The implications of human rights violations on high school students in the Kingdom of Bahrain

“Education” is considered the prime driving force in the development of civilizations and the axis of measuring the evolution and development of communities. Undoubtedly Bahrain holds a prominent rank in this area according to studies and research, and global reports issued during the last decade. (1)

However, that does not necessarily reflect the progression and sophistication of the national strategy to support education. Moreover, it does not mean that the responsible executive bodies perform their duty honestly and professionally. Had executive bodies exercised neutrality, education outcomes would have been significantly better than the present status. This is not limited to exclusionary policies applied in the Kingdom of Bahrain, associated with imposing a curriculum that glorifies authority and twists history details and identity, as well as the imposition of a particular Islamic education curriculum at the time that proudly claims pluralism and religious tolerance.

Deliberate restrictions to contain the growth of education in Bahrain has a complex history and causes of hateful sectarianism referred to in the “Al-Bandar report” (2) along with the official conspiracy parallel to the reform project of 2002. However, the outcome of the political crisis after the Arab Spring in early 2011, and  the irresponsible reaction of the authorities, including the repressive measures and exercise of provocative violations that comprised all sectors including education which was a fundamental gateway to justify such violations under the pretext of achieving civil peace, school security and the protection of students in educational institutions.

It is obvious that the education sector in Bahrain was major influential and prominent axis in the political crisis, in addition to the health sector, which was made to interject by virtue due to its sensitivity and professionalism in dealing with victims of violations. These two sectors have their structural exclusiveness being the most  influential fields in the community, and the majority of the personnel in the two sectors is opponents of the authorities policies and affiliated with a particular sect. The authorities sensed the seriousness of the situation and used that as a doorway to justify its non-human acts.

This can be seen in a reference to the beginning of the events of 2011 with a call by the “Teachers Association” for a comprehensive strike of the education sector that paralyzed schools and gave a temporary sense of freedom to the opposition groups. However, this move only served to strenghten  the retaliatiry response that was launched by the regime therafter out of revenge.

It’s important  to review violations that the teaching staff suffered and such violations were documented in Mr. Bassiouni’s report of (Commission of Inquiry) (3) including: arrests; torture; judicial rulings; suspension from work and denial of promotion.  Further, documentary evidence relating to students also included: arrests; expulsion; suspension; harassment; discrimination and denial of scholarships. In addition, the effects and consequences they suffered are well documented, including the direct and indirect impact on the male and female students at various educational levels, (our focused segment) not only at an academic level, but also in relation to mental, behavioral and social health disorders.

Hence, it was necessary to highlight these results and the negative repercussions on this group. Away from the political context and its hazardous implications we will limit ourselves in this report to highlighting psychological and behavioral impairment suffered by high school students who are most affected – as we believe – using two tools of interview supported by professional remarks and practical psychological tests, and applying standards of (Cornell for a psychological disorder). (4)

Manifestations of behavioral and psychological disorders

The results of the interviews and meetings conducted by an expert team from  Bahrain Rehabilitation and Anti Violence Organisation (BRAVO), with a number of teachers and social counsels about the most prominent behavioral and psychological implications during the past three years since the start of the winds of the Arab Spring in Bahrain, point out many aspects of behavior disorders including but not limited to:

  • Loss of psychological security by the students, permanent distractedness and lack of focus during classes especially with the increasing rate of security disturbances that takes place from time to time whether they are inside or outside the school boundaries.  This have significantly affected the level of academic achievement, and it must be pointed out the consequences of the arrests and security interventions that have been happening inside the schools, in addition to intensive restrictions initiated at some schools by installation of surveillance cameras and building barriers and high walls that separate school buildings from one another, under the pretext of controlling the situation, to the extent that the school loses its primary function as an educational institution made to create a productive ground for psychological comfort, education and learning.
  • Lack of motivation to learn, increase in the rate of absenteeism, unjustified delay and non-fulfillment of the requirements of study and homework in addition to endeavors to assume initiatives to influence politically are issues of importance and imperative priority as some people believe especially with the prevalence of the idea that education is useless as long as the authorities practice sectarian discrimination and denial of scholarships policy.
  • High frequency of violence inside the school. The atmosphere of obnoxious discrimination produced as a result of the crisis on the basis of loyalty and opposition by the official media and broadcasting hatred, reflected negatively on the relations inside the school. the phenomenon of group quarrel acelerated among students using dangerous tools, especially the quarrels with non-Bahraini students of Arab descent, as well as the manifestations of aggression, bullying and humiliation, and the use of indecent words. The sad issue is the apparent decline of the prestige of teachers and the blunt insults that they receive from some of the students such as threats, humiliation and assault etc. which sparked the grudge and padded hatred by some of them and influenced their enthusiasm to deliver the educational message.
  • Indifference and disinterest: This can be noticed through non-compliance with proper appearance, high rate of escape from the school, leaving the class without permission, obstruction of classes, disobedience, insurgency, failure to follow instructions, inappropriate behavior with the staff, making undesirable manners and other behaviors that reflect the complexity of abnormal psychological disorder.
  • Increase of vandalism phenomenon: It is one of the most prominent manifestations of vulnerability that has sprung up in recent times, especially with the loss of values by students and their sense of psychological alienation from the educational institution, and that the school – as viewed by them – are merely a tiny government institution to practice tyranny and discrimination, that does not protect students from the oppression of the regime’s policies of subjugation, added to the fact that it acts as a place for the arrest of students and teachers.

Security disturbances and violations that students, teachers and the educational sector have been subjected to formed the basis of and need to carry out a practical psychological test (Cornell to diagnose disorders psychosomatic and psychological) to get to know the depth of psychological and moral disorder of this group. This prompted BRAVOs team of experts to implement the test – with its appropriateness to the purpose of the report – during the period 8-18 April 2014 on fifty students (male) as an intentional sample from high school for Al-Jabriyah Boys Industrial Secondary School (34 students) and Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Boys Industrial Secondary School (16 students). The selection of its members was made according to our observation and our knowledge of the current situation, despite the desire of the team to have a random sample that includes some individuals affiliated with the pro-government forces to measure how they are affected – as well – from violations and abuses that have occurred, but the nature of our work as a human rights organization did not enable us to get the required cooperation.

This simplified study can be classified as a descriptive study concerned with the study of current realities on the nature of the consequences caused by the violations that the educational sector and high school students in particular suffered , the study aims to direct and correct the future policie .

the methodology used is a case study approach in order to reach results applicable relatively on other similar units with same characteristics and features.

We cannot be certain that the results illustrated are an direct response to the political crisis in Bahrain, according to the principle of exciting and response – although we believe so – but that would need a comprehensive ul study that measures the correlation factors and their direct and indirect impact on behavior disorders of students in light of the studies hypotheses according to a scientific approach. Nonetheless, we can illustrate the test results to identify the scale of the psychological dilemma that these students suffer from and the urgent need to unite efforts to put an end to these violations and dangerous consequences affecting one of the most important segments of society.

The following is a summary of these outputs:

Disorders of fear and the sense of incompetence: Preliminary results indicate that 15 students from the study sample are suffering from disorders of fear, and that 9 of them exceeded the upper limit of the disorder, which is particularly concerning if compared to the total number of the study sample. This means that 30% of the study sample suffers from fear and sense of incompetence. We reiterate that we cannot be certain that the outputs are necessarily the reflection needed for the political crisis in Bahrain. Nonethelss, our obervations as based on questions posed to the students suggest that they are suffering from a high level of anxiety resultiing out of current events, in feeling that they are being targeted which brings about a sense of injustice and persecution. Some of the questions that have been mutated automatically because they contained certain words such as “inspection”, which received a very high percentage of the students responses

Depression: According to the “Cornell” test, there are five questions to get to know the extent of feeling depressed, a stage beyond fear and anxiety are reflected as a personal attribute with effects on the perception of the individual to life and its worthiness. It seems that 70% of students who participated in the test look at life from this narrow perspective, and to them pessimism and misery are two main attributes. This reflects their assessment of themselves that they suffer frustration and despair of any potential positive change as stated by some of them. It is striking that the depressed students are living with these attributes that evidently influence their academic achievement, not realizing that they are affected.

Panic response and skittish: The following illustrates the scale and extent of panic disorder skittish among students. According to the Cornell test grade (4) means the upper limit indicator of the disorder, while the outputs of the study indicates that 16 students or approximately 32% suffer from these effects. It is worth mentioning that the distinctive feature when applying this standard did not lack talks by students about their concerns and experiences that they suffered or they thought they are vulnerable to .. which reflects the depth of stress and psychological disorder, and weakness resulted  from the continuous violations  on students.

Psychosomatic Symptoms: These are physical symptoms of psychological causes. Through this standard, it is clear that this disorder did not still come to the surface so that the age group for the study sample did not exceed 18 years. It is frightening to see these spillovers appear as they get older, but the extent of students’ sense of exhaustion and fatigue, its impact on the motivation to learn, and the extent of their presence and positive interaction in the classroom is striking. We discern that through the affirmative answer of 41 students to the questions concerning this indicator. What about the reasons – as expressed by some – staying up late at night and participating in protests and continued struggle events is direct cause of this physical and mental exhaustion.

Psychopathic: It refers to a personality disorder, duplication, lack of ability to adapt positively with the surroundings, resort to violence and rampant anger, abuse and other aspects of troubled person. The results also suggest that the 13 students exceeded the upper limit of this disorder, and by speaking to the students a group of them stated that it has become easy lately to provoke them, and their reactions have become out of control impassive to the consequences of their actions and emotions. They complained about laws, methods of control, regulations and instructions used at school.

The results of the syudy as bassed on interviews with teachers or through scale of the “Cornell for a psychological disorder” or even analysis based on professional observation of staff of the task force – is worthy of contemplation and reasoning. Focusing on these effects and the severe consequences caused by violations and aggression in the field of education in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and its noticeable impact on the students at different educational levels and the hazardous consequences of these effects that may be difficult to avoid and reduce them in the future.

We believe that the responsibility resides with the authorities and their irresponsible reaction to current events, particularly those abuses that were taking place within the educational institutions – which are incompatible with all norms, conventions, and international and domestic commitments signed by the government of Bahrain – (1) However, based on our social and human rights responsibility we hope that these calls will rise – distancing the educational institutions from political anxieties, and would prevent students from participation in the political protests in the area. We also hope that the affected students take advantage of psychological programs, events, seminars and activities that are held with the objective of providing psychotherapy and improving mental health, cobined with techniques to improve emotional and mental relaxation in order to create a more efficient generation.

  1. According to the international report issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization / UNESCO

  1. Bandar report relevant to the former King’s adviser Dr. Salah al-Bandar, in which it discloses the conspiracy by the authority in the Kingdom of Bahrain through a scheme for a demographic change to promote the general status quo of the Sunni community and implement mechanisms to disregard Shiite.

  1. Cornell Index Form: Is a tool for personal interview allows evaluation of a large numbers of people in various situations, and contain a series of questions dealing with neurological, psychological and psychosomatic symptoms.

  1. The agreements signed by Bahrain:
  • Universal Declaration for Human Rights

  • Convention on the Rights of the Child November 20, 1989!PORTAL_wwpob_page8.pdf

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights August 12, 2006

  • Constitution of Kingdom of Bahrain 2002

  • Local Child Law No. 37-2012

Dimension Number of answers Phrase No.
No Yes
Fear and incompetence 4 6 Are you exposed to bouts of cold and high temperature? 1
43 7 Do you fear strangers and exotic places? 2
43 7 Do you often get bouts of dizziness? 3
48 2 Do you become nervous and tremble when a teacher approaches you? 4
49 1 Do you faint when you see blood? 5
43 7 Do you get confused when you are noticed by the teacher? 6
47 3 Are you afraid to stay alone without friends close to you? 7
36 14 Do you feel concerned during your answer to these questions? 8
44 6 Do you always misunderstand the orders and directives? 9
36 14 Do you get fully confused when the situation demands to expedite the work? 10
25 25 Do you always perspire and tremble frequently during examinations and inspections? 11
33 17 Do you think that you should do your job too slowly to make sure that it is done correctly? 12
39 11 Do you have a desire that you cannot control in repetition of events that worried you? 13
Dimension Number of answers Phrase No.
No Yes
Depression 10 40 Do you often feel unhappy? 1
37 13 Does life usually look hopeless for you? 2
26 24 Are your emotions usually lifeless? 3
21 19 Do you tend to be quiet and sad during parties and happy occasions? 4
22 10 Would you like a lot if you’re dead and away from all this? 5
Dimension Number of answers Phrase No.
No Yes
Anger (Nervousness) and anxiety 43 7 Are you considered a nervous person? 1
38 12 Do you have any unusual fears? 2
36 14 Do you often find it difficult to sleep or to continue to sleep? 3
39 11 Do trivial things raise your temper and upsets you? 4
39 11 Do you wear you constant worry? 5
49 1 Did you ever had a nervous breakdown? 6
Dimension Number of answers Phrase No.
No Yes
Panic response and skittish 37 13 Do you often get exposed while thinking to sudden fear? 1
47 3 Do you often get wobbly and tremble? 2
41 9 Do you often wake up because of bad dreams? 3
23 27 Do you always panic of sudden movements and noise at night? 4
42 8 Do you jump out of your place and tremble when you hear a sudden noise? 5
39 11 Do you tremble and feel weak whenever someone shouts at you? 6
43 7 Do you always feel tension in your nerves? 7
49 9 Are you tempted by disturbing and scary thoughts? 8
Dimension Number of answers Phrase No.
No Yes
Psychosomatic Symptoms 48 2 Do you often suffer from severe headaches? 1
49 1 Do you perspire even when the weather is cold? 2
49 1 Do your cold hands and feet bother you even in hot weather? 3
43 7 Does back pain prevent you from continuing to perform your duties? 4
47 3 Do severe pains and discomforts prevent you from performing your duties? 5
9 41 Are you exposed to bouts of stress and fatigue? 6
48 2 Do you feel miserable every day because of the weakness and pain in your feet? 7
7 43 Do you feel exhausted and tired in the morning? 8
42 8 Does your head ache prevent you from doing your duties? 9
45 5 Are you always in bad health and unhappy? 10
Dimension Number of answers Phrase No.
No Yes
Psychopathic 33 17 Is it easy to annoy and irritate you? 1
44 6 Were you ever sent to the foster house? 2
38 12 Do your enemies keep harassing you? 3
43 7 Do you feel angry if somebody guides you in performing your job? 4
31 19 Do you sink your sorrows by smoking sometimes? 5
43 7 Do people often lie to you? 6
36 14 Are you burst in anger if your demands are not met immediately? 7
43 7 Do you feel that you should always be careful with your friends? 8
37 13 Are you frequently exposed to wild violent rage? 9