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Youth delegates and experts address violence against children in Canada and U.S.

Independent expert for landmark United Nations study attends North American Consultation in Toronto

TORONTO, 3 June 2005 – Today, youth delegates and experts from across Canada and the U.S. will convene in Toronto to take part in a major global initiative to stop the most pervasive forms of violence against children.

One of nine regional consultations around the world feeding into the landmark UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children, the forum will bring more than 200 representatives from government, civil society, child welfare organizations, community groups, faith-based organizations, NGOs and young people together to share insights and experiences about how to fight the most prevalent forms of violence against children in North American society.  Key issues include child abuse in families, violence against aboriginal children, violence against ethnic and cultural minorities and refugee children, violence against children in juvenile justice settings, violence in youth sports and exposure to violence in media.

Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the UN-appointed independent expert leading the global study, is in Toronto to speak to consultation delegates and learn about specific violence issues affecting children in North America.  He will present his findings, along with those from other world regions, to the United Nations General Assembly in 2006. His report, based on the right of every child to protection from all forms of violence, will promote action to prevent and eliminate violence against children at international, regional, national and local levels.

“Violence has no place in children’s lives, and no country is immune to the problem,” says David Agnew, president and CEO, UNICEF Canada.  “No matter where and how it occurs, violence does enormous damage to children’s health, emotional wellbeing, and development.  The North American Consultation is a vital acknowledgment of a threat to children that exists in our own backyard, and we must consult directly with affected young people to find solutions.”

Throughout North America, more than 340 young people, including aboriginal children, children with disabilities, youth in custody and children in care have opened their hearts and minds in 30 focus groups prior to Friday’s consultation to talk to UNICEF, Save the Children, and other partners about how violence affects them, and what does and does not work in countering it.

The Child Welfare League of Canada, a key partner in the consultation, says that the UN Study on Violence Against Children is a much-needed “wake up call” that violence against children and youth actively exists in Canadian society, and that much can be done to build strong preventative measures.

“Violence takes many forms, ranging from physical assault to emotional abuse to denying children fundamental rights,” says Peter Dudding, executive director, Child Welfare League of Canada. “But the old adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is key to breaking the cycle of violence.  Research on child and youth development shows that adequate investment in programs that support parents and families, build strong communities and schools, and provide social services that respond to the special needs of children and youth is essential, as is the effective coordination of these services across Canada’s provinces and territories.”

The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children, mandated by the General Assembly, is a joint initiative directly supported by UNICEF, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  UNICEF Canada is the Secretariat for the study’s North American Regional Consultation, with support from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Canadian national and provincial government bodies, Save the Children, World Vision Canada and other NGO, community, and health partners.

The North American Regional Consultation is co-hosted by Victoria University in the University of Toronto and the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare, University of Toronto.

For more information, please contact:

Nicole Ireland
Telephone:  (416) 482-4444, ext. 831
Cellular:  (416) 992-7349




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