Life Stage 2: Children and young adolescents 6-14 years old
Our focus on preventing violence in schools and communities
We know that we need to address violence in school if we want children and young adolescents ages 6 to 14 years to become educated and confident. This means supporting students, teachers, and parents to create a safe learning environment that keeps children protected from harm, and promotes their emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
Our learning about protecting children and young adolescents
In order to design effective programs for children ages 6 to 14 years, we have been collecting data about children’s experiences in educational settings around the world.
In this section, we present our findings regarding the types of violence children face as they try to navigate their learning environment.
“Children are frequently exposed to violence at school… over half of all 18,626 surveyed children (55%) ages 6 to 14 years had witnessed violence in their school in the past three months.”
— Page 39
What is our research telling us?
We expect school to be a safe place, one that promotes children’s academic achievement and allows them to develop their social and emotional learning skills. However, our data show that violence manifests itself in many different and harmful ways within the education system.
In the following section, we explore some examples of what we are doing to protect children’s right to learn by supporting safe learning environments — even during times of crisis — and preventing and responding to the violence that children face in and out of school.
We see our work to address violence at school as the interface between our child protection and education programming. Our aim is to ensure that children ages 6 to 14 years can learn and grow at school — an aim that is significantly impeded by the violence they face. Therefore, our interventions must ensure that children feel physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe in their learning environments, and must serve as an entry point for reducing violence at home and in the community.
To this end, in recent years we have increased our efforts to:
Train teachers about the benefits of positive, non-violent methods of discipline.
Encourage and support schools to develop child-friendly, inclusive cultures with policies and codes of conduct that prohibit bullying and corporal punishment.
Establish parent and student committees and empower students to speak out on violence and other violations of their rights.
Support schools and teachers to develop violence prevention plans.
Build the capacity of caregivers to prevent, mitigate, and respond to violence.
Provide safe learning environments during emergencies and humanitarian crises.
We are starting to see positive outcomes from our school and community-based programs for children and young adolescents in Life Stage 2:
In Sri Lanka, our partners started a two-year project implementing child-centered education in primary schools in 2017. Observations showed teachers displaying better teaching techniques, more positive behavior and less aggression toward students. Even more encouragingly, student engagement increased by an average of 23% from the baseline evaluation. These improvements were accompanied by an increase in improvements in children’s learning, with reading with age-appropriate fluency and comprehension increasing from 51% of students at the baseline to 81% of students at the midline evaluation.
In Ethiopia, we have created safer school environments by establishing girls’ clubs and enabling members to speak out about harmful traditional practices and gender-based violence.
In Senegal, we partnered with the Ministry of Education on a project to train teachers in religious schools and enlisted local community groups to feed and care for students so that they were no longer forced to beg for money or food. We also advocated for a law to regulate and improve students’ living and learning conditions by working with our partners to facilitate an open dialogue and consultation process between government and religious actors.
Below are some selected case studies that demonstrate how we are contributing to the reduction of violence in schools and communities, and protecting children during natural disasters. These detailed examples illustrate our results and lessons for ongoing and future programming.
Building bridges between teachers and parents to combat violence in Honduras
In Honduras, ChildFund has piloted an innovative method to prevent violence in schools as part of the PUENTES ("Bridges”) project. Working in 36 schools in high-crime cities over a period of 18 months, the project tested Miles de Manos ("Thousands of Hands”), an approach that brings together teachers and parents to reduce violent behavior at home and at school.
Child protection is everyone’s responsibility in the Philippines
In the Philippines, ChildFund piloted a community-based project to address violence against children in schools, homes, and communities through its two-year project Not in Our Community. Advocating that “child protection is everyone’s responsibility,” the project focused on nine schools where a baseline study had identified peer bullying and violent discipline by teachers and parents as protection concerns.
Creating safe places for children to learn and play during crisis in Ethiopia
In 2016, ChildFund set up a one-year emergency project to strengthen community-based child protection in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Severely affected by one of the worst droughts in decades, these remote pastoralist communities were experiencing a rise in school absenteeism and child labor, with heightened rates of anxiety and psychological distress among children as their families struggled with food and water insecurity.