UN agencies call to end violence against children warning of ‘dramatic impact’ of COVID-19

Global status report: half of the world’s children, or approximately 1 billion children are affected by physical, sexual or psychological violence, suffering injuries, disabilities and death.

23 June 2020
Girl with mother
UNICEF

NUR-SULTAN, 22 JUNE 2020 – On 18 June 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNESCO, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, and the End Violence Partnership, published a new report - Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020.It is the first of its kind, charting progress in 155 countries against the “INSPIRE” framework, a set of seven strategies for preventing and responding to violence against children. The report signals a clear need in all countries to scale up efforts to implement them.

“There is never any excuse for violence against children," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We have evidence-based tools to prevent it, which we urge all countries to implement. Protecting the health and well-being of children is central to protecting our collective health and well-being, now and for the future.”

According to the new report, half of the world’s children, or approximately 1 billion children each year are affected by physical, sexual or psychological violence, suffering injuries, disabilities and death, because countries have failed to follow established strategies to protect them.  Any crisis worsens the situation of violence against children as is the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, and the related school closures, we have seen a rise in violence and hate online – and this includes bullying. Now, as schools begin to re-open, children are expressing their fears about going back to school,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that schools are safe environments for all children. We need to think and act collectively to stop violence at school and in our societies at large.”

The Government of Kazakhstan jointly with international partners and civil society organizations has invested in addressing violence against children. Legislation on service provision to victims of domestic abuse, responsibility for sexual abuse and reporting of violence against children was improved. Home-visiting service by patronage nurses became focused on prevention and response to child abuse. Independent monitoring of child rights implementation in closed and residential care institutions was introduced. This year, a comprehensive 2020-2023 Roadmap for Strengthening Child Rights Protection, Addressing Domestic Violence and Suicides Among Teenagers was adopted by the Government of Kazakhstan.  

“We welcome the progress achieved by the Government of Kazakhstan in its path to the elimination of violence against children in Kazakhstan. The COVID-19 pandemic strengthened the need to combat violence in the family and protect children’s rights. Lockdowns and school closures made this need an urgent task. Ending violence against children is a priority for UNICEF in Kazakhstan,” said UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Arthur van Diesen.

UNICEF Kazakhstan has been working closely with the Government of Kazakhstan on preventing and protecting children from violence, paying special attention to children from the most vulnerable groups, children with disabilities, as well as children in boarding schools. In 2013-2017 UNICEF together with its governmental partners developed and tested a special methodology to prevent violence in schools. With support of the National Academy of Education this methodology is being scaled up in the education system. In 2018 UNICEF launched a public campaign with the aim to raise awareness among public on negative consequences of violence against children and importance of positive parenting. In 2020, UNICEF jointly with the Ministry of Education and the National Network of Volunteers engaged young people as volunteers in 5 regions to support schoolchildren and teachers in addressing bullying at schools. Up to date 2,000 children and 1,500 parents took part in online sessions. Analysis of sources of administrative data on violence against children was initiated by UNICEF jointly with national authorities to enable better planning interventions for addressing violence against children. With support of the Government of Kazakhstan and the National Commission For Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan UNICEF jointly with  UN agencies will work on prevention and addressing violence in the family, overcoming discrimination of women and girls, and developing programmes for strengthening parenting skills.

“The well-being of every family is, above all, the basis of stability in society and the successful development of the state. Today more than ever it is necessary to strengthen the institution of the family, especially now in the process of globalization.

All measures taken by Kazakhstan are aimed at creating in society an atmosphere of “zero tolerance” for offenses against women and children. In 2019, in his Address to the Nation President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed to create an integrated program to protect children, suffered from violence, as well as their families.

The National Commission is currently working on a list of new instruments aimed at protecting the rights of women and children. Our task is to develop systemic measures that will completely eradicate the problem, rather trying to solve them on a case-by-case basis,” said the Chairman of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy, Lyazzat Ramazanova.

“Violence against a child at home or on the street, at school or in any other children's institution, in social media is a crime for which there is no justification. Violence not only poses a direct threat to the life and health of the child, it has a devastating effect on the future of society and the state. Often, ill-treatment is hidden. The level of development of the state is always evaluated through the attitude towards children, women, elder people and people with disabilities. Adopting good laws and punishing those responsible is not enough. It is imperative that society and every citizen are intolerant to any form of violence. Only by joining forces we can achieve a safe society for our children,” said Elvira Azimova, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

 

Editors note:

The data for the report was compiled through a survey administered between 2018 and 2019 with responses from over 1000 decision-makers from 155 countries. The INSPIRE strategies launched in 2016 call for the implementation and enforcement of laws; changing norms and values to make violence unacceptable; creating safe physical environments for children; providing support to parent and caregivers; strengthening income and economic security and stability; improving response and support services for victims; and providing children with education and life skills.

 

Related links

To download the report (in English only) and executive summary (in English, French, Russian and Spanish), go to: https://who.canto.global/b/SSHOR and use password: 490759.

The WHO provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goal for 2019-2023 is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and wellbeing. For more information about WHO, visit www.who.int. Follow WHO on Twitter and Facebook.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/kazakhstan/en. Follow UNICEF Kazakhstan on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It seeks to build peace through international co-operation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the Sustainable Development defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

 

For more information, please contact:

Elvira Yausheva, Communication Specialist, tel: +7 707 109 8553; eyausheva@unicef.org

 

Media Contacts

Elvira Yausheva
Communication Specialist
UNICEF
Tel: +7 707 109 8553
Assel Saduova
Communication Associate
UNICEF Kazakhstan
Tel: +7 (7172) 32-28-78 (144)

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on InstagramFacebook  and Twitter.