The politics of preventing sexual violence and bullying at school
Until the 2006 United Nations Study on Violence against Children, the problem of school-based violence remained largely invisible, for a number of reasons. Schools have typically been viewed as ‘safe' places for children; debates on prevention of violence against children have largely concerned domestic or stranger violence; and the focus on universal education enshrined in MDG 2 and the Education For All Campaign has been largely about access rather than quality (including the provision of a safe learning environment). The UN Study and the consultation process around it, however, revealed that a high incidence of violence against children occurs at or around schools and other educational facilities. In many countries, physical, sexual, emotional and social violence is committed by teachers and school staff as well as by other students, and has significant negative effects on children's health and safety, enrolment and educational achievement and dignity, self-esteem and social relationships. The objective of this paper is to identify policies, programmes and legal instruments that address school violence in the developing world, and to draw implications for policy, practice and research.
This paper is primarily a desk study combining a systematic review of grey and published literature on school violence, as well as an analysis of legislative measures designed to address school violence. The analysis was supplemented by phone and/or email interviews with governmental and non-governmental key informants from Africa, Latin America and Asia. These interviews sought to provide more detailed information on public perceptions about school violence; the relative importance of national and international policy instruments; key players involved in policy debates and programme implementation; and examples of ‘good practice' in tackling school-based violence.
The paper concludes by presenting policy recommendations that Plan should consider when developing a global campaign against school-based violence. These recommendations draw on the findings from the report as well as examples of best practice from the literature on gender violence and are organised as follows: i) the importance of developing a comparative and longitudinal evidence base and communicating resulting messages in order to establish credibility and awareness; ii) designing, implementing and monitoring policies and programmes that promote joined-up services, capacity building for service providers and inter-sectoral coordination; and iii) promoting a socially inclusive, rights-based and multi-stakeholder approach in order to promote sustainability.