The COVID-19 health crisis has pushed some 1.3 billion children and young people around the world out of schools and universities, sending them home as part of measures to slow the pandemic. While these students may be safer from the virus at home, they are at increased risk of violence.  Evidence from many countries has shown that confinement and intensified economic pressures on households may exacerbate stress, tension and discord and lead to physical, psychological and sexual violence against children. Increased internet use can put children at greater risk of online harms such as sexual exploitation and cyberbullying.

To help guide this work and to keep students safe during these unprecedented times, UNESCO and  partners have released a suite of documents as part of Safe to Learn, a five-year global campaign to end violence in schools.This includes a technical note on COVID-19 and its implications for protecting children online, guidance for education ministries as they support schools to provide safe online learning experiences, and a set of recommendations – for governments to help prevent and respond to violence against children in different learning environments, including at home.​

School violence and bullying is a key area of work for UNESCO, denying millions of children and young people the fundamental human right to education. There are significant negative effects from the violence, including on academic achievement, mental health, and quality of life in general. Children who are frequently bullied are nearly three times more likely to feel like an outsider at school and more than twice as likely to miss school as those who are not frequently bullied. They have worse educational outcomes than their peers and are also more likely to leave formal education after finishing secondary school. Read more in UNESCO's Behind the Numbers report

On the first Thursday in November this year, UNESCO will recognise the first International Day against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying, recognising that school-related violence in all its forms is an infringement of children and adolescents' rights to education and to health and well-being. It calls for the strengthening of partnerships and initiatives that accelerate progress to prevent and eliminate violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying. School communities are encouraged to take part in the international day and can stay up to date with activities on the event webpage.