Physical and emotional violence are pervasive and largely accepted aspects of children’s lives, according to a set of new studies published this week.
Understanding Children’s Experiences of Violence in Ethiopia: Evidence from Young Lives
This research report explores children’s accounts of everyday violence in Ethiopia, and the ways in which factors at individual, family, community, institutional and society levels affect children’s experiences of violence. The report primarily draws on analysis of four rounds of longitudinal qualitative data gathered over seven years, complemented with analysis of cross-sectional survey data from Young Lives. Findings show that violence affecting children – mostly physical punishment and emotional abuse – is widespread, accepted, and normalized. Differing economic activities affect family dynamics and the likelihood of children experiencing violence, which is often linked to the challenges of poverty and the expectation that children will contribute to the household economy.
A new report on the global problem of bullying produced by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, will be presented today to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Experiences of Peer Bullying among Adolescents & Associated Effects on Young Adult Outcomes: Longitudinal Evidence from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Viet Nam
Globally it is estimated that more than one in three students between the ages of 13 and 15 are regularly bullied by peers. Being bullied has been found to have a significant impact on children’s physical and mental health, psychosocial well-being and educational performance, with lasting effects into adulthood on health, well-being and lifetime earnings. Most research, including cross-cultural comparative work, has focused on high-income countries, identifying a range of predictors and effects associated with being bullied. Far less is known about bullying in low- and middle-income countries.
This paper is a contribution to the UNICEF Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children, which analyses how structural factors interact to affect everyday violence in children’s homes, schools and communities. The results of the multi-country study intend to inform national strategies for violence prevention.
We use longitudinal data from the Young Lives study of childhood poverty to address three core questions:
- Which children are bullied and how at age 15?
- What is associated with certain groups of children being bullied?
- Are there long-term associations between being bullied at age 15 with psychosocial indicators (self-efficacy, self-esteem, parent relations and peer relations) at age 19?
• Indirect bullying, such as measures to humiliate and socially exclude others, is the most prevalent type of bullying experienced at age 15 across three of the four countries, ranging from 15 per cent of children in Ethiopia to 28 per cent in India.
• Verbal bullying is also prevalent, affecting a third of children in Peru and a quarter in India.
•Physical bullying is the least prevalent form and lower than the other types, with the exception of India where the rate of children experiencing physical bullying is similar to other types of bullying.
•Boys are at greater risk than girls of being physically and verbally bullied and girls are more likely to be bullied indirectly.
•Poorer children are consistently more likely to be bullied in India and experience some types of bullying (physical, social exclusion and attacks on property) in Viet Nam than their less poor peers.
Undermining Learning: Multi-Country Longitudinal Evidence on Corporal Punishment in Schools
Globally the use of corporal punishment in schools is increasingly prohibited in law, yet in many countries its use continues, even where outlawed. Proponents argue that it is an effective and non-harmful means of instilling discipline, respect and obedience in children, while others point to a series of detrimental effects, including physical harm, poor academic performance, low class participation, school dropout and declining psychosocial well-being. Using longitudinal data from Young Lives, this Brief summarises research examining whether corporal punishment in schools is associated with lasting effects on children’s cognitive development.The brief is part of the UNICEF Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children.
We find that corporal punishment in schools is highly prevalent, despite legal prohibition, with younger children, boys and poor children at greater risk. Violence in schools, including physical and verbal abuse by teachers and peers, is the foremost reason children aged 8 give for disliking school. Corporal punishment experienced at age 8 is negatively associated with maths scores at age 12 in India, Peru and Viet Nam. The associated negative effect of corporal punishment on maths scores at age 12 is equivalent to the child’s caregiver having between three and six years less education. Legislation, teacher training, addressing gender and social norms and greater international and national prioritisation of tackling violence affecting children, all play a part in building safe, supportive and enabling environments so that every child can flourish.
Corporal Punishment in Schools
Globally the use of corporal punishment in schools is increasingly prohibited in law, yet its use continues in many contexts, even where outlawed. While some may argue that it is an effective and non-harmful means of instilling discipline, respect and obedience into children, others point to a series of detrimental effects, including poor academic performance, low class participation, early drop-out, and declining psychosocial well-being. The use of corporal punishment and whether it has lasting impacts on children’s development remains highly contested, especially given the dearth of data in this area.
This paper draws on longitudinal data from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam to examine the prevalence of corporal punishment and what this means for children in terms of what they most dislike about being at school. It also uses regression analysis to explore predictors of corporal punishment, as well as its effects on children’s cognitive development and psychosocial well-being.
Corporal punishment is highly prevalent despite legal prohibition
- More than half of children aged 8 in Peru and Vietnam, three-quarters in Ethiopia and almost all children in India witnessed a teacher administering corporal punishment in the last week.
- Younger children are at greater risk of corporal punishment than adolescents, with the incidence of punishment at age 8 more than double the rate reported by 15-year-olds, in all four countries.
- Violence in schools, including physical and verbal abuse by teachers and peers, is the foremost reason children give for disliking school.
Boys and poorer children are significantly more likely to experience corporal punishment at age 8
- Boys are significantly more likely to experience corporal punishment than girls. However, girls are often at greater risk of other forms of humiliating treatment and sexual violence.
- Children from poorer households are significantly more likely to be punished compared to children from better-off households in the same community in India, Peru and Vietnam. When comparing children in the same school, poorer children are significantly more likely to be punished than their better-off peers in India and Vietnam.
- Children in urban areas report more corporal punishment in Ethiopia and Vietnam (with the reverse in India and Peru). In Ethiopia, India and Peru children in government schools were more likely to experience corporal punishment than in private schools.
Corporal punishment affects children’s learning levels
- Corporal punishment negatively affects children’s maths scores at age 8. These findings remain significant in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam after controlling for previous performance in maths at age 5.
- Corporal punishment experienced at age 8 negatively affects children’s maths scores at age 12 in India, Peru and Vietnam. The average negative effect is of similar size to the caregiver (usually mother) having about three to six years less education.
Corporal punishment not only violates children’s fundamental rights to dignity and bodily integrity but can have long-lasting implications for their life-chances by reducing their engagement with schooling and capacity to learn. Legislation, teacher training, addressing gender and social norms and greater international and national prioritisation to tackle violence affecting children should all play a part in building safe, supportive and enabling environments for all children to flourish.