Violence in schools is one of the most visible forms of violence against children. Violence in schools can take many forms, ranging from physical violence to psychological violence. It is often expressed through acts of bullying, intimidation and repression. Violence in schools creates insecurity and fear which harm the general school climate and infringe pupils’ right to learn in a safe, unthreatening environment. Schools cannot fulfil their role as places of learning and socialisation if children are not in an environment free of violence.

Every child has the right to live free from physical and psychological violence. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child requires states to take all appropriate measures to protect the child from violence.

The Council of Europe aims to eliminate violence in schools through educating children about human rights and democratic citizenship. Education plays an essential role in the prevention and eradication of violence in schools. The Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education provides member states with a tool for action to combat all forms of discrimination and violence, especially bullying and harassment. The Charter has been adopted by all member states of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe also works in co-operation with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG) to prevent and address all forms of violence against children in schools. A high-level expert meeting on “Tackling violence in schools” was held jointly in 2011 and underlined the importance of encouraging all players involved to partner and co-operate to address violence in schools and ensure that schools provide safe environments in which all children have the opportunity to develop and learn. The outcomes of this European expert meeting also provided input for the global report of the SRSG, “Tackling violence in Schools – Bridging the gap between standards and practice”.