The Italian Almanac
Yellow Card for Naughty Kids
Naughty school children must receive a `yellow card` warning before teachers can fail them for bad behaviour, the cabinet agreed. Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini brought back an official grade for high-school students` behaviour in October as part of efforts to curb a rise in bullying, and if students receive a score of five or less out of ten they must repeat the school year.
The cabinet clarified a new set of criteria that can result in a child receiving a poor conduct mark. These include failing to regularly attend lessons or study hard, not showing ``the same respect they ask (to be shown) themselves`` to the headmaster, teachers, school staff and fellow pupils, ignoring safety rules, using school equipment for non-educational purposes or damaging school property.
The minister`s new Students` Statute replaced regulations that had been in force since the Fascist era. Until Gelmini resuscitated the behaviour grade, schools were only able to suspend students for two weeks for misconduct but not expel or fail them. Gelmini has been determined to crack down on bullying following a string of incidents in Italian schools, both between pupils themselves and between children and their teachers.
The incidents have included taunting disabled or otherwise `different` kids, spreading earthworms, wrecking facilities, setting fire to classmates` and teachers` hair and molesting or raping girls in toilets or classrooms. Many cases have ended up on the Internet after the incidents were filmed by pupils on mobile phones. According to a report issued last month by Milan`s Catholic University, almost 60% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 are involved in classroom bullying either as aggressors, victims or witnesses.