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How does a violent environment harm children?

How does a violent environment harm children?

Violence in its many types is so deeply rooted that it is often considered normal. Many people across cultures and classes feel that spanking children for bad behaviour is appropriate. Teachers may hit children as a form of teaching or discipline. Some groups consider it acceptable for a man to smack his wife if she does not ‘obey’. Violence is associated with gender disparities, social exclusion, absence of a primary care giver and societal norms – such as the belief that corporal punishment is an acceptable method of discipline. Other factors include drug and alcohol abuse, availability of firearms, unemployment and crime. Violence is found in institutions such as orphanages, in the streets, at the workplace, and is presented widely in the media.

Violence affects children whether or not they are physically struck. A child who lives in a violent environment lives with fear, often becoming withdrawn and unable to form social relationships or concentrate on learning. Violence and abuse can kill; more often they result in poor physical and mental health, deny a child education, or make children run away from home exposing them to further risks. Children subjected to violence are more likely to use violence when they grow up, further perpetuating the circle of violence.

The urgent need to protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination was recognized in 1989 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, now ratified by 191 countries including Albania. With its partners, UNICEF Albania works to prevent violence and teach alternative means of conflict resolution. Teachers in 40 elementary schools have been trained to recognize and assist children facing violence at home or elsewhere, and over 3,000 students have participated in creative workshops on non-violent behaviour.

UNICEF Albania is participating in a regional consultation on Violence against Children in Ljubljana from 5 to 7 July, building on its commitments to protect children against violence, abuse and exploitation. The consultation hopes to bridge the gap between standards and reality. It will aim at developing strategies at all levels to prevent violence against children, enacting legislation to prohibit violence against children, upgrading institutional capacities to detect violence against children and creating opportunities for children to take a more active role in addressing violence.



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