UNICEF started a global initiative calling for an end to all forms of violence against children on July 31st, 2013. End Violence Against Children aims to shine a light on the invisible horrors of violence and abuse that undermine the lives of hundreds of millions of children, and call for collective action to get informed, speak out and join in existing efforts with those equally concerned about violence in their own communities.
The campaign has a powerful appeal, featuring UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson. “Just because you can’t see violence against children doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” he said.
The End Violence Against Children initiative emphasizes that violence against children exists in many forms – from child labour, armed conflict and sexual exploitation to violence in the home, at school and in the workplace.
Although data are difficult to collect, given the hidden nature of the issue, it is estimated that about 20 per cent of women and up to 10 per cent of men report being sexually abused as a child. Studies from 2002 show that up to one third of adolescent girls reported their first sexual experience to be forced.
It’s estimated that every year 133–275 million children witness violence between their parents, according to 2006 estimates. And studies from the same year that cover many countries suggest that up to 80 to 98 per cent of children suffer physical punishment at home, with a third or more experiencing severe physical punishment.