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UNICEF: No to violence against children!

Malaysians urged to protect children from all forms of violence, including abuse, neglect and exploitation

© UNICEF Malaysia/2006/Nadchatram
Discussing why violence against children must stop. (L-R) Datin Rose Ismail, Dr. Goh Chee Leong, Dr. Farah Nini Dusuki, Gaye Phillips, Prof Datuk Dr. Sham Kasim and Dato' Dr. Narimah Awin.

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 October 2006 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are joining hands to sound a clarion call, urging all of society to protect children from the multi-faceted forms of violence, including abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The call was made at the "Cherish our children - stop violence now!" forum in Malaysia to mark the global launch of the United Nations World Report on Violence Against Children.

UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Singapore and Brunei, Gaye Phillips said that violence has no place in children’s lives.

“Violence against children is a violation against their human rights," said Phillips. "It is unacceptable and can never be justified whether for disciplinary reasons or cultural tradition. Legalised violence against children in one context risks tolerance of violence against children generally."

Experts explain why violence must stop

Four Malaysian child protection experts joined Phillips to share their views on the issue with some 100 representatives from Government, civil society, faith-based organisations, the private sector and the media. Datin Rose Ismail, a well known former newspaper editor moderated the ensuing discussion.

Violence against children is defined to include physical violence, psychological violence, discrimination, neglect and abuse. It ranges from physical, verbal and sexual abuse in the home to humiliating punishment and bullying at school; as well as from abuse and neglect in institutions to gang warfare on the streets where children play or work.

"The physical, emotional and psychological scars of physical and sexual abuse can have severe implications for a child’s development, health and ability to learn," said Professor Datuk Dr. Mohd Sham. "Studies have shown that experiencing violence in childhood is strongly associated with health risk behaviours later in life such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, physical inactivity and obesity."

Multidisciplinary approach to end violence

Phillips stressed that the challenge of ending violence against children requires a multidisciplinary approach combining strong responsive and preventive strategies which focus on the four “Ps”: Protection of children, Prevention of violence, Prosecution of criminals and Participation of children.

She also highlighted recommendations put forward by the Secretary-General to end violence against children:

  1. Strengthening national and local commitments to reduce and respond to violence in all settings.
  2. Prohibiting all violence against children through legislation and enforcement.
  3. Prioritising prevention of violence.
  4. Building the capacity of all who work with and for children.
  5. Providing recovery and social reintegration services for children who are victims (and perpetrators) of violence.
  6. Giving children a voice to describe the problem of violence against them, and also to the design of services and other interventions that they can trust and use.
  7. Making accessible child-friendly reporting systems and services.
  8. Being accountable and ending impunity.
  9. Addressing the gender dimension of violence against children.
  10. Developing and implementing systematic national data collection and research efforts.

“The best way to deal with violence against children is to stop it before it happens. Children are to be cherished and protected. Each of us has a role to play to bring an end to violence against children,” added Phillips.


UN World Report on Violence against Children
In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to conduct ‘an in-depth study on the question of violence against children’. Independent expert, Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro was appointed to lead the Study, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The five-year Study combines human rights, public health and child protection perspectives and focuses on five ‘settings’ where violence occurs: the home and family, schools and educational settings, institutions (care and judicial), the workplace, and the community. Governments and civil society were engaged in various regional consultations to determine the range and extent of violence against children. The Study is the first one by the United Nations to engage directly and consistently with children, underlining and reflecting children’s status as rights holders, and their right to express views on all matters that affect them and have their views given due weight.

On 11 October 2006, Professor Pinheiro presented his independent report to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, at UNHQ in New York. The Secretary-General later in the same day launched his Report on Violence Against Children together with the UNICEF Executive Director.

For more information, visit the Secretary-General’s Report on Violence Against Children Global Website.





Video: Children speak!

12 October 2006:
Children from the East Asia and Pacific region testify about the impact of violence on their lives.

VIDEO high low

Say No to Violence Against Children

UN violence study

 • UN World Report
 • Expert report to UN

Forum Presentations

Gaye Phillips
UN Study on violence. Read

Prof Datuk Dr. Mohd Sham Kassim
Why physical & sexual abuse must stop. Read

Dr. Goh Chee Leong
Psychosocial impact of violence. Read

Dr. Farah Nini Dusuki
Role of religious leaders (Islam). Read

Dato’ Dr. Narimah Awin
Protecting children with disability. Read

Child Protection: Malaysia

Millennium Development Goals


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