UNICEF urges end to school violence

UNICEF urges end to school violence

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 today.

In East Asia and Pacific region*, 30.4 million 13 to 15-year olds children experience some form of violence in and around school.

“An Everyday Lesson: #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.”

The report outlines a variety of ways students face violence in and around the classroom. According to the latest available data from UNICEF:

  • More than one in three students experience bullying, and about the same proportion are involved in physical fights
  • 3 in 10 students in 39 countries admit to bullying peers
  • Nearly 720 million school-aged children live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited
  • Girls and boys are equally at risk of bullying but girls are more likely to become victims of psychological bullying. Boys are more at risk of physical violence and threats

The study also says that in an increasingly digital world, bullies are disseminating violent, hurtful and humiliating content with the tap of a key.

To end violence in schools, UNICEF and partners are calling for urgent action including implementing policies to protect students from violence in schools as well as strengthening prevention and response measures. Schools should also work on collecting better data on violence against children and sharing what works.