The thematic indicator for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 4a calls for the measurement of the ‘percentage of students experiencing bullying, corporal punishment, harassment, violence, sexual discrimination and abuse’. However, results from existing school or household surveys can almost never be compared with each other.
A policy paper published in January 2017 by the Global Education Monitoring Report compares the main cross-national and selected national surveys covering school violence. It highlights the lack of consistency across definitions and questions in these surveys. This means that the results from the different studies are expressed through very different indicators.
The following are indicative issues that impede comparisons:
- Definition: the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) describes bullying as being ‘teased repeatedly’ or being ‘deliberately left out’, while the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) relates it to the sharing of embarrassing information or the spreading of lies.
- Type of violence: the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) captures physical violence and bullying, but not different types of bullying and does not cover sexual violence or violence from teachers to pupils.
- Gender: most studies fail to capture the gender dimension of school-related violence.
- Time: the third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study, conducted in 16 countries in Latin America (TERCE), does not specify the period that its questions are covering, while TIMSS asks specifically how often violence occurred and when.
- Age: Different surveys cover different age groups. TIMSS covers grades 4 and 8, for instance, while TERCE and the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) cover grade 6.
Three main options are presented for building consensus across the different measurement tools currently available and helping find the data needed to monitor the target:
- Standardize the results of different surveys using a triangulation approach.
- Support convergence between tools to prompt designers to critically reflect on their methods.
- Select one instrument and expand it to more countries.
Link to the paper