EveryChild warmly welcomes the new UN study on violence against children

EveryChild warmly welcomes the new UN study on violence against children. The study supports the principles which underlie EveryChild’s work

The report by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the United Nation’s independent expert on violence against children, was published on October 11, 2006.

The level of abuse, exploitation, and violence against children is still not sufficiently recognised by governments or society. This report reveals the shocking extent of the violence.

  • 53,000 children died worldwide in 2002 as a result of homicide
  • Between 20 and 65% of school-aged children reported having been verbally or physically bullied in the previous 30 days
  • 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact during 2002
  • Between 100 and 140 million girls and women in the world have undergone some form of female genital mutilation/cutting
  • In 2004, 218 million children were involved in child labour, of whom 126 million were in hazardous work – estimates from 2000 suggest that 5.7 million were in forced or bonded labour, 1.8 million in prostitution or pornography and 1.2 million were victims of trafficking

The report also confirms that violence and abuse against children is a global problem. but it is often hidden, unreported and under-recorded. The report underlines that while some violence is unexpected and isolated, many of the violent acts experienced by children are perpetrated by people who are part of their lives: parents, schoolteachers, employers, boyfriends or girlfriends. That it exists in homes and in families, in schools, in care and justice systems, in work settings and in communities worldwide.

Violence against children is multidimensional and calls for a multifaceted response. Violence against children includes physical, cruel or humiliating punishment, neglect, sexual violence, harmful traditional practices, exploitation of children in prostitution and trafficking.

The short and long-term results of this violence are often grave and damaging. Related mental health and social problems – anxiety, depression and aggressive behaviour in children, are often part of the end result. Such behaviour was recently decried in the press in the UK. In addition the economic costs to society are huge.

How can we protect children? What does the study recommend?

What can be done? Sadly as the report tells us, we have all the paperwork prepared. There are numerous initiatives, protocols, conventions, and legislation in place. The Convention of the Rights of the Child is the most ratified document ever – 131 nations have ratified it and only two have not.

So as this study recommends, it is essential we look more closely at the causes of violence against children and translate agreements of all kinds into action at the national level. We need to ensure that effective structures are in place to support the prevention of violence and that practices and behaviour which put children at risk of violence are changed.

We have no more excuses. No violence against children is justifiable and all violence against them is preventable.

EveryChild calls attention to protective factors –

The report makes it clear that stable family units can be a powerful source of protection from violence for children in all settings. That the family has the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child and that the State should support parents and care-givers. Factors that are likely to be protective in the home, as well as other settings, include good parenting, the development of strong attachment bonds between parents and children and positive non-violent discipline.

The report addresses itself primarily to States but also to other sectors of society, parents and children and NGOs.

As an international development charity working in 17 countries around the world, EveryChild focuses on protecting the most vulnerable and excluded children and giving them the chance to grow up in loving families with a safe and secure future.
EveryChild agrees that the family has the greatest potential to protect children and provide for their physical and emotional safety.

In EveryChild’s programmes in Eastern Europe , South Caucasus and Central Asia EveryChild trains government social workers and develops new social services to help keep children in their families, - safely cared for at home rather than in children’s institutions. If family breakdown has taken place, EveryChild provides models of alternatives, such as foster care. If children are already placed in institutions, EveryChild works to reunify children with their families.

In India and Cambodia, EveryChild reunifies children living and working in the street (who are subject to increased levels of violence) with families. EveryChild aims to prevent families in rural communities from sending their children to work in cities where they invariable end up on the streets.

In Peru and in Guyana, EveryChild responds to child abuse and violence by setting up child-friendly structures, whether in schools, shanty-towns or slums, offering training to enhance parenting skills. This is often done with government and other organisations, and with the children themselves. In Peru the School Children and Adolescents Defence Centres are now services implemented by the State in schools. These services act to prevent child maltreatment and abuse and raise awareness of the values and principles which reinforce children’s comprehensive development.

In Ethiopia and Malawi, specialised child protection units have been established in police stations, run by officers, men and women, who have been trained to understand the difficulties children face, so they can better support children who are victims and offenders. The units challenge widespread child abuse. In Ethiopia, for example, whereas previously bribery and corruption might have caused rape to go unpunished, or fear prevented it from being reported, designated Child Protection Officers working out of the units proactively seek investigation into child abuse and work for prosecution.

EveryChild agrees with the recommendations in the Report and supports national strategies, policies or plans of action on violence against children and encourage and support governments in implementing the recommendations.

We work to prohibit all violence against children in all settings, including homes and families, schools, institutions for care, and communities.

Further information

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.