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Violence against children

UNICEF photo: A six-year-old rape victim, Brazil.

© UNICEF/HQ01-0432/Versiani

A six-year-old rape victim, Brazil.

In the home and family
The family has the greatest potential to protect children and provide for their physical and emotional safety. Human rights treaties recognize the right to a private and family life and home. But in recent years violence against children by parents and other family members has been documented. This can include physical, sexual and psychological violence as well as deliberate neglect. Frequently, children experience physical, cruel or humiliating punishment in the context of discipline. Insults, name-calling, isolation, rejection, threats, emotional indifference and belittling are all forms of violence that can damage a child's well-being. Children are most frequently sexually abused by someone they know, often a member of their own family. Harmful traditional practices are generally imposed on children at an early age by family or community leaders. Much of this violence is hidden behind closed doors or because of shame or fear.