STOP PRESS - UN Shock Tactics
Study reveals global child
A shocking picture of physical, sexual and psychological violence
being perpetrated against children on a daily basis has been
revealed in a UN report.
The first UN study of global violence against children says
such abuse is often socially approved or even legal. It concludes
that violence against under-18s occurs in every country, every
society and every social group. The UN has called on states
to outlaw violence against children and to ensure their rights
are protected. The study, which was requested by UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan, is the result of four years of research.
The report's author, Professor
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, says the situation revealed is not
acceptable and decades of silent abuse can no longer remain
"Protection from violence is a matter of
urgency," writes Mr Pinheiro, "Children have suffered
adult violence unseen and unheard for centuries."
The UN is calling on every country to have a national strategy
to prevent violence against children. The report, the first
of its kind, charts various kinds of violence, from prostitution
to school bullying, taking place in different stages and spheres
of children's' lives - at home, in the community and in institutions.
It estimates that some 150 million girls, 14% of the planet's
child population, are sexually abused each year, as well as
seven percent of boys, or 73 million children. Such violence
can leave serious long-term psychological scars which result
in increased risky sexual behaviour, substance abuse and violence
towards others in adulthood.
The study suggests that between 80-93% of children suffer
physical punishment in their homes, although many of them
do not speak of it due to stigma, shame and a lack of faith
in legal systems. The home can also be a dangerous place for
some of the estimated 82 million girls who marry before the
age of 18 and can face violence from their partners.
"There are several modalities of violence that are invisible
or there is a wall of silence - violence inside the school,
inside the home, at the workplace, the community and institutions,"
Mr Pinheiro told the BBC.
This is the moment to recognise children
as being protected by rights, as full citizens
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro Author of the report. Gender also shapes
the likelihood of experiencing different types of violence.
A study of 21 mainly developed countries, for example, found
that up to 36% of women and 29% of men reported being sexually
victimised during childhood. But boys, especially in the 15-17
age group, are up to four times more likely to be murdered
than girls of the same age. The authors said they were encouraged
by the participation of 135 governments from across the globe.
But the report recognises that one of the greatest challenges
is changing a social mindset that tacitly accepts violence
towards minors. It includes a list of recommendations including
the creation of national commissioners to prevent violence
against children and national legal frameworks to protect
"After the emancipation of the workers in the 19th Century,
the emancipation of the women in the 20th Century, I think
that this is the moment to recognise children as being protected
by rights, as full citizens, and not as mini-human beings
or the property of their families," Mr Pinheiro said.