Latest global report by Plan Canada and the University of Toronto
highlights bullying as part of wider school-related violence,
recommends process for national action plan
TORONTO, Dec. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - A new report published by child rights organization Plan Canada, in partnership with
the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of
Toronto Faculty of Law, finds that school-related gender-based violence
(SRGBV) is a major factor threatening the education of children,
especially young girls, in many countries of the world, including
"Education is a fundamental human right for every child but it is too
often denied or compromised, especially when it comes to young girls,"
said Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada. "Both
globally and here in Canada gender-based violence is causing
psychological and emotional trauma, poor performance at school, high
dropout rates and in the most severe cases, suicide among children.
This issue needs to be addressed."
Today, Plan Canada and the IHRP launched the report on Parliament Hill
in Ottawa with key partner organizations Canadian Women's Foundation,
Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and White Ribbon Campaign
(WRC). The report defines SRGBV as "acts of sexual, physical, or
psychological violence inflicted on children in and around schools
because of their sex or gender identity," and presents some startling
statistics and findings from here in Canada and across the world.
Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence every
year, many in and around the institutions we trust most - our schools.
Around the world, incidents of sexual violence by teachers and staff
against female students include a range of behaviours and misuse of
authority, including rape, sexual assault, and bribing students with
money or the promise of better grades in exchange for sex.
Nearly a quarter of Canadian girls, and at least 15 per cent of boys,
have experienced sexual violence before they reach 16.
Many Canadian children, particularly girls from marginalized
communities, continue to be vulnerable to different forms of violence
within their school lives.
A national survey found that almost 2/3 of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgendered, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) students feel unsafe at
school and many LGBTQ students, and other students who don't fit
gendered norms, are suffering from frequent incidents of verbal,
physical, and online violence within their school lives.
The lowest estimate is that 25 per cent of Aboriginal adults have been
sexually abused before reaching 18 and an estimated 40-70 per cent of
girls with intellectual disabilities will be sexually abused before
their 18th birthday.
"Violence against children is unjustifiable, but it is also
preventable," added Renu Mandhane, Director of the IHRP at the
University of Toronto. "To that end, we're calling for a process to
develop a national action plan to end violence against all children,
with a strong focus on gender and the school context. This process must
involve all provinces, all levels of government, civil society
organizations, front-line service providers, and children themselves."
"Violence against girls in Canada is a serious issue with serious
consequences," said Anuradha Dugal, Director of Violence Prevention at
Canadian Women's Foundation. "Based on our many years of experience
funding healthy relationships and violence prevention programs with
girls across Canada, we support the call for a national action plan as
a positive investment in Canadian girls."
"Today we know that violence is a fact in the lives of many Indigenous
women and girls. But know that violence is not a part of our history or
culture. With positive action and the will to change, violence will end
today and not be part of our future," said NWAC President Michèle
Audette. "Implementing the recommendations in this report is about
making that positive change for today and for tomorrow."
"The White Ribbon Campaign is pleased that this report calls for the
engagement of men and boys in positive, preventative roles to address a
complex, society-wide problem," said Todd Minerson, Executive Director
of WRC. "This is a problem that requires all of us to be involved in
meaningful solutions. In their roles as parents, teachers, fellow
students, community leaders and engaged bystanders men and boys can
help to prevent violence against women and girls."
The report includes significant contributions and endorsements from
leading Canadian rights-based organizations including the Canadian
Coalition for the Rights of Children, and was launched today with
multi-party support through a Parliamentary Breakfast in the House of
Plan Canada and the IHRP emphasized that the report does not just
highlight problems but is focused on solutions drawn from the
experiences of countries leading on these issues. It includes specific
recommendations for the Canadian government that are consistent with
recent observations on Canada made by the United Nations Committee on
the Rights of the Child.
About Plan and the 'Because I am a Girl' initiative
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world's oldest and largest
international development agencies, working in partnership with
millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for
profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has
only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls'
rights and lift millions of girls - and everyone around them - out of
poverty. Visit www.plancanada.ca and www.becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.
About the International Human Rights Program (IHRP)
The International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto
Faculty of Law enhances the legal protection of existing and emerging
international human rights obligations through advocacy,
knowledge-exchange, and capacity-building initiatives that provide
experiential learning opportunities for students and legal expertise to
SOURCE: Plan Canada
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