28 September 2018

1 in every 3 teenagers has experienced bullying: #ENDViolence in Schools

"For millions of students around the world, the school environment is not a safe space to study and grow. It is a danger zone where they learn in fear." UNICEF's recent report on violence in schools sheds light on just how prevalent bullying remains and how it affects societies around the world. The report details not only it's longlasting repercussions on students, but its economic and social impacts as well. 

Violence in schools has many forms; from the familiar physical peer bullying, verbal harrassment, and cyber bullying, to gender-based violence, corporal punishment, and even violent teachers. Approximately 720 million students live in countries where the law does not protect them against corporal punishment in schools. However, the dangers of violence extend outside of school grounds as well. For some students, even simply making the journey to and from school presents a perilous risk. At 13, Nqobile was sexually assaulted on her way home from school in South Africa, and she never felt comfortable speaking about her experience because she felt it was seen as a taboo in her society. Many victims of violence and bullying share similar feelings of guilt and shame, and consequently do not seek help from others. 

Schools remain one of the most influential institutions of children's lives, just below family and home, which makes violent experiences that much more harrowing and longlasting. Aside from the physical consequences of violence, students suffer longterm emotional and behavioral consequences that often stay with them through their adult lives. A student should never have to fear for their safety in pursuing an education, which is why UNICEF has partnered with UNESCO, the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI) and other members of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and ensure schools are safe havens of learning and creativity. Academia itself plays an important role in shaping beliefs and behaviors that can lead to violence, as well as the way society treats violence. Administrations, teachers and students can work together to promote ideals of peace and inclusion in and around schools. 

In El Salvador almost 1 out of 4 students aged 13-15 miss at least 1 day of school a month because of safety concerns. This affects the economy as well; reports estimate that the economic burden of school violence runs as high as $7 trillion dollars a year. The good news is that students around the world have already joined together to start Peace Clubs to promote nonviolent initiatives in their communities, and are working to support survivors of violence. UNICEF and its partners are also calling on governments to initiate laws that protect students from violence, strengthen school safety measures, encourage societies to challenge the culture of violence, raise resources to combat school violence, and share success stories with one another.  

You can find more information on ending school violence and the full UNICEF report here