Iuventa / Výskum mládeže / Data catalogue / 2010 / Expressions of intolerance, violence and extremism by young people aged 13 to 18

Expressions of intolerance, violence and extremism by young people aged 13 to 18

Research identification sheet ID: DAYR 031

Author of the survey: Mgr. Marcela Bieliková (survey team leader)
PhDr. Marianna Pétiová, PhD., Mgr. Naďa Kiripolská, Bc. Martina Slovíková, Mgr. Pavol Hašan
Period of data collection:
June 2009
Data collection:
ASA, Bratislava


The project presents a nationwide, representative monitoring of opinions and attitudes of young people aged 13 to 17 on expressions of violence, intolerance and extremism. It is based on the assumption that understanding the situation in the field of intolerance, violence and extremism by the youth in the age from 13 to 17 years will make it possible to eliminate these serious problems.

Methodology of the survey and survey sample

The survey was carried out using the method of questionnaire for children and young people aged 13 to 18, with focus on four basic areas:

  1. Family
  2. Relations at school and peer group
  3. Expression of violence
  4. Intolerance and extremism

The survey set consisted of children and young people aged 13 to 18 – students of the 7th, 8th and 9th year at the primary school and students of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year at all types of secondary schools. There were primary and secondary school (grammar schools and secondary vocational schools) from each region included to the survey by random selection. The return rate was 92 % and, statistically, there were 1,158 questionnaires filled in by students of primary and secondary schools processed.

Results of the survey

In connection to the issue of violence of students at primary and secondary schools, the purpose of the survey was to map the situation in family environment, age peer group and at school with focus on expression of violence and aggressive behaviour of children and young people aged 13 to 18. Collected results were compared to results of the survey of 2007.

1. Family

Comparison of results to data from 2007 confirmed a growing trend of divorce rate in our society as there was an increase of the share of respondents living with one parent (2009: 16,2 %, 2007: 11,0 %), as well as with a step parent (2009: 5,9 %, 2007: 4,9 %). At the same time, the number of children and young people stating they lived in a complete family decreased (2009: 74,8 %, 2007: 81,8.%).

Based on the comparison of results for the period of two years it is possible to observe a significant decrease of democratic approach of parents to children (2009: 70,6 %, 2007: 82,1 %) on one hand, while, on the other hand, there was a material increase in the number of students admitting a liberal approach in families (2009: 14,6 %, 2007: 5,4 %). There was also a slight decline in the number of respondents stating authoritative approach of fathers and mothers (2009: 13,3 %, 2007: 12,5 %). Based on data presented, it is evident that currently there are more parents who leave decisions up to their children, however, with full responsibility for their own actions.

2. Relations at school and in peer groups

Comparison of data to findings from 2007 showed that, on one hand, there was a slight decline in the number of respondents with good, friendly relations to their school mates (2007: 90,5 %, 2009: 87,7 %), however, at the same time, the number of those students who do not understand each other and do not go along well with their school mates increased (2007: 5,2 %, 2009: 6,3 %). The percentage of respondents who are indifferent to their school mates did not change (2007: 4,3 %, 2009: 4,7 %). Even those results pointed out at the fact that establishing negative attitudes to age peers has a slightly increasing trend.

Comparison of results showed a tendency of decline of engagement of addressed young people aged 13 to 18 in group activities either at school (2007: 15,5 %, 2009: 13,4 %) or also outside the school (2007: 54,8 %, 2009: 49,6 %) and increase of the number of those not belonging to any group (2007: 8,1 %, 2009: 15,2 %).

3. Expressions of violence

Comparison of data for years 2007 and 2009 showed a slight increase in the number of respondents who have experience with this negative effect (2007: 37,8 %, 2009: 41,7 %). There was also a slight increase in the number of respondents who were victims to bullying (2007: 3,8 %, 2009: 5,0 %) or who witnessed such event (2007: 31,1 %, 2009: 33,3 %), with a rising tendency of respondents in the group who witnessed bullying of their school mates (2007: 19,2 %, 2009: 23,4 %). The above implies that such expressions of violence are more spread among children and the youth than two years ago, with a rising tendency especially at schools. There was a constant number of students of primary and secondary schools who admitted they belonged to aggressors and that they bullied the others (2007: 2,9 %, 2009: 3,1 %).

In the survey we analysed not only expressions of violent behaviour of children and young people in the position of witnesses but we also were interested in uncovering the extent to which the respondents also became victims of such behaviour at school and in families and peer groups. Based on results acquired, it is possible to conclude that the order of expression of violence made on children and young people is almost identical in all three monitored environments (school, family, peer group); with vulgar invectives and ironic comments as the most frequent manifestations of it.

At school, respondents in the position of witnesses and victims most commonly became targets of vulgar invectives, ironic and mocking comments and damaging of personal belongings. In families, the responding students in the position of victims experienced aggressive behaviour more often, while, as witnesses they rather heard threats and, in peer group, they witnessed aggressive behaviour, while their own experience [of victims] was rather in the form of sexual harassment. A detailed analysis of results from the position of victims showed that, at schools, responding students of primary and secondary schools were most commonly victims of vulgar invectives and ironizing. Almost one out of six respondents had been a victim of damaging personal belongings, aggressive behaviour of students and threats. Less than 10 % of respondents admitted sexual harassment at school.

Similar survey results were acquired in families, even though with significantly lower percentage values. Even that environment is dominated by vulgar invectives, ironizing and mocking, with aggressive behaviour of family members, threats and damaging of personal belongings in a lower extent. 2,2 % of respondents aged 13 to 18 became victims to sexual harassment in their families. More than one-third of respondents became targets of vulgar invectives and ironic comments in a group of peers. Approximately one in ten respondents experienced sexual harassment, aggressive behaviour and threats in that environment, and the respondents admitted, to the lowest extent, personal experience in demanding and damaging personal belongings. It is bewildering that the above violent behaviour expressions in such large extent can be found not only in school environment but also in informal groups of peers. More detailed data analysis can be found in the following table.

Table No. 1

Expressions of violence     At school     In families    In peer group

     Witness      Victim     Witness      Victim    Witness      Victim

Vulgar invectives    84.5     50.8     22.2     13.3     77.1      39.1

Ironizing      77.9     49.3     15.9     12.3     61.2     30.9

Aggressive behaviour     43.6     14.3     8.4     6.2     34.5     10.6

Threats      36.9     14.2     8.6     6.0     28.5     10.6

Damaging personal belongings     47.7     16.0     8.5     4.7     31.3     8.2

Sexual harassment     19.2     9.1     2.5     2.2     21.5     11.1

Demanding things     26.8     12.4     4.7     3.0     21.4     9.7

Damaging assets     41.6     N     5.3     N     31.6     N

N- not surveyed

Collected survey results pointed out at the fact that dominant manifestations of violence are identical at schools, in families as well as in peer groups. It is evident that students get in touch with manifestations of violence as witnesses or as direct participants (aggressors or victims).

4. Intolerance and extremism

Intolerant thinking of young people was expressed in conduct to people with different sexual orientation (37,6%), people who were mentally disabled (27,7 %), who were secluded and quiet (24,4 %), had different opinions on life (16,5 %), had certain physical disability (15,2 %), were representatives of a different race (13,6 %) or wore outdated clothes (11,7%).

Children and young people would have smaller reservations if their friend were overweight (8,0 %), if they had different religious creed (7,0 %), if they observed different cultural habits (6.9%), or possibly if they were of different ancestry (6,5 %). Young people minded least if their friends were from a poor family or came from a different country (both 5,2 %).

Comparison of data showed that the number of respondents who answered positively all options except from a different ancestry increased this year. The biggest increase was observed with variables mapping physical and mental disability as well as different sexual orientation, overweight and opinions of life. Based on the above, it is obvious that children and young people are, compared to 2007, much less tolerant to selected groups of people.

Table No. 2

Would you mind if your friend ...     2007     2009

Had different ancestry      6.2     6.5

Had different religion     5.0     7.7

Had another race     12.0    13.6

Was physically disabled      11.3    15.2

Was mentally disabled      21.6    27.7

Had different sexual orientation    32.7     37.6

Came from a different country     3.4    5.2

Observed different cultural habits     4.6    6.9

Had different opinions of life     11.4    16.5

Came from a poor family     3.5    5.2

Was overweight     4.9    8.0

Wore outdated clothes     9.1    11.7

Was secluded, quiet     22.2    24.4

It is evident from the survey that respondents in Slovakia are the least tolerant to Romas, because as many as 39,0 % presented the opinion that they agree with the statement that those people are less worthy than other people. There was an interesting finding that in the case of black people (5,9 %) and Asiatic people (6,5 %), the positive answers were provided by around 6,0 % of respondents. Disagreement with such statements was expressed by only 38,1% in relation to Romas, while, in the case of black people, as many as three-quarters of respondents disagreed with the statement (69,4 % for Asiatic people). More than one-fifths of students could answer the question in relation to Romas (22,9 %) and Asiatic people (24,1 %), with the lowest number of respondents without opinion in relation to black people (15,5 %). The above indicates that respondents aged 13 to 18 have the highest level of tolerance to black people, whereby the most negatively perceived ethnic minority are Romas who are much more common in Slovakia that the two other ethnic groups of inhabitants.

Recommendations of the survey

  • Results of the survey showed that school mates who are not accepted by their class collective are much often exposed to violence by other than those who are not even interested in becoming included in the class collective. It is a task for teachers to pay increased attention to students who are not, for various reasons, accepted by their class mates.
  • Clarify bullying and justly punish culprits of bullying is a very complex process and therefore we find it important to continuously inform children and young people of this problem and provide them new ways of possible solutions of problem situations.
  • In Slovakia, there are representatives of different ethnic groups, members of various cultures and religious groups and many people approach them with prejudices. Based on collected data, we recommend paying attention to multicultural education in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools.

Prepared by:

PhDr. Marianna Pétiová, PhD.