Positive behaviour improvement and violence reduction - creating a positive school climate - are essential foundations for a creative and effective learning and teaching environment in which all members of the school community - children, teachers, school staff and parents - can thrive and feel respected, safe and secure.
A Behaviour Policy shapes the school ethos and makes a statement about how the school values and includes all the people in it. Developing a Behaviour Policy – based on the principles of creating safe and protective school environments or a positive school climate - is perhaps the first step that schools can take towards building a "School free of Violence".
Many schools already have a code of conduct in place; however, to be effective a Behaviour Policy needs to include a compressive range of strategies and approaches. They should not be based on any one method or approach; for example only based on introducing security personnel, or developing new codes of conduct. Nor should it address any single causal factor alone, such as an unstable home environment, or the availability of weapons in the community.
Effective policy covers both behaviour improvement and violence reduction because the causes of positive behaviour are often the same as the causes of non-violent behaviour (motivation to learn, parental encouragement, a positive school climate, etc). Effective interventions to improve behaviour address the causes of misbehaviour which are often the causes of violence (alienation from school, bullying and other peer pressure, loss and bereavement, etc).
"The best policies are made of interwoven messages. They are continuously revised and never kept on the shelves long enough to gather dust. Schools keep coming back to them in order to improve them and to see what works."
The best policies are evidence based, actively applied and updated regularly so that the school is responsive to changing patterns of behaviour improvement and violence reduction and to the improvements which result from implementing the policy. This requires ensuring implementation, monitoring, continuous improvement using feedback with the purpose of improving school policy. The policy should have a comprehensive approach, involvement of all stakeholders, sending a clear message that violence affects everyone and is everyone's responsibility.
Source: The Council of Europe handbook on violence reduction in schools
Help us turn this website into a site that shows the world how we are coming together to create a country where all schools are free of violence.
UNICEF is supporting the roll-out of a training programme in all primary and selected secondary schools on violence reduction. The programme is designed to help schools implement a "whole school approach" to prevent and reduce violence. Based on the Council of Europe handbook on violence reduction in schools, a major component of the training includes guidance and tools for developing a Behaviour Policy. Schools can download a complete copy of the Council of Europe Handbook (Available in English, Macedonian and Albanian ) or can click on the links to download summary guidance (includes steps and tools) on conducting a school self-evaluation and creating school behaviour policy .