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Research results on gender-based violence in schools in Serbia

Minister of Education Srdjan Verbic, UNICEF Serbia Representative Michel Saint-Lot, researcher Dasa Duhacek
© Ana Dokucevic/Medija centar Beograd
From left to right: Minister of Education Srdjan Verbic, UNICEF Serbia Representative Michel Saint-Lot, researcher Dasa Duhacek

Belgrade, 5 June 2014 – UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development presented research results about attitudes, values, experiences and awareness related to distribution, characteristics and consequences of sexual and gender-based violence among and against pupils (girls and boys) in primary and secondary schools in Serbia.  The aim of the research was to investigate and suggest good practice prevention capacities and prevention opportunities, particularly related to sexual and gender-based violence.

The research was conducted in November and December of 2013, among 11.656 boys and 10.708 girls, 721 male teachers and 1816 female teachers and 81 expert staff members in 50 schools throughout Serbia. The first preliminary results have revealed widespread discriminatory attitudes among pupils, largely boys, when it comes to gender and gender-based violence.  While exposure to sexual and gender-based violence varies between boys and girls depending on the type of violence, the research clearly indicates, through the answers of those children that report gender-based violence, that boys are more frequent perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence against girls, as well as against other boys.

“The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and UNICEF have taken steps to “engender” our existing violence prevention programmes in schools. As part of a UN Joint Programme on Preventing Violence against Women, we have worked in partnership with the Institute of Psychology, the Centre for Gender Studies, schools and NGOs to address gender roles and gender-based violence through conducting research and introducing new school programmes and youth-led community activities”, emphasized Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF Representative in Serbia.

“Apart from an all-encompassing systemic approach to this topic, it is necessary, through education, to increase the sensitivity of professionals who work in schools, in order for them to be able to recognise gender-based content in teaching materials, but also in order for them to recognize their own prejudices.  All the adults in this process carry a significant part of the responsibility and through our own examples pass on some of the values and perspectives to students, and so it is necessary that in our work we apply the principles of gender equality and equal opportunity for everyone”, stated Minister Verbic.

“Even though these are preliminary results, this research has unequivocally shown and documented that gender-based violence exists in primary and secondary schools in Serbia.  Results have shown that 69% of boys and girls in primary schools and 74% of high school male and female students have, at least once, experienced at least one form of gender-based violence since the start of the 2013/2014 school year”, emphasized Dasa Duhacek, Director of the Centre for Gender and Politics, at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade.

A pupil from one of the primary schools which implement the gender component of the School without Violence programme persents his experiences in the prevention of gender-based violence in his school.
© Ana Dokucevic/Medija centar Beograd
A pupil from one of the primary schools which implement the gender component of the School without Violence programme persents his experiences in the prevention of gender-based violence in his school.

The results of this research are encouraging and show that there is a need and readiness, of those employed in the education system, as well as of male and female students, to discuss this topic. 77% of boys and girls in primary schools stated that they want to discuss these issues in school, while 69% of high schools students stated the same.  75% of employees in primary schools stated that they want to take part in educational activities about some of these issues (gender roles, gender equality, and gender-based violence), while 68% of those employed in high schools stated the same.

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and in cooperation with UNICEF, the research was conducted by the Institute of Psychology of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade and the Centre for Gender Studies of the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade.

The research is supported through the UN Joint Programme “Integrated Response to Violence against Women” implemented by UNICEF, UNDP and UN Women and financially supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

After the research was carried out, fifty schools in Serbia, which implement the gender component of the “Schools without Violence” programme, undertook educational activities about gender, gender roles and the prevention and protection of children against sexual and gender-based violence.  Students from the Milena Pavlovic Barili Primary School presented their experiences and planned activities in the prevention of gender-based violence in their school.

» Preliminary research results on gender-based violence in schools [PDF]

 

 
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