School Violence and Bullying : Global Status Report
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A 2012 report by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children notes that ‘more than one billion children around the world attend school. Many of these children enjoy their right to be taught in a safe and stimulating environment. For many others, however, schooling does not guarantee such opportunity. These girls and boys are exposed to bullying, sexual and gender-based violence, corporal punishment and other forms of violence. Many are also exposed to schoolyard fighting, gang violence, assault with weapons, and sexual and gender-based violence by their own peers. New manifestations of violence are also affecting children’s lives, notably the phenomenon of cyberbullying via mobile phones, computers, websites and social networking sites.’ School violence encompasses physical violence, including corporal punishment; psychological violence, including verbal abuse; sexual violence, including rape and harassment; and bullying, including cyberbullying. Bullying, which is a type of violence, is a pattern of behaviour rather than an isolated event, and it has an adverse impact on the victim, the bully and bystanders. Bullying has been defined as ‘unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time’. Bullying and cyberbullying area key concern for children and adolescents. School violence and bullying is perpetrated by other students, teachers and other school staff; violence that occurs on the way to and from school may also be perpetrated by members of the wider community. It is important to differentiate between violence perpetrated by peers and violence perpetrated by educational institutions or their representatives as this distinction influences both the impact of and the response to violence. There is some evidence to suggest that girls are more likely to experience sexual violence and that boys are more likely to experience corporal punishment, or more severe corporal punishment, in school than girls, although girls are not exempt. The underlying causes of school violence and bullying include gender and social norms and wider contextual and structural factors. Much school violence and bullying is related to gender; gender-based violence is violence that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering against someone based on gender discrimination, gender role expectations or gender stereotypes or based on differential power status linked to gender. The most vulnerable children and adolescents, including those who are poor or from ethnic, linguistic or cultural minorities or migrant or refugee communities or have disabilities, are at higher risk of school violence and bullying. Children and adolescents whose sexual orientation, gender identity or expression does not conform to traditional social or gender norms are also disproportionately affected. School violence and bullying can occur inside and outside the classroom, around schools, on the way to and from school, as well as online. In school, bullying often occurs in places such as toilets, changing rooms, corridors and playgrounds where children and adolescents are less easily be seen or supervised by teachers and other school staff. Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (2012). Tackling violence in schools: A global perspective bridging the gap between standards and practice. Different types of violence and bullying often overlap. Children and adolescents may experience violence and bullying both at home and at school and in the real and virtual worlds. Those involved in bullying can be both victims and perpetrators. For example, those who report bullying others online commonly report also being bullied by others online and online victims are also often bullied in person. Many victims of school violence and bullying do not tell anyone about their experience. Reasons include lack of trust in adults, including teachers, fear of repercussions or reprisals, feelings of guilt, shame or confusion, concerns that they will not be taken seriously or not knowing where to seek help. School violence and bullying is often invisible to or ignored by teachers and parents. In some contexts, adults view corporal punishment, fighting and bullying as a normal part of discipline or growing up and are not aware of the negative impact it has on the education, health and well-being of children and adolescents. School violence and bullying occurs throughout the world and affects a significant proportion of children and adolescents. It is estimated that 246 million children and adolescents experience school violence and bullying in some form every year. Estimates of the proportion of children and young people affected by school bullying specifically vary between countries and studies, ranging from less than 10% to over 65%. In the 2016 UNICEF U-Report/ Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children (SRSG-VAC) opinion poll, to which 100,000 young people in 18 countries responded, two-thirds of respondents reported that they had been the victim of bullying. A UNESCO evidence review found that the proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students (LGBT) experiencing school violence and bullying ranged from 16% to 85% and the prevalence of violence was between three and five times higher among LGBT students than among their non-LGBT peers. Cyberbullying is a growing problem. Most available data on the prevalence of cyberbullying is from surveys conducted in industrialised countries, and this suggests that the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying ranges from 5% to 21% and that girls appear to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys. Available data suggests that physical violence is less common in schools than bullying, but much available data is from industrialised countries; anecdotal evidence suggests that physical violence is a serious problem in schools in other regions. Specific data on sexual violence in and around the school setting is limited, since many victims are hesitant to report acts of sexual violence for fear of being shamed or stigmatised or because they are concerned that they will not be believed or will face retaliation from their aggressor or aggressors. Nevertheless, available figures suggest that sexual violence and abuse in schools, perpetuated by staff and by other students, is a reality for many students, particularly girls.