Understanding School-Related Gender-Based Violence

Every child deserves to be safe in school. However, research shows that across the globe students experience unacceptably high rates of school-related physical, sexual and psychological violence.

This can include teacher-perpetrated abuse, such as corporal punishment or sexual coercion. It can also include peer-perpetrated abuse, like bullying or discrimination. While school environments can enable violence, they also have a critical role to play in violence prevention and response.

Schools can serve as protective spaces for children, acting as an important arena for broader social change to end violence both in and out of the classroom. Read on to learn more about the issue of school-related gender-based violence, and strategies to protect students.

Sa Pa ( listen), or Sapa, is a frontier town and capital of Sa Pa District in the Lao Cai province in northwest Vietnam. It is one of the main market towns in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay live.

What is School-Related Gender-Based Violence?

SRGBV violates children’s fundamental rights, is a form of gender discrimination, and has wide-ranging consequences for children’s physical and emotional well-being, school performance and attendance and likelihood of experiencing or perpetrating future violence. 

School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) is any act or threat of sexual, physical or psychological violence occurring in and around schools, perpetrated as a result of gender norms and stereotypes, and enforced by unequal power dynamics.

Defining SRGBV Global Guidance to Address SRGBV, UN Women and UNESCO

Data to Inform Action: Understanding Violence In Schools

Through USAID’s Higher Education Support Network (HESN), AidData is conducting a secondary analysis of the Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) data to identify the prevalence of SRGBV, as well as details on violence perpetration, victimization risk and post-violence behaviors in selected countries.

The goal of this project is to better understand the complexities and nuances of violence in schools, creating a framework for governments, organizations and other actors to better prevent and address violence. 

The secondary analysis evaluated the national prevalence of SRGBV, and studied the different experiences of boys and girls related to violence, including school absenteeism, the prevalence of different forms of violence, disclosure, and seeking and access to services. View the country-specific fact sheets below for an overview of the findings in HondurasMalawiNigeriaUganda, and Zambia.

Solutions to Prevent School-Related Gender Based Violence

Although many students around the world experience school-related gender-based violence, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are proven, evidence-based solutions to prevent violence against children in and around school settings. 

One example of a local initiative in action is the Raising VoicesGood School Toolkit” program in Uganda, a powerful intervention at limiting teacher-perpetrated violence in schools.

Research shows that schools can be important places to implement programs that prevent violence both in the classroom – and in the community. In the United States, the CDC “Dating Matters” program aimed at middle school children is a school-based curriculum with proven success in decreasing dating violence and helping youth develop healthy relationships.

Together for Girls and partners will continue to develop resources to guide policy-makers, practitioners, and advocates toward data analysis (using the VACS and other data sources) to inform policy and programmatic interventions and existing evidence-based solutions. For more education-focused solutions to prevent sexual violence against children visit togetherforgirls.org/svsolutions.

UNESCO, UN Women, and other partners developed “Global guidance on addressing school-related gender-based violence” to provide information to governments, policy-makers, teachers, practitioners, and civil society who wish to take concrete action against school-related gender-based violence.

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Learn More

Stay tuned for more resources, materials, and research on preventing SRGBV. In the meantime, visit these collaborating organization pages for information on how to prevent and respond to SRGBV.

Cambodian school children standing in doorway of classroom in small village near Tonle Sap, Cambodia.