Achieving student well-being for all: educational contexts free of violence

Ramon Flecha, Lidia Puidvert, Sandra Racionero-Plaza
NESET Analytical report, 2023

Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) states that ‘Children have the right to be protected from being mistreated, physically and mentally’, while Article 31 indicates that ‘Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts’. These rights are violated when children are victims of violence, a reality that affects many children in Europe and around the world. Violence against children (VAC) takes various forms, among which gender-based violence (including sexual harassment, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence), bullying (including racism and all forms of intolerance), and online violence (cyberbullying) are particularly prevalent.

This analytical report presents a scientific review of the prevalence and impact of violence against children (VAC), and its relationship with educational opportunities and students’ academic achievement. To advance the search for solutions that could eliminate VAC from education, the report also presents educational programmes and actions from across Europe and internationally that address various forms of VAC and serve all children – including those who are most vulnerable – to grow up happy and healthy, and to develop to their full potential. Of these programmes and actions, the report indicates those which are supported by available evidence of social impact. The report is guided by three questions:

  • What are the consequences of VAC for students’ well-being?
  • What scientifically evidenced actions and programmes exist that address VAC?
  • How do the actions and programmes identified address the consequences of VAC?

The concepts of VAC, well-being and education are at the core of this report. The key findings of the in-depth literature review are divided into three main sections:

  • Scientific evidence on the negative consequences of violence against children.
  • Scientific evidence about programmes and actions that have been successful in addressing the consequences of VAC and promoting students’ well-being.
  • Scientific evidence on how these effective actions and programmes address the consequences of VAC.

The report highlights several negative effects that VAC has on children, presents 13 programmes and actions for which there is scientific evidence showing that they address one or more consequences of VAC reported in the previous section, and provides recommendations for the diverse agents involved in children’s safeguarding.

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