The emotional and physical pain brought on by bullying can be excruciating, yet this behavior continues to abound in schools globally, according to a new report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that is calling for all children to have access to a "safe, inclusive” learning environment.
UNESCO’s report, Behind the numbers: ending school violence and bullying, released on Tuesday at the 2019 Education World Forum in London, reveals that nearly one-in-three boys and girls have been bullied at least once at school over the last month, and a similar proportion have been affected by physical violence.
Overall, says the report, physical bullying is the biggest problem in most regions, but in North America and Europe, psychological bullying is the most common, followed by sexually-related bullying.
Online and smartphone bullying on the rise
Physical bullying is more common among boys, while psychological bullying is more prevalent among girls. Meanwhile, online and mobile phone bullying is on the rise. Children perceived as different in any way from the norm, are the most likely to be bullied, with physical appearance being the most common cause followed by race, nationality or skin colour.
Bullying must be addressed because it significantly effects children’s mental health, quality of life and academic achievement, the report states.
Frequently bullied children are nearly three times more likely to feel shunned and more than twice as likely to miss school. Their educational-outcomes decline, and they are more likely to leave after finishing secondary school.
UNESCO-recommended measures to lower school violence and reduce bullying:
- A commitment to a safe, positive school and classroom environment.
- Effective reporting and monitoring systems.
- Evidence-based programmes and interventions.
- Teacher training and support.
- Support and referral for affected students.
- Student empowerment and participation.
- Better political leadership.
- Robust legal and policy frameworks.