Sponsored by the ECFG, a three-day Program Learning Event (PLE) on Violence against Children in and around Schools (VACiS) held in Kampala, Uganda from 14-16 July 2015, attracted 77 practitioners, donors, advocates, researchers and government representatives in the field of violence against children from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States of America. The theme of the event was developing a common learning agenda on preventing and responding to VACiS.
1. While the prevention of violence against children in and around schools (VACiS) is justifiable from a human rights and economic perspective, actors in the field have not prioritised prevention and current interventions are largely awareness raising. As a result, they are not effectively addressing root causes, such as social norms, that perpetuate violence. Responding to current VAC incidents should, however, remain on the radar of actors.
2. Bottom-up and top-down approaches are both critical in preventing and responding to violence. This requires strengthening both the formal and non-formal child protection systems, as well as maximizing synergies between the two. Bottom-up approaches need to link interventions at the family, school and community level.
3. VACiS takes many forms, including corporal punishment, sexual violence, bullying, and violence to and from school.
4. Children’s agency is important for self-protection and in making children key actors in preventing violence against their peers.
5. Given the multiple forms of VAC and the need to address the various components of the ecological system, collaboration between state agencies, state-and civil society organizations (CSOs) and between CSOs, are essential ingredients of successful programming. School-based interventions should reach children, teachers and non-teaching staff.
6. Creative approaches to violence prevention need to be devised, piloted and scaled up. These include alternatives to current practices such as corporal punishment and positive reference groups/change agents that could transform existing social norms.
7. Successful programs have adopted practical methodologies (as opposed to technical) that touch individual hearts and minds and use concepts and words with positive connotation (for example, Good School).
8. There is a significant disconnect between violence against women (VAW) and VAC programming, although schools are an important space to integrate VAW and VAC interventions as they are places where children develop and learn positive social norms and attitudes related to power and healthy relationships.
9. It is possible to implement cost-effective prevention programs in resource-limited settings.
Lessons on effective violence against children (VAC) programming strategies and approaches: