Children’s views on violence need to be heard
Violence against children is a global dilemma that cuts across borders, class, culture, ethnicity, race, gender and socioeconomic status.
More than one billion children experience violence and exploitation every year. No matter where they live, and no matter who they are, no child is immune to violence.
Understanding the many dimensions of violence against children is key to creating a world in which children are protected. However, it is difficult to achieve lasting solutions if we do not know what children themselves are thinking.
Young people have much to contribute to our mission to end violence against children, and the success of any policy or action aimed at children depends on our ability to engage and respond to their voices, opinions and expectations.
In this year’s Small Voices, Big Dreams study, nearly 5,500 boys and girls in 15 countries revealed their own perceptions about the violence perpetrated against children.
The results are shocking: more than 40% believe children are not sufficiently protected against violence and one in two feels that adults in their country do not listen to their opinions on issues of importance to them.
Another clear message from the children who participated in the research is that the adults who should be protecting children are sometimes the ones harming them. The result is that children do not always trust the adults who are responsible for them, and they do not always feel safe, even in spaces created for and occupied by children.
Fear, low self-esteem, loneliness and suffering are just a few of the emotions children described feeling regarding the many types of violence that are present in their lives.
Children have the inherent right to achieve their full potential, yet this will only be realised if they live in environments free from all forms of violence.
As a global network of 11 child-focused development organisations helping nearly 13 million children and their families in more than 60 countries, the ChildFund Alliance works with and for children to prevent violence against children at all levels.
We played a key role in ensuring the inclusion of a stand-alone target on ending violence against children in the Sustainable Development Goals (Target 16.2) and we continually promote the meaningful participation of children in decisions that affect them.
This year, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), we can and must do better for the millions of children left behind. When it comes to achieving lasting change, we have a moral, legal and economic responsibility to do more.
Children are a vital part of the social change that is needed to achieve a world free from violence. We want them to be agents of change.