Half of students aged 13 to 15 worldwide – around 150 million – report having experienced peer-to-peer violence in and around school, according to a new report released by UNICEF.
The report outlines a variety of ways students face violence in and around the classroom.
According to the report slightly more than one in three students aged 13-15 experience bullying, and roughly the same proportion are involved in physical fights, globally while three in 10 students in 39 industrialised countries admit to bullying peers.
In 2017, there were 396 documented or verified attacks on schools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 26 on schools in South Sudan, 67 attacks in the Syrian Arab Republic and 20 attacks in Yemen.
Nearly 720 million school-aged children live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited.
While girls and boys are equally at risk of bullying, girls are more likely to become victims of psychological forms of bullying and boys are more at risk of physical violence and threats.
In the Zimbabwean Context, Unicef says, the National Baseline Survey on the Life Experiences of Adolescents (NBSLEA,2013`) notes that 47% of females and 54% % of males had experienced physical violence from teachers before their 18th birthday.
“Thirty-two (32%) of males and four (4%) of females aged 18-24 who experienced sexual violence before their 18th birthday, indicated the first incident of sexual violence was committed by class mates (VACS Zimbabwe 2017),” says the Report.
#ENDviolence in Schools says that peer violence, measured as the number of children who report having been bullied in the last month or having been involved in a physical fight in the last year ,is a pervasive part of young people’s education around the world. It impacts student learning and well-being in rich and poor countries alike.
“Education is the key to building peaceful societies, and yet, for millions of children around the world, school itself is not safe,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“Every day, students face multiple dangers, including fighting, pressure to join gangs, bullying – both in person and online, violent discipline, sexual harassment and armed violence. In the short-term this impacts their learning, and in the long-term it can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide. Violence is an unforgettable lesson that no child needs to learn,” she said.
As part of the campaign to end violence in schools, UNICEF is holding a number of #ENDviolence Youth Talks around the world over the coming months.
The series of student-led discussions will give young people a platform to share their experiences of violence and voice what they need to feel safe in and around school, and will inform a set of recommendations to global leaders.
In July, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Lilly Singh, launched the first Youth Talk in South Africa with a group of students aged 13 to 19.
To end violence in schools, UNICEF and partners are calling for urgent action in reviewing national laws policies to outlaw corporal punishment, bullying and other forms of degrading punishment in all settings including the school.
It is also calling on the Implementation of policies and legislation to protect learners from violence in schools.
Furthermore, Unicef is advocating for the strengthening prevention and response measures inside and outside schools with diversified strategies for boys and girls as they disclose and seek services differently among others