Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children
. 5 - 7 July 2005 Ljubljana, Slovenia  
Europe and Central Asia






More information


by setting:

by organization:





Copy Rights

The Charter is a guide that lays down the principles

This interview is copyright-free for publication by your media.

Olga, from Ukraine, and Andreas, from Finland, were in Strasbourg from 14 to 18 July 2004, helping to prepare the draft European Charter for a democratic school without violence. In this interview they compare their experience of working together and their hope that the Charter will be a source of inspiration for organising life in schools all over Europe.

Interview (16.7.2004)

Question: Olga and Andreas, you are Ukrainian and Finnish. You are both 17 years old and you came to Strasbourg to prepare and adopt a draft Charter for a democratic school without violence. Have you personally experienced any violent situations in your respective schools?

Olga: In my school there is a lot of horseplay, bullying, cheating in exams and the like. I think the Charter will help me to cope with situations like these. To settle the question of punishment, for example, which should not be designed to hurt but to teach, to make people who resort to violence understand and feel ashamed of themselves. In taking part in this project I am acknowledging that violence exists but I am also saying that school without violence is something perfectly possible.

Andreas: I have seen violence in my years at school too, in particular in the school I was at before. I tried to do something about it by joining an “anti-violence“ group that did its best to calm things down. That's how I know some schools have really serious problems and something needs to be done about it. It is possible - in the school I go to now there is hardly any violence at all, thanks to an excellent prevention system.

Question: Do you think the Charter you have drafted will really change things for pupils in schools and their right to democratically participate in decision making?

Olga: In Ukraine we already have pupils' councils and decision-making bodies at school. I think the Charter will make their work easier. I will certainly be able to explain the Charter to everyone around me. It's very important for my country's future as we need to strengthen democracy there. Today's schoolchildren are the future of our country. It is our duty to work for more democracy, equality and openness. The Charter is not only important for me, my school or my region but for the whole country.

Andreas: Through this Charter we say what we mean by a democratic school. That is very important because now we can explain the concept and how it works. Now we have a guide that lays down the principles. Every school will be able to use this document to organise itself and compare its practices with the principles of the Charter. The important thing now is to publicise it as widely as possible, so that everyone, referring to it, could find the best formula and take the right decision depending on the problem he or she faces.

Question: As you leave Strasbourg, what will you most remember about your participation in the Strasbourg project?

Olga: For me it was meeting and making friends with other young people from different parts of Europe. I hope to continue this co-operation with them in the future.
In Ukraine, with what I have learnt in Strasbourg, I think I will be able to organise meetings on the same subject in my region. It will be an opportunity to adapt and improve the Charter. I have already taken part in meetings like this in Ukraine, but never with people from all over Europe.

Andreas: Like most of the participants what marked me most was this coming together of different nationalities, different languages, different cultures and different ways of thinking. It broadened my mind and made me look at the issues from different viewpoints. I really enjoyed the atmosphere; I think it taught me a lot about myself and made me a better person. I am grateful to the organisers for this opportunity to learn to take other people's views and sensitivities into account. It was a wonderful experience to be here.

Story: Word

For more information:

Council of Europe
Cathie Burton
Press Officer
Council of Europe
Strasbourg , France
Tel.: +33 3 88 41 28 93. Mobile: +33 685 11 64 93