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School violence costs billions, reveals report

October 25, 2010

The enormous economic and social cost of violence in schools across the world has been revealed for the first time in a new report, Prevention Pays: the economic benefits of ending violence in schools.

The report found the total cost of school violence in terms of social benefits lost in just 13 countries for which information is available ran to almost $60 billion. Based on research commissioned by children’s organization Plan International, it focused on three types of violence in schools – corporal punishment, bullying and sexual violence.

The report, taken from research carried out by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) found that children who experience violence at school are likely to earn less, be in greater need of healthcare and other services, and long-term, contribute less to their countries’ economies.

It says that the problem is a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals* - as it leads to truancy, under-performance and high drop-out rates. It concludes that such violence affects both developing and developed countries and is costing children their futures and keeping them poor.

Plan International CEO Nigel Chapman said: “Most societies rightly place a high value on education. It is a route of poverty for children and their families and is crucial to economic development. Yet its returns are being vastly diminished by the blight of violence in schools – a major cause of non-attendance and, as this research has found, a considerable drain on the public purse. No state can afford to ignore these findings.”

No country is immune from the blight of school violence and eradicating it takes commitment and resources. But failing to invest in it costs considerably more. Plan’s work on its Learn Without Fear campaign – currently active in 44 countries, has found many examples of cost-effective measures which have made schools safer, reduced violence and brought immediate financial savings.

Plan is now calling upon governments to:

  • Introduce and/or enforce legislation banning violence in schools including corporal punishment, bullying and sexual violence.
  • Invest funds in proven interventions to eradicate violence And is calling upon education authorities, schools, civil society organizations and governments to:
  • Invest in teacher training (including of more women teachers) & promote positive discipline technique
  • Establish school and teacher codes of conduct & reporting mechanisms
  • Improve pay and conditions for teachers

Download a copy of the report, Prevention Pays: the economic benefits of ending violence in schools.

For more information, please contact: 
Robin Costello
Director of Communications
401-737-5770, x1318

Learn more about Plan's Learn Without Fear campaign.