Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Half of world’s teens experience peer violence at school, Unicef finds

Sep 13. 2018
Photo Credit :  Unicef
Photo Credit : Unicef
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By The Nation

PHYSICAL FIGHTS and bullying are disrupting the education of 150 million 13-15-year-olds worldwide, according to a new report released yesterday by Unicef. Half of students in that age group are experiencing peer violence in and around school, the report found.

“An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools” reports that peer violence is impacting student learning and well-being in rich and poor countries alike. The results are based on the number of children who report having been bullied in the last month or having been involved in a physical fight in the last year. 

“Education is the key to building peaceful societies and yet, for millions of children around the world, school itself is not safe,” said Unicef executive-director Henrietta Fore.

“Every day, students face multiple dangers, including fighting, pressure to join gangs, bullying – both in-person and online – violent discipline, sexual harassment and armed violence. In the short term this impacts their learning, and in the long term it can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide. Violence is an unforgettable lesson that no child needs to learn.” 

The report outlines a variety of ways students face violence in and around the classroom. According to the latest available data from Unicef: 

* Globally, slightly more than 1 in 3 students aged 13-15 experience bullying, and roughly the same proportion are involved in physical fights; 

* 3 in 10 students in 39 industrialised countries admit to bullying peers. 

The research found there were 396 documented or verified attacks at schools in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2017, 26 attacks at schools in South Sudan, 67 attacks in the Syrian Arab Republic and 20 attacks in Yemen. 

As well, nearly 720 million school-age children lived in countries where corporal punishment at school was not fully prohibited. 

While girls and boys are equally at risk of bullying, girls are more likely to become victims of psychological forms of bullying and boys are more at risk of physical violence and threats. 

In Thailand, the school-based Student Health Survey conducted by Department of Health in 2015 found that 29 per cent of students aged 13 to 15 years reported being bullied in the past month, and 26 per cent were involved in a physical fight at least once in the past year. 

“Children spend around a third of their day, five days a week in school. When children enter those school gates each day, it is our responsibility to make sure that they are safe,” said Thomas Davin, Unicef Thailand representative. “But sadly, we repeatedly see news reports about incidents of violence against children in Thai schools, sometimes at the hands of teachers whom we expected to protect them.”

Unicef Thailand is currently working with the Office of Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education, to strengthen the capacity of schools and education staff to address issues of bullying and violence in schools.

“We need to make sure that every school is committed to implementing the Child Protection Policy, to strengthen measures that would prevent violence and respond effectively if it happens,” Davin added.

“Most of all, we urge the school community, including principals, teachers, parents, and students themselves to challenge the culture of violence in classrooms and communities. Everyone must stand up and speak up to protect the well-being of our children.”

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