A careful, high-quality analysis of the school community’s attitudes that takes into account gender-related prejudices, recognition of various types of violence, and students’ experiences at school, is a crucial step towards safer environment at school. A thorough analysis of the situation at hand may help understand the problem’s extent, specifics, and possible solutions better.
Who suffers violence most often at our school? Who perpetrates violence most often and why? How common is gender- and sexual orientation-related bullying at the school? In which spaces of the school or online spaces do violent situations occur most often? Are there students at the school that experience or witness violence in close environment?
Review the already collected data on gender-based violence, which could be useful for gender-based violence prevention at your school.
Answering these questions may help assess how common gender-based violence is at your school, which student groups experience violence most often and which groups are the aggressors. Such control questions may also help identify, what kind of information on violent situations is lacking. You can then fill these gaps by initiating surveys or gathering focus groups, organising meetings and discussions between teachers, other school workers, students, and their parents/guardians. Make sure that the information is regularly updated and changes are constantly assessed. Set clear desired changes and what is seen as a positive change.
Review the relevant state-wide data.
Findings of national surveys and researches on violence, bullying, and attitudes towards them may also be useful when assessing the situation at your school, especially given the fact that many cases of violence and bullying are not reported both at school and in other environments. For example, surveys on frequency of homophobic name-calling at Lithuanian schools or on prevalence of sexual harrassment experienced by women and girls in the European Union may help understand the larger picture of gender-based violence, which inevitably includes each and every school.
Assess schools’ communities prejudices related to gender and interpersonal relationships. Information on prejudices can be a useful tool when assessing prevalence of gender-based violence at your school and the atmosphere in which your community’s members work and study. Gender-based violence and bullying are so prevalent because our society has normalised them and many people tend to justify or even turn a blind eye to such situations. In an environment with flourishing gender stereotypes, gender-based violence or bullying are allowed to flourish, too. Asking our community such questions as “are boys better leaders than girls?”, “do men have a natural tendency to act aggressively?”, or “is it normal to shout at your girlfriend if you got angry or jealous or she is not behaving in a desired way?” gives us a possibility to understand what prejudices influence its members’ behaviour in everyday situations.
You can find a sample questionnaire for such survey and more information on its methodology, organisation, and data analysis in Equality Lab: a Guide to Creating a Safe Envirnoment at School.
Create a mechanism to record violent incidents and facilitate an appropriate response from the school community.
If at the moment your school does not have a system to record cases of violence, create a folder or an e-document (use the above-listed questions, if necessary) in which such cases will be recorded, as well as the time and space of their occurrence, type of violence or bullying (i. e., what exactly happened), and school community’s response to them. Find out if there is a mechanism at your school for students and school employees to anonymously report cases of violence and bullying. Both paper forms (with a safe place to drop them) and e-forms are appropriate for such mechanism. Designate a person responsible for reviewing and investigating such reports, as well as the model of ensuring confidentiality of collected data. It is important to make sure that all members of the school community know how to use this mechanism and what would be done with the received reports. It is also important to transmit the message that a safe environment at school is the responsibility of each and every member of its community, therefore reporting experienced or witnessed violence and bullying is an immensely important duty.
Ensure the confidentiality of information on violent incidents.
When working on violence prevention, analysing data, and preparing surveys, personal information of those who experienced, committed, or reported violence must stay confidential.
Bear in mind that school-related violence and bullying are experienced not only by students, but also by school employees.
When working on school-related gender-based violence, we must not forget that adults, too, experience gender-based violence at their homes, workplaces, and public spaces. Taking into account the fact that 55 percent of women and girls older than 15 have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their lives and, according to 2019 data, one in four (25 percent) women in Lithuania experience or have experienced violence in close environment, we must admit that at almost every school, there are people who experience gender-based violence. Do not rule out the possibility that sexual harrassment and psychological violence can happen among school employees, too, and consider if mechanisms for anonymous reporting of such incidents are accessible to school employees.