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The impact of gender-based violence on sons and daughters: the role of schools according to the pupils

Carme Montserrat, Marta Garcia-Molsosa, Pere Soler, Anna Planas, Edgar Iglesias and Paula Boned, Liberi, Universitat de Girona
Project selected in the Social Research Call 2020 (LCF/PR/SR20/52550014)

In the face of the ongoing problem of gender-based violence and the impact it has on children, the research project WeAreHere!, on which this article is based, recognises and encourages the role that children and adolescents can play in explaining problems occurring in their family environment, and in seeking support for themselves and their families. The aim of the project is to contribute to the early detection of this violence from a school setting and establish a model for action involving the pupils’ voice. To this end, in the framework of the research, six expert groups were created, made up of children and adolescents aged 10 to 16 from six towns in Catalonia. The main instrument developed was a questionnaire completed by 3,650 children taking the last three years of primary education and all four years of compulsory secondary education, from a total of 106 schools in Catalonia. The results obtained describe their understanding of gender-based violence and the best ways, in their view, to get information and help. The results identify a series of obstacles when a situation of gender-based violence at home is reported at school and point towards how children could be helped and so come to form part of the solution to the problem. The children acknowledge the role of schools as an information source, but set priorities between who can help them and how. The research is intended to clarify the mechanisms in order to render this help and guidance effective.
Key points
  • 1
       Ninety-three percent of children have heard of gender-based violence, mainly at school, through the media, and on the internet. They clearly identify sexual and physical violence, but have doubts regarding forms of psychological, economic and vicarious violence. Nonetheless, girls show a greater degree of agreement in the identification of violence in all its forms and spheres.
  • 2
       Most of the schoolchildren surveyed show willingness to get actively involved and stopping violence by defending the mother (85%) and asking for help (84%), although 59% state that they do not know where to go. Emotional blunting strategies are less common, and appear more frequently among those who have experienced violence at home.
  • 3
       Children prefer to obtain information about gender-based violence from an expert on the subject at school (72%) or a teacher (62%). However, they would report a situation of violence to the police, members of their family or an emergency telephone service rather than to their teachers.
  • 4
       They would also prefer to ask for help by mobile (80%) or face to face (74%), and less so through social media or by email, especially at primary school level. They also say that the person that helps them should be experienced and capable of solving the problem, and should listen to them and believe them.
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