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Violence Against Children Must Stop

12 OCTOBER 2006

Violence Against Children Must Stop – UN Study Released…

'Violence against children must stop' is the clear message from Save the Children in response to a UN study being released in New York today, says John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children is being presented by Independent Expert, responsible for the study, Prof. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro to the Third Committee of the General Assembly on 12 October 2006 in New York, New Zealand time. Save the Children coordinated children's participation and contributed comment for the study from most of its 110 programme countries worldwide.

The study, covering 133 countries, has revealed overwhelming levels of violence against children in all settings. The report concludes that everyone must play a part to stop violence against children, but Governments must take primary responsibility.

Secretary General Kofi Annan says that 'No violence against children is justifiable. Children should never receive less protection than adults.' And goes on 'States should as a matter of urgency explicitly prohibit all forms of violence against children.

"Save the Children New Zealand calls on Parliament to take leadership on stopping violence against children and as one of many steps needed, they must repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act. This existing defence can be used to justify force, abuse and other forms of degrading punishment of children," John Bowis said.

"Children deserve the same protection from violence that adults have and much more than that. Children's voices must be heard on these issues, as they have been in the UN report. It is blatantly clear to Save the Children that New Zealand needs to pay more attention to reducing violence, promoting non-violent values, supporting positive parenting and giving children a voice.

"Furthermore, children must be involved in the design and implementation of policies and programmes that address violence against them. The provision of child-friendly services needs to form part of those programmes, with access to adults skilled and experienced in working with children. Some of the children who suffer the most violence end up in our justice system –it is important they do not end up in an adult justice system. These steps are integral to creating a society, which values children," John Bowis said.

See over for Save the Children's international response to the report.

Save the Children's key recommendations in response to the UN study:

1. States should: as a matter of urgency, explicitly prohibit all forms of violence against children, including sexual abuse and exploitation; corporal punishment and all other forms of degrading punishment, in all settings, including the home.

2. States should: develop a national child protection system and allocate sufficient funds to undertake a wide range of measures to prevent (and respond to) all forms of violence against children, including educational and media campaigns, the provision of child-friendly legal, medical and psychosocial services, and disaggregated data collection capable of monitoring the prevalence of violence against children.

3. States should: establish mechanisms for listening to girls and boys with the aim of involving children directly in the design and implementation of policies (and programmes) that address the violence against them. Children’s own actions to address violence should also be supported.

4. States should: do their utmost to minimise the number of children coming into conflict with the law. They should establish comprehensive and child-friendly juvenile justice systems, complying with international standards, which aim to rehabilitate children and divert them away from criminalisation and detention.

5. States should: make particular efforts to promote the active participation of boys and men in ending gender discrimination and violence against children.

6. States should: support the appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Elimination of Violence against Children, with the mandate and resources required to provide leadership and oversight on this issue.

The actual report

Website on the report

Save the Children's response to the report

UN press release on launch of the study

Overarching recommendations from the UN Study on Violence against Children and comment from UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

Comment from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the report

During the development of the Study I have been guided by the following principles, which are reflected in my recommendations:

A. No violence against children is justifiable. Children should never receive less protection than adults;

B. All violence against children is preventable. States must invest in evidence-based policies and programmes to address factors that give rise to violence against children;

C. States have the primary responsibility to uphold children’s rights to protection and access to services, and to support families’ capacity to provide children with care in a safe environment;

D. States have the obligation to ensure accountability in every case of violence;

E. The vulnerability of children to violence is linked to their age and evolving capacity. Some children,because of gender, race, ethnic origin, disability or social status, are particularly vulnerable;

F. Children have the right to express their views, and to have these views taken into account in the implementation of policies and programmes.

Overarching recommendations from the UN Study on Violence Against Children

1. Strengthen national and local commitment and action

2. Prohibit all violence against children

3. Prioritise prevention

4. Promote non-violent values and awareness-raising

5. Enhance the capacity of all who work with and for children

6. Provide recovery and social reintegration services

7. Ensure participation of children

8. Create accessible and child-friendly reporting systems and services

9. Ensure accountability and end impunity

10. Address the gender dimension of violence against children

11. Develop and implement systematic national data collection and research

12. Strengthen international commitment


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