Respect and kindness at school go a long way towards improving the learning outcomes and personality development of children and teenagers. Schools naturally strive to establish an appreciative and safe learning environment for their pupils. Many of them face considerable challenges in that endeavour. Risk factors for conflict, violence and non-attendance among school children include a high degree of cultural diversity in inner-city neighbourhoods coupled with social, family or individual stress factors among the student body and a shortage of pedagogues at schools. The Berlin state programme proRespekt – a democratic approach to violence-free schools aims to address these issues.
proRespekt helps schools foster a culture of appreciation and safety that allows all children and teenagers to learn and develop. The participating schools receive support in determining and implementing their individual requirements and development plans to prevent prevention, cultivate democracy and increase pupil participation. There are many types of development plans, including the implementation of social learning, the establishment and consolidation of preventative measures and structures aimed at preventing bullying and cyberharassment, the implementation of a preventative concept against sexual violence, and measures to raise awareness of personality rights. Each programme school is assigned one or two proRespekt coaches.
The coaches help pupils develop skills to deal with their own emotions in a healthy way. When conflicts occur, they support their self-efficacy beliefs and encourage them to be respectful towards others in challenging situations. They contribute to the establishment of structures to prevent violence and increase participation at school and support the school pedagogues through case-based counselling. Local proRespekt coordinators provide advice and practical support in the planning and development of pupil-focused services to the coaches. The coordinators contribute their specialist expertise in training conflict resolution workers, involving parents in fostering pupils’ strengths and improving their participation, diversity-focused work with children and teenagers and similar areas.
The proRespekt coordinators work with Fachstelle proRespekt to advise and support participating schools. Apart from consultations and training placements, the schools can avail themselves of professional-development opportunities and workshops. The proRespekt coordinators integrate the participating institutions into their local network, e.g. by organising exchange formats for the school-based proRespekt coaches. As representatives of the programme, they are available to all interest groups from school education and youth welfare, including ones that are not affiliated with the participating schools of the local programme area.
All districts of Berlin and up to 30 schools, regardless of type, may participate in the proRespekt programme. During the pilot phase, Reinickendorf will be the first Berlin district to participate.
The programme is implemented by Fachstelle proRespekt, which consists of a sponsor network including the German Children and Youth Foundation, Gangway – Straßensozialarbeit in Berlin e. V. and Violence Prevention Network gGmbH. The entities of Fachstelle proRespekt contribute their expertise in the fields of school development, street work and violence prevention to the project. The Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family funds the programme.