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On Universal Children’s Day, put hidden violence and abuse in the spotlight, says UNICEF

As the world marks Universal Children’s Day - the anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child - UNICEF is urging a much stronger light be shone on the millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse that continue to go unnoticed and under-reported.

“Too often, abuse occurs in the shadows: undetected, unreported, and - even worse – too often accepted,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We all have a responsibility to ‘make the invisible, visible’from governments enacting and enforcing laws to prohibit violence against children, to private citizens refusing to be silent when they witness or suspect abuse.”

Violence against children takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and harsh disciplinary practices, and often occurs in situations of war and conflict. It can inflict both physical harm and psychological damage on children.

According to WHO data, 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 are estimated to have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence and exploitation involving physical contact. Every year between 133 and 275 million children witness domestic violence.

According to the MICS research conducted by the State statistic committee jointly with UNCIEF in Ukraine, 61,2% of children at the age of 2-14 have suffered from at least one psychological or physical punishment from their mothers, caregivers or other members of households. Moreover, around 11% households believe that it is fine to apply physical punishment to children.

“Unfortunately, In every country, in every culture, there is violence against children. The fact that you do not see violence against children, does not mean it does not exist, – underlined UNICEF Ukraine Representative Yukie Mokuo. A society cannot turning a blind eye towards the problem of violence against children. Make the invisible visible. Help us stop violence against children.”

Recently UNICEF has conducted a joint press conference with the Ombudsman for children under the President of Ukraine Yuriy Pavlenko. He supported global UNICEF campaign #ENDViolence Against Children and emphasized that any kind of violence against children is against the law.

At the same time, the Ombudsman for children under the President of Ukraine noted that Ukrainian society is unfortunately very tolerant towards the violence and perceives it as an ordinary social norm. “In everyday life children may easily got beaten by their parents, teachers, caregiver and those people whom children depends upon. And this is perceived as a disciplinary measure,- ” noted Yuriy Pavlenko.

There are approaches that work to prevent and respond to violence against children. These include supporting parents, families and others who care for children; strengthening children’s skills to help protect themselves from violence; explicitly working to change attitudes and social norms that tolerate violence and discrimination; and strengthening and enforcing policies and laws that protect children.

As the Ombudsman for children under the President of Ukraine believes, it is necessary to develop and implement a set of studying materials on non-violent upbringing methods for educational, medical facilities and social workers. “We have suggested the Ministry of Education to establish a system of school based conflict resolution service providers in all the schools in Ukraine. Psychological health of children as well as a lot of other issues greatly depends upon the quality of work and competency of a psychologist and a teacher in a school.”

UNICEF launched the #ENDViolence Against Children campaign earlier this year. It urges public acknowledgement of the problem of violence against children and encourages support and engagement with local movements to address a compelling global issue. Please see the video with Liam Neeson.

Universal Children’s Day also marks the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which this year celebrates its 24th anniversary. The UN Convention, adopted in 1989, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. It specifies that every child, everywhere, has the right to survive, grow and be protected from all forms of violence.


Note to Editors

In 1954, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first Universal Children’s Day and encouraged all nations to observe an annual day to promote mutual understanding among children and global action on their behalf. 20 November, observed as Universal Children’s Day by many countries, marks the day on which the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protection of children’s rights and interests. The Fund works in more than 190 countries for protection and support of children from early childhood through adolescence. Programs of UNICEF are entirely financed by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Office of the Fund was opened in Ukraine in 1997. For more information please visit Join us on Twitter, Facebook and ВКонтакте.

For more information please contact:
Veronika Vashchenko, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ukraine,
Tel: +38 044 245 2450,
Rita Ann Wallace, UNICEF New York, Tel: 1 212-326-7586,
Mobile: 1 917-213-4034,
Madeline Eisner, UNICEF New York, Tel: 212-326-7120,
Mobile: 1917-2579616,
Susannah Masur, UNICEF New York,
Tel: 212-326-7452,



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