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Study on Violence Against Children

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A girl sits on a bundle of firewood in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, in the troubled region of North Darfur, Sudan. Many women and girls are harassed or sexually abused when they venture out to fetch wood or water.
What is the study?
The UN study on Violence Against Children is a landmark effort to provide a detailed global picture of the nature, extent and causes of violence against children, and propose clear recommendations for action to prevent and reduce such violence.

As the first report of its kind on this subject, the study is a critical tool to draw much-needed attention to a global problem. Ultimately the purpose of the study is to urge governments to fulfil their obligation to prevent and eliminate violence against children.

How does the study define “violence”?
The study defines violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, that results or is likely to result in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. The study also bases its understanding of violence on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Who is the study being conducted by?
The study was mandated by the General Assembly and the Secretary-General appointed Independent Expert Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro to lead the study. Mr. Pinheiro is a former Secretary of State for Human Rights of Brazil and has directed the country's Centre for the Study of Violence since 1990.  UNICEF, WHO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights collaborated closely to support the work of the Independent Expert. A number of other UN agencies like ILO were also actively involved with the study.

What is the focus of the study?
The study focuses on the nature and extent of violence against children in five settings:

  • The home and family
  • Schools and educational settings
  • Other institutional settings (orphanages, children in conflict with the law)
  • The community and on the streets 
  • Work situations

For each type of violence, the study reviews what is known about the causes and associated risk and protective factors. Its focus is on prevention strategies, in particular through the identification of best practices in prevention, including those designed by children.

Several cross-cutting issues that increase a child’s vulnerability to violence are also considered in the report, including:

  • Violence in the media and other virtual settings, including child pornography
  • Traditional harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and early/forced marriage
  • Violence against children from ethnic minorities, immigrant or migrant communities
  • Violence against children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Children as perpetrators of violence, including bullying

For further information please contact:

June Kane, Lead Communication Officer, UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children:  Tel + 1-917-640-0184.  After 14 October: + 41 79 695 64 88.

José Díaz, Spokesperson, OHCHR (Geneva): Tel + 41 22 917 9242

Renata Sivacolundhu, Information Officer UN HQ: Tel + 1 212 963 2932.

Karen Dukess, UNICEF NY: Tel + 1 212 326 7910, kdukess@unicef.org.

Laura Sminkey, WHO, Technical Officer, Advocacy & Communications: Tel + 41 79 249 3520

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