Prevention of violence and abuse against children
In Ghana, UNICEF works to reduce violence at home, in school and in communities
Girls and boys in Ghana still experience frequent and multiple forms of physical, emotional, verbal abuse and violence. The 2013 UNICEF Child Protection baseline research report indicates that when children were asked about their experiences of physical discipline, over 57 per cent of respondents (aged 14-17 years) said they were beaten at home “all the time” or “sometimes”, while 34 per cent confirmed being beaten in school by the teacher in the last month. This appeared to be the case for both girls and boys, in rural and urban areas.
The cost of child abuse is enormous
Short-term consequences include medical issues and the need for social welfare interventions, and long-term consequences are compromised physical health, absence at school and psychological impact on the child.
The financial burden of child abuse in Ghana was estimated at more than USD 200 million per year or 1 per cent of Ghana’s GDP.
The estimated total number of children who have been physically or emotionally abused was noted at 3.4 million in Ghana.
Issues that impede the prevention of violence against children include:
Social norms accepting and promoting the use of violence in schools, homes and other institutions as an effective way to manage the behavior of children.
Laws permitting the use of “reasonable” punishment by parents against children.
Insufficient allocation of resources to prevention and response programmes in all spheres.
Inadequate capacity of key government actors – including social workers, teachers, police, prosecution and courts – to prevent and respond.
Lack of timely and continuous specialized management of child protection cases of violence.
Cultural practices inhibiting the ability of survivors of violence to come forward.
Poor quality of care given to survivors of violence, which may put them to greater risk.
In 2015, UNICEF and its partners produced a Child Protection Community Facilitation Manual and toolkits containing games and activities that are designed to stimulate community reflection on child protection issues and encourage local action.
In November 2017, UNICEF with support from the Government of Ghana launched the ‘Ghanaians Against Child Abuse’ (GACA) campaign, which runs in line with the government’s Child and Family Welfare and Justice for Children policies that are helping to strengthen the child protection system in Ghana.
The campaign is using various channels including social media, traditional media, mobile theatre to create awareness on child abuse issues whilst mobilizing national support to provide a safe and protective environment for children. It is anticipated that this movement will help change the narrative of how Ghanaians protect their children.