Gender norms and stereotypes can lead to different forms of gender-based violence and provoke negative effects on our societies. This is why education for gender equality should start from an early age and why schools should promote the creation of healthy and equal relations between children and youth.
Aiming to open the discussion with and for young people on issues such as mental well-being, affectivity and sexuality, gender roles and stereotypes, six European organisations have joined forces to launch itinerant school counselling desks at schools in Greece, Slovenia, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria. Their main goal is to reinforce existing psychological support services for students aged 10-14 and provide them with a safe space where they can share their problems and concerns with a group of experienced professionals.
As part of this counselling programme, a multidisciplinary team of professionals (psychologists, educators, experts on issues related to adolescence, school and prevention of violence) deliver support services, in an itinerant way, tailored to the emerging need of re-building healthy connections among children, and recognizing and preventing teen dating violence and school-related gender-based violence. Students, as well as school staff and families, will soon have easy access to professional individual counselling offered in their schools, by viewing the available schedule of psychologists in their schools through the GENDER TALK online platform and by contacting the psychologists at the schools.
Right now, these services are provided in all partners’ countries. More specifically, the counselling desks of the REBOOT NOW project are active in 13 schools in total in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Bulgaria and Slovenia.
A workshop for exchanging positive practices
As part of the Reboot Now program, 15 psychologists that work with students in 5 European countries and 15 “Youth Advisory Board” members of each country took part in the first 2-day European Experience Exchange Workshop hosted by KMOP – Social Action and Innovation Centre on 30 November – 2 December, in Athens, with the aim to exchange expertise and discuss ways to prevent and combat gender-based violence in schools.
Participants discussed the operation, the first results and the adversities that have been faced during the piloting of the counselling services. In this context, they visited the 10th Middle School of Piraeus and had discussions with school staff and students about the psychologist’s importance at schools and the impact of Covid-19 on their mental health.
During the workshop, there was also a broader discussion on the topic of gender-based violence and ways to raise public awareness, while participants discussed the results of research that was conducted under the REBOOT NOW program concerning mental health, the consequences of covid, and gender-based violence in schools. The research will be published at the start of 2023.
School visit at Piraeus
The activities occurred in the context of REBOOT NOW program, an initiative funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV) of the European Commission (2021-2027), that aims to address challenges concerning children’s well-being, mental health and safety in general, but particularly their increased exposure to gender-based violence and the foreseeable difficulty to create safe and healthy relationships. The organisations collaborating in the program are CESIE (Italy), ZRS COPER (Slovenia), Hope for Children (Cyprus), Animus (Bulgaria) and Villa Montesca (Italy). For more information about the program and the school counselling service, stay tuned on the https://thegendertalk.eu/.