Violence at school exists in every country of the world, spanning across cultures, classes, education levels, and abilities. While violence occurs against all children of all demographics, those with disabilities are at a significantly greater risk than their non-disabled peers. Janet Njelesani, an assistant professor of occupational therapy has been awarded a $70,000 grant from the National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the phenomenon of school violence in Lusaka, Zambia.
Njelesani’s project, “Generating and Preventing Violence: Schools’ Responses to School Violence Against Students with Disabilities in Zambia,” will investigate how social, cultural, and institutional practices influence inclusion, protection, and education for children with disabilities.
This study will explore the role that educators’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors play in responding to school violence. Findings will provide direction for school violence prevention and intervention efforts, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of educator support and school protection policies. Njelsani will be collaborating with local partners, including the Ministry of Education in Zambia, and conducting interviews with teachers, school leadership, and students with disabilities.
Njelesani received Steinhardt’s Global Research Incubator Award in 2017 to carry out a pilot project on school violence against children with disabilities in Zambia in which she is collaborating with the University of Zambia and Ministry of Education. Graduate students from both the University of Zambia and NYU Steinhardt are involved in this research process and are learning how to elicit children’s experience through qualitative methods, as well as learning how to build an international research partnership.
This past summer, students from NYU's Abu Dhabi campus travelled to Zambia to assist OT Assistant Professor Janet Njelesani on a project looking at violence against students with disability in schools.