A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear

Keeping children in school will</br>help them escape the cycle of poverty and shape their future.

Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence every year, many in the institutions that we trust most to protect and nurture our children: schools.

Education is a fundamental human right for every child but it is too often denied, especially to girls.

Plan Canada’s latest report, A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear, produced in partnership with the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, and in collaboration with the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Native Women’s Association of Canada, and White Ribbon Campaign, finds that gender-based violence is a major and critical factor threatening the education of children, and particularly girls, in many countries of the world, including Canada.

School-related gender-based violence

School-related gender-based violence refers to acts of sexual, physical or psychological violence inflicted on children in and around schools because of stereotypes and roles or norms attributed to or expected of them because of their sex or gender identity.

There are immediate and long-term consequences of school-related gender-based violence including health consequences (STDs, HIV infection, unwanted early pregnancies); psychological suffering; poor performance at school; absenteeism; and high dropout rates.

  • Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence every year, many in and around the institutions we trust most: our schools.
  • The World Health Organization ranked Canada as one of the worst countries for its bullying victimization rates. Canada was ranked 27th out of 35 comparable countries
  • Nearly a quarter of Canadian girls and, at least 15% of boys, have experienced sexual violence before they reach 16.
  • Female victims of sexual harassment report a loss of interest in school activities, increased absenteeism, lower grades, and increased tardiness and truancy.
Ending the violence

While violence against children is unjustifiable, it is also preventable. Therefore, the report also focuses on solutions with recommendations for all governments, including Canada’s, to put an end to violence against children, with a special focus on girls.

The report does not just highlight problems, but is focused on solutions drawn from the experiences of countries leading on these issues. It includes specific recommendations for the Canadian government that are consistent with recent observations on Canada made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Click here to read the Full Report (PDF, 2 mb, 94 pages)