors including peer violence".

Małgorzata Wójcik, Ph.D.

Expert working in the RESQL project, psychologist from SWPS University in Katowice. She worked as an English teacher and class tutor in elementary and middle schools for many years. Her current work examines the causes and manifestations of school violence and peer group dynamics. She and her team develop and implement innovative educational programs to prevent violence, social stigma and discrimination in peer groups.

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RESQL 25 lat 02
RESQL App prevents violence in schools

Close to 50 percent of middle and secondary school students admit to having been bullied or harassed at school. Studies indicate that physical aggression and psychological bullying are not uncommon among teenagers.

www.swps.pl/25-lat