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Belonging and connection of school students with disability

February 2014

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All students want to feel like they belong and that they are valued in their school community. School is a centrally important place to young people — not only where they learn fundamental academic knowledge, but also where skills in making and keeping friends, relating to peers, and social justice principles are learnt and practiced. What happens when young people feel like they don’t belong?


This paper examines a series of key issues about belonging and connection for students with disability and demonstrates research that shows:

• Feeling a sense of belonging and connection makes a positive difference to school life

There are a number of key elements to belonging and connection — friendship, peer acceptance, capability, being valued and supportive relationships with key adults

• When belonging and connection are threatened, there are several areas in which the impact is seen. The friendships of students are limited; they are lonely; the places they can go within the school are controlled; there are tensions in negotiating support relationships; students feel and are excluded; and kid’s strengths aren’t seen by other students or adults in their school communities

• Bullying is a particularly strong threat to a felt sense of belonging and connection


The paper is also available at


Issue Papers

United States strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally

August 2012

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This report outlines a strategy "to prevent and respond more effectively to gender-based violence globally. The purpose of the strategy is to establish a government-wide approach that identifies, coordinates, integrates, and leverages current efforts and resources. The strategy provides Federal agencies with a set of concrete goals and actions to be implemented and monitored over the course of the next three years with an evaluation of progress midway through this period. At the end of the three-year timeframe, the agencies will evaluate the progress made and chart a course forward"

Disability and sanitation : soap and toilets

JONES, Hazel
JANSZ, Shamila
August 2008

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This paper presents water, sanitation and hygiene issues in the context of disability. It examines the implications for WaterAid's work, what issues need to be considered, and the comparative advantages of different starting points and approaches. It would be useful for practitioners interested in inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives for people with disabilities

Getting away with murder

QUARMBY, Katharine
August 2008

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This report examines the prevalence of hate crimes committed against disabled people in the UK. It defines the behaviour, outlines the legislation designed to alleviate occurrences and describes methods for reporting. This resource would be useful for anyone with an interest in disability, hate crimes and human rights

Parenting behaviours and children's development from infancy to early childhood : changes, continuities and contributions

GUTMAN, Leslie Morrison
April 2007

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This study investigates how children and parenting behaviours change from infancy to early childhood, how parenting influences concurrent and future child development, and whether parenting itself is affected by and responsive to child development. Also investigated was whether individual indicators of socioeconomic status moderate (i.e., strengthen or weaken) these associations. Results showed that mothers with higher levels of education provided more interactive and engaged parenting

Time to talk : a guide to family life in the age of AIDS

December 2006

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A handbook to enable church members and communities to discuss family life and sex in the context of the global AIDS epidemic. It contains role plays, games, quizzes, discussions, Bible studies and other participatory exercises. The contents are designed to help men and women examine the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that can spread HIV and, if necessary, make changes in their own lives and communities

Young children, HIV/AIDS and gender : a summary review

BHANA, Deevia
BRIXEN, Farhana Farook

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(From forward) Studies point to the existence of a global HIV/AIDS emergency among young people. An estimated 6,000 youths a day become infected, an average of one new infection every 14 seconds. The most socially and economically disadvantaged young people appear to be especially at risk of infection, and young women in developing contexts are at the greatest risk. The rate of HIV infection among girls is rapidly outstripping the rate among boys. Girls already account for nearly 60 percent of the infections in sub-Saharan Africa, where the pandemic is most virulent. This paper adopts the hypothesis that this pandemic can be confronted already in early childhood. During the first eight years of life the foundations are set for the capacities, beliefs and attitudes that support individuals in later life. In early childhood, people can therefore more easily learn and integrate appropriate risk avoidance behaviours that may prove useful in the global war on HIV/AIDS. The earliest years may represent a window of opportunity for the successful implementation of HIV/AIDS reduction and prevention programmes

Children's transition to school : learning and health outcomes. Research study summary report

et al

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"The aim of the study was to look at how children responded to the experience of starting school and how they had adapted after six months of the start of their first term. In total, one hundred and five children (53 boys and 52 girls) and one of their parents signed up for the study. In addition, 76 teachers agreed to take part and provide information relating to adjustment to school. The first issue that we explored was that of physical stress responses of children before, during and after starting school, which we measured by collecting saliva samples in the morning and evening at specific time points throughout the study. Secondly, we set out to look at the relationship between these responses and children’s behaviour, on their ability to learning and on their physical health (common cold and flu)"

Psychosocial support training manual


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This document recognises that psychosocial support for children affected by HIV and AIDS is as important as responding to their material needs. It explores children's experience of loss and grief, and suggests ways to deal with aggressive behaviour and to overcome stigma and discrimination. Some of the topics discussed are accompanied by useful handouts. It is designed as a training tool for professionals working directly with children or in community building projects

Formative communication research on early childhood development in Uganda

BAUME, Carol A
et al

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This is a report on findings of five years of communication research on parental interaction with young children in Uganda. The purpose was to identify factors that inhibit and encourage positive parental interactions (PPI) with young children, in order to guide the development of project communication and intervention strategies. The study covered opportunities for parent-child interaction, concepts of intelligence, parental role in school outcomes, beliefs and attitudes about child development, current parental interaction with children and behavioural analysis and program implications

Canadian youth, sexual health and HIV/AIDS study


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This survey was undertaken to increase the understanding of the factors that contribute to the sexual health of Canadian youth. It was done by exploring the socio-cultural, socio-environmental and interpersonal determinants of adolescent sexual behaviour. A section of the survey (pp 111-114) looks specifically at disability and sexual activity

The behavioural and social aspects of malaria and its control : an introduction and annotated bibliography

VIVEK, Pramila

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This publication highlights the importance of sociocultural factors in malaria control and makes clear that the fight against malaria and other infectious diseases is inseparable from the striving for socioeconomic and political equity. The authors show that human behaviour is related to risk for malaria, and that such behaviour is influenced by a range of cultural and social factors. It provides a valuable social science starting point for the design and evaluation of anti-malaria interventions. It provides a thorough analysis of the perception of malaria as a disease, then looks at the effect of human movement on malaria. A considerable gap remains between 'correct scientific knowledge' and the accepted practices and beliefs about malaria held by different groups of people, and one section discusses the difficulties imposed by the clash between 'northern' and traditional ways of responding to disease episodes, and demonstrates that the 'North' has much to learn from the 'South'. Also covered are attitudes towards the use of insecticide-impregnated bednets, gender issues such as the invisible role of women in determining the health-related practices of a household, and the manner in which people interact with each other, identify needs, and make decisions. Finally there is an extensive annotated bibliography of the social science literature on malaria

Water supply and sanitation access and use by physically disabled people : e-conference synthesis report

LEWIS, Ingrid
JONES, Hazel
October 2002

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The aim of this e-conference was to provide a forum for sharing information, experience and views on issues related to disabled people's access to and use of water and sanitation facilities. The report looks at barriers to accessible water and sanitation facilities; strategies to improve accessibility; and tools to support improvement in access. It is useful for CBR projects, governments, and planners

HIV/AIDS behavioural surveillance survey : Vietnam 2000

NGUYEN, Duy Tong
et al

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Report of the summary of the results of the first round of the HIV/AIDS Behavioural Surveillance System for Vietnam. The objectives of the BSS are to provide a description of the basic socio-demographic characteristics of at risk groups; identify risk behaviours necessitating interventions among sub-populations; identify priorities for planning prevention programmes; establish a baseline for monitoring trends; provide information to explain changes in HIV prevalence; provide key information for advocacy and policy making; and provide information to measure program impact

A survey of teenagers in Nepal for life skills development and HIV/AIDS prevention : April 2001


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The report focuses on life skills by looking at teenagers' psycho-social competence, self- awareness, communication and interpersonal relationships, decision making and problem solving. It also attempt to find out how much teenagers know about HIV/AIDS, their attitude towards premarital sex, sexual behaviour and their preferred way to learn about sex

Evidence that HIV causes AIDS


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This document sets out evidence that HIV causes AIDS. Questions and answers at the end address the specific claims of those who assert that HIV is not the cause of AIDS



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