To coincide with the Global Launch of the #ENDviolence in Schools: Safe to Learn campaign (6th September 2018), UNICEF Ghana launched a U-Report poll and organized a youth event known as Youth Talks. This event gave voices to young people to share their experiences with regards to violence in schools and offer solutions to ensure that every child is safe to learn.
UNICEF aimed for Youth Talks in 10 countries- between July and November 2018 to find out;
1) What students commit to doing; and
2) What they need from others – caregivers, teachers, school personnel, local or national policymakers, etc. – to be safe to learn.
The reflections offered in person and online from various countries will feed into an #ENDviolence Youth Manifesto. This Manifesto will serve as a reminder to member states of their commitment to protecting children in and around schools (please see UN Resolution 72/245, adopted on 24 December 2017 on the Rights of the child here.)
UNICEF Ghana office with support from the Guidance and Counselling unit of the Ghana Education Service and the Department of Children (Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection) organized the EVAC Youth Talks which chimes well with the Ghanaian Against Child Abuse campaign.
The Talks organized on 20th September 2018 attracted 110 children and youth ranging from 10 – 23 years with the majority participants being children from the All Saints Anglican Basic School, Grey Memorial Basic School, Bishop Mixed Basic School and Private Odartey Basic School in Accra. The audience enjoyed a mix of talks and videos (First Day Fears, GACA music video, GACA Social Experiment video and U-Report promotional video).
UNICEF Ghana influencers, MzVee (Musician, Lynx Entertainment) and Francisca Kakra Forson (Journalist, JoyFM, VOA) moderated the event. There were seven speakers in all (4 girls, 3 boys) speaking on Corporal punishment, Gender Based Violence, Verbal Abuse, Bullying and Online Abuse. The speakers made various recommendations on the theme in their presentations. Here are a few:
What do you commit to doing to make you and your peers safe in and around school?
- Corporal Punishment: Children should behave in the right way even if there is no cane around them, Abigail, 22 years
- Verbal Abuse: if someone abuses a child, the child should speak to teachers or others who could provide assistance, Deborah, 13 years
- Bullying: students should be encouraged to stop bullying at school, Ernest, 13 years
What do you need from others -- parents, teachers and school officials, policymakers, etc. -- for you and your classmates to be safe in and around school?
- Mothers should talk to their children and pay attention to know what is going on in their lives, Stella, 22 years
- Online Safety: - Communities should play a role in monitoring violence happening in the digital space, Kenneth, 12 years
- Online Safety: Government should enact laws to protect children from violence and ensure safety online environment, Roland, 12 years
The event was covered by the below media houses and streamed live on the OMG Voice platform on Facebook.
Junior Graphic – Print
Daily Graphic- Print
BnFT – Print
Adom Radio- Broadcast
Children suffer immensely from violence and abuse and they live with the scars of physical, sexual and psychological violence for life. No child should be afraid to go to school. And yet, for far too many students around the world, school is a dangerous place.
From the poll results on Safe Environment in schools, 54% of the respondents affirmed that they were afraid to go to school at some point in their lives because of harsh discipline. Half of all children between 6 and 17 live in countries where corporal punishment is not fully prohibited. In Ghana, corporal punishment is prohibited yet many children during the talks confirmed that teachers were still using canes in the classroom.
Through the U-Report poll conducted- it was revealed that the most common form of abuse in schools is bullying at 36% closely followed by harsh punishment and verbal abuse. More than 1 in 3 students between 13 and 15 experiences bullying. According to the poll, 59% of the respondents felt that they were not always punished fairly.
The U-Report poll was presented by Victoria Quarynor, who is an advocate against Child Marriage and a U-Reporter. She called on teachers to take action to make schools attractive to children for them to reach their full potential.
The End Violence Against Children: Safe to Learn is calling on all actors and stakeholders to join their voices to children and young people who are themselves agents of change, to ensure that schools are safe for children to learn. For every child, a Safe Learning Environment