Gender-based violence in school is a widespread problem that has significant health, social, and economic consequences on students. Yet schools are frequently places where this kind of violence prevails.
While boys and girls can be both victims and perpetrators of school-related gender-based (SRGBV), girls are often at greater risk of sexual violence, whilst boys are often more exposed to corporal punishment and bullying.
According to UNESCO, school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) involves acts or threats of sexual, physical, or psychological violence occurring within and around school, perpetrated because of gender norms and stereotypes, and facilitated by unenforced and unequal power dynamics.
It can also include verbal abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, Physical Assault, harassment, Cyberbullying, and other types of violence.
Most times, children frequently absorb gender-related information from influential figures in their lives, such as family members and school teachers. However, these influential figures also have the capacity to shape the perceptions of young children through their own attitudes, and everyday activities towards gender.
The Impact of Gender-Based Violence On Students
Being exposed to or having experienced SRGBV can have critical impacts on children’s development. Especially in terms of mental, and physical well-being, academic performance, and overall development. It also has the ability to hinder their ability to learn and engage effectively in school.
Additionally, students who experience GBV may face social isolation, reduced self-esteem, and difficulty forming healthy relationships. This form of violence can perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes and norms, further reinforcing inequality.
For teachers to address these impacts, it is essential to implement comprehensive support systems and preventative measures within the school.
Here Are Some Preventive Measures Teachers Can Implement in The Classroom to Curb GBV in School
- Encourage Inclusive Classroom Settings:
Avoid segregating students by gender, as it hinders their ability to socialize and inhibits non-binary students from feeling acknowledged and at ease. Steer clear of activities that create divisions like ‘girls vs boys’ games, for instance.
- Create Mixed-Gender Groups for Class Projects and Discussions:
Fostering an environment where all genders collaborate is a powerful means to promote gender equality in the classroom. Teamwork is a universally valuable skill, and when students of all genders work together without being confined by stereotypes, it reinforces the notion that gender is not a defining factor.
- Avoid Stereotypes:
Don’t use old-fashioned ideas like ‘blue for boys’ and ‘pink for girls’, or saying boys are tough and girls are caring. These stereotypes can affect how a child sees themselves. To help, focus on praising girls for what they do and achieve, rather than how they look.
- Use Gender-Neutral Language When Possible:
When addressing your students, opt for inclusive language that doesn’t rely on gender distinctions like “boys and girls.” Instead, use terms like “everyone” or “class” to address the group in a more gender-neutral manner, ensuring all students feel included.
- Promote Open Communication:
Foster a safe and inclusive environment where students feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics like GBV. Encourage dialogue and active listening.
Meanwhile, Teachers alone cannot completely fight this gender-based violence, there is a need for parents and everyone in society to team up and become a powerful catalyst for change, especially during early childhood stages.
This, in turn, paves the way for a more balanced and equitable community over time.
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