One in three kids worried about safety in school: report

Survey conducted in 41 countries reveals lack of infrastructure, corporal punishment and bullying are the main fears of students

February 12, 2017 01:09 am | Updated 01:09 am IST - NEW DELHI:

One in every three children in India feels their school is not safe “sometimes”, while citing deficient infrastructure and lack of toilets among their biggest concerns, according to a survey.

Their safety concerns also include corporal punishment and bullying, revealed the global survey – “Small Voices, Big Dreams” – conducted by international development group, ChildFund Alliance in 41 countries, including developing and developed nations.

This seventh annual survey, undertaken in 2016, was released at a consultation on “Child-Friendly Accountability Methodology” here in the Capital.

Views of more than 6,000 children, aged between 10 and 12 years in 41 countries, were studied in the survey.

The report captured children’s views on education and safety in their school.

Key findings

The participating countries included India, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Zambia among others.

The key findings for India revealed that nearly one in three children are concerned about their safety in school. The findings highlighted striking similarities and differences between children in different parts of the world.

While children almost universally agreed that education was important, a third of the respondents in India (28%) said their school is only ‘sometimes’ safe (in line with the global finding of 31%) – citing deficient infrastructure and lack of toilets, boundary walls and first-aid facilities among their greatest concerns.

Other concerns

The children also spoke of corporal punishment and bullying among their main concerns.

In developing countries, 21 per cent of children said being safe at school means school buildings and facilities which are clean, safe and in good repair – with this response being highest among children surveyed in India (58%), Ethiopia (55%) and Bangladesh (54%).

In India, children defined safety at school as having a clean and safe building (58%), having proper preventive security measures in place (46% – ranging from ‘out of bound’ areas, to protection from strangers, to supervision by teachers; while 23% of children described feeling safe as not being the target of physical or emotional abuse or violence, with many children referring to corporal punishment and “no bullying”.

‘Grey area’

‘Neelam Makhijani, national director of ChildFund India, said: “This survey tells us that for children in India safety in their institutions is a grey area. We can’t lose sight of the fact that every child has the right to learn in a safe environment and a collective intervention is our moral responsibility.”

Commenting on the results, Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International, said: “The survey reveals that many children are concerned about their personal safety at school which will prove to be an impediment in their overall development and growth.”

“School should be an institution of constant learning and development without children having to worry about safety at their learning premises.

ChildFund is committed to doing all we can to provide children around the world with a safe and quality education,” she added.

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