Children have a Right to Protection from all forms of Violence
Violence against children is everywhere. But people turn a blind eye. It’s hidden behind closed doors. It’s invisible. All children have the right to live free from violence. Violence which harms their physical and mental growth. Violence which holds back every society. But violence against children is entirely preventable when people come together and say that it is not acceptable. When they make the invisible visible. #Endviolence
All children have the right to be protected from violence and abuse that can be caused by anyone in their lives – whether parents, teachers, friends, partners or strangers. All forms of violence experienced by children, regardless of the nature or severity of the act, are harmful. Beyond the unnecessary hurt and pain, violence can damage children’s sense of self-worth and hinder their development.
Art 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
What Is Violence?
Violence against children is everywhere: it affects children at all stages as they develop from infancy through their early years and adolescence and includes “physical violence or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse." Violence against children can take many forms and can range from a simple slap of a parent to the usage of objects such as a stick or belt.
Where is violence against children most likely to occur?
Violence against girls and boys can happen everywhere. It can occur in community spaces, in schools….and often it happens at home, which is usually the place where a child's first exposure to violence is likely to occur. Children's first interactions mostly occur at home, and therefore it's important for homes to be positive, nurturing and loving environments.
Violent discipline at home is the most common form of violence experienced by children. Many caregivers use violent methods, both physical and psychological, to punish their children for behaviors they think are wrong and to promote other positive ones. In the Household survey conducted by UNICEF in 2016, results showed that over 57% of children in Lebanon age 1-14 years were subjected to at least one form of psychological or physical punishment by household members during the past month. Caregivers do not necessarily use this type of discipline with the intention of harming the child; often it is based on their belief that this is an effective and “socially” acceptable way of raising their children. In other situations, it comes as a result of anger and frustration, and not knowing how much this behavior can damage the child.
Regardless of the type, all forms of violence are violations of children's rights.
What is the big deal about Violence?
Violence against children has many negative consequences. It is important to note that different forms of violence will have a distinct adverse outcome, be it physical injury, anxiety, and even death. The impact of violence against children can be lifelong and also passed from generation to generation. When young people experience violence, the likelihood of their becoming future victims and of acting themselves violently as adults increases. "Research shows that violence can negatively impact children's educational performance and achievement, which can have long-term economic consequences, including poverty. Exposure to violence at an early age can impair brain development and is associated with a range of mental health problems. Violence can lead to acute and long-term problems for children's physical, sexual and reproductive health as well as their psychological well-being. In all its forms, violence is detrimental; in the worst cases, it can be fatal".
How can violence against children be prevented?
Preventing violence against children requires a significant shift in what societies regard as acceptable practices. It is a fact that parents that subject their children to physical discipline are likely to have experienced it themselves when they were children. Worldwide, 1.4 billion caregivers, or slightly more than 1 in 4, admit to believing in the necessity of physical punishment as a form of discipline. According to a 2018 Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Study, published by UNICEF and the Government of Lebanon, carried out by Malmö University; 69% of the Lebanese, 66% of Palestine refugees in camps and 62% of Syrian refugees in informal settlements know it is wrong to hit a child. The same study found that 27% found verbal violence to be a useful discipline method for children, while 15% of physical abuse to be a useful discipline method.
What is the positive discipline that UNICEF promotes?
Non-violent disciplinary practices include:
1) Be fair and just with a child on rules and regulations. Children are sensitive, and any unfair treatment may inflict negative feelings.
2) Teach your child alternative solutions to violence and beating. Encourage it to express feelings and thoughts. A constructive dialogue can always lead to positive solutions.
3) Don’t compare siblings to each other.
4) Stay away from categorization. Labeling children as smart, naughty or lazy can ignite jealousy between siblings and lead to a lack of self-confidence and a feeling of exclusion.
5) Select a place/space for discussions. Every child has the right to be heard without interruption and without blame. Do not take sides and always encourage children to discuss and find solutions.