By Raj Burli
For millions of young, passionate, and driven students all over the world, education represents a chance for a better life — one that is fulfilling, prosperous, and not limited due of a lack of education. However, for many of those students, going to school can be a scary endeavor that involves having to deal with violence.
Half of the world’s teens experience peer violence in and around schools. Furthermore, 720 million school-aged children live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited. Whether it be from bullying, sexual harassment, or corporal punishment, for many students, violence can start to feel inevitable.
This situation is worse for those living in extreme poverty or in crisis situations. There have been more than 500 verified attacks on schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — in 2017 alone. An education is especially critical for the children living in the most marginalized communities of our society. It is imperative to ensuring that they have the skills to better their lives in their communities and break the cycle of poverty, violence, and daily struggle that can often feel like a trap with no escape.
When education starts to become synonymous with violence, the long-term consequences to children’s lives can be immeasurable. It jeopardizes children’s health and forces them out of school, risking their livelihoods, the future of their communities, and the potential for them to live the lives they deserve.
No one should be afraid to go to school, but for many students around the world, school is a dangerous place.
But it doesn’t have to be. Left unchecked, school violence can have serious long-term consequences on children’s health and lives. Violence jeopardizes students’ well-being and limits their ability to learn and succeed. Violence decreases self-esteem, reduces attendance, lowers grades, and leads many children to drop out of school altogether, risking their futures and the future of the communities where they live.
Together we can change the situation. Are you between the ages of 13 and 24 years old? If so, complete UNICEF’s simple poll questions via the Global Citizen site, earn points, and share your voice to join thousands of young people around the world who are speaking out about what’s happening in their schools and what they need to be safe. More than 1 million young people have already submitted responses.
Global Citizen is teaming up with UNICEF ahead of the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg this December to share your results with young people gathering at the African Youth Development Summit, who will use your responses to create the first-ever Youth Manifesto to #ENDViolence in Schools. We will take the manifesto to education ministers and other leaders to demand change to #ENDViolence in schools.