On any given day, 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 with or without the approval of education authorities. 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 “cyber-bullying” via mobile phones, computers, websites and social networking sites. Given the prevalence of violence in schools, the crucial importance of education in realizing the rights of the child and, moreover, the potential of violence-free schools to act as catalysts for non-violence in the communities that they serve, the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children dedicated special attention to this issue in the course of 2011. The key areas addressed in this report are: developing holistic, whole-school strategies; building partnerships with children; providing support for teachers and other staff; changing attitudes and addressing social norms; securing children’s legal protection; and consolidating data and research. The report illustrates each of these six areas with recent initiatives aimed at preventing violence against children. It also gives special attention to the issue of violence in schools from the perspective of children belonging to particularly vulnerable groups, including girls, children with disabilities, belonging to minorities or who are indigenous, refugee children and children who are victims of violence and discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation.
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children
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