Summer is almost over, teachers are preparing lesson plans, and classrooms are being tidied up. For millions of lucky schoolchildren around the world, this means one thing: it's time to go back to school!
Yet for many these returning schoolchildren, the school environment is not a safe space to study and grow. Some children are naturally shy, others are bullied, and some are even threatened by the potential of a violent attack. #ENDViolence is UNICEF's campaign to address school safety, bullying, and inclusion.
The campaign began when UNICEF asked young people around the world with their experience of violence in schools, and more than one million youth responded from 160 countries. Thousands shared their thoughts on how to make schools safer. The result is the #ENDViolence Youth Manifesto, which was presented to ministers at the Education World Forum in early 2019.
Why is this important? Half the world's teens experience peer violence in and around school, while 720 million school-aged children live in countries where corporal punishment is not fully prohibited at school. On the extreme end of the spectrum, more than 500 attacks on schools were documented in the Congo, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen in 2017.
Child safety in and around school environments is a global problem. Bullies exist online, in classrooms, and on the playground. If children cannot feel safe at school, they cannot thrive, flourish, and prosper.
Let's unite so that no child has to feel unsure or afraid in the walls of his or her classroom.