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Victims of school violence have one message to world leaders: ‘Listen to us!’
JOHANNESBURG/NEW YORK, 2 December 2018 – More than 100 children and young people from around the world gathered in Johannesburg this weekend to draft a global manifesto calling on world leaders to end violence in and around schools.
The event – hosted by UNICEF, Global Citizen, JCI and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children ahead of the Global Citizen Mandela 100 Festival – is part of UNICEF’s global #ENDviolence campaign. Children and young people travelled from countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas to draw up a set of recommendations detailing what they need to feel safe in and around school.
“We’re here to represent the millions of children and young people who face violence at school every day,” said 18-year-old Khuthadzo Silima from South Africa. “The message we want to get across is clear, adults must listen to us and take the issue of school violence seriously.”
Within the Youth Manifesto, students highlighted the importance and need for protection within schools, and called for legal measures to keep students safe in school and on the journey, clear rules and regulations on student behaviour, trained teachers and counsellors to respond to students in need, as well as environments that promote diversity and peaceful coexistence. They also called for students to treat one another with respect and break taboos often associated with reporting violence to teachers and other authorities.
The manifesto drew on a recent UNICEF poll of young people, which received more than 1 million responses from over 160 countries, and suggestions from a series of student-led #ENDviolence Youth Talks held around the world. In both, students were invited to voice what they need to feel safe in and around school.
“Children and young people have spoken, and what they are saying is that far too many of them face multiple dangers in and around school, from bullying and fighting to violent discipline, pressure to join gangs, sexual harassment and armed violence,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka. “I hope the responses and suggestions used to inform the Youth Manifesto will inspire world leaders to take action so that no child is afraid to go to school.”
The #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto will be presented to Ministers at The Education World Forum in January 2019 as part of a collective effort to #ENDviolence in and around schools led by organisations including UNICEF, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), UNESCO, other members of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI).
UNICEF is encouraging young people around the world to raise their voices to #ENDviolence in and around schools and to tell us how they are working together and what solutions they are using to #ENDviolence in and around schools once and for all.