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Six key steps to end violence

19 OCTOBER 2006

Governments called on to take six key steps to end violence
as publication VOICES AGAINST VIOLENCE launched

Voices Against Violence, a publication responding to the UN Study on Violence Against Children, was launched by Save the Children today, along with the child friendly associate publication Safe You and Safe Me.

"Voices Against Violence lists six key recommendations on actions that need to be taken in order to end violence against children and backs those up with examples of how action in many of these areas has been used effectively by Save the Children already. We encourage all governments, including the New Zealand Government, to join us in taking further concrete action to eliminate violence against children," John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand said.

Voices Against Violence calls on governments to support six key steps to end violence against children – and each recommendation has currency in New Zealand:

1. Explicitly prohibit all forms of violence against children under the law
"In New Zealand we should be repealing Section 59 of the Crimes Act because children deserve the same protection as adults. We would not try to legitimise violence against women, yet we give people who hit children a level of defence in the law," John Bowis said.

2. Develop a comprehensive, adequately funded, national child protection system
"While New Zealand has invested in child protection through Child Youth and Family, there are still funding gaps, which need to be addressed. Interagency cooperation has been pinpointed by the Children's Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro, for example, as an area needing significant improvement in order to ensure the safety and protection of children. More extensive provision of parenting support for high risk families would also be valuable.

3. Establish mechanisms for listening to, and involving children in the design of policies and programmes to end violence against them.
"Child participation is part of the government's Agenda for Children but the meaningful participation of children in decisions affecting them has a long way to go. Save the Children has coordinated global children's participation in the UN Study on Violence Against Children and New Zealand teenager Michael Bendall is now in Bangkok attending the regional launch of the study. Child participation is key to finding out which issues children are most concerned about and to working out the best solutions.

4. Do their upmost to limit the number of children coming into conflict with the law, and provide child-friendly support for those children who do.
"Although New Zealand does have some early intervention programmes which contribute to reducing the number of children who end up in the juvenile justice system, there is still much work to be done – including work to make the system more child-friendly.

5. Promote the active participation of boys and men in ending gender discrimination and violence against children.
"Much violence against children is perpetrated by men. In order to address this they must be involved in the solution. Save the Children New Zealand is currently supporting 'White Ribbon Day', an international day on the 25th of November where men show they do not support violence against women by wearing a white ribbon.

6. Support the establishment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Elimination of Violence Against Children.

"Children of all walks of life around the world are suffering from violence, even though most countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) including article 19 which grants children an absolute right to protection from all forms of violence. Such a serious and persistent problem requires the attention of a Special Representative.

"It's time that worldwide ratification of UNCRC was turned into concrete action everywhere to ensure children's rights are protected. New Zealand should be a world leader in the protection of the rights of children," John Bowis said.

Examples of Save the Children's own work in these areas

In Romania Save the Children worked with parents, government and children to promote the end of corporal punishment in the home. As a result a new law on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child was introduced in 2004.

In Lebanon, Save the Children worked with local organisations to provide training for Lebanese and Palestinian parents in positive parenting including: positive attitudes to children, reducing stress levels, effective child-adult communication and non-violent discipline. The children involved showed improved grades and students and staff at the schools involved reported a decrease in violence.

In Orissa India, Save the Children organised a meeting between 35 parliamentarians and 22 children from rural areas to discuss physical punishment in schools. The meeting concluded that they needed to ban physical punishment of children and promote positive forms of discipline. As a result the Orissa government made physical punishment illegal in 2004.

In China, Save the Children runs a project, which diverts children from the formal justice system into community based justice operations. In 2005, 301 children were successfully diverted from the formal justice system, in this project alone.

In South Africa, Save the Children has supported the Human Science Research Council to promote positive fatherhood since 2003. They use large scale campaigns to highlight the important role men can play in reducing violence to women and children. The programme has generated public debate and discussion on the role of men in the lives of children.

Publications available on this page: http://savethechildren.org.nz/new_zealand/nz_programme/UNSVAC.html


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