One billion children in the world face violence says UN report

Children face physical, sexual and psychological violence 

The Global Status Report on Preventing Violence against Children 2020, which covered 155 countries, found that while 88 per cent of countries have key laws in place to protect children, only 47 per cent said they were strongly enforced.
According this report, nearly one billion children in the world are affected by physical, sexual or psychological violence, suffering injuries, disabilities and death. This means half of the world’s children face some sort of violence and abuse.  The governments in most countries have failed to follow established strategies to protect them.
The report also included the first-ever global homicide estimates for children less than 18 years of age. The report found that around 40,000 children were victims of homicide in 2017.
Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund said in a statement that “violence against children has always been pervasive and now things could be getting much worse.
Lockdowns, school closures and movement restrictions have left far too many children stuck with their abusers, without the safe space that school would normally offer. “It is urgent to scale up efforts to protect children during these times and beyond, including by designating social service workers as essential and strengthening child helplines.”

While around 83 per cent of countries have national data on violence against children, only 21 per cent used the information to set baselines and national targets to prevent and respond to violence against children, the report said.
With about 80 per cent of countries having national plans of action and policies, only one-fifth have plans that are fully funded or have measurable targets. A lack of funding combined with inadequate professional capacity is likely contributing factors and a reason why implementation has been slow.
Violence against Children threatens not only children’s survival and health but also their emotional well-being and future prospects. Violence against children is widespread and pervasive and remains a harsh reality for millions of children in South Asia. Over half of the world’s children experienced severe violence last year of whom 64 per cent are in South Asia. Violence can be physical, sexual, and emotional and also manifest itself as neglect. It can occur in homes, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces and communities.
Perpetrators include parents, family members, teachers, caretakers, law enforcement authorities and other children.  Violence can be interpersonal and also a result of structures that allow or promote violent behaviour.
Violence against children includes all forms of violence against people under 18 years old. For infants and younger children, violence mainly involves child maltreatment (i.e. physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect) at the hands of parents and other authority figures. Boys and girls are at equal risk of physical and emotional abuse and neglect, and girls are at greater risk of sexual abuse. As children reach adolescence, peer violence and intimate partner violence, in addition to child maltreatment, become highly prevalent.
Violence against children can be prevented. Preventing and responding to violence against children requires that efforts systematically address risk and protective factors at all four interrelated levels of risk (individual, relationship, community, society).
A May 2016 World Health Assembly resolution endorsed the first ever WHO Global plan of action on strengthening the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children.
According to this plan, WHO in collaboration with Member States and other partners, is committed to:
Monitoring the global magnitude and characteristics of violence against children and supporting country efforts to document and measure such violence.
Developing and disseminating evidence-based technical guidance documents, norms and standards for preventing and responding to violence against children.
Regularly publishing global status reports on country efforts to address violence against children through national policies and action plans, laws, prevention programmes and response services.
Supporting countries and partners in implementing evidence-based prevention and response strategies, such as those included in INSPIRE: Seven strategies for ending violence against children.
Collaborating with international agencies and organisations to reduce and eliminate violence against children globally, through initiatives such as the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, Together for Girls and the Violence Prevention Alliance.
                                                                              Naila Chaudhry

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