NEW YORK, 20 November 2013 – As the world marks Universal Children’s Day - the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - UNICEF is urging a much stronger light be shone on the millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse that continue to go unnoticed and under-reported.
“Too often, abuse occurs in the shadows: undetected, unreported, and - even worse – too often accepted,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We all have a responsibility to ‘make the invisible, visible’ – from governments enacting and enforcing laws to prohibit violence against children, to private citizens refusing to be silent when they witness or suspect abuse.”
Violence against children takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and harsh disciplinary practices, and often occurs in situations of war and conflict. It can inflict both physical harm and psychological damage on children.
“Violence against children does more than harm individual children, it undermines the fabric of society, affecting productivity, well-being, and prosperity,” said Lake. “No society can afford to ignore violence against children.”
There are approaches that work to prevent and respond to violence against children. These include supporting parents, families and others who care for children; strengthening children’s skills to help protect themselves from violence; explicitly working to change attitudes and social norms that tolerate violence and discrimination; and strengthening and enforcing policies and laws that protect children.
UNICEF launched the #ENDViolence Against Children campaign earlier this year. It urges public acknowledgement of the problem of violence against children and encourages support and engagement with local movements to address a compelling global issue.
Universal Children’s Day also marks the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which this year celebrates its 24th anniversary. The UN Convention, adopted in 1989, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. It specifies that every child, everywhere, has the right to survive, grow and be protected from all forms of violence.
UNICEF is also recognizing today the important work of Child Helpline International (CHI), a global network comprising 173 member telephone helplines in 141 countries that celebrated its 10th anniversary today. In a global report released today, CHI says that violence, abuse and neglect are among the top reasons that children and young people contact child helplines, amounting to 17 per cent of all contacts over the last 10 years.
Note to Editors
In 1954, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first Universal Children’s Day and encouraged all nations to observe an annual day to promote mutual understanding among children and global action on their behalf. 20 November, observed as Universal Children’s Day by many countries, marks the day on which the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.