Today, UNICEF launched a new global initiative to call for an end to violence against children. The tagline of the campaign, “make the invisible visible“, urges individuals, families, societies, governments and other stakeholders to recognize violence against children as a global problem, and encourages us all to join the cause to ensure that no child has to grow up under the threat or realization of violence. Many studies have shown that all over the world, across cultures and religions, accepting and complacent attitudes still prevail when it comes to corporal punishment or psychological abuse of children. This was also the finding of UNICEF’s groundbreaking report on Child Disciplinary Practices at Home, published in 2010.
It might be easy to think that violence against children is not a gendered issue, as evidence clearly shows that both boys and girls experience multiple forms of violence both inside the home as well as in schools and other public spaces – and, today also in online spheres. However, the forms of violence that girls and boys face are often different, and therefore, the approaches and tools that are implemented to eliminate these forms of violence must take these gender differences into account. Violence against girls often takes a sexual form and girls are at a greater risk of becoming victims of trafficking, while boys are at a bigger risk of gun-related violence, becoming victims of homicide and in some countries face a greater risk of corporal punishment. An analysis and understanding of the different ways in which girls and boys experience violence is crucial so that responses can be properly targeted and have the biggest possible impact.
The sad truth is that despite their sex, age, race, ethnicity or country, children around the world continue to face violence in the hands of adults every single moment of every single day, and continue to be neglected, mistreated, abused and sometimes even killed by the very people who are supposed to love them, care for them and protect them. Changing that reality, and stepping up for both boys and girls around the world, is a responsibility we all share. We shouldn’t be asking children to be brave and stand up for themselves – it is our job as adults to stand up for them, to protect them, and to take action against violence whenever and wherever we witness it.
Make the invisible visible
Say something, do something, step up and stop it – whenever you see violence against children happening, no matter where it occurs. This is not a private issue – there is no excuse for turning the other way. Girls and boys who experience violence are living with fear, anxiety, pain and suffering, and sometimes grow up to be adults who end up repeating that very same behavior.
It is time to break the cycle, and make a violence-free world and a violence-free life a reality for all girls and boys, everywhere in the world.
Watch UNICEF’s Public Service Announcement with Liam Neeson on the new initiative to End Violence Against Children:
Ways to participate:
- Visit UNICEF’s Micro-site for the initiative to find out how you can spread awareness about this issue, and become a part of making the Invisible Visible
- Spread the word in social media by using the hashtag #EndViolence
- Write, stamp or tag #EndViolence around the world – on the ground, on your skin, on post-it notes, on message boards – take a picture, and share it in social media! Be creative and innovative!
- Check out the Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children for more information on this issue