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Conscious Classrooms: Responding to Gender-Based Violence

What is Gender-Based Violence?

Gender-based violence is the varying ways power and control are used over another person based on their gender identity or gender expression. Gender-based violence “includes any act of violence or abuse that can result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering.” This term includes violence against women and girls, intimate partner violence and violence experienced by Two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (2SLGBTQ+) and gender non-conforming people.

What are the Statistics on Gender-Based Violence?

Although violence can affect anyone, statistics consistently show that it disproportionately affects women and girls as well as individuals who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. 

Some statistics indicate that:

  • When all other risk factors were taken into account, women maintained a risk of violent victimization that was about 20% higher than men. (2)
  • Intimate partner violence, including both spousal and dating violence, accounts for one in every four violent crimes reported to the police. (2)
  • Based on self-reported data, people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are two to three times more likely to experience violent victimization than heterosexuals. (1)
  • Indigenous women experienced violence at a rate 2.7 times higher than that reported by non-Indigenous women. (2)
  • Transgendered people are nearly twice as likely as cisgendered women to experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. (4)
  • Women living with physical and/or cognitive impairments are two to three times more likely to experience violence than women living without such impairments. (5)

How Does Gender-Based Violence Impact the Children We Teach?

An educator can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child who witnesses gender-based violence. Almost six in 10 (59%) female spousal victims with children reported that their children heard or saw the violent episode. (3) The effects of witnessing gender-based violence can have a variety of physical, emotional, psychological and social concerns that affect a child’s overall well-being and capacity to learn. 

ETFO Programs to Support Educators

WAAOCConscious Classrooms Responding to Gender-Based Violence is developed from a program called Woman Abuse Affects Our Children. Created in 2007 through a collaboration with the Ontario Women’s Directorate and Springtide Resources, Women Abuse Affects Our Children was offered as three regional workshops – regional workshops are held in different areas in Ontario each year so that locals have access to this women’s program. 

Women Abuse Affects Our Children supported ETFO members with the knowledge and skills to address the effects of witnessing violence against women on students. An online program, Be Aware, Prepare, Educate, was also offered as an extension to the in-person training. 

TRCCMWARIn 2018, both the in-person and online training were renamed to Conscious Classrooms Responding to Gender-Based Violence. The in-person program built on existing content by updating terminology, examining the role of technology and integrating critical approaches to race, class and gender through an intersectional lens. 

In 2020, Conscious Classrooms Responding to Gender-Based Violence continues to evolve through a new partnership with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape and White Ribbon. The new program will be launched in December 2020 and will address emerging issues in gender-based violence, impacts of gender-based violence White Ribbonon students and strategies to build trauma-informed classrooms. ETFO members will examine how to balance professional obligations while supporting students in gender inclusive learning communities. 

Members interested in Conscious Classrooms Responding to Gender-Based Violence can contact Punita Bhardwaj at


  1. Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada. (2019, July 31). Government of Canada Announces Funding to Support LGBTQ2 Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  2. Government of Canada, Statistics Canada & Perreault, S. (2015, November 30). Criminal victimization in Canada, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2020. 
  3. Government of Canada, Statistics Canada & Sinha, M. (2013, February 25). Measuring Violence Against Women: Statistical Trends. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  4. Wathen, C. Nadine, Jennifer C. D. MacGregor, & Barbara J. MacQuarrie (2015). The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Workplace: Results From a Pan-Canadian Survey. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  5. Odette, F. & Rajan, D. (November 2013). Violence Against Women with DisAbilities and Deaf Women: An Overview. Learning Network Brief (12): Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. Retrieved June 29, 2020.