International day against violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying
School violence and bullying including cyberbullying is widespread and affects a significant number of children and adolescents.
UNESCO Member States declared the first Thursday of November, the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying, recognizing that school-related violence in all its forms is an infringement of children and adolescents’ rights to education and to health and well-being. It calls upon Member States, UN partners, other relevant international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations, individuals and other stakeholders to help promote, celebrate and facilitate the international day.
Almost one in three students has been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the last month and a similar proportion were affected by physical violence. School violence and bullying is mostly perpetrated by peers but, in some cases, by teachers and other school staff. Corporal punishment is still allowed in schools in 67 countries.
There are significant negative effects from the violence, including on academic achievement, mental health, and quality of life in general. Children who are frequently bullied are nearly three times more likely to feel like an outsider at school and more than twice as likely to miss school as those who are not frequently bullied. They have worse educational outcomes than their peers and are also more likely to leave formal education after finishing secondary school.
Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying
This 5 November 2020 marks the first International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying.
The Day was unanimously approved by UNESCO’s 193 Member States at its 40th General Conference.
Recent attacks on schools in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Pakistan, and the assassination of teacher Samuel Paty in France, sadly underscore the critical issue of protecting our schools from all forms of violence.
Protecting our schools also means confronting the problem of bullying, which inflicts physical and emotional suffering on millions of children around the world.
Bullying, which at times has been neglected, minimized or ignored, must be strongly condemned for what it is, a real blight on the world.
Published in 2019, and conducted in 144 countries, UNESCO’s study “Behind the numbers: Ending school violence and bullying” highlighted the extent of the problem, with almost one in three students worldwide reporting being bullied at least once in the preceding month.
First and foremost, students’ educational outcomes are affected by bullying. For example, young people who are bullied at school are twice as likely to miss classes and see their academic performance suffer. A study conducted in 77 countries showed the negative impact of bullying on girls’ performance in maths and science tests.
Beyond the educational consequences, bullying also affects the well-being and health of students: victims are twice as likely to feel lonely, to have trouble sleeping at night, and even to have suicidal thoughts.
As the choice of name for this International Day indicates, cyberbullying has now also become a growing phenomenon. According to data from seven European countries, the proportion of children aged 11 to 16 who have fallen victim to cyberbullying increased from 7% to 12% between 2010 and 2014.
At a time when COVID-19 lockdowns, still in place in many countries, have resulted in bullying moving online, we must redouble our efforts. Cyberbullying may take place in a “virtual” world, but it has a very real impact on children’s health.
Beyond the numbers, there are tragic stories, educations ruined, and lives sometimes permanently ripped apart.
UNESCO, as an official partner of the Safe to Learn campaign and the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children is wholeheartedly participating in this collective mobilization against bullying. By providing its expertise, our Organization is ready to support the efforts of Member States working to ensure that schools are places of well-being.
Let us hope that this first International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying, will build global awareness about the scale of the problem, and of the need to put an end to it as soon as possible. As students, parents, members of the educational community and ordinary citizens, we have all a part to play in stopping violence and bullying in schools