Violence against children
No government, parent, or adult can accept without reacting statistics and data on violence against children; this widespread violence, often hidden, sometimes even socially or culturally accepted must stop. This is the message at the heart of the campaign of the UNICEF #ENDviolence.
No country is immune. Violence often occurs in the sight of all, and if we do not speak out or do not try to stop it, we become accomplices
Every child has the right to survive, grow and be protected against all forms of violence. Yet, for millions of children around the world, violence is a terrible reality. Violence against children does not discriminate; it transcends boundaries of age, geography, religion, ethnicity and social environment. It takes many forms: physical, sexual, and emotional, and it happens in places where children should be safe: their homes, schools, and communities.... Increasingly, it occurs on the internet. It is also perpetrated by family members, teachers, neighbours, strangers and even by other children.
The scale of violence in on the increase as evidenced by some data:
• About 120 million girls worldwide (more than 1 out of 10) have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives ;
• In 2012, some 95,000 children and adolescents aged under 20 died as a result of homicide - or one in five of all homicide victims ;
• Six out of ten children in the world are regularly subjected to corporal punishment at home.
These figures are probably underestimated. Many children are too young or ashamed to report violence. In short: too many victims, perpetrators and witnesses see violence as normal or usual ; and when it goes unnoticed and unreported, we feed the belief in children that it is normal and should be tolerated.
But violence must, in all cases, be considered abnormal. To make this a reality, we must fight against attitudes that perpetuate and justify it. For example, nearly half of all adolescents aged 15-19 years in the world (about 126 million) believe that husbands are entitled to beat their wives sometimes. The results of these attitudes and actions on individuals and societies are terrible.
In early childhood, exposure to violence can hinder mental and cognitive development of the child. Indeed, violence against children, whether direct or indirect, can lead to behavioural problems, low self-esteem, and poor academic performance. In some cases, it can lead to depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, self-harm and even suicide.
Furthermore, the effects of violence can be transmitted from generation to generation, some victims can perpetuate what has been inflicted on them.
Violence against children is widespread, but not inevitable. We must all seek to reduce it through support to parents and families, changing attitudes and enforcing laws which protect children.
The forum will identify new avenues and strategies for the millions of children who suffer in silence, in order to bring violence out from the shadows, tackle its roots and protect children against all its forms.
This thematic forum is organized by the UNICEF office in Morocco and the NHRC.