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New York / South Africa, 20 November 2013: On Universal Children’s Day, put hidden violence and abuse in the spotlight, says UNICEF

NEW YORK, 20 November 2013 – As the world marks Universal Children’s Day - the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - UNICEF is urging a much stronger light be shone on the millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse that continue to go unnoticed and under-reported.

“Too often, abuse occurs in the shadows: undetected, unreported, and - even worse – too often accepted,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We all have a responsibility to ‘make the invisible, visible’ – from governments enacting and enforcing laws to prohibit violence against children, to private citizens refusing to be silent when they witness or suspect abuse.”

Violence against children takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and harsh disciplinary practices, and often occurs in situations of war and conflict. It can inflict both physical harm and psychological damage on children.

“Violence against children does more than harm individual children, it undermines the fabric of society, affecting productivity, well-being, and prosperity,” said Lake. “No society can afford to ignore violence against children.”

There are approaches that work to prevent and respond to violence against children. These include supporting parents, families and others who care for children; strengthening children’s skills to help protect themselves from violence; explicitly working to change attitudes and social norms that tolerate violence and discrimination; and strengthening and enforcing policies and laws that protect children.

In South Africa, UNICEF supports the community-based Isibindi programme. The Isibindi model of care is a community-based programme that screens, trains and deploys child and youth care workers to support vulnerable families and child-headed households in their own environments under the mentorship of experienced social service professionals.

“One of the key components of our partnership with the Isibindi programme is offering early interventions and psychosocial protection to vulnerable children and their families,” says Patrizia Benvenuti, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF South Africa. “Child and youth caregivers are trained to provide counsel in times of grief and loss. They also accompany children to school, clinic or hospital, assist them with obtaining official documents and help them with household chores.”

Note to Editors
In 1954, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first Universal Children’s Day and encouraged all nations to observe an annual day to promote mutual understanding among children and global action on their behalf. 20 November, observed as Universal Children’s Day by many countries, marks the day on which the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

About UNICEF in South Africa
With a strong presence in South Africa, UNICEF is a leading advocate for children. We have the global authority to influence decision makers and the variety of partners at the grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. We believe that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind - to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child's path.



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