Violent discipline, sexual abuse and homicides stalk millions of children worldwide – UNICEF

Violence against children – some as young as one year old – is pervasive in homes, schools and communities, new report with disturbing data reveals

01 November 2017
Violence against children – some as young as one year old – is pervasive in homes, schools and communities, new report with disturbing data reveals
UNICEF Viet Nam\Truong Viet Hung
Violence against children – some as young as one year old – is pervasive in homes, schools and communities, new report with disturbing data reveals

NEW YORK – HA NOI, 1 November 2017 – Staggering numbers of children – some as young as 12 months old – are experiencing violence, often by those entrusted to take care of them, UNICEF said in a new report released today.

UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams saids: “The harm inflicted on children around the world is truly worrying” 

“Babies slapped in the face; girls and boys forced into sexual acts; adolescents murdered in their communities – violence against children spares no one and knows no boundaries.”

A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents uses the very latest data to show that children experience violence across all stages of childhood and in all settings:

Violence against young children in their homes:

  • Three-quarters of the world’s 2- to 4-year-old children – around 300 million – experience psychological aggression and/or physical punishment by their caregivers at home;
  • Around 6 in 10 one year olds in 30 countries with available data are subjected to violent discipline on a regular basis. Nearly a quarter of one-year-olds are physically shaken as punishment and nearly 1 in 10 are hit or slapped on the face, head or ears.
  • Worldwide, 1 in 4 children under age five – 176 million – are living with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence.

Sexual violence against girls and boys:

  • Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts in their lifetime.
  • Only 1 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced sexual violence said they reached out for professional help.
  • In the 28 countries with data, 90 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced forced sex, on average, said the perpetrator of the first incident was known to them. Data from six countries reveals friends, classmates and partners were among the most frequently cited perpetrators of sexual violence against adolescent boys.

Violent deaths among adolescents:

  • Globally, every 7 minutes an adolescent is killed by an act of violence.
  • In the United States, non-Hispanic black boys aged 10 to 19 years old are almost 19 times more likely to be murdered than non-Hispanic white boys of the same age. If the homicide rate among non-Hispanic black adolescent boys is applied nationwide, the United States would be one of the top ten most deadly countries in the world.
  • In 2015, the risk of being killed by homicide for a non-Hispanic black adolescent boy in the United States was the same as the risk of being killed due to collective violence for an adolescent boy living in war-torn South Sudan.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region where adolescent homicide rates have increased; nearly half of all homicides among adolescents globally occurred in this region in 2015.

Violence in schools:

  • Half the population of school-age children – 732 million – live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited.
  • Three-quarters of documented school shootings that have taken place over the past 25 years occurred in the United States.

UNICEF prioritises efforts to end violence across all its work, including supporting government efforts to improve services for children affected by violence, developing policies and legislation that protect children, and helping communities, parents and children to prevent violence through practical programmes like parenting courses and actions against domestic violence.

To end violence against children, UNICEF is calling for governments to take urgent action and support the INSPIRE guidance which has been agreed and promoted by WHO, UNICEF and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, including:

  • Adopting well-coordinated national action plans to end violence against children – incorporating education, social welfare, justice and health systems, as well as communities and children themselves.
  • Changing behaviours of adults and addressing factors that contribute to violence against children, including economic and social inequities, social and cultural norms that condone violence, inadequate policies and legislation, insufficient services for victims, and limited investments in effective systems to prevent and respond to violence.
  • Focussing national policies on minimizing violent behaviour, reducing inequalities, and limiting access to firearms and other weapons.
  • Building social service systems and training social workers to provide referrals, counselling and therapeutic services for children who have experienced violence.
  • Educating children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognise violence in all its many forms and empowering them to speak out and report violence safely.
  • Collecting better disaggregated data on violence against children and tracking progress through robust monitoring and evaluation.

In Viet Nam

Although Viet Nam has made progress in changing perceptions and practices of child care and protection, various forms of violence against children such as physical violence and sexual and labour abuse are still prevalent. Violent discipline is wide-spread with almost 68.4 per cent of children aged 1-14 reported as experiencing some form of violence at home by their parents, caregivers.1 Around 20 per cent of girls and boys aged eight reported being physically punished in school.2

Around 16 per cent of children (equivalent to 1.7 million) aged 5-17 are considered as child labourers of which 7.8 per cent perform work in hazardous conditions.3 The number of girls and young women aged between 15 and 19 who are married increased twofold, from 5.4% in 2006 to 11% in 2015.1 5,300 cases of child sexual abuse, primarily against girls, were reported between 2011 and 2015.4

The grave situation faced by children in Viet Nam has been highlighted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its Concluding Observations issued in 2012 that: 

“widespread violence against and abuse of children and in particular girls; the lack of appropriate measures, mechanisms and resources to prevent and combat domestic violence, including physical and sexual abuse and the neglect of children; the lack of child-friendly reporting procedures; the limited access to services for abused children; and the lack of data on the aforementioned”.

The recently promulgated Child Law (2016) offers the opportunity to bring improvements to the situation of children affected by violence. UNICEF Viet Nam is committed to support the Government of Viet Nam in the implementation of the Child Law and the National Programme on Child Protection 2016 – 2020. UNICEF prioritizes efforts aimed at strengthening child protection systems in welfare, education, health, justice and emergency settings to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children. UNICEF will also promotes social mobilization and behavior change communications to improve the attitudes, values, believes and social norms that encourage violence against children.

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Note to Editors

For more information about the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, please go to www.end-violence.org/.

For more information please download:

Source of data related to Viet Nam
1. Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS Viet Nam), 2014
2. Innocenti Research Brief 2016-06
3. Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs, General Statistic Office and ILO, 2014
4. Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs, 2015

Media Contacts

Mr Louis Vigneault-Dubois

Chief of Communication and Advocacy

UNICEF Viet Nam

Tel: (+84) 24 3850 0100

Tel: (+84) 96 6539 673

Multimedia content

Violence against young children in their homes
A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents uses the very latest data to show that children experience violence across all stages of childhood

For more information about the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children,
please go to http://www.end-violence.org/

For more information please download:

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