25 September 2017 Safe to Learn?
This Learning Group has drawn on reliable data available across both high income and low and middle income countries, to unpack the prevalence of and risk factors associated with violence against children in schools. The work of the Learning Group has been informed by a number of observations and research findings highlighted in recent international research, as well as recent reports produced by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children (Tackling Violence in Schools: A Global Problem - Bridging the gap between standards and practice); and organisations like UNICEF (Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence Against Children).
What do we know about violence in schools?
- School violence refers not only to violence that may happen within the physical boundaries of the school, but also to the processes and to lived experiences that are attached to schooling. Children, and in particular girls, often experience violence travelling to and from school. This impacts directly on key education-related outcomes – school attachment, concentration, the development of healthy relationships with both peers and adults within school, and ultimately, school performance.
- The school is just one – to varying degrees, contained – environment or domain in which children experience violence. But school experiences should be also seen within a more systemic construct that acknowledges the underlying drivers of violence that exist in all domains, from an individual to a systemic level. Conversely, while addressing some of these drivers will require policy and legislative changes, these will also need to be translated into practical interventions and shifts within schools, families and communities. So, the impact of policy and legislative shifts will need to be considered alongside measurable, school-based prevention and evidence.
- High-profile cases of extreme physical and sexual violence often propel the perennial issue of school violence into public discourse. But just as concerning, if not more so, are the subtler, often less physically severe, repeated acts of violence – physical, emotional, sexual – that occur within the school environment. These often go unreported, but together with various other risk factors, including behavioural patterns, can predate and lead to escalated forms of violence – including bullying and cyberbullying.
- Finally, boys and girls experience violence in different ways. Physical and social surroundings also impact the safety of boys and girls differently. Thus, while looking at school violence, gender should be a key consideration.
Six papers have been produced under this Learning Group. The papers are listed below:
- Gershoff, E. 2017. “School corporal punishment in global perspective: prevalence, outcomes, and efforts at intervention.” Psychology, Health & Medicine 22(S1): 224–39.
- Le Hai Ha Thi, M.A. Campbell, M.L. Gatton, H.T. Nguyen, M.P. Dunne and Nam T. Tran. 2017. “Temporal patterns and predictors of bullying roles among adolescents in Vietnam: a school-based cohort study.” Psychology, Health & Medicine 22(S1): 107–21.
- Leoschut L. and K. Kafaar. 2017. “The frequency and predictors of polyvictimisation of South African children and the role of schools in its prevention.” Psychology, Health & Medicine 22(S1): 81–93
- Lester, S., C. Lawrence and C.L. Ward. 2017. “What do we know about preventing school violence? A systematic review of systematic reviews.” Psychology, Health & Medicine 22(1): 187–223.
- Menesini, E. and C. Salmivalli. 2017. “Bullying in schools: the state of knowledge and effective interventions.” Psychology, Health & Medicine 22(S1): 240–53.
- Naker, D. 2017. “Operational Culture at Schools: An Overarching Entry Point for Preventing Violence against Children at School.” Background paper. Ending Violence in Childhood Global Report 2017. Know Violence in Childhood. New Delhi, India.