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School violence, depression symptoms, and school climate: a cross-sectional study of Congolese and Burundian refugee children

Fabbri, Camilla; Powell-Jackson, Timothy; Leurent, Baptiste; Rodrigues, Katherine; Shayo, Elizabeth; Barongo, Vivien; Devries, Karen M; (2022) School violence, depression symptoms, and school climate: a cross-sectional study of Congolese and Burundian refugee children. Conflict and Health , 16 , Article 42. 10.1186/s13031-022-00475-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Forcibly displaced children are at increased risk of violence and mental health disorders. In refugee contexts, schools are generally perceived as protective environments where children can build a sense of belonging and recover from trauma. Evidence shows that positive school climates can support student skills development and socio-emotional wellbeing and protect them against a host of adverse outcomes. However, schools are also places where children may experience violence, from both teachers and peers. Prevalence estimates of violence against children in humanitarian settings are scarce and evidence on the relationship between school climate and student outcomes in these contexts is non-existent. The aim of the study is to estimate the prevalence of school-based violence against children and to explore the association between perceptions of school climate and students’ experiences and use of violence and their depression symptoms. We relied on data from a cross-sectional survey of students and teachers in all primary and secondary schools in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Tanzania, conducted as part of a cluster randomised controlled trial, to compute prevalence estimates and used mixed logistic regression analysis to assess the association between school climate and students’ outcomes. We found that students in Nyarugusu experienced high levels of violence from both peers and teachers in both primary and secondary schools in the camp, with little difference between boys and girls. Nearly one in ten students screened positive for symptoms of depression. We found that opportunities for students and teachers to be involved in decision-making were associated with higher odds of violent discipline and teachers’ self-efficacy was a significant protective factor against student depression symptoms. However, generally, school-level perceptions of school climate were not associated with student outcomes after adjusting for potential confounders. Our findings suggest that interventions to prevent and respond to teacher and peer violence in schools and to support students’ mental health are urgently needed. Our results challenge the assumption that education environments are inherently protective for children and call for further investigation of norms around violence among students and teachers to better understand the role of school climate in refugee settings.

Type: Article
Title: School violence, depression symptoms, and school climate: a cross-sectional study of Congolese and Burundian refugee children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13031-022-00475-9
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13031-022-00475-9
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: Refugees, Violence, Depression, School climate, Children
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Statistical Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10152712
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