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The UN Secretary-General’s Study Report on Violence against Children

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©UNICEF/ HQ06-0881/Mariella Furrer
The daughter of a sex worker, Calcutta, India.

The ‘Violence Study’

On 11 October 2006, the UN General Assembly will consider the findings and recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, a global effort to paint a detailed picture of the nature, extent and causes of violence against children, and to propose clear recommendations for action to prevent and respond to it.  

The Study’s findings

The Study focuses on the nature and extent of violence against children in five settings:  the home and family; schools and educational settings; other institutional settings (orphanages, children in conflict with the law); in the workplace, and the community and on the streets.

VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS AND EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS

Children spend more time under the care of adults in pre-schools, schools, vocational training centres, and other places of learning than they do anywhere else outside their homes. Like parents, the adults who oversee, manage and staff these places have a duty to provide safe and nurturing environments that support and promote children’s development. They also have a duty to make sure such development prepares children for life as responsible adults, guided by values of non-violence, gender equality, non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual respect.

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© UNICEF/ HQ00-0983/Achinto
Children stand outside their classroom at Comboni Primary School in Rumbek, Southern Sudan.

Giving children access to education of the highest quality can be an important protection against violence. The reality for many millions of children, however, is that violence in and around their place of education makes it difficult for them to get to and from school, to learn effectively while in school, and to remain in school long enough to reap all of the benefits of education.

Violence perpetrated by teachers and other staff includes physical violence, humiliating forms of psychological punishment, sexual and gender-based violence and bullying. Corporal punishment such as beating and caning is standard practice in schools in many countries. While corporal punishment in school has been banned in 102 countries, enforcement is uneven.

Other children can be cruel too, causing pain and distress through bullying.  This can include not only physical aggression but the daily, repeated harassment that leaves deep scars.  Too often bullying is not taken seriously by school authorities and children are reluctant to report it.

Whether perpetrated by adults or children, violence in schools often reflects a ‘hidden curriculum’ that promotes gender inequality and stereotyping. For example, boys taunt each other about their lack of masculinity and harass girls with verbal and physical gestures that are sexual in nature. Corporal punishment of boys is more frequent and harsher than corporal punishment of girls. Sexual aggression by male teachers and boys is often dismissed as ‘just boys being boys’, while girls are blamed for ‘asking for it’. These behaviours often make schools unsafe and uncomfortable for girls and are prominent among the reasons why, in most developing countries, adolescent girls are far less likely to attend school than adolescent boys. 

For more information, please visit www.unviolencestudy.org.

 


 

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