The slap of an upset parent, a sexual advance by a neighbour or relative, bullying from other classmates. Children are victims of violence every day, everywhere.
Every five minutes a child dies as a result of violence. Millions more children live in fear of physical, emotional and sexual violence.
All children have the potential to be happy, healthy and successful. But witnessing or experiencing violence erodes that potential and affects a child’s health, wellbeing and future. The effects can stay with them for life.
A child’s home should be a happy, nurturing and loving environment. But home is often where children first experience violence.
Parents and caregivers might use violent discipline with children out of anger and frustration, or because they’re unfamiliar with non-violent methods.
Whatever the reason, violence leaves children with physical and psychological scars. It can also influence children’s attitudes towards family and relationships later in life, which can perpetuate the cycle of violence.
Typically, parents, teachers, students and communities expect schools to provide a safe haven for children to grow, learn, thrive and succeed.
Yet for many students all over the world, violence at school prevents them from fully benefiting from educational opportunities and realizing their potential.
Bullying, sexual harassment, corporal punishment, attacks on schools, school shootings – there are many different forms of violence at school, and they all have a devastating effect on children, their families and communities.
Violence in schools hurts attendance, contributes to lower academic results and leads to higher dropout rates. Ultimately, it damages children’s futures.
As children grow, they spend more time outside their homes and in online spaces. This wider social world can be enriching, but it can also expose children to new forms of violence.
As children enter the second decade of their lives, the mortality rate from violence more than doubles what it had been during their first 10 years of life.
Globally, most adolescent deaths are as a result of homicide, but this varies by region. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the greatest risk of dying is from homicide. In the Middle East and North Africa it’s conflict and war.
Adolescents living in places affected by armed conflicts face many risks – from recruitment by armed groups to being caught in the crossfire.
Although sexual violence is often associated with strangers, children are at greatest risk of exposure to sexual violence from family, friends and intimate partners.
Whether direct physical contact or unwanted exposure to sexual language, sexual violence against children happens in all countries and affects girls and boys of all ages.
Although girls and boys are at risk of sexual violence at any age, girls become particularly vulnerable after puberty.
Most victims keep their abuse secret and never seek help. The reasons vary, but can include fear of retaliation, shame or a lack of confidence in others to help.
Adopt national action plans to end violence against children.
Change behaviours of adults and address factors that contribute to violence against children.
Focus national policies on minimizing violent behaviour, reducing inequalities and limiting access to firearms and other weapons.
Build social service systems and train social workers to provide support for children who have experienced violence.
Educate and empower children, parents, teachers and community members to recognize and safely report violence in all its forms.