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Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

UN Secretary-General urges action to stop violence against children

© UNICEF/HQ05-1776/Pirozzi
Some 275 million children experience domestic violence every year. This boy from Ukraine witnessed a killing in his family.

By Jane O’Brien

NEW YORK, USA, 12 October 2006 – One of the most detailed studies ever produced about the effects of violence on children has been launched in New York. The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children shows that millions around the world are being subjected to the worst forms of abuse with little or no protection.

It concludes that violence happens everywhere, is usually inflicted by a person known to the child and is almost invariably hidden or left unpunished. The report involved thousands of consultations with governments, non-governmental organizations, experts and most important, children themselves.

At the launch today, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan thanked the young people who had taken part.

“You are the experts and I’m really happy we reached out to you and factored your ideas into the report,” he said. “I’m particularly excited that you put it in child-friendly form that you can use in your own situations and can use in schools. I think one of you said, ‘Don’t put it in a drawer.’ I think that advice goes for all of us.”

© UNICEF/HQ06-1554/Markisz
At the New York launch of the violence study (from left): UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Save the Children Romania Executive President Gabriela Alexandrescu.

Violence in five settings

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman called it a landmark study.

“Children are at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals,” she said, “eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and gender equality, reducing child and maternal mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing global partnerships for development. In working to achieve these goals, it’s crucial that children are protected against violence.”

The report examines the problem in five settings – the home, schools, institutions, at work and in the community. It highlights an urgent need for more data in every area.

“Children continue to fear and experience violence in every country of the world,” said Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the independent expert appointed by the Secretary-General to lead the study. “Violence cuts across all social, cultural, religious and ethnic lines. From extreme situations such as communities affected by armed gangs to the daily routine of schools, children face a range of very different forms of violence.”

© UNICEF video
UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan thanks children for their contribution to the study on violence.

Child-friendly materials

The report calls for states to take primary responsibility in preventing violence against children by providing a robust legal framework. “That means prohibiting all forms of violence against children whenever it occurs and whoever is the perpetrator,” said Professor Pinheiro.

During a roundtable discussion preceding the launch of the study, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway explained the actions his country is taking to reduce violence against children. Later at the launch, books for children and other child-friendly materials accompanying the study were presented.

Representatives from a range of children’s charities, NGOs and UN agencies were present at the launch event, including the World Health Organization, which provided much of the research. Speakers agreed that the international community has a duty to ensure children's right to live free from violence.








12 October 2006:
Children testify about the violence affecting their lives.
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12 October 2006:
UNICEF Radio correspondent Blue Chevigny presents the viewpoints of five young participants.
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12 October 2006:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan talks to children at the launch of the UN study.
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12 October 2006:
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman says the new study is a landmark.
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12 October 2006:
The World Health Organization’s Dr. Etienne Krug highlights the extent of violence against children.
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12 October 2006:
Independent expert Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro outlines the study's main findings.
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