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At the General Assembly Third Committee, Member States and UN Entities Reaffirm Their Commitment to Combating Violence and Bullying at School

Today (5 November) UNESCO joined Member states and key UN partners in observing the First International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying at the UN Headquarters.
 
During virtually held consultations on the UN General Assembly Resolution entitled “Protecting children from bullying”, the Permanent Mission of Mexico hosted a talk on the occasion of the first International Day with an aim to raise awareness of the importance of tackling violence and bullying in the classrooms and beyond.
 
Discussants expressed concern that bullying negatively affects millions of girls, boys and adolescents in all regions of the world. Participants further underlined that violence and bullying, at school may inflict physical, psychological and social harm to children. Delegates acknowledged the proclamation by UNESCO of the International Day that highlights the need to address the root causes of violence and calls for zero tolerance towards it.
 
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, revealed that children are at increased risk of online harm  during global COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore, there is an urgent need for the global community to ensure child protection both in person and online, at home and school. “Living in a life free from all forms of violence, discrimination and exploitation is a fundamental right for all children.” –said Ambassador Ramon de La Fuente.
 
Stressing that ‘violence and bullying, including cyber bullying, is one of the worst types of violence against children that deprives their fundamental rights to education’ H.E. Ambassador Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations, called for galvanizing a global momentum to end violence and bullying against children. He urged Member States to demonstrate stronger leadership in raising awareness and tackling violence against children by mobilizing joint efforts with the ultimate goal of creating a safe, friendly and supportive learning environment for all students.
 
Championing the Global Education Coalition, a platform launched by UNESCO “for collaboration and exchange to protect the right to education during COVID 19 and beyond” Mrs Diarra Dime Labille, Minister Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, stressed that combating cyberbullying is among the priorities of the French G7 Presidency. She also highlighted that the French Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, in collaboration with UNESCO, hosted an International Conference on School Bullying to mark the celebration of the first International Day Against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying. Mrs Dime Labille underlined the importance of integrating gender perspective into all policy making and reaffirmed France’s commitment and continued support for protecting children from all forms of violence and bullying.
 
“Ending violence in school is essential to ensuring students’ access to education; if we fail to do so, we might face a higher social cost later on”, stated Najat Maalla, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, as she warned that “students, their families and teachers must be empowered’. In the context of COVID-19, keeping children safe online is sien qua no as they face increased exposure to online harms such as hate speech, misinformation, sexual exploitation and cyberbullying, according to Mrs Maala.
 
Joining the observance of the first-ever International day against violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying, Marie Paule Roudil, Director of Office and UNESCO and Representative to the United Nations in New York, warned about the growing number of students being targeted off-line and online, in the context of COVID-19, as well as  about the negative long-lasting educational and health consequences for the victims. In this context, she highlighted a number of  recommendations  for strong leadership and robust policy frameworks; elaboration of curricula to promote a caring school climate; training for teachers and other school staff; a safe psychological and physical school environment; mechanisms to report bullying and support for affected students; student empowerment and participation;  involvement of all stakeholders in the school community including parents; and collaboration between the education sector and other sectors and a wide range of partners.
 
 “Addressing all forms of school violence including bullying is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, and SDG 16, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies.”, stated Mrs Roudil.
Stephen Blight, Senior Child Protection Advisor at UNICEF, expressed serious concern about that only 29% of countries have school-based anti-bullying programs “considered adequate to support students and address bullying issue at school”. He highlighted the Safe to Learn initiative dedicated “to ending violence in and through schools so children are free to learn, thrive and pursue their dreams”. The growing coalition behind Safe to Learn includes the UNICEF and UNESCO. He called on l Member States to do the maximum in ensuring virtual platforms are free of bullying and harassment.
 
At the UN General Assembly, biannually the Permanent Mission of Mexico spearheads resolution on "Protecting children from bullying" that aims to make this form of violence against children more visible as bullying is a global issue affecting millions of girls, boys and adolescents in all regions of the world. In turn, the resolution includes recommendations on the preventive measures, as well as data and evidence-based solutions.