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It takes a village and a school: Combatting school-related gender-based violence in the classroom and community

Thu, March 26, 1:45 to 3:15pm, Hyatt Regency Miami, Floor: Terrace (Level 0), Gardenia C

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session (English)


School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) consists of acts or threats of physical, sexual or psychological violence or abuse occurring in or around school, on the school commute or in cyberspace. Harmful gender and social norms that reinforce unequal power structures between men and women, adults and children are a significant driver of SRGBV (UNGEI, Whole School Approach). Major forms of SRGBV include sexual violence and child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, corporal punishment, bullying, and intimate partner violence. Furthermore, SRGBV may be perpetrated and experienced by teachers, students, or community members, regardless of their sex (RTI International, 2016).

Current research suggests that SRGBV affects absenteeism, retention, and achievement at school (Abramovay and Rua, 2005; Dunne et al., 2013; Kosciw et al., 2013; Perezneito et al., 2010, RTI International, 2016). Additionally, if a learning environment is deemed unsafe by learners, they may elect not to come or leave school entirely (Parkes & Heslop 2013; Leach et al., 2009; Dunne et al., 2013, Gennari et al., 2015; RTI International 2013). Evidence also shows that children’s potential for academic achievement and social and emotional development are best achieved when school environments are positive, safe, and nurturing with effective instruction; when teachers and children have a voice in school affairs; and when there are effective avenues for communicating about, responding to, and preventing violence (RTI International, 2016).

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 includes a target to provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and gender-sensitive learning environments for all. A prevailing framework for addressing widespread SRGBV and working toward meeting that target is the Whole School Approach (WSA), which calls for stakeholders in the school and the wider community to collaborate in implementing a variety of activities to make schools safer and more child friendly. Implementing a successful WSA requires the commitment and engagement of school leadership, teachers, students, parents, and community members. Additionally, effective SRGBV prevention and response programming requires multi-faceted and holistic interventions, including linkages to services for victims and coordination with other sectors and government ministries outside of the education system (UNGEI, Whole School Approach).

This panel will feature presentations from four organizations, highlighting classroom, school-based, and school-to-community interventions designed to respond to and prevent SRGBV. Education Development Center (EDC) works with the South Africa Department of Basic Education to address issues of GBV and SRGBV through a Comprehensive Sexuality Education program that provides scripted lessons for grade 4-12 teachers. Raising Voices will detail the adaptation and piloting of the Good School Toolkit with secondary students, teachers and school administration. ChildFund International will present key experiences and learnings from first-year implementation of the School-Based Violence Prevention (SBVP) Global Program Model World in Asia. World Education/Bantwana Malawi will discuss lessons learned from the facilitation of school-led fairs that provide timely linkages to medical, legal, and counselling support for survivors, as well as interface meetings that allow students and relevant community members to discuss issues related to SRGBV response and prevention.

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