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School violence costs billions, reveals report

Girl at school desk

Protecting children from violence in school benefits everyone

25 October 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.

Based on research commissioned by Plan, the report found that the total cost of school violence in terms of social benefits lost in just 13 countries where information is available ran to almost US$60 billion.

Long-term damage

The report, taken from research carried out by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), looked at corporal punishment, bullying and sexual violence.

It 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 country’s economy.

The problem is a significant barrier to achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals - as it leads to truancy, under-performance and high drop-out rates.

The report concludes that violence affects both developing and developed countries and is costing children their futures and keeping them poor.

Blight of violence

Plan Chief Executive Officer Nigel Chapman said: “Most societies rightly place a high value on education. It is a route out 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.”

Vital investment

Eradicating school violence takes commitment and resources - but failing to invest in it costs considerably more.

Plan’s work on its global Learn Without Fear campaign to end violence in schools has found many examples of cost-effective measures which have made schools safer, reduced violence and brought immediate financial savings.

Plan is calling on governments to: 

  • introduce or enforce legislation banning all forms of violence
  • invest funds in proven interventions to prevent school violence
  • invest in teacher training and promote positive discipline methods
  • establish school and teacher codes of conduct and reporting mechanisms.

Download the ‘Prevention pays’ report.

Read Plan’s Learn Without Fear 2 year campaign progress report

Join the Learn Without Fear campaign