Liam Neeson supports UNICEF anti-violence initiative
By Chris Niles
On 31 July 2013, UNICEF unveils a global initiative calling for an end to all forms of violence against children, led by a powerful appeal featuring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson. End Violence Against Children will help shine a light on the invisible horrors of violence and abuse that undermine the lives of hundreds of millions of children, and call for collective action to get informed, speak out and join in existing efforts with those equally concerned about violence in their own communities.
NEW YORK, 31 July 2013 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson is raising his voice in support of a new UNICEF initiative to prevent violence against children.
The influential advocate for the rights of children has recorded a public service announcement designed to draw attention to the hidden nature of much violence against children and to encourage people to report violence when they encounter it.
"As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, I have long followed the issue of violence against children and the devastating impact it has on children, families and communities," said Mr. Neeson when asked why he had decided to support the initiative. "It was a topic that became increasingly real to me as a child growing up in Ireland and during the filming of Taken, which focuses on one aspect of violence and abuse against children in the form of trafficking and sexual exploitation. In order to address the issue of violence, we need to speak out to highlight the problem and take action. I wanted to do that, and I urge everyone else to do the same."
The End Violence Against Children initiative emphasizes that violence against children exists in many forms – from child labour, armed conflict and sexual exploitation to violence in the home, at school and in the workplace.
Although data are difficult to collect, given the hidden nature of the issue, it's estimated that about 20 per cent of women and up to 10 per cent of men report being sexually abused as a child. Studies from 2002 show that up to one third of adolescent girls reported their first sexual experience to be forced.
It's estimated that every year 133–275 million children witness violence between their parents, according to 2006 estimates. And studies from the same year that cover many countries suggest that up to 80 to 98 per cent of children suffer physical punishment at home, with a third or more experiencing severe physical punishment.
"Just because you can't see violence against children doesn't mean it isn't there," Mr. Neeson said. "Make the invisible visible. Help us make violence against children disappear."