#ENDviolence campaign launched in CroatiaNEW YORK / ZAGREB, 31 July 2013 – Violence against children is all too often unseen, unheard and underreported, said UNICEF today, announcing an initiative that urges ordinary citizens, lawmakers and governments to speak out more forcefully to fight violence against children.
The initiative builds on growing popular outrage that erupted following horrific attacks against children, such as the October 2012 shooting of then 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, the fatal shooting of 26 pupils and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 and gang rapes of girls in India and in South Africa in 2013.
“In every country, in every culture, there is violence against children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Whenever and wherever children are harmed, our outrage and anger must be seen and heard. We must make the invisible visible.”
This is the underlying message as UNICEF launches the End Violence Against Children initiative. The initiative urges people around the world to recognize violence against children, join global, national or local movements to end it and bring together new ideas to focus collective action on this goal. We have the power to fight violence now, says UNICEF, as the organization brings its global voice to add to the many efforts already underway.
The initiative was unveiled with a powerful video narrated by actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson, who leads the viewer through a series of scenes depicting invisible violence.
“This is a 15-year-old girl being gang raped,” he says as the camera pans across an abandoned lot. “This teacher is beating a boy for talking back in class, while the rest of the class watches,” he says as new scenes unfold.
“Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” Neeson says. “Make the invisible visible. Help us make violence against children disappear. Join us. Speak out.”
The need to take urgent collective action is underlined even by the limited statistics available, which point to the scale and extent of violence. For example, some 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years experienced sexual violence and exploitation, according to the WHO, and an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, according to a 2005 ILO report.
In Croatian society, even among some experts, there is still a tolerant attitude towards the traditional use of corporal punishment in the upbringing of a child, although corporal punishment has been banned 14 years ago. Epidemiological research on violence against children in the family from 2011 indicated that about one third of parents of children ages 11, 13 and 16 are not familiar with the law banning corporal punishment. This research also showed that almost 67% of thirteen year olds interviewed have experienced physical violence from their parents, and 23,6% of children have experienced some form of abuse by their parents.
The latest UNICEF survey from 2012 showed that every third toddler experiences being hit or hair-pulled at least once a week.
Corporal punishment and parental violence can be reduced through greater support to parents, which the majority of parents agreed that they would find beneficial in the UNICEF survey. The UNICEF-supported programme for parents "Growing together" has shown that it can significantly improve parental skills; upon completion of the programme, 2 out of 3 parents have reported reducing significantly or stopping entirely with any form of corporal punishment. This programme is being implemented by more than 100 community organisations in Croatia, including kindergartens and family centres.
At present, a specific problem is that there is a lack of institutions that provide prompt, expert help to a child who may be a victim of violence. Consequently, processing, evaluations and therapy may take days and even months, which complicate matters for a child who may suffer further traumatisation from retelling their traumatic experiences.
Moreover, special training in recognising and dealing with cases of child abuse and neglect for experts, law enforcement officers, professionals in the social welfare system, teachers, state attorneys, judges, paediatricians is also essential for the effective implementation of regulations. This should also entail more efficient collaboration between institutions such as Centres for Social Welfare, the police and judicial bodies.
Violence inflicts not only physical wounds but leaves mental scars on children. It affects their physical and mental health, compromises their ability to learn and socialize and undermines their development.
A special microsite and a social media campaign outlines ways for children, parents and communities to take action – such as getting involved, getting informed, organizing events and public discussion forums, supporting child victims of violence and working with global and local UNICEF partners. Protecting children is at the heart of UNICEF’s mandate. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that every child everywhere has the right to be protected from all forms of violence.
The Public Service Announcement with Liam Neeson is available for viewing at this link:
And to download here
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
UNICEF New York
Tel +1 212 326 7261
Mobile: +1 917 257 9616
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 212 326-7452
Mobile: +1 917 378 2128