|UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman (right) welcomes the organization’s newly appointed Spokesperson on Violence Against Children, Sarah Jones.|
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 19 October 2007 – An update presented to the UN General Assembly today shows that progress is being made towards eradicating some of the worst forms of violence against children. The report comes just as UNICEF has appointed Tony Award-winning actress Sarah Jones as its first Spokesperson on Violence against Children.
The rates of child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, violence in educational settings and some forms of child labour are showing signs of improvement, according to the report – presented today to the United Nations General Assembly to update the groundbreaking Secretary General’s child violence study released one year ago.
According to the new report, progress is also being made on the 2006 study’s 12 overarching recommendations, including legislative reforms; training for professionals who deal with children affected by violence; public awareness campaigns; and accountability.
The report recommends that communities mobilize to create a climate of social change, backed by political support at all levels. The collaboration of children and young people in this process is crucial, it stresses.
‘End violence against children’
“We must all unite, no matter what social, economic or cultural background, to end violence against children,” said Ms Jones.
To mark the release of the violence study update, 1,000 non-governmental organizations from 134 countries staged a call to action on the issue at the UN. Ms Jones, a Tony Award winning actress, performed a show she has written to draw attention to the issue.
In the show – as in her hit one-woman production on Broadway, ‘Bridge and Tunnel’ – Ms. Jones plays several different characters. In this case, each gives his or her views on violence against children.
Hoping for progress
“It offers an alternative perspective – not just seeing stories on the news or reading statistics but actually seeing and hearing the voices and faces,” Ms. Jones said, referring to her effort to raise awareness through the performance. “It has more of an impact,” she added.
“I am really hopeful that progress can be made on the issue of violence against children in general,” Ms. Jones continued. “One of the things that makes me hopeful, ironically, is that this is something that affects all of us in every nation. It doesn’t matter where you are, violence against children is a fact of life.”
UN Secretary-General's report on violence against children [with video and audio]