Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines violence as ‘all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse’ (Art. 19, paragraph 1-UNCRC). As the world commemorates the International Day of Non-Violence, PROCHILD Project reflects on its goal to combat violence against children.
Child abuse cases are very delicate, because most of the victims are minors. In this respect, some children are not old enough to understand the severity of what is happening to them. Other children live in fear and do not report abuse because of impending repercussions. The World Health Organization has recently reported that violence against children is among the top three causes of death in adolescents, (WHO, 2019). Most children are abused by people they know in familiar settings, such as at home or in schools. It is very important that parents are aware of what is going on in the schools of their children. On the other hand, teachers and other professionals must check in regularly with children about what might be going on at home.
While abuse of children has been condemned repeatedly, it is important to understand the consequences of abuse on the child and the society. A report on the violence towards children published by the European Union in 2014 outlines that violence against children affects their psychology and physical health, provokes damage to the nervous system and might even lead victims to believe that violence is the answer to their problems (Dimitrova-Stull, 2014). However, one thing that is not highlighted enough is the effect of child abuse on the society. Although the lives of children lost can never be estimated in terms of cost and money, the labor market is grossly affected by the loss of these lives. It is important to remember that not all children die during the years they are abused. The effects of this abuse can come about later in life.
While there are other organisations in the fight against child abuse, PROCHILD aims to develop integrated and shared protocols among Social and Health Services, Educational Agencies, Police, Judicial Authorities among others to foster cooperation which leads to the protection of children and the definition of criteria to be reported. This aim of PROCHILD is very important, because it unites the different professionals with knowledge of child abuse on one platform. This makes sharing ideas easier and brings diverse solutions in solving the problems of child abuse.
Today as we celebrate non-violence in the world, it is important that we keep our eyes open and look at the communities in which we live in. It is not enough to say laws have been passed so violence against children is a thing of the past. Rather, we must continue to have informed dialogues and make sure that the children in our communities are safe. After all, we are our brother and sister’s keeper.
Written by IARS Research Intern Ama Yarboi
Dimitrova-Stull, Anna (2014). “Violence Towards Children in the EU.” European Parliamentary Research Service. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2014/542139/EPRS_IDA(2014)54 2139_EN.pdf
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990). Article 19, paragraph 1.
World Health Organization (2019). “Violence Against Children.” https://www.who.int/news- room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-children