Gender-based violence at school: there is an opportunity for prevention


Education as a process of socialization transcends the borders of school institutions. There are everyday learning experiences outside of your formal setting. But the school is a privileged space to prevent gender violence: it has an important role in legitimizing stereotyped models

The hierarchy and belonging to a social class, an ethnic group; the fact of presenting certain physical characteristics; or sex are some issues that determine the socialization process, highlighting the complexity of educational organizations.

Cultural and historical constructions determine the characteristics of people; among them, the male and female profile. These approaches are asymmetric and unequal because they differentiate between the sexes, generating power relations that give rise to the subordination and discrimination of girls and women. The male role establishes strength and even violence as characteristics of men and associates weakness, tolerance and even inhibition in conflictive situations as feminine qualities.

To eliminate this scourge, a multidisciplinary response is necessary in which one of the first stages of action is the education that occurs in educational organizations (formal, such as school and non-formal, such as the peer group) and in age groups. early.

For this reason, in our project “Analysis of violence against girls in primary school” , we have delved into the study of the panorama of conflicts and violence against girls in the first years of their compulsory schooling (from 1st to 6th grade of Primary education).

Demands, expectations and education

It is found that girls, and also boys, are educated to respond to the social demands and expectations assigned based on the characteristics associated with and imposed on their sex. They learn the behaviors, acquire knowledge and assume attitudes that they will show as adults.

In order to analyze this assumption of roles, it is necessary to delve into the analysis of the reasons for its existence. In childhood, abused people learn, for example, submission. Many women are blocked and do not respond to the violence they receive. A girl from 5th grade told us in our investigation that her father attacked her mother, but hid the fact.
My mother went to the doctor and answered that she had fallen, because my father told her that if she told something about the fight, he would kill her. And she did not want to separate because she could lose us, if my father said we had to go with him. (Silvia, 11 years old).

Hidden violence

Another issue that we have addressed through our work as teachers and researchers is that conflictive and violent situations in school spaces go unnoticed by adults.

In fact, it is paradoxical that in the first years of schooling, which are characterized by the continuous presence of teachers, there are situations of violence in conflicts. This happens because both the perpetrator and the victim hide and try to make these situations go unnoticed. It also happens that child violence has different nuances that adults do not value in the same way as the protagonists.

What we popularly qualify as “children’s things” may have an importance and significance for our creatures that makes it “their violence” and that is established as a learned behavior. These actions represent the events that happen in other social contexts and before which citizens remain impassive, because they are explained with criteria that tolerate them and do not eliminate them, such as conflicts between couples.

Act on time

The attacks to which girls are subjected serve to legitimize violence against women. The school system has, from the Early Childhood Education stage, an important role in providing students with the necessary information that allows them to understand and prevent the domination-submission relationships that originate and underpin violence.

It is about learning resources to become aware of the problem, resolving conflicts and offering clear approaches to create healthy and peaceful relationships.

Punishments and sanctions that perpetuate the problem

Among educational actions, it is necessary to rethink the punishments and sanctions that do not eliminate violence in educational organizations. Its effect is similar to putting a coat of paint on a rusty object. The appearance of the surface would make it feel like things have been changed, but the background does not change and violence, such as rust, reappears.

That is why we must look for the causes that are not seen. This can be understood if we consider it with the metaphor of the magnet: the filings are seen, but not the magnetic field that shapes and guides them.

To act in the face of the serious social problem of gender violence, a change is necessary both in the economic model, as well as in the educational and cultural one. Go from prioritizing power relations and hierarchies to claiming dialogue, freedom and respect between people, as transcendental aspects to favor equal rights in human relationships from childhood.

Author Bio: Emilia Moreno Sánchez is a University professor at the Faculty of EDUCATION, PSYCHOLOGY AND SPORTS SCIENCES at University of Huelva