More commitment key to keeping children safe: UN
Bangkok (November 21, 2023) – The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, welcomed this week the continuing efforts by Thailand to boost children’s safety and wellbeing in the country’s national agenda, including through enhanced policy responses to protect children from violence online.
“Violence against children can only be prevented if we act now and act together,” said Dr. M’jid.
“Business as usual is no longer an option if Thailand is to avoid the devastating health, social, and economic impacts of childhood violence,” Dr. M’jid added. “We need a paradigm shift to see spending on integrated services for children - including education, physical and mental health, justice, child protection, and sustainable social protection - as a sound investment with a high return.”
The Special Representative’s in country visit, organized by the UN Resident Coordinator Office and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Thailand, brings together a broad range of stakeholders on strategies to improve the child protection and welfare systems, noting measurable progress in Thailand’s legal framework since 2003.
During her visit, Dr. M’jid met with the Minister of Justice and high-level officials from Thailand's ministries of social development, education, and interior, the National Human Rights Commission, as well as children and youth. She also interacted with civil society representatives, and members of the UNICEF Thailand’s Young People’s Advisory Board, to understand progress and opportunities to fulfill the global commitment to end violence against children by 2030. Furthermore, Dr. M’jid met unaccompanied and separated children from neighboring countries at the Phoomvej shelter in Nonthaburi Province, managed by the Department of Children and Youth.
Key areas of the special representative’s discussions with the government included accelerating the adoption and implementation of laws and policies that protect children from all forms of violence and fully child-friendly justice procedures that respect children's best interests such as amendments to the Child Protection Act, Juvenile and Family Courts Act, and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse legislation. Among the areas discussed were investing in training and human resources for the social service workforce responding to violence, increasing support for the universal Child Support Grant, as well as developing a ‘Safe to Learn’ national roadmap to keep students safe and engaged in learning at school. The two main pledges on ending statelessness as well as ending deprivation of liberty for migrant children by 2024 are of utmost importance.
"They can certainly be achieved by continuing to invest in making processes clearer and more accessible, while also strengthening child protection at the local level." said Dr. M’jid. She emphasized that the UN in Thailand can provide a strong partnership and support to achieve these goals, making the country a great source of inspiration for many countries around the world.
During the visit, Dr. M’jid also launched the second ASEAN-ICT Forum on Child Online Protection, held in Bangkok this year, and championed comprehensive legal responses to address all forms of online sexual abuse and exploitation against children, amid spiralling cases worldwide. Internet users aged 12-17 in Thailand - or up to 400,000 children - are victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse cases per year. Yet, the challenges of under-reporting of cases remain, with a staggeringly low 1-3 per cent of children having filed such cases with police.
Every year, one billion children - or half the world’s youngsters - endure violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, and more recently, a rise in online aggression such as cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, hate speech, suicide, harmful and violent content, according to UN data.
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/thailand.
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