The Effects of Gender-Based Violence on Academic Performance
Evidence from Botswana, Ghana, and South Africa
Violence in and around educational settings is a global phenomenon. Sexual harassment and abuse may be the most well-known forms of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV), but it can take many other forms. SRGBV includes violence or abuse that is based on gendered stereotypes or that targets students on the basis of their sex, sexuality, or gender identities. The underlying intent of this violence is to reinforce gender roles and perpetuate gender inequalities. It includes rape, unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual comments, corporal punishment, bullying, and verbal harassment. Unequal power relations between adults and children and between males and females contribute to this violence, which can take place in the school, on school grounds, on the way to and from school, or in school dormitories, and might be perpetrated by teachers, students, or community members. Both girls and boys can be victims as well as perpetrators. School-related gender-based violence results in sexual, physical, and/or psychological harm to girls and boys.
All of these forms of violence, including bullying, should be conceptualized as gendered, as they are affected by gender-related stereotypes that persist in society. The present study aims to identify and quantify the effects of bullying on academic performance using the data sets collected from the PIRLS and TIMSS surveys conducted in 2011 in Botswana, Ghana, and South Africa. We adopt an analytical approach that enables differentiation between the influence of bullying and demographic and economic factors on academic performance in an effort to inform educational policy. The data sets are internationally comparative, and enriched by comprehensive background information related to students and their households, teachers, and schools. The exams are administered in the fourth and eighth grades, enabling comparisons between cohorts of students. Over 36,000 students participated in the exams in 2011.