Assessing experiences with violence and peace in primary schools in Sierra Leone

Published date24 January 2022
Date24 January 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorDaniel Capistrano,Seaneen Sloan,Jennifer Symonds,Elena Samonova,Ciaran Sugrue,Dympna Devine
Assessing experiences with violence and
peace in primary schools in Sierra Leone
Daniel Capistrano, Seaneen Sloan, Jennifer Symonds, Elena Samonova, Ciaran Sugrue and
Dympna Devine
Purpose This paper aims to discuss the construction of two composite indices to assess children’s
experienceswith violence and peace in primary schools in SierraLeone.
Design/methodology/approach The authors provide a conceptual framework based on the three
dimensions of the violence index (direct, structural and cultural violence) and the three dimensions of
the positive peace index (inclusion, citizenship and well-being). After that, this work proposes an
operationalisation of these concepts based on a survey administered with 2,000 pupils and examine
the correlates of the indices.
Findings Resultsindicate not only a substantial level of violenceamong the sampled schools but also a
considerable level of positive peace. These indices are negatively correlated, suggesting that lower
levels of violence are related to higher levels of positive peace. Further analysis also shows that
socioeconomic variables and school characteristics such as headteacher experience and teacher
qualification are associated with levels of violence andpeace. Finally, based on longitudinal evidence,
this study also indicatesthat the prevalence of violence is a significantpredictor of reading development
among children.
Originality/value The indicator presentedis the first to combine children’s experiences with violence
and experiences withpositive peace in schools. It is a unique contribution tothe measurement of school
outcomesthat are usually overlooked in the literature.
Keywords Violence, Sierra Leone, Education, Children, Peace, Social indicators
Paper type Research paper
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) estimates that 246
million children and adolescents in schools suffer some form of violence every year
(UNESCO, 2017). This is a global phenomenon that has several health, social and
educational consequencesfor children and adolescents (Debarbieux, 2006;Pinheiro, 2006;
Ferrara et al.,2019;WHO, 2019;Wodon et al., 2021).
In this context, there is an ample effort in academia and civil society t o understand and assess
to what extent violence is part of children’s experience of schooling. Most of the project s
aiming to measure this dimension of schooling (GEMR, 2017;UNESC O, 2017) have focussed
on a particular type of violence, mainly restrictedto direct forms of violence. The global school-
based student health survey (GSHS), conceived by the World Health O rganisation (WHO),
contains a module on violence and unintentional injury in which students aged 13 17 are
asked about the frequency of physical attacks and fights in their sc hool over the previous
12 months. The Young Lives longitudinal study conducted in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam
focussed on corporal punishment (Pells and Morrow, 2017).
Some international large-scale learning assessments, such as the Programme for the
Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, also measure
Daniel Capistrano,
Seaneen Sloan,
Jennifer Symonds,
Elena Samonova,
Ciaran Sugrue and
Dympna Devine are all
based at the School of
Education, University
College Dublin, Dublin,
Received 3 September 2021
Revised 27 November 2021
Accepted 28 November 2021
©Daniel Capistrano, Seaneen
Sloan, Jennifer Symonds, Elena
Samonova, Ciaran Sugrue and
Dympna Devinea. Published by
Emerald Publishing Limited.
This article is published under
the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence.
Anyone may reproduce,
distribute, translate and create
derivative works of this article
(for both commercial and
non-commercial purposes),
subject to full attribution to the
original publication and
authors. The full terms of this
licence may be seen at
Funding: This research was
funded by a grant from the Irish
Government. However the
content within this publication is
entirely the responsibility of the
authors and does not
necessarily reflect Irish Aid
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-09-2021-0633 VOL. 14 NO. 3 2022, pp. 231-243, Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 231

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