By Constance Ndeleko
Violence in the lives of children.
According to data from 30 countries, nearly half of children aged 12 to 23 months are subjected to corporal punishment at home and a similar proportion are exposed to verbal abuse.
Violence is both common and widespread – and no society is without some
level of violence against its youngest members.
As much as we are reluctant to accept that the first place children are exposed to violence is likely to be at home, we should be cognizant of what is happening in their presence.
Three quarters of children aged 2 to 4 worldwide – close to 300 million – are regularly subjected to violent discipline (physical punishment and/or psychological aggression) by their parents or other caregivers at home, and around 6 in 10 (250 million) are subjected to physical punishment.(UNICEF)
Many children are also indirectly affected by violence in the home: Worldwide, 1 in
4 children (176 million) under the age of 5 live with a mother who has been
a recent victim of intimate partner violence.(UNICEF)
Violence is not only bound to happen in homes it also take leads in social places.In 2016 alone, close to 500 attacks or threats of attacks on schools were documented or verified in 18 conflict-affected countries or areas. Children attending schools in countries that are not affected by conflict can also be at risk.
Between November 1991 and December 2016, 59 school shootings that resulted in at least one reported fatality occurred in 14 countries across the world. Nearly 3 in 4 of these happened in the United States.
Children are at greatest risk of exposure to sexual violence within the context of close relationships. In the 28 countries with available data, 9 in 10 adolescent girls who have reported forced sex say it occurred for the first time at the hands of someone close or known to them, with current or former boyfriends, partners or husbands the most commonly reported perpetrators.
Adolescent boys, too, face sexual abuse from those close to them: Friends, classmates and partners were among the most frequently cited perpetrators of the latest incident in 5 countries with comparable data (Cambodia, Haiti,Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria)
As children grow they spent adequate amount of time outside with other people and in online spaces. They end up encountering and interacting with different people thus widening their social scope. However, this exposes them to a new form of violence such as bullying where close to 130 million students aged 13 to 15 worldwide have experienced it.
Worldwide, the most recent surveys indicate that 9 million girls aged 15 to 19 were forced into sexual intercourse or other sexual acts within the past year. In 20 countries with comparable data, nearly 9 in 10 adolescent girls who reported having experienced forced sex say this happened for the first time during adolescence.
Violent deaths also become more common in adolescence. In 2015 alone, there were around 119,000 violent deaths among children and adolescents below the age of 20; 2 in 3 victims were aged 10 to 19. Older adolescents, aged 15 to 19, are particularly vulnerable: They are three times more likely to die violently than younger adolescents aged 10 to 14.
Data confirm that some types, such as violent discipline, affect children from rich and poor households alike. However, certain groups of children remain particularly vulnerable to other forms of abuse. Knowing relevant risk factors can help ensure that protective measures reach those who need them most.
How can we prevent violence against children?
Preventing violence against children requires a major shift in what societies
regard as acceptable practices.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains a bold and ambitious call to end violence against children, acknowledging its eradication as a key component of sustainable development.
A crucial step towards achieving this universal imperative is the mobilization of political will and the promotion of evidence-based strategies to address multiple contributing factors, including social and cultural norms that condone violence, lack of adequate policies and legislation, insufficient services for victims, and limited investments in effective systems to prevent and respond to violence.
Creation of strategic partnerships, such as the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, to accelerate action, leverage resources, build commitment, facilitate exchange of knowledge and implement work at scale.
Sound data and analysis are needed to provide a solid underpinning for evidence-based policies to address these factors. This will require dedicated investments for collecting quality data to assess the magnitude and circumstances surrounding violence against children, evaluating the impact of interventions, and working towards filling information gaps.
In addition, societies that have greater awareness of the issue can hold governments accountable to their commitments.
Source: (UNICEF Report)
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