details of interview
Role of the Interviewed: physical education teacher
Type of radicalization: racism, political radicalization, right-wing extremism
Historical period collocation: 2016
Date/Country of the Interview: 11/10/2018, Greece
Interviewer: Municipality of Evrotas
Municipality of Evrotas
Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of radicalization during your activity in sport organizations? What kind of radicalizations have you detected? (Gender, politics, religion, racism, crime, homophobia…)
Unfortunately 2 years ago I experienced a situation of radicalisation of a young boy, a student of mine.
Telling your story. What has happened? How has the story started? How did you realize what was going on? What kind of signals could you detect? How do you explain radicalization, referring to your experience?
Our town is a rural area with many crops and cultivations, inhabited also by many immigrants who are residing here with their families legally and permanently and are working in the farms. Accordingly, their children attend school regularly. In the high school that I was teaching 2 years ago we had many students with a migrant background and we had never faced any racist incident before.
During my class, I was usually coaching the boys’ football and the girls’ basketball. At the start of the school year I hadn’t faced any problem or racist incident. However, during the middle of the school year I noticed that during the football matches, one of my students and more particular a young boy was having a quite aggressive behavior towards to all his classmates who happened to have a migrant background. He was making fun of them, using nasty expressions and insults, making offensive comments, using verbal violence, sometimes followed by bad gestures and physical violence. The comments included expressions like “You are inferior”, “You are a threat to the Greek nationality” and many other. Many of the rest of my students - his classmates came to me and said that he keeps attacking the children and repeating those words during school breaks and after school and that he is also talking to his friends about far right political parties and their ideology.
I have limited experience on the topic of radicalisation but based on my overall experience as a teacher, I can say that in this specific case, parents had influenced the radicalisation process of this young boy.
Have you tried to cope with this situation? What was possible to do? What have you done? Have you involved other people/organizations? Who was involved?
Every time that such comments or unacceptable behavior were brought to my attention I was disapproving his attitude, scolding him and maintaining order. But this wasn’t enough. Many times I was inviting him to talk privately, where I was trying to explain many things to him, including issues such as violence, diversity, unacceptable behavior and other related topics. Despite my efforts, he continued misbehaving and causing trouble when I was not present. In the meantime, I had already informed all the teaching staff of the school as well as the principal about the incidents and the child’s behavior.
I didn’t give up; I continued trying to cope with the situation. The next step was to call his parents and discuss with them, as the situation was turning more serious. His parents never showed up in our meeting and when they were coming to school, either to pick up their child, or to get informed and receive his grades, we were trying to talk with them but they were always avoiding us by pretending that they are in a rush and that they have got some unfinished business to take care of.
Did you feel you had the skills to manage this kind of situations? Which was the most difficult part of it? Have you had any form of support?
No, I didn’t and I don’t have the skills to cope with this kind of situation and I believe that this was and still is the most difficult part. I still fill that I didn’t achieve anything. I couldn’t manage to alter his behavior. I had the support of the principal and of the teaching community but this proved to be inadequate.
End of the story. How did the story end up? What have you learned from this personal experience? What would you say to people who are living similar situations?
This situation had not been improved until the end of the school year and during the period that I was teaching there. The next year I was transferred to a new school. I strongly believe that we also needed the support of his parents and of course of a specialist, as none of us were qualified to cope with something like that.