Know the facts. Help us stop the silence and denial. Make a shoe for a child that died from violence.
Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE
When a child is violently killed, a world somewhere ends. A young life is lost, changing everything and everyone around them. When that child was born, a future of possibilities was born too. Violence wipes out that potential in an instant. Every five minutes, somewhere across the globe, a family loses a son or daughter to violence. Every five minutes, a family and a community are altered forever.
These findings from Unicef UK’s report underline that violence is not a rarity – an occasional explosion of the worst parts of human nature that blights the lives of an unfortunate few. Nor is it confined to remote, conflict-hit corners of the world. We are dealing with a global problem of epidemic proportions that can reach into the homes, schools and streets of every child everywhere, and this violence can be passed down through generations.
And the deaths of children are not the only outcome of this crisis. Millions of children experience physical, sexual and emotional abuse on a daily basis and the results can be devastating. In fact, Unicef UK’s report reveals that the brain development of children who are victims of violence can be affected – with some showing similar brain activity to soldiers exposed to combat. Furthermore, a third of children who are victims of violence are likely to develop long-lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Violence also feeds off social inequality. No matter where a child is from in the world, if their family happens to be living in poverty, or if the child has a disability, or is from an ethnic minority, their chances of being exposed to violence are much greater. Moreover, the likelihood that they will get justice for the violence committed against them is far lower. Shockingly, only 41 countries have implemented a comprehensive and explicit legal ban on violence against children, while only 2 per cent of countries report a comprehensive legal framework to prevent violence.
However, we know change is possible and this is why Unicef UK has launched its Children in Danger campaign. Effective strategies already exist that are proven to help end violence – such as supporting parents and families, promoting and providing services for affected children, and implementing laws that protect children against specific violent acts. There have been steep declines in violent crime in most western countries over the past 10 years – a trend that has been replicated in many Asian countries and by some in Latin America and Africa.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, have shown us what is possible when people stand up for children’s right to be free from violence, exploitation and abuse. Now the world has an unprecedented opportunity to place a marker in the sand to end violence against children for good.
The international community is setting a new global framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015. As part of this process, the UK can show global leadership by ensuring the new framework includes an unequivocal commitment to ending violence against children. A robust target in the new agenda will signal that ending violence is an international priority. The UK must also lead the drive to turn these global commitments into action. We must start planning now for a world without violence. That means collecting data and evidence so that we know where it is happening and we can track progress and ensure accountability for promises made.
Violence can touch every child’s life – whether directly or indirectly – in every part of the world. The scale of the problem, and the extent of its reach, must not lead to inaction. Without ending the epidemic of violence, vital progress in areas like health and education – all over the world – will be undermined and millions more children will be placed at risk. No child should live in danger.
We must do everything possible until every child is safe. Now is the time to act.
For every U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan during 11 years of war, at least 13 children were shot and killed in America.
The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect.
According to The Children’s Defense Fund, gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-19.
Violence kills more than 340 people under the age of 20 every day around the globe. Seventy-five percent of these deaths are reportedly caused by interpersonal violence, rather than war.
The rate of children killed by guns in the United States is several times higher than that of any other wealthy nation.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Unicef: This statistical analysis of violence against children is the largest-ever compilation of data on the subject of violence against children.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.